Lacrosse is played on a field with similar dimensions to a soccer field. Boys lacrosse is a played with ten players on a side with players competing to score goals by throwing a ball into a six foot by six foot goal. Girls lacrosse is played on a larger field with 12 players scoring on the same six foot by six foot goal as the boys. The offensive and defensive team play is similar to basketball and hockey. The skills developed while playing lacrosse contribute to the success of other sports including hockey, football, soccer and basketball as it draws from those games and improves the hand/eye coordination, speed and agility of the players.
Lacrosse is a team sport that is played with ten players (men's field), six players (men's box), or twelve players (women's field), each of whom uses a netted stick (the crosse or more commonly the stick) in order to pass and catch a hard rubber ball with the aim of scoring goals by using the stick to throw or shoot the ball into the opponent's goal. The team scoring the most points after two halves, of varying length from competition to competition, and overtime if necessary, wins.
Most popular in North America, lacrosse is Canada's national sport. It has grown in popularity in the United States, becoming the fastest growing sport at the high school and NCAA levels.
In its modern form, men's lacrosse is played on a field of grass or artificial turf (such as FieldTurf). Each team is composed of 10 players on the field at a time: three attackmen, three midfielders, three defenders and one goaltender. In men's lacrosse, players wear protective equipment on their heads, shoulders, arms, and hands, as body-checking is an integral part of the game, and stick checks to the arms and hands are considered legal. Women's lacrosse is played in a similar manner except with two additional midfielders per team. Players of women's lacrosse (in the United States only) need only wear protective eyewear (except for the goaltender, who wears additional padding, usually consisting of a helmet, shin guards, and chest pad, and most goalies do not wear arm pads), as contact is not permitted apart from minor stick-checks.
Outdoor men's lacrosse involves two teams of 10 players each competing to project a small ball of solid rubber into the opposing team's goal. The field of play is 110 yards (100 m) long and 60 yards (54 m) wide. The goals are 6 feet (1.8 m) by 6 feet, containing a mesh netting similar to an ice hockey goal. The goal sits inside a circular "crease", measuring 18 feet (5.5 m) in diameter. Behind the crease is the area designated simply as "X". Typically one Attackmen will remain at "X" in most types of offensive setups.
Players line up with 3 offensive players called "attackmen," players who shoot on the opposing team's net; 3 "midfielders" or "middies," who shoot on the opposing team's net as well as defending their own net; 3 "defensemen," who guard their own team's net; and 1 designated goaltender, or "goalie" who stands inside the "crease" and blocks incoming shots. Each player carries a lacrosse stick measuring between 40 inches and 42 inches long (an attack stick), or 52 inches to 72 long (a defense stick). The designated goalkeeper is allowed to have a stick from 40 inches to 72 inches long. The head of the stick on both long and short sticks must be 6 inches or larger at its widest point and 2.5 inches wide or wider at its narrowest point.
The head of a goaltender's stick may measure up to 15 inches (38.1 centimeters) wide, significantly larger than field players' heads to assist in blocking shots. Goalies at the youth levels commonly use short sticks because they are not capable of handling the true 60 inch goalie stick. Although most attackmen and midfielders utilize short sticks, defensemen carry long sticks, and one midfielder on defense may carry a long stick. Some teams choose to distribute their sticks differently, not uncommon because a team may only have 4 long sticks on the field during live play, excluding the benches and penalty boxes. Most modern sticks have a metal shaft, usually made of aluminum or titanium, while the head is made of hard plastic. Metal shafts must have a plastic or a more popular rubber cap or ("butt") at the end. The heads are strung with string, leather, and mesh. The strings in the "pocket" are called shooting strings and accuracy or "v" strings.
Lacrosse players must wear helmets and gloves and also typically wear shoulder and elbow pads and sometimes they wear rib pads. Athletic supporters and protective cups for all players are also strongly recommended and often required.
Players scoop the ball off the ground and pass the ball through the air to other players. Players are allowed to run carrying the ball with their stick. Unlike in women's lacrosse, men's lacrosse players may kick the ball, as well as cover it with their sticks, provided they do not withhold it from play. Play is quite fast and fluent, with considerably more goals scored than are in soccer or hockey, with typical games totaling ten to twenty goals.
Attackmen: There are three Attackmen on the field at one time. The Attackmen use "short-sticks". Attackmen must demonstrate good stick-handling with both hands and they must be able to handle the pressure of the opposing defenseman.
Defensemen: There are three Defensemen and one long stick midfielder allowed on the field at a time. Defensemen use "long-poles". The Defensemen uses his stick to throw checks and try to dislodge the ball. The "long-poles" may also play mid-field as a straegic defender, aka a Long-stick middie (LSM). Teams usually use this to anticipate losing the face-off and be stronger on defense.
Midfielder: Commonly referred to as "middies", three Midfielders are allowed on the field at once. There are two types of Midfielders, the defensive and offensive. The two can rotate by running off the sidelines. The Midfielders are allowed to use short-sticks and up to one long-pole. While on offense three short-sticks are generally used for their superior stick-handling. While on defense two short-sticks are used with one long-pole. Some teams have a designated face-off middie that all he does is face off then get off (aka a FOGO).
Goalkeeper: The goalkeeper's job is to prevent the ball from getting into the goal. Goalies also direct the team defense. Goalies need to be tough both physically and mentally. Also the Goalie needs to be the loudest player on the field calling the position of the ball at all times so the defense can concentrate on the man they are covering instead of where the ball is. The Goalie needs to be able to keep his composure on the field while enduring pain from shots that are capable of reaching over 100 MPHRules
As mentioned, men’s lacrosse is a full contact sport, with players wearing complete protective equipment. Thus “checking” - striking opponents’ stick or body with the stick - is legal and very much part of the game.
Each team starts with ten players on the field: a goalkeeper and three defenders in the defensive end; three midfielders free to roam the whole field; and three attackers in the offensive end. Each quarter starts with a “face-off” in which the ball is placed on the ground and two “face-off-men” lay their stick horizontally next to the ball, head of the stick inches from the ball and the butt-end pointing down the midfield line. Face-off-men scrap for the ball, often by “clamping” it under their stick and flicking it out to their midfielders, who start on the wing restraining line near the sideline and sprint in when the whistle is blown to start play. Attackers and defenders cannot cross their “restraining line” until one player from the midfield takes possession of the ball. A face-off also restarts the game after each goal.
Time continues to run in dead ball situations such as in between goals, with two exceptions: when the referees deem it necessary to avoid a significant loss of playing time, for example when chasing a ball shot far away or during care of an injured player; and in the last three minutes of the fourth quarter of any men’s game.
In men's lacrosse, players can be awarded penalties of two types by the referee for rule infractions. Personal fouls always result in the player serving time in the penalty box, located at the side of the field between the opposing teams' interchange benches. These penalties can last one to three minutes at the referee's discretion. Two and three minute penalties are usually reserved for the most serious slashing or unsportsmanlike conduct fouls. Technical fouls are less severe and result in 30 seconds being served only if the foul was committed while the opposing team was in possession of the ball. If there was a loose ball situation or the player's team was in possession at the time of the foul, they only result in a turnover. Technical fouls are "releasable," meaning that a player may return to the game without spending the entire duration of his penalty in the box if the opposing team scores during the penalty. Fouls form an important part of men's lacrosse as while a player is serving time, his team is 'man down'. At this time his defense usually plays a 'zone' while they wait for the penalty to expire while the attacking team has its best opportunity to score. A list of the fouls in men's lacrosse is as follows:
Slashing: Occurs when a player hits another player uncontrolled, in the back, below or on the knees, or in the helmet/neck.
Tripping: Occurs when a player obstructs his opponent at or below the waist with the stick, hands, arms, feet or legs.
Cross Checking: Occurs when a player uses the handle of his stick between his hands to make contact with an opponent.
Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Occurs when any player or coach commits an act which is considered unsportsmanlike by an official, including taunting, arguing, or obscene language or gestures.
Unnecessary Roughness: Occurs when a player strikes an opponent with his stick or body using excessive or violent force.
Illegal Body Checking: Occurs when any of the following actions takes place:
a. body checking an opponent who is not in possession of the ball or within five yards of a loose ball.
b. avoidable body check of an opponent after he has passed or shot the ball.
c. body checking an opponent from the rear or at or below the waist.
d. body checking an opponent above the shoulders. A body check must be below the shoulders and above the waist, and both hands of the player applying the body check must remain in contact with his stick.
Illegal stick: Occurs when a player uses a stick that does not conform to required specifications. A stick may be found illegal if the pocket is too deep or if any other part of the stick was altered to gain an advantage, such as the stick being shorter than the required length in order to make it harder to check. (In addition, the penalized player may not use the illegal stick for the remainder of the game). A head must also not be too pinched so the lacrosse ball cannot come out.
An example of a "Push from behind" or "Illegal Body Checking"
Other Illegal equipment: not having a mouthguard, or not having it in the mouth, open ends on the shaft of the stick (no butt end), no shoulder pads, no arm pads (in most leagues, goalies do not have to wear arm pads so they can move their arms faster to block shots. The minimum amount of pads a goalie needs are helmet, throat guard, gloves, chest protector,and cup)
Illegal Gloves: Occurs when a player uses gloves that do not conform to required specifications. A glove will be found illegal if the fingers and palms are cut out of the gloves, or if the glove has been altered in a way that compromises its protective features.
Holding: Occurs when a player impedes the movement of an opponent or an opponent's stick, or a player has his stick in between the arm pads and the players body.
Interference: Occurs when a player interferes in any manner with the free movement of an opponent, except when that opponent has possession of the ball, the ball is in flight and within five yards of the player, or both players are within five yards of a loose ball.
Offsides: Occurs when a team does not have at least four players on its defensive side of the midfield line or at least three players on its offensive side of the midfield line.
Pushing: Occurs when a player thrusts or shoves a player from behind.
Moving Pick: Occurs when an offensive player moves into and makes contact with a defensive player with the purpose of blocking him from the man he is defending, as opposed to a legal pick, standing next to a defensive player, blocking him from the player he is covering.
Stalling: Occurs when a team intentionally holds the ball, without conducting normal offensive play, with the intent of running time off the clock. This is called if no attempt is made to get in the box.
Illegal Start: Occurs when a wing player passes the wing side line before the faceoff whistle blows.
Time Delay: (Goalie Only) When the Goalie is in possession of the ball for more than the allotted time while in the crease or fails to clear the ball in the allotted time.
Warding Off: Occurs when a player in possession of the ball uses his free hand or arm to hold, push or control the direction of an opponent, including pushing him off.
Mouthguard Fouls: Not having a mouthguard, not having in the mouth or taking in or out of the mouth (also known as chewing on the mouthguard). (Under ILF-Rules no mouth guard is required)
The rules of women's lacrosse differ significantly from men's lacrosse and are specifically designed to allow less physical contact between players. As a result of the lack of contact, the only protective equipment required is eyewear and a mouthguard Although these are the only protective equipment, there are still many injuries due to accidental checks to the head and the overall aggressiveness of the sport. The pockets of women's sticks are shallower than those of the men, making the ball harder to catch and more difficult to shoot at high speed. Women play with three attackers (or "homes"), five midfielders (or "middies"), three defenders (starting from the back, called "point", "cover point", and "third man"), and one goalie. Seven players play attack at one time and seven defenders are present. There is a restraining line that keeps the other four players (plus the goalie) from going into the attack. If those players cross the line, they are considered offsides and a penalty is given
In women's lacrosse, players may only check if the check is directed away from the ball carrier's head. Also, players may only check using the side of their stick. If caught by one of the referees using the flat of the head, it will be called as a "held check" and the opposing team will get the ball.
There are two types of fouls in woman's lacrosse, major and minor. When a minor foul is committed anywhere on the field, the player who fouled is set four meters to whichever side she was guarding the person she obstructed. If a major foul occurs outside of the 12 meter fan or eight meter arc, the fouler must stand four meters behind the player she fouled.
There are two different surroundings around the goal on both sides of the field. The eight meter arc and the 12 meter fan. When committing a major foul inside either of these areas, all players that were previously inside the surrounding must take the most direct route out. The player who was fouled now moves to the nearest hash mark that is located around the edges of the arc or fan and either takes position to shoot or to pass (although, most often to shoot). When the whistle is blown, the player with the ball may move up and try for a goal.
The most important rule in women's lacrosse is shooting space, this is a violation of the rules. It occurs when a defender moves in at a bad angle on the offender while shooting in the 8 meter arc. This is a dangerous play made by the defender.
Women's games are played in two 25-minute halves. These 25 minutes are running time, except for the last two minutes, during which time stops when the whistle is blown (This can differ when playing high school or middle school games). While the whistle is blown, players are not allowed to move. In women's lacrosse, players are not allowed to touch the ball with their body or cover the ball with their stick in order to scoop it into their stick or protect the ball from picked up by an opponent.
The women's lacrosse game has been modified significantly over the past ten years. Modifications include limiting the amount of players allowed between the two restraining lines on the draw to five players per team. Stick modifications have lead to offset heads, which allow the women's game to move faster and makes stick moves and tricks easier. In 2002, goggles became mandatory equipment in the United States (but not a requirement in international rules). In 2006, hard boundaries were adopted.
Penalties for women's lacrosse are assessed with the following cards:
The green card, given to the team captain, is for a delay of game.
The yellow card is for a first-time penalty and results in the player being removed from the field for three minutes.
The red card is the result either of two yellow cards or one unsportsmanlike behavior ruling, and causes the player to be ejected from the game. If the red card is for unsportsmanlike behavior, the player is also not permitted to play in the following game.
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