Lacrosse Rules

Lacrosse Rules Explained | Improve Your Lacrosse Skills In 2023

Lacrosse is the oldest native American sport that has been played since 1100 A.D. It is often regarded as the most violent sport. Initially, it was known as “stickball.” The modern lacrosse game arose in the early 17th century.

Lacrosse is similar to hockey, soccer, and basketball. That’s why it can be confusing to understand its rules effectively. Well, this is where we came in! Our editors have done detailed research to guide you properly and accurately.

This article will explain the rules of lacrosse, its penalties, bound, cross-check, and hitting rules. So, sit back and keep on reading!

10 Basic Rules Of Lacrosse

  1. Each team must have 10 players, one goalkeeper, 3 defenders, 3 attackmen, and 3 midfielders.
  2. The opponent team player cannot cross the goal keeper crease.
  3. The game duration must be divided into four quarters and one half.
  4. In case of a tie, both teams need to keep on playing until the winner is decided by sudden death.
  5. Each game shall start with a fair faceoff.
  6. Only four players on each team can have long sticks.
  7. Players can’t hurt the opponent intentionally or hit head-to-head.
  8. Both goalies can’t cross the midfield line.
  9. If a player commits an offense, they must kneel in the substitution box.
  10. All players are bound to wear protective gear to ensure their safety.

Girls lacrosse rules

The women’s lacrosse rules are different from the regular men’s matches. From field to scoring and game type, there are several notable changes:

  1. The women’s lacrosse field is 120 yards in length and 60 yards wide.
  2. Girls’ lacrosse is a no-contact sport.
  3. Each team consists of 12 players, including a goalkeeper, 6 defenders, and 5 attackers.
  4. Only the field players are allowed to pass or run with the ball in their lacrosse pocket.
  5. Compared to the men’s lacrosse sport, the size of the stick in the girl’s match is also short. It usually ranges from 35.5’’ to 43.25’’ in length, with fewer deep pockets.
  6. Unlike the boy’s match, women are only required to wear eye protection. A helmet is not essential during the game.
  7. Girl’s lacrosse match has two 30-minute halves.
  8. Players are bound to protect the opponent’s head from their sticks.
  9. A foul is called if the imaginary security sphere of 7 inches around the player’s head is breached.
  10. The general rules of women’s lacrosse state that the defender can’t hit, block, or push the opponent during the game.

It is worth mentioning that half-time can also be shortened for younger age or high school PE matches. But in a nutshell, women’s lacrosse is hard to play compared to men’s. 

What Is Lacrosse Sport?

Lacrosse is a team sport that is played with sticks and a ball. It is most popular in Northern America. The purpose of the game is to score more goals than your opponent’s team. 

It is the only game where defenders can hit the opponent’s stick or gloves. It is worth mentioning that illegal body checks and crosses may result in penalties. 

Currently, it is not an Olympic sport. With over 850,000 players and three major leagues, game matches are divided into indoor and outdoor categories. The National Lacrosse League is considered the championship trophy.

Is Lacrosse A Contact Sport?

Yes, it is a contact sport. Keep in mind that only the men’s game is classified as a contact sport. In order to dislodge the ball, defenders can hit the opponent’s glove or stick without hurting them intentionally. 

During the game, you cannot hit any player from behind. Also, you cannot raise your arm or strike a player above the collarbone. If any player keeps on hitting any defenseless opponent for up to three minutes, he will be suspended.

Lacrosse Field Dimensions

The lacrosse game court closely resembles the soccer ball field. The area is rectangular in shape, 110 yards in length and 60 yards in width. It is mainly divided into three areas.

The goal stand lies in the middle of the defensive area on both sides, with a height of 6ft. The drawn lines are 4 inches wide and usually have a white or contrast color pattern.

Two Defensive Areas

Team’s “A” defensive area will be the “attack area” for team “b” and vice versa. Each defensive area is 35 yards wide and 20 yards long. The circle around the goal has a radius of 9’. 

Wing Area

The wing is 40 yards wide and is equally divided into 2 parts. At the exact center, there is “faceoff X” from where both teams try to serve the lacrosse ball. 

Sidelines And Endline

The distance from point faceoff X to the goal area is 40 yards and 55 yards to the end line of each side. There are also two diagonal sidelines and limit lines. Usually, The limit line is 6 yards away from the sideline.  

Lacrosse Equipment List

It is a contact game. That’s why players are required to wear protective gear too. The equipment is comprised on:

  • Solid Rubber Ball
  • Head Helmets
  • Gloves & Arm Pads
  • Shoulder Pads
  • Mouth Pieces.

The ball is solid and has a diameter of 8 inches. Each player is legally required to wear a helmet and mouthpiece. Without wearing them, they can’t even stand in the play area.

Lacrosse Stick Rules

In professional and league matches, the sticks are split into two “Long” and “Short” categories. A short stick can be 40 to 42 inches in length. While the long sticks can be anywhere between 52 to 72 inches. 

The head of each stick should be a minimum of 6 inches and can never be more than 10 inches at the widest spot. 

The length of the goalkeeper stick can be anywhere between 40 to 72 inches in length. The width can not extend over 15 inches. Only four players from each team can have a long stick.

How Many Players On Lacrosse Field?

Each lacrosse team has 10 players on the ground. Every team is comprised of 1 goalie, 3 defenders, 3 midfielders, and 3 attackmen. The one player of both teams stays within the goal crease. 

As mentioned earlier, the defending area of team “A” is the attack area of team “B.” The attacker of both teams can only stay on the offensive side and can’t cross the mid-field line.

While the defenders can only stay at the defense area and can’t cross the mid-field line too. The general rule of thumb is that the midfielders of both sides can go to either side of the field.

How Does A Lacrosse Game Start?

Every game begins with a face-off between the two midfielders of both teams. The ball is placed at the “faceoff X” point, and both opponents try to possess the ball. 

The face-off player tries to push the ball inward in their stick. Four players from both teams can support their face-off specialist. Keep in mind that, during the whole process, no one can hit or hurt any opponent.

How Long Does A Lacrosse Game Last?

On average, a professional lacrosse game lasts 65 minutes without any overtime. Each game is divided into 4 quarters and two halves. Sometimes, the quasars are skipped, and the game is divided into one long half, which is very rare.

Each quarter break is 12 to 15 minutes long, while the half-time is 25 minutes long. Both teams switch positions after each quarter. In the National Lacrosse League professional matches, each quarter lasts up to 15 minutes.

There is “no tie score” in a professional lacrosse match. Both teams keep on playing until the winner is decided. Usually, during overtime, the winner is decided by the “sudden death” method.

Lacrosse Checking Rules

Body checks or stick checks are allowed during the game. The rules may vary, but there are 5 checks that are considered illegal: 

  1. Illegal Body Check
  2. Cross Check (Only legal in NLL)
  3. High Sticking
  4. Free Hand Check
  5. Slashing

Any illegal check mostly results in a penalty. Furthermore, you can’t have head-to-head contact during the game. Below the waist or intentional rough contact is also prohibited.

The general rules of lacrosse checking explain that “unless the players are within the five yards of the loose ball, the check can’t occur off-ball.”

Lacrosse Hitting Rules

The general rule is that defenders can hit their opponents. A defender is allowed to hit the opponent’s stick only to dislodge the ball. They can only hit either on the stick or gloves.

Keep in mind that no player can raise their arm to contact. Hitting other players on the arm, feet, or between the legs is prohibited and considered illegal. A slashing penalty is awarded to defendants if they show any act of carelessness.

Lacrosse Out Of Bounds Rules

The general rule states that if the player with ball possession goes out of bounds, then the other team is legally awarded for possessing the ball. 

If during the game, the ball goes out of bounds, then there are two scenarios: 

  • The ball is given to the nearest player of any team
  • The ball is given to the opponent’s team of the player who last touches it

Keep in mind that the clock stops as soon as the ball goes outbound. Also, the ball is always thrown back into the exact spot and toward the players rather than the stick.

Lacrosse Goalie Rules

Generally, the goalie rules may vary depending on the type of event. But they certainly have the edge over other players. Still, they are bound to follow the below-listed rules and regulations:

  • A Goalie can’t cross the midfield line.
  • They are allowed to come out from the crease.
  • Once they possess the ball, they have only a few seconds (4 men, 10 women) to either come out or pass it to a defender.
  • Once the ball is inside the crease, they can cover it.

Usually, the goalkeeper is in the hardest spot. Both goalies are bound to wear helmets and mouth protectors, but they can skip additional padding if they want. As per the new legislation, they can also wear sunglasses now.

Lacrosse Penalties Explained

On the field, there is a “substitution box” where a player has to kneel if they commit a penalty. The penalty duration may differ depending on the severity of the act. Usually, they are either 30 seconds or 5 minutes long.

The team has to play with “one man down” until the player is in the substitution box. It can also be delayed in three different scenarios:

  • If the team who is committing offense gains the ball
  • A goal is scored
  • The ball or player goes outbound.

If the player goes outbound, then the referee needs to follow the out-ball protocols. If there are minor or technical faults, then a 30-second penalty is awarded.

Some other types of penalties and their outcomes are:

  1. Crease Violation: The offensive players of both teams can’t touch or enter the goalkeeper crease. If they do it and the goal is scored, then the goal will not be counted.
  2. Personal Fouls: When a player commits an illegal check, it is considered a personal foul. It results in a 3-minute penalty.

If the player keeps on hurting or committing an offense, they may get a suspension for the rest of the game.

Rules Of Lacrosse FAQs

Yes, players are allowed to kick the ball during the lacrosse match. But only the goalkeeper can touch the ball with their hands.

A professional game is 65 minutes long without any overtime. Each game has 4 quarter breaks and one halftime. The break time may differ between 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the match type.

When a defender swings their stick too violently over the opponent, it is called slashing. It is illegal and results in a penalty.

Yes, you can hit the other player’s glove or stick with your own stick during the game. Any offensive hit or below-the-waist hit may result in a penalty.

The Lacrosse field is 110 yards (100 m) long and 60 yards (55m) wide. The field is future divided into a defensive area, center line, sideline, and offline.

Each team has 10 players, including a goalkeeper, three defenders at the defensive end, three midfielders that can go anywhere on the field, and three attackers that are limited to the offensive end.

No, it is an easy game to understand. Due to being a contact game, it may be regarded as a dangerous game, but the rules are pretty simple and straightforward.

Wrapping It Up!

The roots of lacrosse can be traced back to the native-Americians era. It is one of the most popular games in the northern region. In the USA, New York state tops its popularity chart with the most players.

It is a team sport that is played with a ball and a long stick. It closely resembles hockey, soccer, and baseball. While on the field, the players can actually hit their opponent in a legal way to possess the ball.

Each game is 65 minutes long with four quick and one half-time break. The match cannot end tied. If, at the end of the innings, the score is a tie, then the winner is decided by the sudden death rule.

Keep in mind that a player cannot hit their opponent from the back. Slushing or raising the arm is not allowed and results in a penalty that can be 3 minutes long. 

We hope that this article helps you to understand lacrosse game rules swiftly and accurately. While in the meantime, be happy and keep your sportsman spirit alive!

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