Men's Lacrosse (Boy's Rules will vary slightly):
This is a general overview of the game of lacrosse.
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 long and 60 yards wide. The goals are 6 feet by 6 feet, containing a mesh netting similar to an ice hockey goal. The goal sits inside a circular "crease", measuring 18 feet in diameter.
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 (a "short crosse"), or 52 inches to 72 long (a "long crosse"). The designated goalkeeper is allowed to have a stick from 40 inches to 72 inches long. The head of the crosse on both long and short crosses 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 crosse may measure up to 15 inches wide, significantly larger than field players' heads to assist in blocking shots. Goalies at the youth levels commonly use short crosses because they are not capable of handling the true 60 inch goalie crosse. Although most attackmen and midfielders utilize short crosses, defensemen carry long crosses, and one midfielder on defense may carry a long crosse. Some teams choose to distribute their sticks differently, not uncommon because a team may only have 4 long crosses 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, mesh, or a combination of the previous, forming a net called the "pocket".
Lacrosse players also typically wear helmets and gloves, plus rib, shoulder, and elbow pads.
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, with considerably more goals scored than are in soccer or hockey, with typical games totaling ten to twenty goals.
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 crosse - is legal and very much part of the game.
Each team starts with ten players on the field: a goalkeeper and three defenders at the defensive end; three midfielders across the midfield line; and three attackers at the offensive end. Each quarter starts with a "face-off" in which the ball is placed on the ground and two "faceoffmen" 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. Faceoffmen 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; 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, two, or 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 must play 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's stick viciously contacts an opponent in any area other than the stick or gloved hand on the stick.
Tripping: Occurs when a player obstructs his opponent at or below the waist with the crosse, hands, arms, feet or legs.
Cross Checking: Occurs when a player uses the handle of his crosse 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 Crosse: Occurs when a player uses a crosse that does not conform to required specifications. A crosse may be found illegal if the pocket is too deep or if any other part of the crosse was altered to gain an advantage (In addition, the penalized player may not use the illegal crosse for the remainder of the game). A head must also not be too pinched so the lacrosse ball cannot come out.
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 crosse.
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.)
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 crosse, or a player has his crosse 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.
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 this includes pushing him off.
Terminology... there's a lot of it
Ball or Ball down
All players shout ball any time the ball is on the ground. Often this is the first indicator to the player who had it that he has dropped it. Ball can also signal the intent of a player to go after the ball instead of the man. (see below)
Defensively using the body to hit an opposing ball carrier or while contesting an opponent for a player a loose ball. The body check must always be done above the waist and from the front.
The rectangular shaped area around the crease / goal. Defenders seldom press players outside of the box. The distance involved makes it all but impossible to score from outside of the box. The rules state that the offense can only possess the ball for so long without entering the box. At the end of a game the team that is ahead must keep the ball inside of the box.
The end of a crosse opposite the head. All shaft ends need to be covered with a butt-cap.
Change planes – When a shooter has a close in shot, the goalie must respect where the ballcarrier starts his shot. If the shooter holds his stick high, the keeper does the same. Therefore it is most effective for the shooter to start high and shoot low, or vice versa. This is ‘changing planes’.
On the face-off, a player pushes the back of his stick down on the ball in the attempt to gain control of it.
An important defensive maneuver where defending players run or pass the ball out of their goal area. Clearing is best done along the sidelines, away from the front of the goal.
In order to maintain control of the ball when moving along the field, players turn their wrists and arms to cradle the ball in the stick pocket.
The eighteen-foot diameter circle surrounding each team’s goal.
An attacking player without the ball darts around a defender toward the goal in order to receive a “feed pass.” A cutting player is a cutter.
D Cut - A maneuver used by an attackman to get open for a shot. The player starts on the GLE, about 5 yards away from the goal. He then makes a rounded cut, on the side away from the ball. (completing a "D" shape) This is often the third attackmans’ move during a fast break.
Extra Man (aka Man Up or EMO) - Describes the team at a player advantage in a penalty situation. Opposite of man down.
Takes place at the start of each quarter, after every goal, and after certain dead balls. Two opposing players crouch down at midfield, hold their sticks flat on the ground and press the backs of their stick pockets together. The ball is then placed between the pockets and, when signaled to start, the players “rake” or clamp on the ball to vie for control.
A player with the ball cradles the stick across his face in an attempt to dodge a stick-poking defender. Generally an open field dodge that does not involve changing hands.
When an offensive team quickly mounts a scoring attack enabling them to gain a man advantage over the opposing defense. Almost always a four on three.
An offensive play in which one player passes the ball to a cutting teammate for a “quick stick” shot on goal.
Tells our offense that a penalty will be called. This means that we should do all that we can to get off a shot without dropping the ball to the ground, which will halt play.
GLE (Goal Line Extended)
An imaginary line that extends straight out from the sides of the goal line.
Defender, typically the goalie, clears the ball by throwing it as far as he can down the field. Sometimes this is a desperation move, but it is often better to create a ground ball situation in the opponents end than around our own goal area.
Ground Balls - Players compete for the control of loose ground balls by stick checking opponents away from the ball while simultaneously trying to scoop it up. All Ravens yell ‘ball down’ when the ball is on the ground. See also ‘release’.
The plastic of the stick connected to the handle.
In the Dirt
The often trampled area approx. 15 foot radius area in front of the goal. Shots from outside the dirt area should be bounce shots, which are more difficult for keepers to stop. Also known as the ‘hole’. A much smaller area than ‘the box.’
Any offensive play that involves ‘inverting’ the middies and the attack. In a man on man situation, this puts the defensive bigs out on top with our attack, and the middies defending the area around the crease.
Describes the team which has lost a player to the penalty box and must play with fewer men on the field. We will always establish Man Up and Man Down teams before the game. Man Down teams are often tricky, since it is likely that a defender was penalized.
A defensive setup in which each defending player guards a specific offensive opponent.
When a shot goes out of play, the player closest to the sideline where the ball went out gets the ball.
An integral part to quickly moving the ball. Players throw overhand or underhand to each other. In most cases a high pass is easier to deal with than a low bouncing dribbler. Slowly thrown lobbed passes give the defense time to react and often result in the catching player being hit before the pass arrives. We prefer that passes be ‘zipped’, or thrown with authority, instead of lobbed with a high arc.
An offensive player without the ball positions himself against the body of a defender to allow a teammate to get open and receive a pass or take a shot. Picks must be stationary and ‘passive’.
The head of the stick in which the ball is held and carried. The pocket is strung with leather and/or mesh netting. In order to be legal, the top of a ball cannot be seen when looking at the pocket from the side.
A defender jabs his stick at the exposed stick end or hands of an opposing ballcarrier in an effort to jar the ball loose. These checks are very effective in that the checking player stays in balance and keeps a cushion of space between himself and the ballcarrier.
When the ball reaches an offensive player’s stick on a feed pass, he catches it and then shoots it toward the goal in one swift motion.
A face-off move by a player who, in trying to gain possession of a ground ball, places the head of his stick on top of the ball and sweeps it back. Raking is done standing still. This means that often people who rake will be legally hit by an opposing player. Raking is a very bad habit that is difficult to unlearn. EXCEPTION: Goalkeepers can rake or ‘clamp’ a ground ball legally from the crease.
Players shout release when they succeed in scooping a ground ball. This indicates to teammates that they can no longer make contact with the opponents to drive them away from the ball. Doing so is a penalty.
When an attacking team loses possession of the ball, it must quickly revert to playing defense in order to prevent the ball from being cleared back out. In most ride situations, the goal-keeper will be left un-marked.
An offensive move in which a ballcarrier, using his body as a shield between a defensive player and the cradled ball, spins around the defender. To provide maximum ball protection, the ballcarrier switches hands as he rolls.
When a player without the ball moves into a position where the player with the ball can make a clear pass.
The manner in which a player picks up loose ground balls. He bends toward the ground, slides the pocket of his stick underneath the ball, and lifts it into the netting of the stick.
An attacking player without possession of the ball positions himself in front of the opposing goal crease in an effort to block the goalkeeper’s view.
A hollow aluminum or composite pole connected to the head of the crosse.
Skip – To pass to a non- adjacent teammate, usually a long pass over another player. Also known as a skip pass.
A stick check (inferior to the poke check). The defender uses his stick to slap the stick of the offensive player who has the ball. Poke checks are preferred since it is easier to keep you feet moving and stay balanced during the check.
When an offensive player with the ball has gotten past his defender, a defending teammate will shift his position to pick up that advancing player.
To position one’s body in preparation to pass. This means to aim the leading shoulder towards the target.
In an effort to dislodge the ball from the “pocket,” the defending player strikes his stick against the stick of an opposing ballcarrier in a controlled manner.
Any situation in which the defense is not positioned correctly, usually due to a loose ball or broken clear, or fast break. Teams that hustle (like us), score many goals during unsettled situations.
A maneuver used by an offensive player to get open for a pass. The offensive player feints in causing his defender to react and move, he then cuts sharply away (completing the "V" shape) See also “D cut”
Zone Defense - When defenders play in specific areas of their defensive zone, rather than covering man-to-man.