Like many other contact sports, lacrosse is a team sport where players try to get a rubber ball into a net or a goal. At first glance it may seem uncannily like a distant cousin of field hockey but what distinguishes this game from the other is the use of a stick with a net in which players catch, shoot and pass the ball.
History of Lacrosse
Historically, lacrosse has its roots grounded in a stickball contest played by tribal warriors of Native American Indians. It was first played in the St. Lawrence valley area by the Algonquin tribe and soon caught attention of others in the area.
But lacrosse in those times was much more than just a game. If anything, it was a sport which readied warriors for war and also came with the added convenience of being recreational in nature.
Initially there were a large number of players in the game since it was played in wide open expanses between villages. Estimates could range between a hundred to a few thousands players in a single game at one time.
The goal posts, which could be anything from trees and other natural landmarks were easily between 500 yards to a few miles apart.
But while the stretch of the field was fairly unlimited, the rules of the game were quite simple. For instance, the ball wasn’t supposed to be hand touched by any player and was thrown into the air to mark the start of a game. The players then scrambled to be the first to catch it.
As the game developed so did its interest in Canada. In 1856 the Montreal Lacrosse Club was founded and a decade later rules got drawn for the game which lowered the number of players, introduced a rubber ball, replacing its old deerskin ball counterparts and a stick with a different design.
Come 1860 and lacrosse had established itself as Canada’s national game. By the end of the same century the game was being played in several other countries and in 1904 was played in the Summer Olympics for the first time.
Mens’ Lacrosse Today
Today lacrosse is considered one of the most athletic and active games worldwide. While it involves a lot of running, players also need to rely on speed and endurance to be successful at this sport.
The Team Players
There are ten players in each team with one goalkeeper, three defensemen, three midfielders and three attackmen.
Player’s Field Positions
Goal: The goalie is responsible for protecting the goal and stop the opposing team from scoring.
Defense: The defenseman on the team is responsible for defending the goal. This player is usually restricted to the defensive end of the field.
Midfield: The midfielder is responsible for covering the entire field playing both defense and offense.
Attack: The attackman is responsible for scoring goals. He usually plays in the offensive end of the field.
The playing field is rectangular, being 110 yards long and 60 yards wide. Field boundaries are marked white with the long sides designated sidelines and the short sides designated end lines. The center line is marked through the center of the field.
The field is divided into three areas. On one side is the defense area, where the team’s goal is positioned. On the other is the attack area which houses the opposing team’s goal. In the center is the wing area which is marked in half by the center line.
The goal is 6 feet tall by 6 feet wide and sits 15 yards from the end of the field.
All lacrosse players need to wear protective equipment. This includes a helmet, face mask, mouth guard, lacrosse gloves, and pads.
- All players need a helmet with a strap and chin pad. Some players may also use mouthpieces that are custom fitted.
- Every face mask needs to a center bar from top to bottom to prevent injuries.
- Among pads, players need rib pads, elbow pads as well as shoulder pads.
- The goalie needs to wear additional protective gear such as padded pants along with protective chest and thigh pads.
- Players are dressed in shorts and short sleeve jerseys.
Other than attire and protective gear, players carry a stick known as crosse. Offensive players carry a shorter crosse than defensive players. The head of the crosse has a net attached to scoop, hold, throw or shoot the ball. Goalies use a crosse with a wider head.
Rules of the Game
- Of the ten players, each team must have at least four of their players in the defensive half of their field including the goalie, and three positioned in the offensive half. The three midfielders are allowed to play in the whole field.
- One game of men’s lacrosse spans 60 minutes divided into 4 quarters of 15 minutes each.
- The team that wins the coin toss gets to choose which end of the field it wants to defend first.
- Teams change sides between periods.
- Men’s lacrosse starts with a face off between the two sticks of players at the field center.
- When the official whistle sounds, the face off players try to get the ball.
- Center face offs also occur after a team scores a goal or at the begining of each quarter.
- The players are not to touch the ball with their hands but can run across the field with it in their net. They can also pass it from net to net and catch it in the net as well. Just the goalkeeper is allowed to touch the ball using his hands.
- The way players get ball possession is by is by taking it from the opponent’s cross with a stick check. This may include poking or slapping the stick or the gloved hand of the opponent.
- Players may body check if their opponent possesses the ball. But, contact is only allowed from the side or front, but not below the waist or above the shoulders.
- Should the ball or any player with the ball, go out of bounds, the opposing team gets possession.
- Should the ball go out of bounds following a shot that wasn’t successful, the player closest to the ball is awarded its possession.
- An attacking player is not to enter the crease surrounding the gaol but may scoop the ball up with help of his stick.
- In the event of a tie at the end of the game, teams get sudden victory overtime. The teams play for periods of four minutes each until a goal is scored.
Men’s Lacrosse Personal Fouls
Players get suspended for one to three minutes from play as penalty for a personal foul. At the same time, the ball goes into the possession of the other team.
Players who earn five personal fouls are removed from the game.
Reasons for personal fouls include the following:
- Slashing is when a player’s stick gets into contact with an opponent in any area other than their stick or gloved hand.
- Tripping earns a foul when a player obstructs their opponent at or below the waist using their crosse, arms, hands, feet or legs.
- Cross checking means that a player uses the handle of their crosse to make contact with the opponent.
- Unsportsmanlike conduct is when a player or coach uses obscene language, taunts or gestures inappropriately.
- Unnecessary roughness means striking an opponent with your stick or body in a violent way.
- Illegal crosse means using a crosse that doesn’t conform to required specifications. This could include the crosse having a deeper than regulated pocket to gain advantage.
- Illegal body checking means body checking an opponent not in possession of the ball. It could also refer to avoidable body checking of an opponent after they have passed the ball. The same could also apply if an opponent is body checked from the rear or below the waist.
- Illegal gloves refers to using gloves not in conformity with specified regulations.
Men’s Lacrosse Technical Fouls
Technical fouls in the game result in a 30 second penalty if the team against which the penalty was committed was in possession of the ball.
- Holding earns a fouls when a player deliberately obstructs an opponent’s movement or their crosse.
- Interference happens when one player interferes with the free movement of another.
- Off sides means that a team doesn’t have at least four players on its defensive side or at least three on its offensive side.
- Pushing, as the name implies is considered a foul when a player shoves or thrusts another player from behind.
- Screening is when an offensive player makes contact with a defensive player to block them from the player they are defending.
- Stalling is a technical foul when a team deliberately holds the ball. The intent is to run time off the clock.
- Warding off occurs when a player in possession of the ball uses their free hand to push or hold off another player.
Of the two, personal fouls are more serious offences than technical fouls.