Lacrosse is played between two teams. The object of the game is to advance the ball into the opposing teams territory and shoot the ball into the opponent's goal. The team scoring the most goals at the end of regulation play is the winner.
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The ball is kept in play by being thrown, carried or hit by the stick, rolled or kicked by one or more players in any direction, provided the ball stays in the field of play.
A team is comprised of 10 players; 1 goalie, 3 defensemen, 3 mid-fielders and 3 attackmen. Each team must keep at least 4 players, including goalie, in its defensive half of the field and 3 players in its offensive zone. The 3 mid-fielders are free to roam entire field.
The game has four quarters, plus a halftime. Teams change ends between quarters. Youth games are generally 32 minutes long, with eight-minute quarters; two minute breaks between quarters and a ten-minute halftime. High school games are generally 40-48 minutes long with either 10 or l2 minute quarters and 12 minutes at halftime. Collegiate games are 60 minutes long with 15-minute quarters and a 15-minute halftime. Each team is permitted 3 time-outs, only two in a half of play.
The game starts at the center of the field with a face-off. Face-offs are also used to start each quarter and to resume play after each goal. The ball is placed between sticks of two face-off players at the center of the field. The play starts when the official blows the whistle and face-off players try to control the ball. Wingmen are allowed to participate for control (release) of the ball. All other on-field players must wait until one player has gained possession or the ball has crossed a goal area line.
Players maneuver the ball by passing, running, etc., to gain position which will provide the opportunity for a player to attempt to score a goal, by throwing the ball with their stick, past the goalie, into the goal. The only player allowed to touch the ball with his/her hands is the goalie.
Players attempt to gain control of the ball by scooping or catching it with a stick or by dislodging the ball from opponent's stick by checking. Checking involves poking, slapping or hitting an opponent's stick and gloved hand. Players may also attempt to gain possession of the ball by controlled body checks.
Attacking players may never enter the area immediately around opponent's goal, known as the crease. Nor may a player physically touch the goalie while the goalie is in the crease. Should the goalie gain possession of the ball, opposing players may try and block the clear by standing in the goalie's line of sight and waving sticks. Opposing players may also reach into the crease to try and retrieve loose or ground balls, but may not interfere with the goalie.
Unlike other sports, should the ball go out of bounds after an unsuccessful shot, possession is awarded to the player closest to the ball when and where it went out of bounds.
There is limit on the total number of players each team may carry on its roster. Most teams carry six to nine defensemen, six to nine attackmen, nine to twelve mid-fielders and three goalies. This provides three complete rotations of players (4 for mid-fielders). This is only a general rule of thumb and will vary considerably based on availability of players and coaching philosophy. There can be a maximum of four long sticks on the field at any one time (not including goalie). The remainder must be short sticks.
There will be situations (penalties) where one or both teams will be required to play with less than the full ten-member team. These are typically known as Man Up or Man Down situations and are usually handled with special field formations. Apon issuance of a penalty, which requires one or more players to go to "The Box", substitutes are not permitted to take their place. Teams must play with a reduced number of players until officials release penalized players back onto the field.
The game is played on a rectangular field measuring 110 yards long by 60 yards wide. The field is marked at 55 yards with a centerline and at 30 yards across the centerline with an (X) to indicate face-off zone. (See diagram).
Goals are typically manufactured of steel or aluminum, measuring 6 feet square at the widest opening and converging to a point 7 feet behind the opening. A mesh net is tightly secured to the goal. Each goal sits inside a circle with a radius of 9 feet, called the crease. Each crease is positioned 15 yards from the field's end line and 30 yards from each sideline.
OTHER IMPORTANT AREAS OF THE FIELD INCLUDE:
Goal Area - area inside restraining lines at each end of field.
Defense Clearing Area - area behind two solid lines that run across the field 20 yards in front of the goal.
Wing Areas - indicated by two lines, 20 yards long and 10 yards in front of each sideline.
"The Box" Area - is located directly in front of the officials' table and is used as a holding area for players to wait out their penalties. It is also the access area for substitute players entering and exiting the field.
Lacrosse Rules & Regulations
The game of Lacrosse is physical.Â Rules have been established which are intended to protect safety of players and maintain control over the game.Â Each game must have a minimum of two officials; a referee and an umpire.Â There may also be a field judge and a chief bench official.Â Decisions regarding third and fourth officials are made by the organization hosting the game.
It is the coach's responsibility to teach and instill in each player that they are expected to be physical, but not violent.Â They are required to play with mental and physical control.
The NCAA has put forth a comprehensive series of regulations and penalties for infractions.Â Following is a brief summarization of some of the major and common rule violations.
PERSONAL FOULS are infractions of a serious nature, which carry suspension from the game for periods ranging from a minute to three minutes, depending on the severity and intent of the infraction.Â The penalty's length is determined by the officials.
Cross Check is a check by one player on another with the part of the stick between player's hands.
Slashing occurs when a player swings his/her stick at an opponent in a deliberate, vicious, or reckless fashion, or when the stick comes in contact with an area of an opponent other than on their stick or gloves, unless opponent is actively attempting to deflect a legitimate check with part of their body.Â Slashing also occurs when the stick of a player strikes any part of an opposing player's body above the neck, unless when done by a player in an act of shooting, passing or scooping the ball.
Illegal Body Checks occur when checking a player not within 5 yards of the ball, a late hit, contact from behind or above the shoulders or below the waist.Â This occurs when a body check is thrown on an opponent who does not possess the ball, or when an avoidable body check of the opponent is made after the opponent has made a shot or pass.
Tripping is obstructing an opponent at or below the waist with any part of the stick or body.Â If a player makes a legitimate check with the stick to dislodge the ball from an opponent's stick and subsequently the opponent trips over his/her own or the checker's stick, this is not tripping.
Unnecessary Roughness occurs when a player uses unnecessary and deliberate violent contact on an opposing player or is an infraction of the rules by being excessively violent when holding or pushing.
Unsportsmanlike Conduct occurs when a person who represents a team attempts to argue with or influence the decision of a game official, using a threatening, profane, abusive, or obscene language or gestures during the game; or baits, taunts or acts in a manner considered unsportsmanlike by a game official.
Illegal Crosse is the use of a Crosse which does not conform to NCAA rules and standards.
Illegal Gloves are gloves which do not conform to required standards or when the glove's fingers and/or palms have been altered or removed.
Technical fouls are less serious than personal fouls and are subject to a 30 second suspension from play of the offending player.
Holding occurs when a player impedes or interferes with an opponent's stick movement.
Off-Side occurs when there are more than six players on the opponent's side of the field.Â This also occurs when a defenseman crosses the center line as the ball is being cleared up the field and all three attackmen and middies have progressed past the center line.
Warding Off occurs when a player with the ball uses his/her free hand or any part of his/her body to hold, push or control the stick or body of the player applying a check.
Stalling is when a team intentionally holds the ball without advancing toward the goal.
Screening occurs when an offensive player moves into or makes contact with a defender with the purpose of blocking the defensive player from opponent being played.
Illegal Procedure is a term that includes touching of the ball by a player other than the goalie, playing in the game without a stick, use of illegal equipment, avoidable lateness of the team, placing a stick in an opponent's face, entering the game prior to expiration of a penalty, delay of game, more than 10 men on the field, and illegal playing out of bounds.Â (see complete description in NCAA rules).
Interference occurs when one player interferes with the free movement of an opponent.Â Exceptions: when opponent has the ball and a player is within five feet of an opponent, or the ball is loose or on the fly, and both players are within five feet of the ball.
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Pushing is when a player pushes, thrusts, or shoves an opponent from behind.ÂÂ Pushing is permitted from the front and sides when an opponent has possession of the ball or is within five yards of a loose ball.
The Game of Lacrosse (Girls)
Diagram of a Women's Lacrosse Field