Lacrosse is one of those games people have heard of but don't really know what it's all about........and unfortunately it still conjures up images of St Trinians types. It was given a bit of a boost by the film "American Pie" but, for some reason, it still remains a lesser known sport than hockey.

All in all, lacrosse is one of those games that everyone should have the chance to try at some stage - as the "fastest game on two legs" it does move at speed and is fast and exhilarating to play or watch. In general terms, lacrosse is the same as other games like football and hockey i.e. the objective of the two teams is to score more goals than the opposition. Easy..........but there are few things that make it different and (dare I say it) more exciting than other sports.

History
With a history that ties it back to the American Indians, it was used to train and prepare the tribesmen for war. Legend has it that the game was originally played on the prairie with the ball being a shrunken head. The games lasted for days at a time and there were no boundaries - the natives could run for miles and often the goals themselves were miles from one another. The game became more civilised over time with the use of a hard deerskin ball and carved sticks similar to those that are played with today. French missionaries witnessed the games in the 1630’s and took it with them to Canada a few decades later. By this time a few rules had been introduced and the remodelled stick was named "La Crosse" after a Bishop’s crosier.

 
Lacrosse soon became the National sport of Canada and spread to Europe and then England in the 1870's. By the early 1900s the game had become popular in English boarding schools as one of the few team sports deemed to fitting for young ladies. It seems to have retained that mantle in the UK ever since , as even now the game is generally only played at private schools and individuals clubs.
 

Equipment
Sticks ("Crosse")
Each player has their own stick, either the newer metal sticks or the more traditional wooden sticks, with a net, made from woven strands of leather, at the top. The exact shape of the head can vary depending on the make or model of stick but they are all roughly triangular being about 4 inches wide at the neck and about 7 inches at the top.

The goalie's stick is slightly larger than the pitch players with a slightly longer handle. Also, the net tends to be made of mesh (instead of leather thongs) and the head is much wider (about 12 inches wide).

Ball
The balls are about the same size as a cricket ball and made of solid rubber. That all sounds fine, but despite being made of rubber, the ball can definitely hurt if you get hit by one at speed.

Goalie's Extra Kit
The goalkeeper must wear a helmet with a face mask, a throat protector and a chest protector as a minimum but there is other optional padding that can be worn.

Other Kit
Mouth guard must be worn on the pitch - players are not allowed on to the pitch for official games unless they have a mouthguard. That said, if you value your teeth then you really wouldn't be wise in the head if you ventured on to the pitch without one.

   

Players on the Pitch

Lacrosse does have slightly different names for the players on the team but, when you look at those names, they simply describe role in the team. First thing to remember is that players in each team are positioned along the pitch from one goal to the other, the whole team doesn't start the game on one side of the centre line as in hockey, rugby or football. Also players are free to run where they wish on the pitch (with one new exception - see Restraining Line Rule below).

The 12 players on a lacrosse team are described opposite and shown in the pitch diagram below (2 teams):

The Game
The game is started with a "draw" which similar to a face off in ice hockey and involves the two Centres. The centres stand along the line in the centre of the pitch and face one another - they hold their stick horizontally and use the backs of their sticks to hold the ball until the whistle blows to start play. At this point they both sweep their sticks up and over their heads in an arc, and if done properly, the ball flies up in the air and play starts. A draw is used at the start and after each goal.

Position  
Primary Role
Description
Goalkeeper GK Defence Fairly self explanatory - needs to protect the goal. Generally have buckets of courage and are bit of a nutter.
Point P Defence Marks first home and defends the goal by tackling, blocking shots and intercepting the ball.
Cover Point CP Defence Mark second home, defends the goal and tries to take the goal clears from the goalie.
3rd Man 3M Defence As for CP but mark third home.
Left / Right Defence LD/RD Defence Marking the attackes, intercept ing passes and passing the ball to their own attacks.
Centre C Both Control the draw at the start and after goals. Generally very fit & act as link between attack & defence.
Left / Right Attack LA/RA Attack Move the ball from defence to attack - aiming to lose their defence and find space to take the pass and move it up the pitch.
3rd Home 3H Attack As for attacks and also in a goal scoring position.
2nd Home 2H Attack Should concentrate on setting up the goals as well as shooting.
1st Home 1H Attack Primary role is to score by creating space around the goal and running towards the ball or drawing the defence out of the goal area to leave it free for another player.

Pitch Markings
Until fairly recently (as in the original American Indian version) there was no pitch and no boundaries. However, rule changes have resulted in the creation of boundaries that operate just like hockey and football - when you put the ball out the opposition gets the put-in. The only exception is where someone has had a shot at goal and misses. Then it is a case of first player to the ball gets the pick-up.

Goal Markings: as well as the circle in the centre of the pitch there are markings around each goal (not shown in diagram above). These are:

  1. Goalkeeper's circle - a circle line right the way around the goal that no-one else can cross. If you shoot a goal and either you or your stick crosses the line it is deemed a "cross-over" and the goal not given.
  2. There is a fan shape marked out in front of the goal circle - this is used for penalty shots at goal.

Restraining lines - these are new additions to the pitch and require a bit of co-ordination between team members. There are two lines – one for each end which effectively divide the pitch up into thirds. Each team (of 12 players) must keep a minimum of 3 players (plus the goalie) behind their line at all times. If there are only 11 players on a team, the team needs to only keep 2 players behind the restraining line - it is the player numbers round the goal that determine how many can and can not cross the restraining line.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you run with the ball?
Yes in short. It is a very fast paced game with the ball moving from one end of the pitch to the other very quickly. Players can run with the ball in their stick with passing passing between team members to keep the ball on the move.

How do you get the ball?
This can be done in a number of ways:

  • Intercepting a pass or shot
  • Picking up a loose ground ball
  • Tackling the opposition
  • Blocking a pass or shot
  • Harrassing (without contact!) the opposition to make them drop or fumble the ball

How do you tackle?
Also known as a "check", this must be done in a controlled manner by short, quick taps at the opponent's stick. Feet must be in front of the player being tackled and swipes or swings at the stick will be pulled up as a foul.

How can you stop the opposition getting the ball?
Players "cradle" in their stick as they run - this is essentially moving the stick from side to side using gravity and momentum to keep the ball in the net. This makes it harder for the opposition to tackle the player (i.e. it is a moving target close to the body).

Can you get in a bit of "aargy-bargy"?
That does depend on the version you playing and, although quite a physical game, women's and mixed Lacrosse is a non-contact sport. Therefore, there should be no pushing, pulling or tripping up the opposition. Nor should you can't barge anyone or forcefully block them with your body.

Can you run with the ball?
Yes in short. It is a very fast paced game with the ball moving from one end of the pitch to the other very quickly. Players can run with the ball in their stick with passing passing between team members to keep the ball on the move.

How do you get the ball?
This can be done in a number of ways:

  • Intercepting a pass or shot
  • Picking up a loose ground ball
  • Tackling the opposition
  • Blocking a pass or shot
  • Harrassing (without contact!) the opposition to make them drop or fumble the ball

How do you tackle?
Also known as a "check", this must be done in a controlled manner by short, quick taps at the opponent's stick. Feet must be in front of the player being tackled and swipes or swings at the stick will be pulled up as a foul.

How can you stop the opposition getting the ball?
Players "cradle" in their stick as they run - this is essentially moving the stick from side to side using gravity and momentum to keep the ball in the net. This makes it harder for the opposition to tackle the player (i.e. it is a moving target close to the body).

Can you get in a bit of "aargy-bargy"?
That does depend on the version you playing and, although quite a physical game, women's and mixed Lacrosse is a non-contact sport. Therefore, there should be no pushing, pulling or tripping up the opposition. Nor should you can't barge anyone or forcefully block them with your body.

 

Other Rules

Most are common sense - if it feels or looks dangerous then it is probably a foul.

  • Whenever the whistle if blown, all players must stand still
  • You’re not allowed to stand still in front of the goal circle for more than three seconds - you then standing in the firing line
  • Any shot at the goalie's head will be disallowed .....for obvious reasons........

Don't forget the balls hurt if they hit you and you can do alot of damage with an uncontrolled tackle.

 
Lacrosse Links
Lacrosse Scotland Scottish Lacrosse Association
English Lacrosse English Lacrosse Association
 
Lacrosse Gear and Kit
Brine Brine's official website (USA) - information but no online ordering.
DeBeer DeBeers website (USA) - good for information but no online ordering.
Hattersleys Sticks and equipment from Manchester - also sell STX women's sticks.
STX Sticks and equipment information but no online ordering.
 
UK Club Websites
Aberdeen Lacrosse All abilities and mixed teams with Wednesday practices at Nelson Street Astroturf.
Edinburgh Thistle Lacrosse club playing with mixed teams with practices held in Murrayfield.
Glasgow University Glasgow Uni's lacrosse website.

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