Lacrosse is a fast-paced and extremely physical sport. While the rules might be confusing to the first-time spectator, the flow of play is easy to pick up.

Professional indoor lacrosse has been around since the '80s (the rules of indoor lacrosse are slightly different than the rules for outdoor lacrosse). The National Lacrosse League (NLL) currently has 9 franchises (with 2 expansion teams to be added for the 2001-2002 season).

Major League Lacrosse (MLL), a professional outdoor lacrosse league, will start play in summer 2001, with 6 teams.

NCAA men's lacrosse is extremely popular at a number of schools on the east coast. While there are teams nationwide, college lacrosse is still largely an East Coast sport. The NCAA men's lacrosse tournament is currently 12 teams, with the top 4 seeds getting a bye into the second round.

NCAA lacrosse has traditionally been dominated by a small group of schools, with only 7 schools winning the championship in its 31 years (interestingly, all 7 have won multiple titles)

Below's a list of NCAA Division I men's lacrosse champions:
1971 Cornell
1972 Virginia
1973 Maryland
1974 Johns Hopkins
1975 Maryland
1976 Cornell
1977 Cornell
1978 Johns Hopkins
1979 Johns Hopkins
1980 Johns Hopkins
1981 North Carolina
1982 North Carolina
1983 Syracuse
1984 Johns Hopkins
1985 Johns Hopkins
1986 North Carolina
1987 Johns Hopkins
1988 Syracuse
1989 Syracuse
1990 Syracuse***
1991 North Carolina
1992 Princeton
1993 Syracuse
1994 Princeton
1995 Syracuse
1996 Princeton
1997 Princeton
1998 Princeton
1999 Virginia
2000 Syracuse
2001 Princeton
*** Syracuse was forced to vacate the title by the NCAA's Committee on Infractions

Lacrosse is played on a field that is 120 yards long by between 53.5 and 60 yards wide.

There is are two 6'x6' square goals that ars six feet deep and terminate in a triangle. The goals are surrounded by an eighteen foot diameter circle known as a "crease." A goal sits ten yards from the end-line at each end of the field.

The field is divided by three lines: the midfield line, and two restraining lines that sit halfway between the midfield line and the end line.

Every player on the field except the goaltender must wear a helmet, protective gloves, shoulder pads, and elbow pads. Most players will wear padded rib guards as well. Goaltenders are usually somewhat unhinged (trust me, I am one), and are only required to wear a helmet, gloves, a throat guard, and a chest protector. There are some goaltenders out there who have not been touched by the hand of the goaltending god who will wear shoulder pads, elbow pads, thigh pads, and shin pads in addition to the required protection. Oh yeah, you'll also want to wear a cup.

Every player on the field has a lacrosse stick. The dimensions and "feel" of the stick depend on the position the person plays. Sticks are made of aluminum, carbon fiber, titanium, or my favorite for wholesome bone-crushing goodness, wood.
Midfielders and attackers use a stick that is no less than thirty inches long and cannot have a pocket deeper than the diameter of one lacrosse ball. The stick should be short to prevent someone from beating on the butt of the stick.
Defensivemen have a stick that is reminiscent of an old English quarterstaff. It should come at least to your chin and be even with your head if possible. The extra length is useful for spearing a wayward attacker with poke checks or delivering a spleen-jarring slap check.
The goaltender has a stick that looks like a cross between a bushel basket and a fishing net. It has a gigantic head and has a shaft that is normally between 25 and 44 inches long. I liked to keep mine on the longer side for the extra leverage, but some goaltenders think that a shorter stick makes them more agile.

Each team has ten players: three attackers, three midfielders, three defensivemen, and one goaltender. Attackers stay near the opposing goal and try to score. Midfielders are masochists who constantly run the length of the field trying to dominate the ball. Defensivemen keep the ball out of attacker's hands. Goaltenders (hopefully) keep the ball out of the goal and act as general for the defense.

After each score and at the beginning of each half play begins with a face off. This is done by placing the ball on the ground between the sticks of two kneeling midfielders. The referee blows the whistle and both teams unleash Hell. A point is scored by placing the ball into the opposing goal.

There are many penalties in lacrosse. Penalties are releasable or non-releasable. If a penalty is non-releasable the player does not return to the game after a goal is scored. Here are the basics:

Slash: You hit someone in the head with your stick. You get thrown in the penalty box for one minute.
Cross-check: You hold your stick like a quarterstaff and push someone with it. You get thrown in the penalty box for one minute.
Tripping: You trip someone. You get thrown in the penalty box for one minute.
Spearing: You use your head as a battering ram. You get thrown in the penalty box for one to three minutes.
Personal Foul: This is the catch-all term for doing something stupid like breaking your wooden stick in half and attempting to stab somebody with it. This will get you one to three minutes in the penalty box.

Offsides: There must be no less than four players on the defensive side of a team's field at a time. If a team violates this rule the other team gets the ball at midfield. This cannot be violated if a man is in the penalty box.
Offensive Crease Infraction: An offensive player may not enter the crease. Violaion results in a free clear.
Defensive Crease Infraction: A defensive player may not enter the crease with the ball. A goaltender may not re-enter the crease with the ball. Violation results in a loss of possession.
Moving Pick: An offensive player may not move and impede the progress of a defensive player. Violation results in loss of possession. Equipment Infraction: A player must wear all protective gear and meet the design requirements for a stick. Violation is a three minute penalty, non-releasable.

If people seem to be looking at this node I will add some strategy and tactics.

There are four basic positions for lacrosse each of which is accompanied with responsibilities. The goal of a team is to carefully work together and blend positional duties into a solid team play.


Three players at a time are the attackers or attackman. These players are the primary scorers, feeders, passers, and ball handlers. Their play focuses in the area around the goal. Players in this position must have strong stick skills and accuracy.


Three players at a time are the midfielders. These are the all-purpose players. It is imperative midfielders have great stamina and speed as they will be playing on both the defensive and offensive ends of the field. Their plays contain a vast deal of transition and will be substituted much more frequently than any other position. Simply put: midfielders are workhorses.


Three players match up defensively to the opponent's attackers as defenders. They will trigger the transition from defense to offense and are the pivotal point of the clearing game wherein a team clears the ball from the defensive to the offensive halves of the field. These players occasionally wield a defenseman's stick, or long pole, which is a great deal longer than any other stick on the field. Defensive players must possess excellent stick skills and agility.


One player at a time stands as a last defense between the opponents' attackers and goal: the goalie. The goalie stops balls from entering the goal and initiates transitions to offense by outletting, or passing to a defensemen, the ball. Goalies use a stick with a much larger head and net. Goalie must exhibit fearlessness and good stick skills.

As a coach it is essential to carefully watch players in early and pre-season to determine which position to post them in. Many new players think they know where they will be best at and 50% of the time they are completely wrong in most coach's eyes. Watch how they work their stick, their endurance, ability to command bursts of speed, reaction times, and agility. The hardest part of coaching before a game is situating the players into successful lines and formations.

La*crosse" (?), n. [F. la crosse, lit., the crosier, hooked stick. Cf. Crosier.]

A game of ball, originating among the North American Indians, now the popular field sport of Canada, and played also in England and the United States. Each player carries a long-handled racket, called a "crosse". The ball is not handled but caught with the crosse and carried on it, or tossed from it, the object being to carry it or throw it through one of the goals placed at opposite ends of the field.


© Webster 1913.

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