Sport logo.

Articles: Lacrosse


Lacrosse is a team sport where teams compete to score goals by passing a small rubber ball to one another. They cannot kick the ball with the feet nor carry or handle and throw the ball with their hands. They must use a stick that ends in a scoop with a small net and use that to run with the ball and pass it to team mates. An attempt to score must be made within 60 seconds making for a fast paced game.

The game has its origins with native American tribes in the area currently occupied by New York and Pennsylvania. The game first appeared around the beginning of the 12th century and spread from there. By the 17th century, it was widespread amongst native American tribes. The first written documentation of a game of lacrosse was written in 1757 by James Smith.

The first lacrosse club was founded in 1855 by William George Beers; later, in 1867, Beers codified the game into what resembles the modern version of lacrosse. The game grew and expanded from there and by the 20th century, lacrosse had become a popular game at schools, universities and colleges in the United States and Canada.

Today, the game is most popular in the United States and Canada, and is also played in Australia and Great Britain. Since 2001, there is one professional league in the United States with 8 teams.

The game of lacrosse

Lacrosse is played by both men and women of all levels, juniors and seniors. Since lacrosse is considered a contact sport, there are various complex pieces of equipment that are used to ensure the safety of the players. There are several variations of the game being played today: box cross, collage lacrosse, and field lacrosse, which is the main professional sport and the subject of this article.

A team of field lacrosse consists of 10 players playing in 4 different positions. There is one goalie, 3 defenders, 3 midfielders, and 3 attackers. Although they are different positions, the team as a whole will attack and defend together.

A lacrosse field is a rectangle 100 meters long by 55 meters wide. Lacrosse goals are 1.8 meters wide by 1.8 meters high. The field is split in half with a half way line, and also into three equal parts denoting a defensive area, a midfield area, and an attacking area. The goals sit inside the field of play in a 5.5-meter circle called the “crease”.

The equipment worn by the players is quite extensive: helmets, mouth guards, gloves, shoulder pads, and chest and rib protectors are required. Goal keepers are required to wear more padding and chest protection to protect against impact from the ball. The ball is either yellow, orange, or white, and made of solid rubber. It is 20 cm in diameter and weighs 147 grams. Players use a stick to pass, shoot and defend. There are standard sticks measuring 1.0 to 1.1. meters, mainly used by attackers and midfielders, and long sticks measuring 1.3 to 1.8 meters, which are favoured by defenders. No more than 4 players on each team can be equipped with a long stick at any one time.

How a game of lacrosse begins

All lacrosse restarts of play happen with a face off, where a player from each team line up at the center line and lay their sticks horizontally on the ground with the handle facing the centerline. At the whistle, the players scrap for the ball until one player can pass the ball to his team mates behind him. During the face off, team mates are prohibited from entering the midfield area until the ball is passed to a player or it passes into the defensive area.

Once a team has won the ball, it deploys itself into an attacking formation and passes the ball to move it forward. The defensive team will then deploy its defensive formation and attempt to prevent the opposition team scoring.

The rules of lacrosse

The rules of lacrosse are relatively simple; the team with the ball passes the ball in an attempt to gain a shooting position and score a goal. Players on the defensive try to steal the ball; while it’s a contact sport, stick checking and body checking are not allowed an incur a 30 second exclusion penalty. Other minor infractions result in a turnover of possession. Sending the ball out of play allows the opposing team to restart play from where the ball went out.

Professional lacrosse has a 60 seconds shot clock, whereby the attacking team has 60 seconds to take a shot on goal or turn over possession. Additionally, goals scored from outside a given area score 2 points to encourage a high scoring game.

Similar to ice hockey, there is an unlimited number of on the fly in game substitutions allowed in the game. As players enter and leave at their will, they must remain in the substitution box on the edge of the field, and the player cannot enter the field until the other player has left first.

Flow and tactics during a lacrosse game

Lacrosse is a very fast paced game and teams utilize a variety of offensive and defensive strategies; most of the offensive strategies are based around quick passing and triangular movement by the team in possession of the ball, to pull the defence out of shape and give the attacking team an opening for a shot. Defensively strategies break down into 2 kinds. Depending on the fitness of the team, they may opt to play a zone defence, a man marking defence, or a combination. Generally, zone defence is where every player is responsible for defending a given area of the field, while the man marking defence is centred around stifling the opposition attack by continuously pressing their individual players.

In addition, tactically teams that are winning may choose to hold up the ball more and more in order to run the clock down, whilst a team that is losing may choose a switch to a pressing man marking defence to be able to turn the ball over quicker.

Lacrosse competitions

Lacrosse does not have a unified international governing body, however, in 1998, several regional agencies in the United States merged to form US Lacrosse. There are multiple lacrosse competitions across the US and Canada, including a professional league. Most professional lacrosse players come through a structured junior and college system, where after playing at high school, and for colleges and university teams, players are picked up in an annual draft into the professional league.

Betting on lacrosse

In the US and Canada, betting on lacrosse games is relatively available on college and professional games, and other televised events. Most bets tend to be straight up bets on the winners of individual games.