Lacrosse Positions (Explained) | Attack, Midfield, Defense, Goalie
Lacrosse is a wildly exciting sport that is fun to watch, and even more energizing to play. If you are new to the game, you may be wondering about the different lacrosse positions. For starters, there are ten players on the field for each team. The positions include attack, midfield, defense, and goalie. But each position breaks down into slightly more specialized roles. In this article, we will walk through each position in men’s field lacrosse, so that you have a complete understanding every position on the field.
The attack position consists of three players located on the offensive side of the field. They are typically the most talented offensive threats on the team; skillful at dodging, passing, and scoring.
Three players must stay on the offensive half of the field at all times, or you’ll receive an offsides penalty. Because of this rule, attackmen do not play too much defense, and primarily specialize in scoring on offense.
When a team has the ball on offense, the offensive players (attackmen & midfielders) organize into an offense set. Traditionally, this includes one attacker on each side of the goal. We call them wing attackers.
If an attackmen is left-hand dominant, they usually play the side that increases their shooting angle. The same goes for the right-hand dominant attackman, who plays the opposite wing. While wing attackers can very good dodgers, they are usually prone to receiving passes from teammates and can be some of the best shooters on the team.
Unlike many other sports, you can play behind the net in lacrosse. This spot behind the net is colloquially referred to as “X”.
This is a popular area for teams to initiate their offense and dodge against defenders. Usually, the best dodging attackman plays from X, and works to feed cutting teammates and/or take the ball to the net himself.
The midfield position consists of three midfielders who begin the game at the center midfield line. Throughout the game, midfielders play on both the defensive and offensive halves of the field.
Because they run back and forth between defense and offense, midfielders are commonly the best endurance athletes on the team. Midfield is a high stamina position that requires knowledge of how to play defense and how to play offense.
The face off man is a midfielder who takes the face off at the start of each quarter, and after each goal. Some midfielders specialize at the face off position and are frequently referred to as a FOGO (face off, get off). After taking the face off, the midfielder can fall back on defense or push up with the ball on offense. FOGOs will usually substitute off the field immediately after the draw.
SSDM – Short Stick Defensive Midfielder
Short stick defensive midfielders are the two midfielders who play defense with a short lacrosse stick instead of a long pole. They are viewed as tough, hustle players who can defend midfielders well and scoop up ground balls quickly.
At the youth lacrosse level, most midfielders are two-way midfielders, playing both defense and offense. But as you approach the high school level, some midfielders begin specializing at the short stick midfielder position in the defensive zone.
LSM – Long Stick Midfielder
Each can team can have a maximum of four long poles on the field at all times. Three of those poles will be playing defense. The 4th can be substituted on as a midfielder when their team is playing defense. We refer to them as Long Stick Midfielders.
It is not uncommon for LSM’s to be some of the most athletic players on a team. While three defenders are guarding attackmen, the LSM is tasked with guarding the most talented offensive midfielder on the opposing team. Not only are LSM’s excellent at stick checking, causing turnovers, and picking up ground balls, they can carry the ball into the offensive half and become a shooting threat.
The defense, also referred to as close defenders, consist of three players located on the defensive half of the field. Close defenders are equipped with long poles, and are tasked with guarding attackmen, causing turnovers, and preventing the opposing team from scoring.
Four players must stay on the defensive half of the field at all times, or you’ll receive an offsides penalty. Because of this rule, the three defensemen rarely play on the offensive side of the field, unless a midfielder stays back as the defender carries the ball over the midline.
Each team has one lacrosse goalie on the field. Goalies play with a goalie stick, which has a unique, wide head to prevent incoming shots. Lacrosse goalies are the vocal leaders of their defense; barking commands as defenders mark up and stick with offensive players. Due to the nature of the position, goalies need to have exceptional reaction time and hand eye coordination.
Because defense’s need to have four players on the defensive half of the field at all times, it is very rare for a goalie to cross over into the offensive zone unless a midfielder stays back on D. But crazier things have happened…⬇️