Quick Guide to Lacrosse Terminology & Slang (2023)

offensive player lacrosse stick

Welcome to the wild world of lacrosse, where sticks and balls come together to create one of the most entertaining and high-scoring games around. But before you can fully appreciate this sport, you need to understand the terminology. Fear not, for we’ve got you covered with this comprehensive guide to everything you need to know about lacrosse terms!

The Basics of Lacrosse

If you’ve never seen or played lacrosse before, it can seem like a foreign language. But fear not, here are a few fundamental concepts to get you started:

The History of Lacrosse

The origins of lacrosse can be traced back to indigenous communities in North America, where it was played for centuries as a cultural and spiritual pastime. The game was known as “stickball” and was played by tribes across the continent. The rules and equipment varied from tribe to tribe, but the basic objective was the same: to score points by hitting a ball into a designated area.

When European colonizers arrived in North America, they observed the game and began to adapt it to their own culture. They introduced new rules and equipment, such as the crosse (a stick with a net on the end) and goalposts. The game evolved over time, and by the early 20th century, it had become the modern-day version we know and love today.

The Objective of the Game

The objective of lacrosse is to score goals. Each team has a net, and there are designated players who try to shoot the ball past the opposing team’s goalie and into the net. The team with the highest number of goals at the end of the game wins!

But scoring goals is not the only objective of the game. Lacrosse is also a physical and strategic sport. Players must work together to move the ball up the field, dodge defenders, and create scoring opportunities. Defenders must work to prevent the other team from scoring, often through physical contact and aggressive play. The game requires speed, skill, and teamwork.

The Lacrosse Field Layout

Lacrosse is played on a rectangular field that’s about the size of a soccer field. The field is divided into two halves: the offensive and defensive halves. Each team defends one half of the field and tries to maneuver the ball into the other team’s zone to score.

The offensive zone is the area closest to the opposing team’s net. This is where the attacking players try to score goals. The defensive zone is the area closest to their own net, where the defenders work to prevent the other team from scoring. The midfield is the area in between, where players from both teams battle for possession of the ball.

There are also designated lines on the field that players must adhere to. The midfield line divides the field into offensive and defensive zones. The restraining lines mark the area where players must stay until the game begins or a goal is scored. And the end line marks the boundary of the field and where the nets are located.

Now that you have a better understanding of the basics of lacrosse, it’s time to grab a crosse and hit the field! Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, lacrosse is a fun and exciting sport that anyone can enjoy.

Essential Lacrosse Positions and Roles

positions on offensive and defensive sides

Lacrosse is a fast-paced, physical game that requires a variety of specialized skills and positions. Each position has its own unique role and responsibilities. Let’s take a closer look at the four essential positions in lacrosse:


An attackman is the designated offensive player on the team. They use their speed, agility, and stick-handling skills to create opportunities and shoot the ball past the opposing team’s goalie. Attackmen work closely with their teammates to set up plays and create scoring chances. They need to be able to read the defense, anticipate their opponent’s moves, and make split-second decisions. Attackmen must remain on the offensive half of the field, without crossing over onto the defensive side.

Off the field, Attackmen need to maintain a high level of fitness and conditioning. They also need to have strong communication skills to effectively coordinate with their teammates and coaches.

Midfielders (Middies)

Midfielders, also known as middies, have the most physically demanding role in the game. They run the length of the field, playing both offense and defense, and are responsible for winning faceoffs. Midfielders need to be versatile players who can excel in a variety of situations. They need to be fast, agile, and have excellent endurance.

On the offensive end, midfielders work with their teammates to create scoring opportunities. On the defensive end, they help protect their own goal and prevent the opposing team from scoring. Midfielders also need to have strong stick-handling skills and be able to make accurate passes under pressure.


Defensemen are responsible for protecting their goalie and trying to prevent opposing players from scoring. They use their physicality and stick-checking skills to disrupt their opponent’s offensive plays. Defensive players need to be able to anticipate their opponent’s moves and react quickly to shut down scoring opportunities. Defensemen either play man to man defense or zone defense. Either way, three defenders must remain on their defensive half of the field at all times.

Off the field, Defensemen need to have strong communication skills to effectively coordinate with their teammates and coaches. They also need to maintain a high level of fitness and conditioning to keep up with the fast-paced nature of the game.


Goalies are the last line of defense! They have the job of stopping shots that come their way and directing their defense to protect their net. Goalies need to have excellent hand-eye coordination, quick reflexes, and be able to read their opponent’s moves.

Goalies also need to be able to make quick outlet passes to start their team’s transition into the offensive zone. They need to have strong communication skills to effectively direct their teammates and be able to stay focused and composed under pressure.

Common Lacrosse Terms and Phrases

face off with hard rubber lacrosse balls


Cradling is a fundamental skill in lacrosse that every player must master. It involves a combination of wrist and arm movements to keep the ball in the stick’s scoop while running. When cradling, a player must keep their lacrosse stick close to their body and use their wrist to move the stick back and forth, allowing the ball to roll around the scoop. It takes practice to perfect, but once mastered, it’s an essential tool for any lacrosse player.


Checking is a defensive technique used to dislodge the ball from an opposing player. There are various forms of checking in lacrosse, including poke checks, slap checks, and lift checks. A poke check involves using the end of the stick to poke the ball out of the opponent’s stick, while a slap check involves using the stick’s flat side to slap the ball away. A lift check is when a player uses the bottom of their lacrosse stick to lift the opponent’s stick and dislodge the ball. Checking is an essential defensive skill in lacrosse, and players must practice it regularly to become proficient.

Face off

A face off is a critical part of the game that occurs at the start of each quarter and after each goal. It involves two midfielders crouching down and battling for possession of the ball. The players use their sticks to try to gain control of the ball, and the winner of the face off gains possession for their team. Face offs require speed, agility, and quick reflexes, and they can often set the tone for the rest of the game.

Ground Ball

Every coach will tell you, ground balls wins games! A ground ball is a loose ball that’s up for grabs! In lacrosse, ground balls are a critical part of the game, and players must be quick and agile to get to the ball first and pick it up. Loose ground balls can occur anywhere on the field, and they often lead to fast breaks and scoring opportunities. Players must use their sticks to scoop the lacrosse ball off the ground and quickly transition from defense to offense.

Fast Break

A fast break is an exciting and dynamic part of the game that occurs when an offensive team transitions quickly from defense to offense. The team moves the ball up the field, taking advantage of a numbers advantage before the opposing defense can get set up. Fast breaks require speed, precision passing, and quick decision-making, and they can often lead to scoring opportunities. They’re one of the most exciting parts of the game and can change the momentum of a match in an instant.

So there you have it, a comprehensive guide to some of the most common lacrosse terms and phrases. Lacrosse is an exciting and dynamic sport that requires skill, speed, and agility. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a newcomer to the game, understanding the terminology is essential to becoming a true fan. So grab your lacrosse stick, hit the field, and remember to keep it fun and entertaining!

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