What Is Lacrosse? (A Beginner’s Guide)

Lacrosse is a sport that is quickly growing in popularity at the youth, high school, collegiate, and professional level. With new eyeballs being attracted everyday, many people may be wondering “what is lacrosse?” For starters, it’s much more than a couple players whacking each other with their sticks. It’s an entertaining sport of finesse, athleticism, skill, and fun that dates back all the way back to its Native American origins. In this article, we discuss everything you need to know as a beginner: how lacrosse started, how it’s played, lingo, equipment, rules, and much more. Let’s dive in 👇.

Who Invented Lacrosse?

men's and women's lacrosse

Lacrosse is North America’s oldest team sport and originated with Native Americans in as early as 1100 A.D. The game was played amongst Native American communities throughout modern Canada, New York, the Great Lakes, and Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. The Haudenosaunee people (or Iroquois) were first gifted this game over 1,000 years ago from “the Creator“. It was played as a Medicine Game to heal the sick, make peace among nations, and to have fun. If you’re interested in learning more, check out the full history of lacrosse.

Lacrosse is a combination of what sports?

Because lacrosse was founded over 1,000 years ago by the Native Americans, it pre-dates most modern day sport comparisons. However, if you were to compare lacrosse to the sports of today, it is a combination of hockey, soccer, and basketball. Lacrosse is like hockey in that it is a physical sport that requires finesse and skill with a stick. Lacrosse is like soccer in that it requires plenty of endurance, agility, and the ability to skirt past opponents on a grass or turf field. Lacrosse is like basketball in that it requires vision and teamwork, while including picks, rotations, and defensive slides.

Types Of Lacrosse

men's lacrosse and women's lacrosse

Men’s Lacrosse

What is field lacrosse?

Field lacrosse is the most common form of lacrosse. It is played outdoors on a field that is 110 yards long and 60 yards wide. The object of the game is to score goals by shooting the ball into the opposing team’s goal. The goaltender tries to stop the ball from entering the goal, and the other players try to intercept or block the shots. There are ten players on each team, and the game is divided into four fifteen-minute quarters.

What is box lacrosse?

Lacrosse can also be played indoors. This version of the game is called box lacrosse, and it is played on a smaller field that is just sixty feet long and thirty feet wide. Box lacrosse is more physical than field lacrosse and is similar to hockey in many ways.

Women’s Lacrosse

What is the difference between field hockey and lacrosse?

The main difference between field hockey and lacrosse is that field hockey is played with a curved stick that requires you to hit the ball from the ground, and lacrosse is played with a stick that has a net on the end which allows you to throw and catch the ball.

What season is lacrosse played?

Lacrosse season depends on the league you are playing in. Youth, high school, and collegiate lacrosse are playing in the spring. The Premier League Lacrosse (pro field lacrosse) is played in the summer. The National Lacrosse League (pro indoor lacrosse) is played in the winter.

What country is lacrosse most popular in?

Lacrosse is most popular in the United States and Canada. Lacrosse was originally a Native American game founded near modern-day upstate New York. In recent years, lacrosse has been rapidly growing in popularity in Australia, United Kingdom, and Japan.

The Playing Field

major league lacrosse club field

A lacrosse field is a turf or grass field that is typically 110 yards long and 53-60 yards wide. In men’s lacrosse, the field has midfield line that runs through the center and a restraining line on each the offensive and defensive side of the field. There is also a crease around each goal.

What is the crease in lacrosse?

The crease is a nine-foot circle in front of each goal. Only the goaltender is allowed inside the crease, and the other players must stay outside of it.

Lacrosse Rules

lacrosse league referee

The rules of lacrosse are quite different between boy’s lacrosse and girl’s lacrosse. Check out our lacrosse rules for beginners guide for the full breakdown. But generally speaking, the objective for lacrosse is to score on the opposing team’s goal. Players must scoop, cradlepass, catch, and shoot with their lacrosse sticks.

What is a ward in lacrosse?

Warding off is an illegal motion in lacrosse in which a player uses their free hand to hold, push, or control the direction of an opponent’s crosse or body. Players are allowed to protect their crosse with a stationary free hand or arm, as long as it is not moving.

What is slashing in lacrosse?

Slashing is the act of swinging your lacrosse stick at an opponent’s crosse or body with deliberate viciousness or reckless abandon, regardless of whether contact occurs. Slashing is illegal in lacrosse.

What is the shot clock in lacrosse?

Shot clocks only exist at the collegiate and professional level of lacrosse. In division 1 men’s lacrosse, the shot clock is 60 seconds, and in the Premier Lacrosse League, the shot clock is 52 seconds.

What is a Braveheart in lacrosse?

A Braveheart in lacrosse is a rare, but honorable showdown that takes place between four players if a game remains tied after an overtime period. In a Braveheart, each team elects one player plus their goalie to take the field in a 2v2 sudden death showdown. The players take the face-off against each other while their goalie defends the cage. Whoever scores first, wins. Bravehearts typically exist on a league-by-league basis at the youth level. They are commonly enacted at summer tournaments where tie games cannot suffice, and a decisive win is required in order for one team to advance in the bracket.

Lacrosse Positions

lacrosse teams possession of the ball


The attack position consists of three players located on the offensive half of the field. Attackmen are typically the offensive specialists of their team, with their main objective being scoring, passing, and dodging.


The midfield position consists of three players that play on both the offensive and defensive half of the field. Midfielders are typically high stamina players who are skilled in playing defense and offense.


The defense position consists of three players on the defensive half of the field. Defenders play with a long pole and guard opposing attackmen. Their main objective is to cause turnovers and prevent shots on net.


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. Goalies play with a goalie stick, which has a unique, wide head to prevent incoming shots.

What is FOGO in lacrosse?

FOGO stands for face off, get off. FOGO’s are the face off specialist for a team, where they will usually substitute off the field immediately after the face off.

What is a good face off percentage in lacrosse?

Anything over 50% is typically viewed as a good face off percentage. In 2022, Trevor Baptiste, the best face off man in the world, finished the season with a 70% face off percentage.

What is a LSM in lacrosse?

LSM stands for long stick midfielder. A long stick midfielder is a defensive midfielder that comes on the field with a long pole to support their defense. In lacrosse, each team is allowed 4 long pole sticks on the field at a time (3 defenders and 1 LSM). Since the LSM has a long pole, they are typically tasked with defending the best midfielder on the opposing team.

What is a SSDM in lacrosse?

SSDM stands for short stick defensive midfielder. A short stick defensive midfielder comes on the field when their team is playing defense to guard the opposing team’s midfielders. In lacrosse, each team is allowed 4 long pole sticks on the field at a time (3 defenders and 1 LSM). The remaining two midfielders playing defense are the SSDM’s, and they are usually tough, scrappy hustle players who are great at scooping ground balls.

What is X in lacrosse?

X is the location directly behind the goal. In lacrosse, players can play behind the goal. As a result, much of the team’s offense is generated from this location because it forces the opposing goalie and defenders to keep their head on a swivel.

Lacrosse Equipment

men's lacrosse equipment

What equipment is needed to play lacrosse? In addition to a lacrosse stick, here is the full list of protective equipment that is required:

Boy’s lacrosse equipment

Field player gear requirements

Goalie gear requirements

Girl’s lacrosse equipment

Field player gear requirements

Goalie Gear Requirements

What is a lacrosse stick called?

A lacrosse stick is often called a crosse. The crosse is broken down into the head, which is the face of the stick that contains the pocket, and the shaft, which is the long handle players hold onto.

What is the head of a lacrosse stick called?

The head of a lacrosse stick is simply called the head. The head contains the lacrosse pocket, which can be strung in a variety ways to cater to the style and preference of the player.

What is at the end of a lacrosse stick?

The end of a lacrosse stick is called the butt end or end cap. Butt ends are a rubber material that provide a secure, stylish way to cap off the end of a lacrosse shaft.

What is an illegal stick in lacrosse?

An illegal stick in lacrosse is any stick that does not conform to the required specifications as detailed in the lacrosse rules. Generally speaking, a legal stick’s head, pocket, and shaft must fall within certain height and width dimensions.

What is a d pole in lacrosse?

A d pole in lacrosse is short for defensive long pole, which is the long ,defensive lacrosse stick players use in men’s and boy’s lacrosse.

What is a lacrosse ball made of?

Modern day lacrosse balls are made of solid, vulcanized rubber. The days of cement being inside lacrosse balls are long behind us. According to NOCSAE rules (the governing board of US youth lacrosse), lacrosse balls must be of a smooth or slightly textured, solid, elastomeric material. Elastomeric materials can be from polyurethane, silicone, and rubber; however, most modern lacrosse manufacturers choose solid, vulcanized rubber.

What is the size of a lacrosse ball?

Certified lacrosse balls must have a circumference between 7.5 in. and 8 in.

What is a lacrosse ball called?

A lacrosse ball is simply referred to as the ball or lacrosse ball. Nothing fancy here.

What is the net on a lacrosse stick called?

The net on a lacrosse stick is called the pocket. The pocket is designed to hold the ball so you can cradle, catch, pass, and shoot.

What is a lacrosse shooter shirt?

A lacrosse shooter shirt is the shirt worn underneath lacrosse pads. Shooter shirts consist of a lightweight, athletic material so players have enhanced mobility, comfort, and breathability as they play.

What is a pinnie in lacrosse?

A lacrosse pinnie is a sleeveless, reversible mesh jersey worn by players at practice or tournaments. Unlike full jerseys which can sometimes interfere with arm mobility, lacrosse pinnies are easy to play with and easy to change out of.

What is the difference between lacrosse cleats and football cleats?

Lacrosse and football cleats are designed for different types of performance on the field. Therefore, cleat manufacturers take that into consideration with designing a cleat for lacrosse vs. designing a cleat for football. Here are the main differences:


Lacrosse cleats provide more airflow and breathability to the feet. Football cleats are designed to be tougher and more enclosed to protect the player’s feet from injury.

Ankle Cuts

Both sports offer a variety of ankle cuts, however football offers a wider variety, due to the number of different positions. Lacrosse cleats typically lean towards low to mid ankle cuts, while football offers high cut cleats for linemen and lower cut cleats for skill players.

Skills of the Game

pass the ball into the goal

The sport of lacrosse consists of several fundamental skills: cradling, scooping, throwing, catching, and shooting. Cradling is the art of rocking your stick back and forth in order to maintain possession of the ball. Scooping is the ability to pick the ball up from the ground with your crosse. Throwing and catching with a lacrosse stick may look easy, but takes a lot of practice. And in order to win, offensive players especially must learn how to shoot the ball.

What is a ground ball in lacrosse?

A ground ball in lacrosse is when the ball hits the ground and then is scooped up by a player

What is scooping in lacrosse?

Scooping in lacrosse is the act of picking up a ground ball with your lacrosse stick. You must use your crosse to scoop the ball up off the ground, and you cannot use your hands.

What is cradling in lacrosse?

Cradling in lacrosse is when you keep the ball in your stick by rocking it back and forth. This is done by placing one hand near the bottom of the shaft, and other near the top of the shaft, and curling your top hand wrist back and forth.

What is the purpose of cradling in lacrosse?

Cradling is essential for maintaining ball control in lacrosse. Although running with a lacrosse ball in your stick may look easy, it is actually quite difficult. You’ll quickly discover that the ball can pop out quite effortlessly. As a result, players use cradling to keep the ball in their pocket as they run and absorb checks from opponents.

What is a face off in lacrosse?

A face off in lacrosse is the method of starting or resuming play in which two players battle for possession at the center midfield line. Face offs take place at the start of every quarter and after each goal is scored.

What is whip in lacrosse?

Whip in lacrosse is a measure of how “snappy” the ball is coming out of your pocket as you pass or shoot. For example, if the ball has a tendency of being pulled down to ground as it comes out of your crosse, your pocket may have a lot of whip. If the ball has a tendency of releasing high as it comes out of your crosse, your pocket may have less whip. The whip of your crosse can be adjusted by restringing the shooter strings in your pocket. Typically, more shooter strings or tighter shooting strings indicate more whip. Conversely, less shooter strings or less tight shooting strings usually indicate less whip.

What is body checking in lacrosse?

Body checking is the method of using your body to hit another player. In lacrosse, if you are within 5 yards of the ball, you are allowed to body check another player as long as your hands are close together on your stick. If your hands are spaced apart and you ram an opponent with your shaft, that is an illegal cross-check.

What is a clear in lacrosse?

A clear in lacrosse is when the defense gets the ball after a save or turnover, and attempts to bring it upfield past the midfield line, and move it to their offense.

What is a ride in lacrosse?

A ride in lacrosse is when the defense is attempting to clear the ball upfield, and the opposing attackmen are trying to prevent them from clearing it past the midfield line. In this scenario, the attack are “riding” the defense.

What is the easiest position in lacrosse?

There is no easy position in lacrosse. Each is difficult in their own right. However, the easiest position for beginners to start out at is usually midfield or short stick defensive midfield (SSDM). Because these positions rely more on athleticism and less on stick skills, they are great starting positions for new players.

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