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Looking at the Basics of Lacrosse

December 9th, 2014 at 9:16 AM
By Sports Media 101

The game of lacrosse is getting a lot more traction these days, especially in the college scene where the sport has grown to massive popularity. Lacrosse may have origins as far back as 1100 AD, and it most likely originated in North America. It’s a team sport, originally played by natives.

The Jesuits helped to bring attention to lacrosse, which had been well established by the time they first documented the game during the seventeenth century. Back then, games could include teams of as many as 1,000 men, so things could get a little chaotic. The rules are far more refined today and the equipment standard for each league. A governing body has been in place since 2001, when the Men’s League Lacrosse was formally established, so there are now recognized rules and equipment for all levels of play.

Basic Rules

There are three organizations that create rules for the game of Lacrosse. US Lacrosse covers all youth programs, and there is the National Federation of State High School Associations and the NCAA for colleges. No more than 19 players can take the field in an MLL game, and each quarter begins with a face-off not unlike hockey. Official rules state that there are two spots for television timeouts during a lacrosse match, occurring during dead ball stoppages. The field is about 10 yards longer than a football field, and players use a 52 inch stick to catch and toss a ball to each other. Goals are scored if the ball is thrown into an 18 foot crease, which is situated behind a defensive area.

There are also big differences in how lacrosse is played for both men and women. Women, for instance, use the same length crosse stick for every position while men will use a different length based on the position they might be playing. Mouth guards are required for men, but eyewear is an additional requirement for women. The most important distinction is cross checking, which is legal in men’s lacrosse but not in women’s.


The crosse is the most basic form of equipment. It is the stick that is used to catch and toss the ball around the field, and it is typically made of wood or a synthetic material of some kind. Balls are made of solid rubber, and are subject to wear on repeated use. It’s common for teams to buy lacrosse balls in bulk for practice and scrimmages. The helmet is not unlike that of a hockey goalie, complete with a face mask. Mouth guards are also required for protection. Gloves are also a requirement, as are shoulder pads. Rib and arm pads are not required, but they are strongly recommended by the US Lacrosse league. Of course, at youth levels, it’s common to see lacrosse pads that cover the full body.

Final Thoughts

The most important aspect of lacrosse is that it is a team game requiring high levels of discipline from team mates. Lacrosse players must function as part of a 19 member unit, so everyone should get along well and form a strong camaraderie. Officials are also instructed to be mindful of player behavior on the field, much like soccer, doling out punishments as needed. Some high school leagues even feature sportsmanship awards to honor those who follow the principles the league strives to uphold.

Lacrosse is still a physical game, and emotions run high when point tallies are close. Over all, it’s an exciting alternative to the mainstream sports and those who follow it will get an inside look at competition for the summer Olympics too.

Tags: London, London 2012, Olympics, Summer Olympics

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