Lacrosse Primer for New Families
Lacrosse, which is currently the fastest growing youth sport participation-wise in the country, has its roots in a Native American game with roughly the same concepts of a stick to carry and pass a ball with the intent to score against your opponent.
Boys lacrosse is a field game played on a soccer-sized field. The game is played with sticks that have nets attached at the ‘head’ end – a “crosse” – which is used to carry and throw a solid rubber ball about the size of a tennis ball with the purpose of scoring goals against your opponent. At the higher youth levels and into high school, defense is played with body positioning, stick checking, and body checking. The modern game is played with 9 field players (3 defensemen, 3 midfielders, 3 attackmen) and 1 goalie per team, with numerous substitutes as substitutions can be made ‘on the fly’ during the run of play. Like hockey, lacrosse also allows play behind the goal (which is inside a circular crease), which is placed about 15 yards in front of the endlines. There is also a midfield line which determines offsides. One interesting rule in lacrosse awards possession of the ball on a shot that crosses one of the field boundaries to the team of the player that is closest to the point at which the ball left the playing field.
A boys lacrosse player is required to have, of course, a lacrosse stick. For protective equipment, a lacrosse helmet, shoulder pads, elbow or arm guards, gloves, and a mouthguard are required. A protective cup and cleats are also recommended.
Girls lacrosse has similar field dimensions, though the goals (also inside a circular crease) are placed only 10 yards in front of the endlines. The field markings are also different to allow for differing rules of play – no body checking, no midfield line, offsides restraining lines marking the field roughly into thirds, and arcs in front of the goal for determining types of fouls and ‘free-position’ shooting situations. Girls lacrosse is played with 11 field players (3 defenders, 2 defense wings, 1 center, 2 attack wings, 3 attackers or homes) and 1 goalie per team.
A girls lacrosse player is required to have a lacrosse stick (girls’ sticks have a different head design than boys’ sticks), eye protection, and a mouthguard. Cleats are recommended and close fitting gloves are optional.
Younger teams (grades K through 4) in both girls and boys leagues play on shorter fields and/or with less players.
Sharon Lacrosse plays primarily in the Massachusetts Bay Youth Lacrosse League (Boys) and the Founders Girls Lacrosse League (Girls).