Some of you may know that I play men’s lacrosse at UTSA. If you didn’t, well now you do! Lacrosse is a great sport and a fun one at that. It is definitely not the most popular sport in Texas, but it’s catching on. Once a niche sport played primarily on reservations and east coast prep schools, lacrosse has enjoyed a recent surge of popularity that has launched it into the American sports consciousness. Many kids who would have once played baseball or soccer are now choosing to play lacrosse and for good reason. I was lucky enough to be exposed to this sport early in my life, but it’s still easy for anyone to pick up. Familiarize yourself with the rules!
Note: Not all of these rules (like body checking) apply to every age group but they provide a good overview. Each division will adjust certain elements to help the game flow and safety.
Men’s lacrosse is a contact game played by ten players: a goalkeeper, three defensemen, three midfielders and three attackmen. The object of the game is to shoot the ball into the opponent’s goal. The team scoring the most goals wins.
Each team must keep at least four players, including the goalie, in its defensive half of the field and three in its offensive half. Three players (midfielders) may roam the entire field.
Teams change sides between periods. Each team is permitted two timeouts each half. The team winning the coin toss chooses the end of the field it wants to defend first.
Men’s lacrosse begins with a face-off. The ball is placed between the sticks of two squatting players at the center of the field. The official blows the whistle to begin play. Each face-off player tries to control the ball. The players in the wing areas can release; the other players must wait until one player has gained possession of the ball or the ball has crossed the goal line.
Center face-offs are also used after a goal and at the start of each quarter.
Players may run with the ball in the crosse, pass and catch the ball. Only the goalkeeper may touch the ball with his hands.
A player may gain possession of the ball by dislodging it from an opponent’s crosse with a stick check, which includes the controlled poking and slapping of the stick and gloved hands of the player in possession of the ball.
Body checking is permitted if the opponent has the ball. However, all contact must occur from the front or side, above the waist and below the shoulders. An opponent’s crosse may also be stick checked if it is within five yards of a loose ball or ball in the air. (Not permitted in youth lacrosse)
If the ball or a player in possession of the ball goes out of bounds, the other team is awarded possession of the ball. If the ball goes out of bounds after an unsuccessful shot on goal, the player nearest to the ball when and where it goes out of bounds is awarded possession.
An attacking player cannot enter the crease around the goal, but may reach in with his stick to scoop a loose ball.
Slashing: When a player’s stick viciously contacts an opponent in any area other than the stick or gloved hand on the stick.
Tripping: When a player obstructs his opponent at or below the waist with the crosse, hands, arms, feet or legs.
Cross Checking: When a player uses the handle of his crosse between his hands to make contact with an opponent.
Unsportsman like Conduct: Occurs when any player or coach commits an act which is considered unsportsman like by an official, including taunting, arguing, or obscene language or gestures.
Unnecessary Roughness: Occurs when a player strikes an opponent with his stick or body using excessive or violent force.
Illegal Crosse (stick): Occurs when a player uses a crosse that does not conform to required specifications. A crosse may be found illegal if the pocket is too deep or if any other part of the crosse was altered to gain an advantage.
Illegal Gloves: Occurs when a player uses gloves that do not conform to required specifications. A glove will be found illegal if the fingers and palms are cut out of the gloves, or if the glove has been altered in a way that compromises its protective features.
Holding: Occurs when a player impedes the movement of an opponent or an opponent’s crosse.
Interference: Occurs when a player interferes in any manner with the free movement of an opponent, except when that opponent has possession of the ball, the ball is in flight and within five yards of the player, or both players are within five yards of a loose ball.
Offsides: Occurs when a team does not have at least four players on its defensive side of the midfield line or at least three players on its offensive side of the midfield line.
Pushing: Occurs when a player thrusts or shoves a player from behind. Screening: Occurs when an offensive player moves into and makes contact with a defensive player with the purpose of blocking him from the man he is defending.
Stalling: Occurs when a team intentionally holds the ball, without conducting normal offensive play, with the intent of running time off the clock.
Warding: Occurs when a player in possession of the ball uses his free hand or arm to hold, push or control the direction of an opponent’s stick check.