Old Bridge Lacrosse: Lacrosse 101

Tuesday, May 9
Boys lacrosse is a contact game played by ten players: a goalie, three defensemen, three midfielders and three attackmen. Each team must keep three players (plus the goalie), in its defensive half of the field and three in its offensive half. Three players (midfielders) may roam the entire field.

Youth games are typically 40 minutes long, with 10 -minute quarters although they may be longer or split into halves vs quarters. We typically play either 12 minute quarters or 20 minute halves. We also use a running clock vs a stop clock. (the only time we will stop the clock is during the last 2 minutes of the quarter or half). Teams change sides between periods.

At the beginning of the game, the players line up in their respective areas. The Defensemen and Attack behind the restraining line (about the 30 yard line) and the Midfielders on the 50 yard line. The game begins with a Face-Off. The ball is placed between the sticks of two 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 other two Midfielders can run after the ball when the whistle sounds. The Defensemen and the Attackmen must wait behind the Restraining Line (approximately the 30 yard line) until a team gets possession of the ball (the Ref will indicate possession by waving his arm in a circle) At that point the Defensemen and the Attack are allowed to move freely.

Face-offs are also used at the start of each quarter and after a goal is scored. Field players must use their sticks to pass, catch and run with 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 (the head of the stick) with a stick check. A stick check is 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 or is within five yards of a loose ball. All body contact must occur from the front or side, above the waist and below the shoulders, and with both hands on the stick. An opponent's crosse may also be stick checked if it is within five yards of a loose ball or ball in the air. Aggressive body checking will result in a penalty. The most common penalties you will see are:

Slashing: Occurs when a player's stick contacts an opponent in any area other than the allowed area, stick or gloved hand holding the stick (especially the helmet).  Slashing will also be called if the opposing player breaks his elbow when checking (e.g. baseball bat-type swing)
Tripping: Occurs when a player trips an opposing player with his body or the stick
Cross Checking: Occurs when a player holds his stick horizontal and hits a player on the opposing team with his hands apart.

If the ball goes out of bounds on a pass or ground ball, the team that touched the ball last will lose possession. If the ball goes out of bounds after an unsuccessful shot on goal, the player nearest to the spot where the ball went out of bounds is awarded possession. This is why a player will be positioned behind the goal (referred to as "X") and will run with their stick extended when chasing a ball after a missed shot).

There is an outlined circle around the goal. This is called the Crease. This is the "safety zone" for the Goalie. The goalie and his defensemen may enter the crease. The opposing players can not. If an opposing player steps on the crease line or enters the crease (they can put their stick into the crease, but they can not step into the crease) it is a Crease Violation and they will lose possession (or the goal will be waived off if a goal was scored). A Goalie is also not allowed to enter back into the crease with the ball if he has stepped outside of the crease. If a Goalie re-enters the crease with the ball, it is also a crease violation and the team will lose possession.

There are other various nuances, but hopefully this will provide you with enough of the basics so that you are able to follow the game.

Lacrosse is very fast, moving and you will definitely enjoy watching your players on the field