imagesize = 225px
caption = Lacrosse being played in Finland
union = International Lacrosse Federation / International Federation of Women's Lacrosse Associations
nickname = Lax
first = As early as the 12th century AD, North AmericaFact|date=September 2008
olympic = 1904-1908; 1928-1932, 1948Fact|date=September 2008 (demonstration)

Lacrosse is a full contact team sport played using a solid rubber ball and long handled racket called a crosse or lacrosse stick. The head of the crosse has a loose net strung into it that allows the player to hold the lacrosse ball. Offensively the object of the game is to use the lacrosse stick to catch, carry, and pass the ball in an effort to score by ultimately hurling the ball into an opponent's goal. Defensively the object is to keep the opposing team from scoring and to dispossess them of the ball through the use of stick checking and body contact. There are three distinct versions of the sport: men's lacrosse, women's lacrosse, and box lacrosse.


In Native American society, lacrosse served several different purposes. The sport was used for conflict resolution, the training of young warriors, and as a religious ritual. Games could be played on a pitch over a mile wide and sometimes lasted for days. Early lacrosse balls were made out of deerskin, clay, stone, and sometimes wood. Lacrosse has played a significant role in the community and religious life of tribes across the continent for many years. Early lacrosse was characterized by deep spiritual involvement, befitting the spirit of combat in which it was undertaken. Those who took part did so in the role of warriors, with the goal of bringing glory and honor to themselves and their tribes. [cite news | last = Rock| first = Tom| title = More Than a Game| work = Lacrosse Magazine| publisher = US Lacrosse| date = November/December 2002| url =| accessdate = 2007-03-18 ] The game was said to be played "for the pleasure of the Creator."

Lacrosse has witnessed significant modifications since its origins in the 14th century,Fact|date=July 2008 but many aspects of the sport remain the same. In the traditional Native American version, each team consisted of about 100 to 1,000 men on a field that stretched from about 500 yards to a couple of miles long.cite web| url =| title = Lacrosse History| accessdate = 2007-02-24| publisher = STX] These lacrosse games lasted from sunup to sundown for two to three days straight. These games were played to settle inter-tribal disputes, to toughen young warriors in preparation for future combat and to give thanks to the Creator. The Alqonquin tribes referred to the sport as "baggataway". The game became known to Westerners when a French Jesuit Missionary, Jean de Brébeuf, saw the Iroquois tribesmen play it in 1636. [cite web|url=|title=Patron Saints Index: Jean de Brébeuf|work=Catholic Community Forum|accessdate=2007-03-18]

It has often been assumed that the name lacrosse stems from the resemblance that a traditional wooden lacrosse stick bears to a bishop's crosier. Jesuit missionary Jean-de-Brébeuf noted this resemblance in the "Relation des Jésuites" around 1640. However, the word "crosse" in the French of that time period was a general term used for any type of staff. The name lacrosse is simply a reflection of this and is perhaps shorthand for the phrase "le jeu de la crosse" (the game of the hooked stick). [cite web|url= |title=Lacrosse entry|work=Compact Oxford English Dictionary|publisher=Oxford University Press|accessdate=2007-03-18]

In 1856, Dr. William George Beers, a Canadian dentist, founded Montreal Lacrosse Club and in 1867 he codified the game, shortening the length of each game and reducing the number of players to twelve per team. The first game played under Beers' rules was at Upper Canada College in 1867, with Upper Canada College losing to the Toronto Cricket Club by a score of 3–1. By the 1900s, high schools, colleges, and universities began playing the game. Lacrosse was contested as a demonstration sport in the 1928 and 1932 Olympics. On both occasions, rather than holding tryouts and sending an All-star amalgamation, the U.S. chose to be represented by the Johns Hopkins University Blue Jays.

In the United States, lacrosse had primarily been a regional sport centered in and around New England, upstate New York, Long Island and the Mid-Atlantic States. In recent years however, its popularity has started to spread south to Georgia and Florida, as well as west to Colorado, California, Texas, and the Midwest, spurred by the sport's increasing visibility in the media, the growth of college, high school, and youth (or "pee wee") programs throughout the country. The NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championship is the most attended , outdrawing the Final Four of men's basketball. [cite news | title = Virginia Claims National Title, and a Victory for Lacrosse | publisher = The New York Times | date = May 30, 2006] The growth of lacrosse was also facilitated by the introduction of plastic heads in the 1970s by Baltimore-based STX. This innovation reduced the weight and cost of the lacrosse stick, and allowed for faster passes and game play than traditional wooden sticks.

Up until the 1930s all lacrosse was played on large fields outdoors. Around this time the owners of Canadian hockey arenas invented a reduced version of the game, called box lacrosse, as a means to make more profit from their arena investments. Through this commercialization, in a relatively short period of time, box lacrosse became the dominant form of the sport in Canada. More recently field lacrosse has witnessed a revival in Canada as the Canadian University Field Lacrosse Association (CUFLA) began operating a collegiate men's league in 1985 that now includes 12 varsity teams.

In 1987 a professional box lacrosse league was started called the Eagle Pro Box Lacrosse League. Eventually this league would change its name to the National Lacrosse League and grow to encompass lacrosse clubs in twelve cities scattered throughout the United States and Canada. In the summer of 2001 a professional field lacrosse league known as Major League Lacrosse (MLL) was inaugurated. Initially starting with six teams the MLL has grown to a total of ten clubs located in major metropolitan areas throughout the United States. On July 4th 2008 Major League Lacrosse set the professional lacrosse attendance record when 20,116 fans attended a game at Invesco Field in Denver, Colorado.


Outdoor men's lacrosse involves two teams, each competing to project a small ball of solid rubber into the opposing team's goal. Each team starts with ten players on the field: a goalkeeper or "goalie"; three defenders in the defensive end; three midfielders free to roam the whole field; and three attackers attempting to score goals in the offensive end.Each quarter starts with a “face-off” in which the ball is placed on the ground and two “face-off-men” lay their stick horizontally next to the ball, head of the stick inches from the ball and the butt-end pointing down the midfield line. Face-off-men scrap for the ball, often by “clamping” it under their stick and flicking it out to their midfielders, who start on the wing restraining line near the sideline and sprint in when the whistle is blown to start play. Attackers and defenders cannot cross their “restraining line” until one player from the midfield takes possession of the ball or the ball crosses the restraining line. A face-off also restarts the game after each goal.

Players scoop the ball off the ground with their stick and may run carrying the ball in their stick, pass the ball through the air to other players, or throw it at the goal. In men's lacrosse, players may kick the ball, as well as cover it with their sticks, provided they do not withhold it from play.

Time continues to run in dead ball situations such as in between goals, with two exceptions: when the referees deem it necessary to avoid a significant loss of playing time, for example when chasing a ball shot far away or during care of an injured player; and in the last three minutes of the fourth quarter of any men’s game.cite web|url=|title=Rules of Men's Field Larosse|work=International Lacrosse Federation|accessdate=2007-03-30]

Play is quite fast and fluid with typical games totaling ten to twenty goals.

Rules of Play:

Offensive vs. Defensive Players- the offense consists of three attackmen and three midfielders all of whom use short sticks. The defense consists of three midfielders, three defensemen, and a goalie. Defensemen are known to use longer stick than midfielders and attackmen. On defense, teams are allowed to trade out one short stick player for another long stick player. Unsurprisingly, this player is called a long-stick midfielder (LSM). [Referred to in more detail below]

Offsides- this occurs when there are more than six players (three midfielders/three attackmen or three midfielders/three defensemen) on one half of the field. Midfielders are known to run the whole field but it is seldom during a game that an attackman or defenseman leave their offensive and defensive zones. Their zones are separated by the midfield line. However, defensemen and attackmen can cross the midfield line when a midfielder "stays back" and temporarily trades positions with him.

Crease- the crease is the circle surrounding the goal. This is the goalie's home. Defensemen are allowed to cross through the crease but players on offense are not. It is within this area that the goalie cannot be hit and players cannot make contact with the goalie's stick when he is in full possession of the ball.

Playing Field and Equipment Measurements

The field of play is 110 yards (100 m) long and 60 yards (54 m) wide.cite web|url=|title=Men's Lacrosse Rules "Condensed Version"|work=National Collegiate Athletic Association] The goals are 6 feet (1.8 m) by 6 feet, containing a mesh netting similar to an ice hockey goal. The goal sits inside a circular "crease", measuring 18 feet (5.5 m) in diameter. Behind the crease is the area designated simply as "X".One Attackman will remain at "X" in most types of offensive setups, such as chasing after a shot in which the first player to the spot where the ball went out gets possession of the ball.

Each player carries a lacrosse stick measuring between 40 inches (101.6 centimeters) and 42 inches (106.68 centimeters) long (a "short crosse"), or 52 inches (132.08 centimeters) to 72 (182.88 centimeters) long (a "long crosse"). The designated goalkeeper is allowed to have a stick from 40 inches (101.6 centimeters) to 72 inches (182.88 centimeters) long. The head of the crosse on both long and short crosses must be 6.5 inches or larger at its widest point and 2.5 inches wide or wider at its narrowest point.

The head of a goalkeeper's crosse may measure up to 15 inches (38.1 centimeters) wide, significantly larger than field players' heads to assist in blocking shots. Goalies at the youth levels commonly use shorter crosses. Although most attackmen and midfielders utilize short crosses, defensemen carry long crosses, and one midfielder on defense may carry a long crosse. Some teams choose to distribute their sticks differently, not uncommon because a team may only have 4 long crosses on the field during live play, excluding penalty boxes. Most modern sticks have a metal shaft, usually made of aluminum,titanium or alloys while the head is made of hard plastic. Metal shafts must have a plastic or a more popular rubber cap at the end. The heads are strung with string, leather, and mesh. The strings in the "pocket" are called shooting strings and accuracy or "v" strings.

Lacrosse players must wear helmets (or eye protection for women) and gloves and also typically wear shoulder and elbow pads. Some wear rib pads. Athletic supporters and protective cups for all male players are also strongly recommended and often required. [cite web|url=|title=Men's Lacrosse Rules |work=US Lacrosse|accessdate=2007-07-30]



There are three attackmen on the field for each team. The attackmen use "short-sticks"(40 inches). Attackmen must demonstrate good stick-handling with both hands. Attackmen must be able to handle the pressure of the opposing defenseman which are equipped with long sticks. Depending on the defensive scheme of the opposing team they are also the players who score most of the goals. An attackman must have a good sense of what is going on around him and where his teammates are at all times. The attackmen are also responsible for setting up in fast break formation when a "middie" or clearing defenseman has a breakaway. This generally looks like an "L" with two at goal line extended (GLE) and one up towards the midfield away from the "middie" coming down. "Riding" takes place when the ball is turned over on the offensive end and the attackmen are forced to defend the other teams defense from "clearing" the ball to the field's opposite end. [ [ Laxicon] ]


Commonly referred to as "middies" six midfielders are allowed on the field at once, three for each team. They are allowed to move anywhere on the field as they play both offense and defense. There are two types of midfielders, the defensive and offensive. The two can rotate by running off the sidelines. The midfielders are allowed to use short-sticks and up to one long-pole. While on offense three short-sticks are generally used for their superior stick-handling. While on defense two short-sticks are used with one long-pole. Some teams have a designated face-off middie (fogo-face off get off) that takes the majority of face-offs and is usually quickly substituted after the face-off is complete.


In the men's game defensive players are allowed to use "long poles"(6' long), while in women's lacrosse defensive players use the same type of stick as the other players on the field. The defensemen uses his stick to throw checks and try to dislodge the ball. One "long-pole" may also play mid-field as a strategic defender, a.k.a. a long-stick middie (LSM). Teams usually use this in anticipation of losing the face-off, in order to be stronger on defense. There are three defensemen per team and one long stick midfielder allowed on the field at a time in NCAA and high school competition.


The goalkeeper's job is to prevent the ball from getting into the goal. Goalies also direct the team defense. Goalies need to be tough both physically and mentally. Also the goalie needs to be the loudest player on the field calling the position of the ball at all times so the defense can concentrate on the man they are covering instead of where the ball is. The goalie needs to be able to keep his composure on the field while enduring shots that are capable of reaching over 100 MPH. The goalie directs the positional play of the defense.

Box lacrosse

Canadians most commonly play box lacrosse, an indoor version of the game played by teams of six on ice hockey rinks where the ice has been removed or covered by artificial turf. The enclosed playing area is called a box, in contrast to the open playing field of the traditional game.cite web| url =| title = Lax 101| accessdate = 2007-03-19| publisher = National Lacrosse League] This version of the game was introduced in the 1930s to promote business for hockey arenas, and within a several years had nearly supplanted field lacrosse in Canada.

In box lacrosse the goal is smaller than in outdoor lacrosse, and the goaltender wears much more protective padding. There is a shot clock and the attacking team must take a shot on goal within 30 seconds of gaining possession of the ball. Cross-checking is legal in box lacrosse in contrast to the field game where it is considered a penalty.

Indoor lacrosse is a version of box lacrosse played by the National Lacrosse League, which employs slight rule changes from the traditional box game. Notably, the games are played during the winter, not only in regions where summer lacrosse is popular but also in regions where lacrosse is rarely played in summer. This version of the game was intended to be less violent than box lacrosse, although changes in box lacrosse rules have reduced some of its violent play and a change in indoor lacrosse rules to permit cross-checking (hitting another player with the stick with one's hands apart on the shaft) have made it more violent. The chief differences between the two forms of the indoor game now are that indoor lacrosse games consist of 4 x 15 minute quarters compared with 3 x 20 minute periods in box lacrosse, and that indoor lacrosse players may use only sticks with hollow shafts, while box lacrosse permits solid wooden sticks. [cite web|url=|title=National Lacrosse League: Official Rules|work=National Lacrosse League|accessdate=2007-03-19] Indoor lacrosse is always played on artificial turf (sometimes called "carpet"), while box lacrosse is usually played on bare concrete.

Women's lacrosse

The rules of women's lacrosse differ significantly from men's lacrosse, most notably by equipment and the degree of allowable physical contact. [ [ 2007 IWWLA Women's Lacrosse Rules] , International Federation of Women's Lacrosse Associations]

The first modern women's lacrosse game was held at St Leonards School in Scotland in 1890. It was introduced by the school's headmistress Louisa Lumsden.cite web |url= |title=History of Lacrosse at St Leonards |accessdate=2008-05-01 |last= |first= |coauthors= |date= | |publisher=] The first women's lacrosse team in the United States was established at Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore, Maryland. Men’s and women’s lacrosse were played under virtually the same rules, with no protective equipment, until the mid-1930s.

NCAA women's Lacrosse Division I began play in 1982. The University of Maryland, College Park has traditionally dominated the women's intercollegiate play, producing many head coaches across the country and many U.S. national team players. The Lady Terps won seven consecutive NCAA championships, from 1995 through 2001. Princeton University's women's teams have made it to the final game seven times since 1993 and have won three NCAA titles, in 1993, 2002, and 2003. In recent years, Northwestern University has become a force, winning the national championship from 2005 through 2008. [cite web|url=|title=NCAA Women's Division I Lacrosse History||accessdate=2008-06-11]

Internationally, the game is commonly played in British girls' independent schools, and while only a minor sport in Australia, it is played to a very high standard at the elite level, where its national squad won the 2005 Women's Lacrosse World Cup. The next Women's World Cup will be played in 2009 hosted by Prague, Czech Republic. [cite web|url=|title=2009 Women's Lacrosse World Cup Official website|publisher=LacrosseWorldCup2009|accessdate=2008-06-11]

International lacrosse

Lacrosse has been played for the most part in Canada and the United States, with small but dedicated lacrosse communities in Great Britain and Australia. Recently, however, lacrosse has begun to flourish at an international level with the sport establishing itself in many new and far-reaching countries, particularly in Europe and east Asia.

With lacrosse not having been an official Olympic sport since 1908, the pinnacle of international lacrosse competition consists of the quadrennial World Championships. Currently, there are world championships for lacrosse at senior men, senior women, under 19 men and under 19 women level. Until 1986, lacrosse world championships had only been contested by the United States, Canada, Six Nations, England and Australia, with Scotland and Wales also competing in the women's edition. The expansion of the game internationally saw the 2005 Women's World Cup competed for by ten nations, and the 2006 Men's World Championship was contested by 21 countries.

In 2003, the first World Indoor Lacrosse Championship was contested by six nations at four sites in Ontario, Canada. Canada won the championship in a final game against the Iroquois, 21-4. The 2007 WILC was held in Halifax, Canada on from May 14-20. Teams from Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, England, Ireland, Iroquois Nationals, Scotland and the United States competed.

The next largest international field lacrosse competition is the European Lacrosse Championships. Held for both men and women, the European Lacrosse Federation (ELF) has been running the European Championships since 1995. Before 2001 the Championships were an annual event, but in 2001 the ELF changed the format to every four years between the World Championship. Before 2004, only 7 nations had ever participated, but in 2004 there was a record number of participating countries, with 12 men's and 6 women's, which made it the largest international lacrosse event of 2004. The last European Lacrosse Championships were held in Lahti, Finland in 2008. England placed first with the Netherlands and Germany placing second and third, respectively. The next European Lacrosse Championships will be held in Manchester, England.

The World Lacrosse Championships have been dominated by the United States, particularly in the men's game, where the only world championship game losses at either level was in the 1978 final to Canada and 2006 final to Canada. The USA has won 8 of the 10 senior men's and all five under 19 men's tournaments to date. In the women's game, Australia have provided stiffer competition, even holding a winning record against the USA of 6 wins to 5 at senior world championships, plus one draw. Despite this, the USA has won 5 of the 7 senior women's and 2 of the 3 under 19 women's tournaments to date, with the other world championships won by Australia, including the 2005 senior women's trophy.

The Iroquois Nationals are a team consisting of members of the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy. The team was admitted to the International Lacrosse Federation (ILF) in 1990. It is the only Native American team sanctioned to compete in any sport internationally. The Nationals placed fourth in the 1998, 2002 and 2006 World Lacrosse Championships.

Governing bodies

*World - International Lacrosse Federation / International Federation of Women's Lacrosse Associations
***China - [ Beijing Lacrosse Development Committee] zh icon
***Hong Kong - [ Hong Kong Lacrosse Association]
***India - [ Indian National Lacrosse Federation]
***Japan - [ Japanese Lacrosse Association] ja icon
***Korea - [ Korean Lacrosse Association] ko icon
**Europe - [ European Lacrosse Federation]
***Austria - [ Austrian Lacrosse Association] de icon
***Czech Republic - [ Czech Lacrosse Union] cs icon
***Denmark - [ Danish Lacrosse Federation]
***England - English Lacrosse Association
***Finland - [ Finnish Lacrosse Association] fi icon
***France - [ French Lacrosse Association] fr icon
***Germany - [ German Lacrosse Association] de icon
***Ireland - [ Irish Lacrosse Foundation]
***Italy - [ Italian Federation of Lacrosse] it icon
***Latvia - [ Latvian Lacrosse Federation] lv icon
***Netherlands - [ Dutch Lacrosse Association] nl icon
***Norway - [ Norwegian Lacrosse] no icon
***Poland - [ Poland Lacrosse] pl icon
***Scotland - [ Lacrosse Scotland]
***Slovakia - [ Slovak Lacrosse Association] sk icon
***Slovenia - [ Slovenian Lacrosse Association]
***Switzerland - [ Swiss Lacrosse Federation]
***Spain - [ Spanish Lacrosse Federation] es icon
***Sweden - [ Swedish Lacrosse Association] sv icon
***Wales - [ Welsh Lacrosse Association]
**North America
***Bermuda - [ Bermuda Lacrosse Association]
***Canada - Canadian Lacrosse Association
***Iroquois Confederacy - [ Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse]
***Mexico - [ Mexico Lacrosse]
***United States - US Lacrosse
***Australia - Lacrosse Australia
***New Zealand - [ Lacrosse New Zealand ]
**South America
***Argentina - [ Lacrosse Argentina] es icon

ee also

* History of lacrosse
* Box lacrosse
* Intercrosse
* Women's lacrosse
* Lacrosse stick
* Lacrosse ball
* Ontario Lacrosse Referees Association
* Lacrosse strategy
* College lacrosse


External links

* [ CBC Digital Archives - Lacrosse: A History of Canada's Game]
* [ Inside Lacrosse: Magazine, Website and TV show for the world of lacrosse.]
* [ Lax United: Exclusive Video Coverage for the Sport of Lacrosse.]
* [ MCLA: The Lax Mag, The Official Magazine of the Men's Collegiate Lacrosse Association.]
* [ Major League Lacrosse - The professional outdoor lacrosse league.]
* [ National Lacrosse League - The professional indoor lacrosse league.]
* [ US Lacrosse: Magazine and Website of the National Governing Body for Lacrosse in the United States.]

Further reading

* Inside Lacrosse (2003). "Lacrosse: North America's Game". Baltimore, Maryland [(Inside Lacrosse)] Press. ISBN 0-9759834-0-7
* Fisher, Donald M (2002). "Lacrosse: A History of the Game". Baltimore, Maryland Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-6938-2
* Scott, Bob (1978). "Lacrosse: Technique and Tradition". Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-2060-X
* Vennum, Thomas Jr. "Lacrosse". "Encyclopedia of North American Indians".
* Cramer, James. "Lacrosse Equipment". Information on Lacrosse Equipment for Men and Women.
* Fink, Noah & Melissa Gaskill. "Lacrosse for Parents", "Lacrosse: A Guide for Parents and Players".

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