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Lacrosse Rules | Personal Fouls | Technical Fouls | Skills | Terms

The fastest game on two feet ... a combination of the speed of basketball and the contact of football ... a game in which a scoring opportunity on one end of the field can be transformed into a goal at the other end in a matter of seconds ... skill, power, speed, endurance and intelligence ... This Is Lacrosse.

Originally called baggataway, lacrosse was played by Native Americans for a variety of purposes: religious rituals, training of warriors, or to settle inter-tribal disputes. Often the games were played without any boundaries and with goals separated by many miles. It was not unusual to have players injured or killed during baggataway contests. The game acquired its present name because the sticks originally resembled the staffs, or croziers, carried by the French Jesuit missionaries who first observed the game. Thus, we have lacrosse.

Men’s Lacrosse is a contact game played by 10 players: a goalie, 3 defensemen, 3 middies and 3 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 4 players, including the goalie, in its defensive half of the field and 3 in its offensive half.  3 players (middies) may roam the entire field.

Professional and collegiate games are 60 minutes long, with 15-minute quarters.  Generally, high school games are 48 minute long, with 12-minute quarters.  Each team is given a two-minute break between the 1st and 2nd quarters, and the 3rd and 4th quarters.  Halftime is 10 minutes long.

Teams change sides between quarters.  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.

The players take their positions on the field: four in their defensive clearing area, one at the center, two in the wing areas and three in their attack goal area.

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 from their positions when the official blows the whistle; the other players must wait in their positions until one player has gained possession of the ball or the ball has crossed a goal area line.

Center face-offs are also used after a goal and at the start of each quarter. They take place at the center of the field.

Players may run with the ball in their stick, pass and catch the ball.  Only the goalie 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 or is within five yards of the ball.  However, all contact must occur from the front or the side, above the waist and below the shoulders.  An opponent’s stick can also be checked if it is within five yards of a loose ball or ball in the air.

If the ball or 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 goal crease area, but may reach into the crease with his stick to scoop a loose ball.

Typically, a referee, and a field judge supervise field play; a chief bench official, timekeepers and scorers assist.

There are personal fouls and technical fouls in lacrosse.  The penalty for a personal foul is a one to three minute suspension from play and ball possession goes to the team that was fouled.  Players with five personal fouls are ejected from the game.  The penalty for a technical foul is a thirty second suspension if a team is in possession of the ball when the foul is committed, or possession of the ball is awarded to the team that was fouled if there was no ball possession when the foul was committed.

Personal Fouls

Slashing:  Occurs when a player’s stick contacts an opponent in any other area other than the stick or gloved hand on the stick.

Tripping:  Occurs when a player obstructs his opponent at or below the waist with his stick, hands, arms, feet or legs.

Cross Checking:  Occurs when a player uses the handle of his stick to make contact with an opponent.

Unsportsmanlike Conduct:  Occurs when any player or coach commits an act, which is considered unsportsmanlike by an official, including taunting, obscene language or gestures, and arguing.

Unnecessary Roughness:  Occurs when a player strikes his opponent with his stick or body using excessive or violent force.

Illegal Body Checking:  Occurs when any of the following actions take place:

            a.         Body checking of an opponent who is not in possession of the ball or within five yards of a loose ball;

            b.         Avoidable body check of an opponent after he has passed or shot the ball;

            c.         Body checking of an opponent from the rear or at or below the waist;

            d.         Body checking of an opponent by a player in which contact is made above the shoulders of the opponent.  A body check must be made below the neck, and both hands of the player applying the body check must remain in contact with his stick.

Illegal Crosse:  Occurs when a player uses a stick that does not conform to the required specifications.  A stick may be found illegal if the pocket is too deep or if the stick has been 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 or palms are cut out of the gloves, or if the glove has been altered in any way that compromises the protective features of the glove.

Technical Fouls

Holding:  Occurs when a player impedes the movement of an opponent or an opponent’s stick.

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 players, 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.

Moving Screen:  Occurs illegally 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 intention of running time off the clock.

Warding Off:  Occurs when a player in possession of the ball uses his free hand or arm to hold, push or control the direction of the opponent’s stick check.

Lacrosse Skills

Catching:  The act of receiving a passed ball with the stick.

Checking:  The act of attempting to dislodge the ball from an opponent’s stick.

   Poke Check:  A stick check in which the player pokes his stick at an opponent’s stick through the top hand by pushing with the bottom hand.
   Slap Check:  A stick check in which a player slaps the head of his stick against his opponent’s stick.
   Wrap Check:  A one-handed check in which the defender swings his stick around his opponent’s body to dislodge the ball.

Cradling:  The coordinated motion of the arms and wrists that keeps the ball secure in the pocket and ready to be passed or shot when running.

Cutting:  A movement by an offensive player without the ball, toward the opponent’s goal, in anticipation of a feed and shot.

Feeding:  Passing the ball to a teammate who is in position for a shot on goal.

Passing:  The act of throwing the ball to a teammate with the stick.

Scooping:  The act of picking up a loose ball with the stick.

Screening:  An offensive tactic in which a player near the crease positions himself so as to block the goalies view of the ball.

Shooting:  The act of throwing the ball with the stick toward the goal in an attempt to score.

Glossary of Lacrosse Terms

Attack Goal Area:  The area defined by a line drawn sideline-to-sideline 20 yards from the face of the goal.  Once the offensive team crosses the midfield line, it has ten seconds to move the ball into its attack goal area.

Body Check:  Contact with an opponent from the front – between the shoulders and waist – when the opponent has the ball or is within five yards of the ball.

Box:  An area used to hold players who have been served with fouls, and through which substitutions “on the fly” are permitted directly from the sideline onto the field.

Check-Up:  A call given by the goalie to tell each defender to find his man and call out his number.

Clamp:  A face-off maneuver executed by quickly pushing the back of the stick onto the ball.

Clearing:  Running or passing the ball from the defensive half of the field to the attack goal area.

Crease:  The circle around the goal with a radius of nine feet, which only the defensive players may enter.

Crosse: (stick) The equipment used to throw, catch and carry the ball.

Defensive Clearing Area:  The area defined by a line drawn sideline-to-sideline 20 yards from the face of the goal.  Once the defensive team gains possession of the ball within this area, they have 10 seconds to move the ball across the midfield line.

Extra Man Offense: (Man-Up) A man advantage that occurs following a time-serving penalty by your opponent.

Face-Off:  A technique used to put the ball in play at the start of each quarter, or after a goal is scored, by placing the ball between the sticks of two squatting players.

Fast-Break:  A transition scoring opportunity in which the offense has at least a one-man advantage.

Ground Ball:  a loose ball on the playing field.

Handle: (Shaft) an aluminum, wooden or composite pole connected to the head of the crosse.

Head:  The plastic or wood part of the stick connected to the handle.

Man Down Defense: (Man-Down) The situation that results from a time-serving penalty in which the defense plays with at least a one man disadvantage.

Midfield Line:  The line, which bisects the field of play.

On-The-Fly Substitution:  A substitution made during play.

Pick:  An offensive maneuver in which a stationary player attempts to block the path of a defender guarding another offensive player.

Pocket:  The strung part of the head of the stick, which holds the ball.

Rake:  A face-off move in which the player sweeps the ball to the side.

Riding:  The act of preventing your opponent from clearing the ball.

Release:  The term used by an official to notify a penalized player in the box that he may re-enter the game.

Lighthouse Lacrosse is a non-profit organization created to broaden the exposure of lacrosse in the Jacksonville market and to utilize the game as a tool to encourage positive life choices and academic achievement in youth of all economic, ethnic, religious and racial backgrounds. Click HERE for more details of the status of Lighthouse Lacrosse.
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