Are you interested in learning more about lacrosse? If so, you will be pleased to know that lacrosse is a thoroughly enjoyable sport that can be played by both men and women and you don’t need any prior knowledge of the sport.
Despite what many people believe, lacrosse is not a “preppy” sport, played by only rich college kids. Quite the contrary! People from all walks of life have been enjoying the game of lacrosse for decades.
This beginner’s guide to lacrosse will cover everything you need to know about this popular sport.
What exactly is lacrosse?
This is a very common question that lacrosse players often get asked.
Many people don’t realize that lacrosse is extremely popular. What they also don’t know is that it is actually three games rolled into one. Lacrosse consists of box lacrosse, men’s field lacrosse and women’s lacrosse. Each of these types of lacrosse differs in certain ways.
Field lacrosse has different player positions to box lacrosse and there are different rules governing each type of lacrosse.
Lacrosse beginners often get confused between the 3 kinds of lacrosse but as long as you read the beginner’s guide to lacrosse below, this should eliminate any confusion!
In a nutshell, lacrosse is played by passing and controlling a ball with a stick that has a mesh-like head (also known as a pocket) at the end. In many ways, lacrosse has a lot of similarities soccer and hockey in that it is very fast-paced and goals are scored in a net at either end of the field.
The ultimate goal of lacrosse is to navigate the ball into your opposing team’s net in order to score.
A lacrosse ball is made of rubber and is roughly the same size as a tennis ball.
The game itself requires players to wear certain protective equipment and this gives them the distinctive “lacrosse” look. The fast-paced nature of the game, coupled with its element of fun, makes it a highly desirable sport to play.
You don’t need to be very fit in order to play lacrosse, but because the game is very active, even the most unfit players will soon become quick and nimble.
Many folks refer to lacrosse as the “fastest sport on two feet” and it is sometimes seen as a challenge to athletes, no matter what their background.
Lacrosse can be played by anyone and, once you have learned the basics, you will soon find out that your dexterity, speed, determination and agility will be tested to its limits. Unlike football, lacrosse players do not need to be particularly strong, large or muscular. It is all about how fast you can move across the field and your ability to outwit your opponents.
Although lacrosse is definitely one of the most popular sports in the USA, it does not yet have the level of popularity that other sports (such as football, basketball and baseball) do. However, you only need to visit any college or school to notice that there are many lacrosse fans who love playing it for the simple enjoyment or as a great way to keep fit and in shape.
Parents love the way in which lacrosse helps their young children to develop better hand-eye co-ordination and improved motor skills.
Over the past few decades, colleges have been recruiting star lacrosse players to study at their schools and play on their lacrosse teams. Since it is steadily growing in popularity, sports experts believe that the lacrosse scene will become ever more competitive and sought after.
Like any sport, there are advantages and disadvantages to playing lacrosse. However, if you look closely and try lacrosse for yourself, you will see that the benefits most definitely outweigh the drawbacks!
How was lacrosse invented?
The origins of lacrosse are quite interesting. Lacrosse was originally played several hundred years ago by native Americans who used it as practice and training in case they had to go into battle with an enemy.
Lacrosse soon gained traction and is today played by many schools, colleges and universities throughout the world, especially in the United States.
Even though there are plenty of other sports out there that simulate “going into battle”, none of them have the distinction that lacrosse enjoys as the only sport that was truly born out of native American tribal battles.
Important facts about lacrosse.
Before you launch into your new lacrosse career, there are certain important facts that you need to know about the sport before starting. In this beginner’s guide to lacrosse, we will discuss the most important facts.
Firstly, lacrosse is a very physical game and you should always check with your physician before starting to play.
When on the lacrosse field, you will be moving continuously (often very quickly) and this works to provide full body conditioning and improving your overall fitness.
Kids’ lacrosse doesn’t permit full body checking but there is still a bit of contact between the participants.
When playing lacrosse, you will need a lacrosse stick and this is what will hold the ball. If you get hit by the ball, it could cause a stinging sensation or hurt you but this is part and parcel of the game and you will soon get used to it. Be prepared to be accidentally hit by other lacrosse sticks as well.
A lot of hand-eye co-ordination is used while playing lacrosse and you will need to use your lacrosse stick to catch and then throw the lacrosse ball. Your motor skills and ability to co-ordinate your movements will be tested to their limits as you run around the field using your lacrosse stick, trying to catch the ball and scoring a goal.
Mastering the use of your lacrosse stick is one of the most important elements of being good at playing lacrosse. Don’t be put off if you are still struggling to use your lacrosse stick after the first few sessions because mastering lacrosse involves a lot of practice and a lot of trial and error.
The incorrect handling of your lacrosse stick can work against you and your team so it is very important to get used to it and using it in a comfortable way. You should soon develop your own, unique method of catching, shooting and passing the lacrosse ball.
If you are serious about developing your lacrosse skills, you may want to consider practicing using your lacrosse stick and a ball as often as you can. This can be done in your own backyard and we recommend practicing every day, if you can.
Lacrosse coaches often have beginner players use a tennis ball against a wall for the first few sessions so that they can get used to using their lacrosse sticks.
Remember that becoming skilled at playing lacrosse is not an overnight process and you need to put in a lot of hard work to succeed at it. Each player will develop their lacrosse skills at a different rate and if you are driven, optimistic and enthusiastic about becoming a great lacrosse player, things should come naturally to you.
Another important thing to consider is that lacrosse is not meant to be unenjoyable and unpleasant: it is supposed to a whole lot of fun! If you don’t find yourself enjoying it, you may want to think about slowing down and doing things at your own pace.
Finally, lacrosse is very much a team sport. It requires you to co-operate with fellow team members and to work out your own, individual team strategies. It can be very rewarding to work hard as a unit, work toward a common goal and then achieve it: this is part of the appeal lacrosse.
Parents, in particular, like their kids to play lacrosse as this teaches them valuable interpersonal skills, how to be a functioning part of a team, and how to share with others.
Although it can take some time to get to grips with the basics of lacrosse, once you become adept at using your stick to manipulate the lacrosse ball, you will want to build upon these skills and become even better as time goes on.
The main differences between men’s field lacrosse and women’s field lacrosse.
Women’s lacrosse has, over the past decade, grown exponentially in popularity. However, there are some marked differences between men’s and women’s lacrosse and this beginner’s guide to lacrosse will tackle these differences. Let’s take a look!
1) Number of players in the team.
In men’s lacrosse, you normally have ten players per team on the field. This consists of 3 midfielders, 3 attack men, a goaltender and 3 defensemen. The women’s game, on the other hand, has 12 players on each side.
You have offensive and then defensive players. Offensive players have first, second and third home positions, as well as 2 attack wings. In the defensive section, there are 2 defensive wings, a center, 3rd man, cover point and also a goaltender.
2) Lacrosse sticks.
Women’s lacrosse sticks do not have mesh but men’s sticks have mesh in the pocket sections. Women’s sticks have to be strung in the old-fashioned way and the top of the ball must always be on top of the side when it is in the pocket section.
This makes shooting goals and handling the lacrosse stick even more difficult and tricky in women’s lacrosse.
3) Touch and physical contact.
One of the main differences between women’s and men’s lacrosse is the way in which contact is allowed. Bodychecking is permitted in men’s lacrosse but this is not allowed in the women’s game.
Women consequently do not need nearly as much protective equipment as men do. For example, men need to wear protective equipment such as mouth guards, elbow pads, helmets, gloves, shoulder pads and, if desired, rib pads.
Women normally only wear protective eyewear and mouth guards but the goal tenders often wear extra padding and helmets.
4) Lacrosse stick size.
Another big difference between the men’s and women’s game is the size of the lacrosse stick. A man’s field lacrosse stick measures 40 to 42 inches from the handle to the stick head. Midfielders and defensive players are permitted to have sticks measuring up to 52 inches, while the goaltender’s stick can be up to 72 inches long.
Women’s lacrosse sticks, on the other hand, usually measure between 35½ and 43¼ inches long. The goaltender on a women’s lacrosse team usually has a stick that measures from 35½ to 48 inches long.
4) Lacrosse field size.
In the women’s game, the lacrosse field measures 70 yards wide and 120 yards long. Men’s field lacrosse has a slightly smaller playing area, being 60 yards wide and 110 yards in length.
Positions in field lacrosse and box lacrosse.
If you are a lacrosse novice, the various positions can seem overwhelming and difficult to remember.
However, if you try and think of each position having a specific
responsibility, you will soon learn the positions and understand them.
Generally speaking, in lacrosse the players have 3 main responsibilities when it comes to their positions. These are to score goals (also known as attacking players), trying to prevent the opposing team from scoring goals (otherwise known as defense), and preventing the lacrosse ball from entering the opposing team’s scoring net.
When playing field lacrosse, there is a set of players known as midfielders and they have the function of playing both offensively and defensively.
To confuse things even further, the responsibilities and positions in men’s and women’s field lacrosse differ to those in box lacrosse.
Positions in men’s field lacrosse.
The following are the positions in men’s field lacrosse:
Midfielders are required to play offensively and defensively. They tend to follow the general flow of the game and can operate anywhere within the field. They are also known as “middies” and play an important role in defending the team against the opponent and playing offensively.
Attackmen have the main offensive role in field lacrosse. They are always looking to feed and score goals and don’t normally play a defensive role. The 3 attack men are positioned on either side of the midline when the lacrosse ball is at the other side of the field.
Also known informally as “goalies”, their primary function is to prevent shots and scores from the opposing team and to play a big defensive role. When it comes to field lacrosse, goaltenders should ideally be quick, fit and nimble as the goal net is quite big, measuring 6 feet high and 6 feet wide, making them larger than box lacrosse goal nets, which are only 4 feet wide and high.
The defense position works to prevent the opposing team from scoring goals or creating their own offense. Sometimes, a defenseman will need to cover a midfielder from the opposing team to prevent them from carrying out their tactics.
Positions in women’s field lacrosse.
Here are the positions in women’s field lacrosse:
In women’s lacrosse, the attack complement consists of 1st, 2nd and 4rd homes, in addition to 2 attack wings. Anyone in the attack component is allowed to score goals.
The goaltender (or goalie) tries her best to prevent the opposing team from scoring goals into their net. She is usually the only member of the team who wears a protective helmet.
There are a few areas in women’s lacrosse where the defense operates: the cover point, center, the 3rd man, the 2 defensive wings and the point. Players in the wing manipulate the ball from the defense side to the offense, where they will hopefully score a goal.
Positions in box lacrosse.
Box lacrosse differs in the positions that players are responsible for.
These are the positions in a game of box lacrosse:
The point man’s main responsibility is to pass the lacrosse ball to other team members but he can also provide a threat to the other team by preventing them from scoring. Point men can also shoot peripherally but this is not done often.
Goaltenders or goalies provide the last line of defense against the opposition and the main function is to prevent the other team from scoring into the net.
There are normally 2 players fulfilling the role of cornerman in box lacrosse. They run behind the crease men and provide an additional layer of defense.
In box lacrosse, there are 2 creasemen whose main responsibility is to score goals. Crease men usually have strong one-on-one lacrosse skills and are advanced players.
What gear and equipment is needed for lacrosse?
There is quite a wide range of gear and equipment that is needed for lacrosse but the position that you ultimately play will have a strong influence on this.
In this beginner’s guide to lacrosse, we are including the following basic equipment:
Helmets protect the person’s head from flying balls and lacrosse sticks. They are most often only worn by the goaltender and can have face guards attached, especially in the case of women’s lacrosse.
These protect your sensitive mouth area and your teeth.
Protective eyewear is normally only worn and required for women’s lacrosse.
Gloves are usually optional in both men’s and women’s lacrosse.
5) Rib pads.
Rib pads are often needed in men’s lacrosse and although they are strongly recommended, they are not essential and it is up to the individual.
6) Shoulder pads.
Men wear shoulder pads more often but they are not required in women’s lacrosse.
7) Chest protectors.
This piece of equipment protects the chest area from fast-flying balls and is required if you are the goaltender.
8) Athletic cup.
Athletic cups protect the sensitive groin area and are often worn by men in both field and box lacrosse.
9) Arm pads.
These are more common in men’s lacrosse and it is up to the player to decide if they want to wear them.
10) Throat protector.
This is normally an important piece of equipment for goaltenders.
Benefits of playing lacrosse.
So, if you are still on the fence about lacrosse, here are some of the many advantages to playing this popular sport.
1) Lacrosse helps you to get fit quickly.
If you consider the size of the average lacrosse field plus all the running around and doing that is required, you will understand how amazing lacrosse is for your general fitness.
You can burn a whopping amount of calories by playing only 1 game of lacrosse and, over time, your body will become more conditioned and you will be leaner and more muscular.
2) It teaches you discipline.
Lacrosse does require the individual player to develop certain skills on their own, but it also involves a lot of team work and abiding by the rules of lacrosse.
As you learn to operate within the framework of lacrosse rules, you learn more about the discipline of the sport and you learn to develop your own, unique technique to play your best.
3) It is a very sociable sport.
Since lacrosse is a team sport, you will inevitably interact with fellow team members and also players in the opposing team. It is a great way to make new friends and fun with others as you work towards a common goal.
Very often, lacrosse friendships extend to way beyond the actual lacrosse field and team mates enjoy socializing in other ways together.
4) It makes you quicker, both mentally and physically.
When you begin to get better at your lacrosse game, your body learns to react quicker. The increase in fitness levels also makes you faster on the lacrosse field.
However, being physically quick is not the only benefit: your mind is slowly trained to make sound decisions on the spot and it is an excellent way to keep your mind active and on its toes.
5) It is a wonderful team building exercise.
Are you trying to build a stronger team at work or at school? If so, why not get a group together and start a lacrosse team? This will go a long way in strengthening relationships in the team and is a fun way to build an even better functioning team.
6) It helps to prevent childhood obesity.
In these modern times, it is more convenient to pick up take-out or to eat and quick and easy meal. These are not always nourishing and are high in calories. Childhood obesity is becoming a huge problem and one way to help prevent your kids from becoming obese is to get them interested in lacrosse. This, coupled with a healthier diet, can help them to become healthier adults in a physical and mental way.
Some FAQs About Lacrosse
Is lacrosse difficult to learn for beginners?
This is a great question and, for most people, it is pretty easy to learn, However, becoming good at lacrosse takes a lot of dedication and regular practice and you need to be committed to the process.
As long as you are a dedicated lacrosse player and you have learned the basics, you should do really well!
Do people often get injured while playing lacrosse?
Statistically speaking, men are much more likely to get injured while playing lacrosse than their female counterparts.
It is believed that the differing rules between men’s and women’s lacrosse is the reason behind this high injury rate in men.
This is an important factor to consider if you want to take lacrosse up as a potential sport.
If you want to get technical, then lacrosse is formally considered to be moderately dangerous sport as you have a moderate risk of injury. That being said, most injuries are not serious and the most common complaints are bruises, swellings, sprains and strains.
Don’t let the risk of injury put you off, though. Most lacrosse injuries occur because the person wasn’t wearing the correct protective equipment, so if you are worried, always remember to wear your safety gear.
Are there lacrosse sticks that are recommended for novices?
- When it comes to lacrosse sticks for complete novices, we recommend the following reputable products:
- The Warrior EVO Warp Next Complete Lacrosse Stick
- Maverik Tactik 2.0 Complete Stick with Lax.com Custom Pocket, and
The StringKing Complete 2 Jr
Is there a lacrosse position that is particularly difficult to play?
According to experienced lacrosse players, that hardest position to play is definitely an attack position. The next difficult position is in the midfield, then the defense and then the goaltender.
What does the term BTB mean in lacrosse?
BTB is a common term in the lacrosse field and you will hear it used a lot. BTB stands for “behind the back”.
This term refers to any situation where you shoot or pass the ball over the opposite shoulder to your passing hand.
Lacrosse has always been one of the most enjoyable sports to take part in. With its ancient roots and interesting origins, it is full of excitement, surprise and reward for people both young and old.
If you don’t know how to begin your lacrosse career or you’re interested in taking it up as a hobby, why not look up local lacrosse teams in your community?
You would be very surprised at how many people near you are playing lacrosse!
Finally, lacrosse can offer you a lot, in terms of physical fitness, improved health, better mental wellbeing and giving you something to look forward to!
We hope that you have enjoyed this beginner’s guide to lacrosse- let us know if you have any questions or comments!