Lacrosse 101

Often considered a combination of soccer, basketball and hockey, lacrosse is a fast-paced game. A lacrosse stick is used to catch, throw and scoop the small, rubber ball.

Each team has 12 players on the field at a time: a goalie, five attackers and six defenders.

The object of the game is to shoot the ball into the opponent's goal, which is six feet by six feet. This is done by passing and running the ball up the field. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.

The game of women's lacrosse differs significantly from the men's game. Women's lacrosse is a game of avoidance. Rough checks to the stick and contact with the body is illegal. Controlled checks are legal; however, these checks may not occur in the 7 inch sphere around a player's head.

Because these rough checks are not allowed, women use a stick very different from a men's lacrosse stick. A woman's lacrosse stick has a very small and shallow pocket. Other rules enforced include: off-sides, charging, blocking, dangerous shot, slashing, 3 seconds, and obstruction of free space.

The game begins with a draw, which is taken by the center position. The ball is placed between two horizontally held crosses (sticks) at the center of the field. At the sound of the whistle, the ball is flung into the air as the crosses are pulled up and away. A draw is used to start each half and after each goal, and it takes place at the center of the field.

The collegiate game is 60 minutes long, each half being 30 minutes. In both collegiate and high school play, teams are allowed one timeout per half.

There are visual guidelines on the side of the field that are in place to provide a consistent indicator to the officials of what is considered the playing field. The minimum dimensions for a field is 120 yards by 70 yards. Additional markings on the field include a restraining line located 30 yards from each goal line, which creates an area where only a maximum of seven offensive players and eight defensive players (including the goalkeeper) are allowed; a 12-meter fan, which officials use to position players after fouls; and an arc in front of each goal, considered the critical scoring area, where defenders must be at least within a stick's-length of their attacker.

The boundaries are determined by the natural restrictions of the field. An area of 120 yards by 70 yards is desirable.

When a whistle blows, all players must stop in place. When a ball is ruled out of play, the player closest to the ball gets possession when play is resumed. Loss of possession may occur if a player deliberately runs or throws the ball out of play.

Player Positions and Roles


  • First Home: The first home's responsibility is to score. Located in front of the goal, the first home must continually cut toward the goal for a shot, or cut away from the goal to make room for another player. She should have excellent stickwork.
  • Second Home: The second home is considered the playmaker. She should be able to shoot well from every angle and distance from the goal.
  • Third Home: The third home's responsibility is to transition the ball from defense to attack. She should be able to feed the ball to other players and fill in wing areas.Attack
  • Wings: The wings are also responsible for transitioning the ball from defense to attack. Wings should have speed and endurance and be ready to receive the ball from the defense and run or pass the ball.


  • Point: The point's responsibility is to mark first home. She should be able to stick check, body check and look to intercept passes.
  • Coverpoint: The coverpoint's responsibility is to mark second home. She should be able to receive clears, run fast and have good footwork.
  • Third Man: The third man's responsibility is to mark third home. She should be able to intercept passes, clear the ball, run fast and have good footwork.
  • Center: The center's responsibility is to control the draw and play both defense and attack. She should have speed and endurance.
  • Defense Wings: The wings are responsible for marking the attack wings and bringing the ball into the attack area. Wings should have speed and endurance.
  • Goalkeeper: The goalkeeper's responsibility is to protect the goal. She should have good stick-work, courage and confidence.