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Lacrosse 101

Krossover Lacrosse 101

Lacrosse is played on a field that is 110 yards long and 60 yards wide, divided into two halves by the midfield line. In the center of the midfield line is the faceoff X, where faceoffs take place at the beginning of each quarter, as well as after a goal is scored. There is one goal on each half of the field, measuring at 6 feet high and 6 feet wide. Both goals are surrounded by a crease, into which no player from the opposing team may enter. Offensive players are allowed to use their sticks to reach into the crease, but no parts of their body may enter. The crease is circular, with a radius of 9 feet. Players on the defensive team may enter the crease, but only if they do not have possession of the ball at the time of entry.  No player may enter the crease with possession of the ball.

Because MLL uses a 60-second shot clock, there is no “restraining box” such as in college lacrosse. The shot clock is reset after a goal is scored, a shot hits the post, is saved by the goalie or there is a change of possession. If the clock runs out, possession is granted to the other team. Teams have 20 seconds to clear the ball across the midfield line. MLL also has a 2-point arc on the field, 16 yards out from the goal. Players must have both feet behind the line before shooting the ball in order for a 2-point goal to be scored.

In MLL, teams play four quarters of 15 minutes each. A goal can be scored after the horn sounds to end a quarter as long as the shot was released prior to the horn. If the score is tied at the end of the four quarters, the game will go into sudden-victory overtime. Overtime will occur in periods of 10 minutes each until a goal is scored to decide the winner. All overtimes begin with a faceoff.


MLL teams are allowed to dress 19 players per game, while 10 players are permitted to be on the field at a time. The positional breakdown of those 10 players includes one goalie, three defensemen, three midfielders and three attackmen.

The goalie’s job is to defend his team’s goal against shots by the opposing team’s offense. Defensemen are charged with the task of guarding the opposing team’s offensive players around the goal area. They play almost exclusively on the defensive half of the field, though they are permitted to enter the offensive half. Defensemen also are allowed to use sticks that are about twice as long as those of offensive players. Teams are permitted to have up to four players on the field carrying long sticks, employing what is known as a “long-stick midfielder” or “LSM.” These players normally occupy the midfield position on defense and for faceoffs, and substitute out of the game when their team gains possession of the ball in the offensive end.

Midfielders operate mostly in transition, often running up and down the field playing both offense and defense. Attackmen create the majority of a team’s offense. They operate near or behind the opponent’s goal, and look to initiate offense through passing, dodging and shooting. Attackmen play the majority of the game on the offensive half of the field, though they may enter their team’s defensive half.

In addition, teams have one or two players designated as faceoff specialists. These players are typically listed under the midfield position, though they often perform as a “face off, get off” or “FOGO” player. During a faceoff, these players crouch down on their respective team’s side of the midfield X, sticks resting parallel to the midfield line on the ground, and with the back of their stick heads and pockets facing each other. The ball is placed between the two heads, and the players must remain still until the referee blows the whistle and gives the signal to begin. At this point, each player attempts to use his stick and body to gain control of the ball.

Teams share a substitution box which measure 20 yards long, with 10 yards on each side of the midfield line. The substitution box runs parallel to the bench sideline. Player substitutions can be made at any time during play, but all substitutions must occur through the substitution box. The substitute player cannot leave the box until the player leaving the field has entered the box.


Bait ("Bait the Shooter"): A technique used by the goalie, leaving part of the goal to look unprotected, tricking the shooter to aim for that area they are anticipating, making an easy save.

Back Door: An offensive player without the ball sneaks in, close to the goal behind the defense, where the ball carrier zips a pass to him for an easy score.

Cage: Slang for the goal

Check: An attempt to dislodge the ball from another player's stick by poking or slapping their stick or arms with either end of your stick.

Clear: A play designed to move the ball from the defensive end to the offensive end after a save or turnover.

Cradle: The fluid side to side motion of the stick in order to maintain possession of the ball using its own gravity and inertia while running at full speed.

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

Crease Dive (Dive): When a player dives into the crease while shooting. The ball must cross the face of the goal before the shooter touches the ground, goal or keeper. This move is illegal in college and high school lacrosse.

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

Dodge: Any move that gets a ball carrier by a defender.

Extra man Offense (EMO): Offensive scheme geared toward taking advantage of man-up situations after penalties on opposing players. Also referred to as being  “Man Up” or on the “Power Play.”

Faceoff: How the ball is put into play at the start of each quarter, or after a goal is scored. The players squat down and the ball is placed between their crosses at the center of the field, or “X”. When the whistle is blown, each player attempts to gain possession of the ball.

Fast Break: A temporary extra-man situation caused by a quick steal or outlet pass from the defensive end.

Feed: A pass that finds a teammate cutting to the goal; An assist.

Five Hole: A shot that goes between the legs of the goalkeeper.

Give-and-Go: The act of passing and then quickly going for a return pass.

Goal Line Extended (GLE): The imaginary line of the goal extended to the sidelines for the purposes of planning plays and describing positioning on the field.

Groundball: A loose ball on the playing field.

High to Low: A shot that is taken overhand but hits the net low.

Low to High: A shot that is taken underhand but hits the top of the net.

Man Down: The situation that results from a time-serving penalty, causing the defense to play with at least a one man disadvantage. Also referred to as playing “Shorthanded.”

Offsides: A rule that requires three players from each team to always be on the offensive side of the midline, while four players are on the defensive end.

On the Fly: Making player substitutions while the ball is still in play.

Pick: An offensive maneuver in which a stationary player attempts to block the path of a defender guarding another offensive player. Sometimes also referred to as a “Screen.”

Post: The upright, metal side pipes of a goal.

Ride: Trying to prevent the defensive unit of the team with the ball from "clearing the ball" or moving it up field to their offensive end.

Run Out: The sprint for the endline after a missed shot. When a ball goes out of bounds on a shot, the player closest to the ball gets the ball.

Slide: When a defensive player is beaten on a drive and a teammate must slide over to stop the player with the ball.

Transition: When a team goes from offense to defense, or from defense to offense.

Unsettled Situation: Any situation in which the defense is not positioned correctly, usually due to a loose ball or broken clear.


There are two different kinds of fouls in lacrosse: personal and technical. Fouls and infractions are enforced by removal of the offending player from the field of play, and/or awarding possession to the opposing team. Most penalties allow the offending player to be released from the penalty box if the opposing team scores a goal before the penalty time has expired. However, some personal fouls carry an “unreleaseable” penalty, where the offending player must serve the entirety of his penalty in the box, regardless of how many goals are scored.

Personal and Misconduct Fouls: Personal fouls are those of a serious nature, generally involving an infraction that has a malicious intent. Any personal foul that is malicious, or done with the intent to injure, will result in a game misconduct foul in addition to the personal foul, or an expulsion foul. The penalty for a personal foul can be ONE MINUTE (1:00) to THREE MINUTES (3:00), depending on the Official’s judgment of the severity and perceived intent of the personal foul. A Player can be assessed a misconduct penalty in addition to any personal foul(s).

Types of Personal Fouls

Illegal Cross-Check: When a player uses the handle of his crosse to strike an opponent on any portion of the opponent’s body in an off-ball situation, or when on-ball, striking an opponent on any portion of the opponent’s body other than on the arm below the shoulder.

Illegal Body-Check: When a player uses his body to block an opposing player, including any of the following actions: (a) when initial contact is made with an elbow or on the helmet; (b) body-checking of an opponent who is not in possession of the ball or within five yards of a loose ball; (c) avoidable body-check of an opponent after he has passed or shot the ball; (d) body-checking of an opponent from the rear or below the waist; (e) body-checking of an opponent by a player in which contact is made above the shoulders of the opponent. A body-check must be below the neck, and at least one hand of the player applying the body check must remain in contact with his crosse; (f) body-checking an opponent during a dead ball situation; (g) body-checking an opponent who is not in the field of play; (h) body-checking an opponent who has any part of his body, other than his feet, on the ground.

Illegal Crosse: When a player uses a crosse that does not conform to required specifications. A crosse may be found illegal if the pocket is too deep or if the crosse was altered to gain an advantage.

Use of Illegal Equipment: When a player uses equipment that does not conform to specifications.

Slashing: When a player uses his crosse to strike or swing at an opponent, making contact in any area other than the crosse or gloved hand on the crosse. To be a “strike,” the contact must be a definite blow and not merely a brush.

Tripping: When a player obstructs an opponent at or below the waist with the crosse, hands, arms, feet or legs.

Unsportsmanlike Conduct: When a player or coach commits an act which is considered unsportsmanlike by an official, including, but not limited to, taunting, obscene language or gestures, arguing and flagrant physical contact. 

Technical Fouls: Technical Fouls are those of a less serious nature than personal fouls, and include all violations of the rules of the Game expect those specifically listed as personal or misconduct fouls. The penalty for a technical foul is a THIRTY SECONDS (:30) suspension of the offending Player from the Game if the Team fouled had possession of the ball at the time the foul was committed. If the Team fouled did not have possession of the ball at the time the foul was committed, the ball will be awarded to the offended Team.

Types of Technical Fouls

Holding: When a player impedes the movement of an opponent or an opponent's crosse.

Illegal Procedure: Any action by a player of a technical nature that is not in conformity with the rules and regulations governing the play of the game, including, but not limited to, failure to advance, touching the ball, delaying the game, having to many players on the field and entering the game from the penalty box before penalty has been served in full.

Interference: When a player interferes in any manner with the free movement of an opponent, except when the ball is in flight and within five yards of the players, or both players are within five yards of a loose ball.

Offsides: 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: When a player thrusts or shoves an opponent from behind. Pushing is permitted from the front or side when an opponent has possession of the ball or is within five yards of a loose ball. In this case, pushing must be done with a closed hand, shoulder or forearm and both hands must be on the crosse.

Warding Off: When a player in possession of the ball uses his free hand or arm to hold, push or control the direction of the movement of an opponent’s crosse or body when applying a check.

Withholding Ball from Play: When a loose ball is on the ground, a player may not lie on the ball, trap it with his crosse longer than is necessary for him to control the ball and pick it up with one continuous motion, or withhold the ball from play in any other manner.