Basic Rules of Lacrosse

basic rules of lacrosse

Lacrosse is a traditional Native American sport endemic to the Northeastern United States and eastern Canada. The game is a contact sport with the goal of scoring more points than the opposing side. What are the rules of lacrosse? Keep reading to find out.

The Objective

Lacrosse Objective

The objective of lacrosse is to score more points than the opposing team in a set period of time. Points are scored when a player shoots a lacrosse ball into the opposing team's goal without enacting any penalties or stepping into the area in front of the goal known as the crease. The goal of a team's defense is to prevent the opposing team from scoring on the goal they are protecting, while the offensive component of a team actively tries to score.

Basic Rules

Below are the basic rules of lacrosse:

  • Scoring: A goal is scored when the ball enters into the goal after being shot from a players lacrosse stick without entering the crease area or touching the goalie.
  • Checking: Checking is the legal form of making contact with opposing players by using the lacrosse stick or body to push or move opposing players. The player may not strike others with the stick, or use unnecessary roughness when checking, and must stay below the opponent's shoulders.
  • Number of players: There are nine field players and a goalie per team.
  • Out of bounds: When the ball leaves the field of play, it is considered out of bounds and possession is lost by the team who last touched the ball. When the ball goes out of bounds following a shot, possession is awarded to the closest team to where the ball crossed the endline. 
  • Goal crease: The crease is the area in front of the goal where only goalies and defenders are permitted to enter. Offense players cannot enter the crease.
  • Handling the ball: The ball must be handled only by the player's stick. Players are not permitted to use their hands.

The Field and Equipment

Lacrosse field

The basic dimensions of a men's lacrosse field is 110 yards long and 60 yards wide. The field is made of grass or turf, with goals in the center of the field placed 15 yards away from the end line. The field is divided into the midfield, defensive box, and attacking box. The basic equipment required for men’s lacrosse is a lacrosse stick, a helmet, gloves, elbow pads, chest pads, and a ball. Equipment varies between positions with some defenders possessing longer sticks called poles, and goalies wearing extra protective equipment. Men’s and women’s lacrosse equipment differs, with women’s lacrosse requiring goggles instead of a helmet and not using any protective padding.

Men’s Lacrosse

Men's lacrosse is the original form of lacrosse and is played on the universal 110 by 60 yard field, with 10 players from each team on the field at a time. The men's game of lacrosse is split into four quarters of 15 minutes, and has a 80 second shot clock. Men’s lacrosse equipment includes a helmet, a stick, gloves, and protective equipment. Men's lacrosse is noted for a higher level of physical contact than women's lacrosse.

Women’s Lacrosse

Women's lacrosse is very similar to men’s lacrosse with a few key differences. Firstly, the women's lacrosse field is longer than the men’s field, with a length of 120 yards. Women’s lacrosse games also have an additional attacker and defender per team, with 12 players on the field per team. Women’s lacrosse utilizes less protective gear and because of this there are more strict rules on checking than in the men's version of the sport. In women’s lacrosse, body checking and shot blocking are illegal.


Lacrosse Scoring

Scoring in lacrosse is based on points, awarded for putting the ball into the opposing team's goal. With the exception of professional lacrosse, all goals are worth one point. In the PLL, shots behind the two point line are worth two points. In order for a goal to count, the player who is shooting the ball must not enter the crease area in front of the goal. The team with more points at the end of regulation time is determined to be the winner of the game.


What are the basic rules of lacrosse?

The basic rules of lacrosse are related to checking, scoring, and the number of players on the field. To score in lacrosse, the ball must enter the goal without the shooting player entering the crease. On defense, players use their sticks to check opponents in possession of the ball. The number of players on the field are 10 per side for men’s lacrosse and 12 per side for women's lacrosse.

How do you play lacrosse?

Lacrosse is played by using a lacrosse stick to transport, pass, and shoot a ball into a goal on a designated lacrosse field. The game is played in four quarters, and the winner is determined by assessing who has more goals at the end of regulation time. Players cannot use their hands to move the ball, and are not permitted into the area around the goal called the crease when on offense. In order to defend, players are expected to make physical contact through checking.