Aside from intercepting passes, waiting for a change of possession or recovering ground balls, how can a defenseman take the ball away from the attack? Checking is a way for a defender to take the ball away from an attacker, either in a 1 v 1 scenario or during unsettled play. In this article, we will cover the different types of legal checks.
Checking in lacrosse is a defensive technique used to dislodge the ball from an opponent's crosse. A check is when the stick of a defender intentionally strikes the crosse or butt end of their opponent's stick. Certain aggressive checks can draw a penalty from the official.
The game of lacrosse, especially men's lacrosse, is permissive of high levels of contact. The key to performing legal checks is to do so with control. Any legal check can quickly turn into a penalty situation if the defender is not in control of their movements. Spectators enjoy seeing the defensive team making a legal check and winning back possession or causing a yard sale, a slang term for when a defender makes a legal check that causes the opposing player to release their grip on the stick and drop it on the ground.
Here is a list of legal checks:
A body check in lacrosse is when one player uses their body to make contact with an opponent in an effort to win possession of the ball. Body checking is a legal action in men's field or box lacrosse as long as it does not target the head or legs and is directed towards a player in possession of the ball or towards another player within five yards of a loose ball. This type of contact is sometimes referred to as "shoulder to shoulder" contact. A body check is not legal in women's lacrosse.
A lift check in lacrosse is when the defender uses his stick to lift his opponent's bottom or top hand in an attempt to disrupt the ball from the pocket and cause a turnover. It is an effective move for a long-stick midfielder who has the advantage of a longer pole.
A poke check in lacrosse is a check that aims to dislodge the ball from an opponent by poking the butt end or hands of the ball carrier. For a long stick midfielder, a poke check can be performed with even more space in between the attacker, so it is an effective and legal form of checking.
A trail check in lacrosse is a check by a defender positioned behind the ball carrier. It is an easy takeaway for a defender if the offensive player is hanging their stick. Fans can expect to see the trail check performed most often in midfield when the play is in flow and defenders may be running back towards their defensive area.
The wrap check in lacrosse is a check made by wrapping the stick around an opponent's body in an effort to dispossess him of the ball. A wrap check is only legal in men's lacrosse and must not impede the opposing player's movement. The wrap check is effective when the player in possession of the ball is shielding their stick from the defender with their body.