Lacrosse Positions List
Like many team sports, including soccer, basketball, and hockey, lacrosse pits the offense and defense of each team against each other. Lacrosse is a complex and fast-moving game that requires that each team field a variety of position players. There are specialized skill sets, rules, and even equipment for different players. In general, lacrosse positions fall into two categories: offensive-oriented positions and defensive-oriented positions. In this tutorial, we will explore the characteristics of each position and highlight distinctions between men’s and women’s lacrosse positions.
In men’s lacrosse, ten players take the field for each team, including the goalkeeper. In women’s lacrosse, there are twelve players on the field at a time. Below is a list of the main position types. Specialized positions that fall under a broader category, such as a long stick midfielder, will be covered within each section.
Men’s Lacrosse Positions
The attackmen in lacrosse are the three players who remain on the offensive side of the field at all times. They all use short sticks as opposed to long poles. Attackmen must have strong ball-handling, dodging, and shooting skills. Attackers will usually have the highest number of goals and the highest shooting percentage of any players on the team. Certain attackers have a specialized skill set on offense. For example, a creaseman is an attacker skilled at playing behind the goal, providing backup on a shot, feeding a cutter from the X, and rolling the crease.
The midfielders in lacrosse are the players that occupy the middle third of the field between the attackmen and defensemen. Midfielders may be designated as wingers playing on the outside of the field, face-off specialists, or defensive midfielders. In men's field lacrosse, there are three midfielders. Midfielders must have strong field vision and passing abilities to transition the ball from offense to defense and keep possession. Since some midfielders will cross the restraining line and join the attack, midfielders should also have strong shooting skills.
Long Stick Midfielder (LSM)
One midfielder in men's lacrosse typically plays with a long stick, also known as a long pole. This player is known as the long stick midfielder or LSM. LSM’s are defensive specialists who are particularly athletic and skilled at possessing the ball, even with a long pole. Whenever possible, the LSM will only be on the field for defensive possessions and substitute for a short stick when their team gains the offensive possession.
There is a special midfielder position called a FOGO, a face-off specialist in men’s lacrosse. The FOGO is a slang term that means “face-off get off.” A FOGO player is a special player whose top skill is winning the face-off and quickly clearing the field for a substitution.
The defensemen in lacrosse are the players located in the defensive half of the field. Their job is to defend the opposing team from scoring by guarding the opposing players and preventing them from getting quality shots on goal. There are three players at this position, and they all play with long poles in men’s lacrosse. Defensemen need to have strong checks and footwork to ensure they keep their offensive matchup in front of them. Defenders should also be able to secure ground balls and clear to the offense.
The goalkeeper in lacrosse is a player responsible for protecting the goal area and the crease. Their stick has a larger netted area, and they wear more protective equipment than field players. Their goaltending is essential to preventing goals by the opposing team. They are also called the goalie.
Women’s Lacrosse Positions
Attackers are mainly responsible for generating offense and scoring goals in women’s lacrosse, along with the midfield’s help. They will generally operate around the goal and crease to create goal-scoring opportunities.
The first home attacker is placed in front of the goal, and their main responsibility is to score goals. These players should have strong shooting ability and stick skills. If the first-home is unable to get a quality shot off, they need to be able to pass to open teammates and clear the crease area.
The second home is the team’s leader on attack. They must be able to support the first home and provide accurate passes that help set up the offense. Second home attackers should also be able to shoot strong and accurately from further out.
The third home is positioned furthest from the goal and typically plays the role of moving the ball from the defense to the attack. This player must have precise passing abilities and field vision to feed the ball to open teammates for a shot.
Midfielders are involved in supporting both the attack and defense in women’s lacrosse. Traditionally, there are five midfield players: one center and four wingers. Wingers can be further divided into left or right defensive wingers and attacking wingers.
The center is a specific type of midfielder. In women’s lacrosse, the center plays an essential role for their team by taking the draw and covering both the offensive and defensive ends. It is critical that the center has good skills to win the draw and excellent field vision.
Defenders in women’s lacrosse line up in a row of three behind the restraining line. Their most important duty is to stop goals from being scored. Unlike men’s lacrosse, defenders in women’s lacrosse do not have longer sticks. These players always remain in the defensive half of the field and are divided into three main roles, the third man, point, and cover point.
The third man is a defensive position assigned to cover the area closest to the restraining line upfield from their own goal. The third man must be quick at anticipating and intercepting midfield transition passes and adept at slowing down a fast break while other defensive midfielders and defenders drop in towards their own goal.
The point is a defensive position often assigned to cover the area closest to the goal, including the crease. This player must be skilled at sliding to support breakaway situations that get past the third man and cover point, as well as defending the crease.
The cover point in lacrosse is a defensive player who typically marks the second home attacker. A cover point position often draws one-on-one matchups because of their quickness and drop step.
The goalkeeper in women’s lacrosse is responsible for stopping shots on goal. These players are the only ones that can touch the ball with their hands inside the crease. Similar to men’s lacrosse, goalkeepers have a larger pocket on the head of their stick, giving them more surface area to stop shots. Women’s lacrosse goalkeepers wear extra padding, including a helmet, chest pads, and gloves.
How many players are on the field in lacrosse?
In men’s lacrosse, there are ten players on the field at a time: three attackmen, three midfielders, three defensemen, and a goalie. However, in women’s lacrosse, there are twelve players. These two extra players, in comparison to men’s lacrosse, serve as two additional midfielders.
Why do defensemen have longer sticks in men’s lacrosse?
In men’s lacrosse, defensemen have longer sticks to give them extra reach and help them keep up with attackers. The pace of play in men’s lacrosse is extremely fast, which puts defenders at a disadvantage when moving backward to protect their goal. To offset this disadvantage, they are permitted to use longer shafts. Defensive lacrosse shafts measure 52-72”, while attack and midfielder shafts measure between 40-42”.
How many long poles are allowed on the field at a time in men’s lacrosse?
In men’s lacrosse, a maximum of four players are allowed to be using long sticks at a time on the field, not including the goalie. The positions that typically use long poles are defensemen and special midfielders known as a “Long Stick Midfielder”. These longer sticks provide defensemen with an advantage on the defensive end and thus are popularly used across all levels of men’s lacrosse.