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, fast-moving game, which 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 lacrosse positions and women's lacrosse positions.
In men's lacrosse, ten players take the field for each team, including the goaltender. Below is a list of the main position types. Specialized positions that fall under a broader category, such as a creaseman attacker or long stick midfielder, will be covered within each section.
The attackmen in lacrosse are the three players that remain on the offensive side of the field. They all use short sticks as opposed to long poles. Attackmen must have strong ball handling, passing 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 play from the X and rolling the crease. Each attack must have a designated in-home player. While the in-home plays just like any other attacker, the in-home is elected to serve penalties in the absence of the coach or a teammate who receives a penalty if either the coach or the teammate has been ejected.
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, centers taking the draw or a FOGO player who is a face-off specialist. In men's field lacrosse, there are three midfielders. One midfielder in men's lacrosse plays with a long stick, also known as a long pole. Midfielders must have strong field vision and passing abilities to transition the ball from offense to defense and keep possession. Because some midfielders will cross the restraining line and join the attack, midfielders should practice shooting skills.
The center is a specific type of midfielder. 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. Some centers in men's lacrosse are called a FOGO. The FOGO is a slang term that means "face off get off" specialist. A FOGO player is a special teams player whose top skill is winning the face-off and then quickly clearing the field for a substitution.
The defensemen in lacrosse are the players in the defense position who are 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.
The goaltender in lacrosse is a player responsible for protecting the goal area and the crease. Their stick has a larger crosse area and they wear more protective equipment compared with field players. Their goaltending is essential to preventing goals by the opposing team. They are also called the goalie.
In women's lacrosse. twelve players take the field for each team, including the goalie. Like men's lacrosse, the positions break down by attackers, midfielders, defenders and a goaltender.
There are three attackers that remain in the offensive area, plus one attacking midfielder. Sometimes attackers are referred to as first home, second home and third home. First home describes the player assigned to the crease or closest to goal, and they must be a skilled ball handler, crease feeder and shooter. The second and third home play tend to play in front of the goal. Even in settled offense though, these positions are fluid, and all attackers should be comfortable playing behind and in front of the goal.
The center is a midfield position 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. Similar to the quarterback in football, the center must have all-around passing, shooting and defending skills as well as strong physical endurance to cover both ends of the field.
There are three defenders in lacrosse that remain behind the restraining line, along with one defensive midfielder. The defense positions are sometimes sub-categorized by three different responsibilities:
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 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.