Lacrosse Rules And Regulations

Lacrosse Rules and Regulations

Lacrosse is a fast-paced team sport that is played outdoors or indoors. The game of lacrosse originated in North America and was first invented and practiced by Native Americans. Keep reading to learn more about the rules of lacrosse.

Lacrosse Objectives

The objective of play is to score goals against the opposing team. A goal is scored when the entirety of the ball travels past the goal line under the crossbar and in between the goalposts. The team with the highest number of goals at the end of regulation time or overtime is declared the winner.

The Field

Lacrosse Field

A lacrosse field is where the game of lacrosse is played. In outdoor lacrosse, the optimal field size is 110 yards long by 60 yards wide. There are three main areas on the lacrosse field: the offensive zone, the midfield zone, and the defensive zone. The side of the field with a goaltender in the goal area is considered the defensive zone from the perspective of that team. Teams switch the direction of their offense at halftime. The playing surface can be either natural grass or artificial turf.

Moving the Ball

Players move the ball around the field by passing and catching or cradling. Cradling is the action of rotating the top hand back and forth to create centrifugal force, allowing the ball to remain in the pocket even when the player in possession is sprinting at a fast pace.

The flow of play in lacrosse has elements that are similar to basketball, soccer, and ice hockey. When the offense is moving the ball upfield, the objective is to complete a transition into the offensive half as quickly as possible. If the ball started in transition near the goal area or from a save by the goaltender, the transition from defense to offense is known as a clear.

In a settled offense situation, the attackmen pass the ball, make cuts, dodge against defenders, and set up feeds or assists. This ball movement is critical to challenge the defense and create a strong scoring opportunity.

Game Format and Duration

Lacrosse Game Clock

A men’s field lacrosse game is divided into four 15-minute quarters with two-minute breaks between the first and second quarter and the third and fourth quarter. There is a 10-minute halftime period for coaches to discuss strategy with the team and for players to rest.A women’s lacrosse game is divided into two 30-minute halves with a 10-minute halftime period.

If the score is tied at the end of regulation, a sudden-death overtime period begins after a five-minute break from play. The first team to score a goal in overtime automatically wins the game. Overtime length in men’s field lacrosse is two four-minute halves and in women’s field lacrosse is two three-minute halves.

Lacrosse Teams and Players

Lacrosse player positions

In men’s field lacrosse, ten players are on the field at a time. This includes a goaltender, defensemen, midfielders, and attackmen. Teams are allowed to play with fewer than ten players if injuries or penalty accumulation affects the team roster size. There can be a maximum of four players, usually all three defensemen plus one midfielder, using long crosses.

In women’s field lacrosse, 12 players are on the field. This is most often split up into one goaltender, four defenders, three midfielders, and four attackers. Teams are allowed to play with fewer than 12 players if injuries or penalty accumulation affects the overall team roster size.


Lacrosse equipment

Lacrosse is played with lacrosse sticks and a ball that weighs approximately five ounces and is about eight inches in circumference. In competition play, each men’s field player is required to wear a team jersey, protective helmet with a face mask, mouthguard, gloves, elbow pads, shoes, shoulder pads, and matching shorts. The goaltender wears a jersey, protective helmet with a face mask, mouthguard, gloves, shoes, and matching shorts in addition to extra protective equipment such as a chest protector and shin guards.

Women’s lacrosse players wear a team jersey and matching shorts or a skirt, mouthguard, and face mask protecting the eye area. The goaltender wears additional protective equipment including a chest protector, helmet with face mask, gloves, and shin guards.

Fouls and Penalties

There are two main categories of penalties called technical fouls and personal fouls. Personal fouls are more serious violations that typically stem from illegal contact with another player. For example, slashing is a common personal foul that involves a player hitting another player with the shaft of the stick. Some examples of technical fouls include offsides and holding. Other types of penalties include unsportsmanlike conduct and delay of game.

Scoring and Winning

Lacrosse Scoring

Teams score points by shooting the ball into the goal without incurring any penalties on the scoring play such as a crease violation. The entirety of the ball must cross the goal line in order for a point to count. The team with the most points at the end of regulation play and overtime (if necessary) wins the game.

Lacrosse Rules Summary

  • A lacrosse game is 60 minutes long with a 10-minute halftime period.
  • A lacrosse field is 110 yards long and 60 yards wide.
  • The lacrosse ball is made of solid rubber and weighs approximately 5 ounces and is about 8 inches in circumference.
  • A men’s lacrosse game has 10 players on the field for each team. A women’s lacrosse game has 12 players on the field for each team.
  • The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.
  • If the game is tied at the end of regulation play, teams compete in sudden-death overtime, and the team that scores the first goal is immediately declared the winner.
  • If a player commits a foul or penalty, they must wait in the penalty box for 30 seconds to three minutes
  • Players can earn a partial or full ejection from the game depending on the severity of the penalty.
  • A penalty will result in a change of possession or a free position shot depending on the nature of the foul and the field positioning where the foul occurred.
  • Substitutions in lacrosse can be made during the run of play and players must exchange through the substitution area. Substitutions can also occur during certain stoppages of play.


What are the rules of lacrosse?

The rules of lacrosse are very unique, but resemble the rules of sports such as hockey, football, soccer, and field hockey. Some of the most important rules of lacrosse are that games take place over four quarters of between eight and 15 minutes, that players must wear gear such as helmets, mouthguards, and pads, and that players cannot commit penalties such as body checking, slashing, spearing, or cross-checking.

How many players are on a lacrosse team?

There are ten players on a lacrosse team. These players are divided among the following positions: one goalkeeper and three of each defensemen, midfielders, and attackmen.

How do you score in lacrosse?

In lacrosse, you score points by shooting the ball into the goal. The ball must pass completely over the goal line, and the scoring team must not commit any fouls during the scoring play. Each goal scored is worth one point.