Comprehensive Guide: How to Play Lacrosse for New Players

Lacrosse is a team sport where players use sticks with mesh nets at one end to carry and pass the ball to teammates. Its origins are in Native American communities, dating back nearly a millennium when it was used as a training ground for warriors from many tribes. 

Interested? Well, this article will teach you how to play lacrosse.

The game gained popularity and was first formalized in Canada in 1867 after early versions were observed and recorded by French Jesuit missionaries. 

We will explore the players' positions, equipment required, play techniques, strategies for offense and defense, penalties and their types, and how you can improve your lacrosse game by following the drills and exercises mentioned at the end. 

How to Play Lacrosse
How to Play Lacrosse (htts://

Lacrosse Player Positions

There are 4 player positions in Lacrosse.  The total count of players per side is 10.

  • Goalie
  • Defenders
  • Midfielders
  • Attackers

There are positions for 3 attackers, 3 midfielders, 3 defenders, and 1 goalie in lacrosse.

Lacrosse Player Positions
Lacrosse Player Positions (

The goalie's role is to defend the net and stop shots. Midfielders switch between attack and defense, attackers try to score, and defenders guard the goal. 

Stick passes are used to advance the ball, opponents' movements are restricted, and goals are scored by shooting the ball into the goal line of the opposition.

Read More: How Long is a Lacrosse Game

Required Equipment to Play Lacrosse

The following is the required equipment to play Lacrosse:

  • Lacrosse Stick
  • Lacrosse Helmet
  • Lacrosse Mouthguard
  • Lacrosse Shoulder Pads
  • Lacrosse Arm Pads
  • Lacrosse Gloves
  • Lacrosse Cleats
  • Lacrosse Athletic Cup (for males)
  • Lacrosse Protective Cup (for females)
  • Optional Equipment: rib pads, shin guards, and additional padding

Men's lacrosse sticks range in length from 40–42 inches for “short” sticks to 52–72 inches for “long” sticks. For goalies, the length of the stick ranges from 40-72 inches to up to 10-12 inches wide.

Whereas for women lacrosse players, the sticks should not exceed 35.5 to 43.25 inches in length. 

The ball has a diameter of around  2.5 to 2.75 inches and is composed of vulcanized rubber. Thus, it is necessary to wear helmets; additionally, gloves, mouthpieces, shoulder pads, and arm pads are advised to avoid potential injuries.

Read More: Lacrosse Lifestyle

Lacrosse Play Techniques

The following 6 are the essential lacrosse play techniques applied while playing. 

Faceoff in Lacrosse

Two players from opposing teams use their sticks to vie for control of the ball when the official places it between their heads at the beginning of each quarter or after a goal is scored.

Lacrosse Play Techniques
Lacrosse Play Techniques (

Read More: Best Faceoff Heads

Cradling in Lacrosse

In lacrosse, cradling is the technique of slowly rotating the stick to keep the ball under control while sprinting.

Cradling in Lacrosse
Cradling in Lacrosse (

Read More: Practice Rebounders for Lacrosse

Checking in Lacrosse

Checking is the legal use of a lacrosse stick or body contact to dislodge the ball from an opponent's stick or impede their movement.

Checking in Lacrosse
Checking in Lacrosse (

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Passing in Lacrosse

Passing requires a solid grasp and a smooth motion to accurately pass the ball to teammates.

Passing in Lacrosse (

Read More: Best Heads for Middies

Catching in Lacrosse

Catching is putting the stick in the right position to safely receive passes.

Catching in Lacrosse (

Read More: Training Aids for Lacrosse

Shooting in Lacrosse

To score goals successfully, shooting requires a quick release and perfect aim.

Shooting in Lacrosse (

Read More: Portable Goals for Shooting

Strategies for How to Play Lacrosse

There are primarily two main strategies that are implemented in lacrosse.

  • Offensive Strategies
  • Defensive Strategies

Offensive Strategies in Lacrosse

Lacrosse offensive techniques include a variety of plays to open up scoring possibilities. These could include “fast break,” which takes advantage of quick transitions to surprise opponents, or “settled offense,” in which players hold the ball to set up organized attacks. 

It takes a combination of picks, cuts, and ball movement to get past defenses and find open shooting paths.

The following are the renowned offensive strategies in lacrosse.

Strategy Description
Fast Break A rapid offensive transition, aiming to capitalize on the opponent's defensive disorganization by quickly advancing the ball toward the goal for a scoring opportunity.
Settled Offense Structured offensive play is executed when the team has possession of the ball and the defense is set, typically involving deliberate ball movement and player positioning to create scoring chances.
Isolation Play A strategic offensive tactic where a single offensive player is given space to maneuver and create scoring opportunities against a defender in a one-on-one situation.
Off-ball Movements Tactical maneuvers made by offensive players without possession of the ball to create space, draw defenders away, or set screens to facilitate scoring chances for teammates.
Riding or Transition Offense Offensive tactics employed immediately after losing possession of the ball, aiming to disrupt the opponent's clearing attempts and regain possession quickly to create scoring opportunities.

Defensive Strategies in Lacrosse

Defense tactics in lacrosse are centered on stopping the opponent's offensive and defending the goal. Some of the tactics are sliding to double-team ball carriers, zone defense, and man-to-man marking. 

Defenders utilize checks to knock the ball out of play and intercept passes. Blocking scoring attempts and recovering possession for counterattacks need effective communication and placement.

The following are the renowned defensive strategies in lacrosse.

Strategy Description
Man to Man Defensive strategy where each defender is responsible for marking a specific opponent, aiming to deny them space and limit scoring opportunities individually.
Zone Defense In this, players are assigned specific areas of the field to defend rather than individual opponents, focusing on covering passing lanes and preventing penetration into key scoring areas.
Press Defense Aggressive defensive strategy aimed at applying intense pressure on the ball carrier and forcing turnovers through close marking and quick double teams, often used to disrupt the opponent's offensive flow.
Sliding Defense Defensive technique where defenders provide support to teammates by quickly sliding to cover an offensive player who has beaten their defender, aiming to deny scoring opportunities and regain possession.
Transition Defense Defensive tactics employed immediately after losing possession of the ball, focusing on quickly reorganizing to prevent the opponent from capitalizing on fast break opportunities and regaining control of the game tempo.

What are Faceoff techniques in Lacrosse?

Faceoffs in lacrosse are essential for regaining possession both before and after goals. To secure the ball, players use a variety of grips and stances, such as the clamp, rake, or plunger. Controlling the faceoff X and establishing momentum requires a combination of strength, speed, and timing.

Clearing the ball

In lacrosse, the term “clearing the ball” refers to an attempt by a defensive team to transfer the ball from their defensive zone to the attacking zone. Whereas passing or carrying the ball upfield, players can dodge opponents by utilizing strategies like outlet passes and ground balls. 

Effective collaboration, communication, and coordination are required to move the ball from defense to attackers. 

What is Transition Play in Lacrosse

Transition play in lacrosse alludes to the quick switch from attack to defense or vice versa. It happens when there is a change of possession or amid a speedy breakaway. 

To capitalize on tight circumstances and either make or avoid scoring openings, players must quickly adjust their positions and speed.

Penalty Rules and Consequences

Now that you have learned how to play lacrosse, it is time to look at the penalty rules and their consequences.

In lacrosse, when a player commits a personal foul, possession of the ball is typically awarded to the opposing team.

Upon receiving five personal fouls, a player is sent off from the game. Technical fouls are minor infractions that result in a 30-second penalty. These include but are not limited to, holding, illegal screens, interference, crease violations, and offside, crease violations.

The following are some of the penalty types and their consequences.

Penalty Types

Penalty Description
Minor Penalty A penalty assessed for infractions deemed less severe, resulting in the offending player being removed from the game for a short period (usually 1-2 minutes), during which their team plays shorthanded.
Major Penalty A more serious penalty resulting in the offending player being removed from the game for a longer period (typically 5 minutes) and their team playing shorthanded for the duration.
Misconduct Penalty A penalty resulting in the offending player being removed from the game for a specified period (usually 10 minutes), during which their team plays shorthanded but without immediate replacement.
Match Penalty The most severe penalty, resulting in the offending player's immediate ejection from the game and often further disciplinary action, such as suspension, for actions considered particularly dangerous or unsportsmanlike.


  • Numerical Disadvantage
  • Momentum Shift

Importance of Teamwork and Communication on the Field

The importance of teamwork and communication in lacrosse is huge. 

It forms the basis of the game and affects each pass, goal, and defensive play. Teams with strong cooperation abilities can outperform individual players' abilities by creating a strong, cohesive presence on the field. 

Conditioning Drills and Exercises for Lacrosse Players

In lacrosse, it is all about quickness, dexterity, and explosive power boosts. Thus, to optimize your training, you should include all these advancements in your routine. 

You may work on their conditioning skills by doing Box Variations, Corner to Corner, Mirror Image, Sprints, T-shape, Squats, and Burpees, among other excellent exercises.

The following are some of the best conditional drills for lacrosse players:

  • Interval Sprints
  • Agility Ladder Drills
  • Cone Drills
  • Medicine Ball Throws
  • Shuttle Runs
  • Plyometric Exercises

By performing these drills and exercises, one is bound to have an improved game.

Read More: Best Training Drills for Lacrosse

How to Improve Stick Skills

Lacrosse requires players to have good stick-handling and cradling skills. Keep your hands loose and manipulate the stick using your wrists.

Try controlling and guiding the ball with two hands as you choose the most effective strategy to keep it on the stick. 

A skilled lacrosse player may be developed by learning the rules, improving their fundamental abilities, and improving their general fitness.

The following are some of the best practices that lacrosse players perform to improve their stick skills.

  • Practice Regularly
  • Focus on Fundamentals
  • Wall Ball Drills
  • Work on Both Hands
  • Engage in Small-Sided Games
  • Receive Feedback
  • Be Patient and Persistent

Tips for Staying Safe and Preventing Injuries while Playing Lacrosse

It is important to stay mindful of the game and be aware of your surroundings while playing. Express your goals and concerns related to your skills and fitness, as clear communication can help you achieve your objectives and address any worries you may have. 

Taking breaks and allowing your body and mind to relax is crucial for maintaining optimal performance and preventing burnout or fatigue. Keep yourself hydrated.

Utilize protective gear like gloves and helmets to protect yourself from potential injuries on the field. Use warm-up and stretch routines to keep your body ready for the games.

Additionally, it is essential to report any injuries, regardless of their severity, to ensure proper care and treatment for your well-being.

Remember to respect and follow the rules of the game to ensure fair play and sportsmanship.

Resources for Further Learning and Development in the Sport

Through the utilization of materials like books, sports films, and online courses, players may learn the skills necessary for success as well as mental training. 

First, familiarize yourself with the guidelines. After that, watch other people playing the sport, either live or through streaming video. 

If possible, practice with a coach or teacher as you acquire the required skills. Next, go to work, preferably in a group or team.

If you follow the list below, your learning and development in lacrosse will improve.

  • Online Courses and Training Programs
  • Coaching Clinics and Workshops
  • Books and Publications
  • Video Analysis and Instructional Videos
  • Lacrosse Camps and Clinics
  • Online Communities and Forums
  • Professional Development Courses
  • National Governing Bodies and Associations

People Also Ask

How Many Player Positions Are There in Lacrosse, and What Are They?

Lacrosse consists of four-player positions: goalie, defender, midfielder, and attacker, with a total of ten players per side.

What Equipment Is Necessary to Play Lacrosse, and What Are Some Optional Items?

Essential equipment for lacrosse includes a stick, helmet, mouthguard, shoulder pads, arm pads, gloves, cleats, and protective cups. Optional items may include rib pads, shin guards, and additional padding.

What Are Some Key Offensive Strategies in Lacrosse?

Offensive strategies in lacrosse include fast break, settled offense, isolation play, off-ball movements, and riding or transition offense, each designed to create scoring opportunities and outmaneuver the defense.

How Are Penalties in Lacrosse Classified, and What Are Their Consequences?

Penalties in lacrosse are categorized into minor, major, misconduct, and match penalties, each carrying varying durations of removal from the game and potential additional disciplinary actions based on the severity of the infraction.

Like all sports, learning how to play lacrosse requires skills, patience, and a genuine knack for the game. By staying dedicated, anyone can become a skilled lacrosse player.

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Connor Stifel

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