What are the lacrosse rules and regulations? How to play the game

What are the lacrosse rules and regulations? How to play the game

Claudia Kogi
January 22, 2023 at 11:05 AM

Most games played worldwide have rules and regulations that govern them to prevent foul play, and lacrosse, being a game, is no exception. It is popular in some regions of the world and is played by both genders according to age groups, and different ages have different lacrosse rules and regulations.

Different positions in Lacrosse
Andrei Svechnikov attempts a style goal as goaltender Dan Vladar of the Calgary Flames hugs the pipe and protects the net on 26 November 2022 in Raleigh, North Carolina. Photo: Jaylynn Nash
Source: Getty Images

Lacrosse is a team sport played using a stick and a hard rubber ball. Native Americans founded it. Lacrosse comprises ten players on each side of the field, and the objective is to get the opposing team's net.

History of lacrosse

It was started in 1100 AD by Native American communities. By the 17th century, a good version of the game was documented by missionaries in present-day Canada. Many native Americans played lacrosse across the eastern seaboard. The word lacrosse is a French word describing a stick or shaft attached to a pocket or netting.

To play the game, a stick and ball were used in addition to body armour. There is different protective gear for different versions of the game. The game can be outdoors in a field or indoors in an area with a huge space.

Lacrosse rules and regulations

Different positions in Lacrosse
The Ohio State Buckeyes celebrate a goal during a college game against the Maryland Terrapins at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium on 16 April 2022 in, Maryland. Photo: Mitchell Layton
Source: Getty Images

The game's rules vary between the different leagues. Some basic rules are highlighted here that are mainly used in men's high school games.

  • The game has 20 players, ten on each side of the field, and four of them must stay on the defensive, three on the offensive half, and three can go anywhere on the field.
  • The game must be divided into four quarters.
  • The match starts with a run down between two players from each team.
  • The goalie can only touch the ball with their hands, and the rest use the stick.
  • A player can be body checked if they have the ball and is within five yards of the ball.
  • An opponent is not allowed to enter the crease, but they can reach it with a stick to pick the ball.
  • If a player with the ball goes out of the field, possession is awarded to the opposing team.

How do you play lacrosse?

Lacrosse is played using sticks to pass, catch, cradle, scoop and shoot the ball. Players are not allowed to use their hands or feet to interfere with an opponent during the game.

The game stops when the ball is out of the marked bounds, and the possession is awarded to the team whose player is closest in-bound regardless of who took the shot.

Checking is categorised into two, stick and body. Stick checking is done when a defending player uses their stick to poke an opponent's stick to gain possession.

Who is the best lacrosse player ever?
Tyson Roe cradles the ball in the first quarter of the Desert Dogs' inaugural regular-season home opener at Michelob ULTRA Arena on 16 December 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: Ethan Miller
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Fouls are checked, which include cross-checking, slashing, tripping, illegal stick and unnecessary roughness. The penalty for a technical foul is loss of possession, while a personal foul is a 1-3-minute break.

How long is a lacrosse game?

The game is played in 4 sub-divisions that are eight minutes long for youngsters, 12-minute minutes in high school games, and 15 minutes in college and professional leagues.

How many players are in a lacrosse team

The men's lacrosse team comprises ten players;

  • Defensemen - 3
  • Mid-fielders -3
  • Attackmen - 3
  • Goalkeeper - 1

On the other hand, the women's team comprises 12 players;

  • Attackers - 5
  • Defenders - 6
  • Goalkeeper - 1

Who is the best lacrosse player ever?

Jim Brown is the best player in the sport, with outstanding performances that often outshined his impressive achievements in football. He was one of the best athletes of his time and a legend in different sports, and he played basketball and football apart from lacrosse.

Full name

Jim Nathaniel Brown

Date of birth

17 February 1936


86 years of age as of 2023




National Lacrosse Hall of Fame (1983) NCAA Men's Lacrosse First Team All-American (1957 and 1962) 2014 Muhammed Ali Humanitarian Lifetime Achievement award

Basic lacrosse rules for beginners

And while the sport might seem like a grown-person game, kids have proven to be the game's enthusiasts too. Here is a step-by-step guide and rules you can familiarise with your athlete kid to master the game's technique. Keep in mind these lacrosse rules and regulations vary from one league to another.

  • Players are allowed to body check only when the opponent owns the ball or at a distance of about 5 yards from the ball.
  • The participants in men's games are allowed to use sticks with a finishing of mesh netting.
  • The men's team can contain only ten participants.
  • Participants are not allowed to score within the circular line, called the crease.
  • Opponents can only reach the other team's crease area via their stick.
  • At any start of a game, it is marked by a face-off, where participants from both teams lay their playing sticks horizontally near the ball as they wait for the official whistle.
  • When a ball gets out of bounds, the game must stop, and the team whose player happens to be close to the particular location of the ball possesses it.
How do you play lacrosse?
Jane Earley scores against goalkeeper Molly Laliberty of the Tufts University Jumbos during the Division III Women’s championship on 29 May 2022 in Salem, Virginia. Photo: Grant Halverson
Source: Getty Images

What are the different positions in lacrosse?

Be it basketball, soccer, baseball, or even football. Every game often has a way of positioning the players respectively, which is why there are different parts of any given pitch. In lacrosse, the participants get substituted throughout the game, as in soccer.


The defenders in this sport are responsible for protecting the goal with a little assistance from the goalkeeper.


Like in soccer, a good midfielder should have speed and endurance throughout a match. Their main role is to transition, whereby they are responsible for swiftly moving the ball from defence to offence to create an advantage on offence.

How many players are in a lacrosse team?
Thomas Walsh of Ireland is tackled by Joshua McLaughlin of Jamaica during the 2022 World Lacrosse Men's U21 World Championship in Limerick. Photo: Tom Beary
Source: Getty Images


Each team has three attackers responsible for scoring goals in a lacrosse match. They often stay on the offensive side of the pitch, awaiting the ball from the midfielders in transition.


Just like any other game that has a goaltender, a goalkeeper in this game plays a vital role in ensuring that the opponent does not score any goal.

Once you master the game, you will realise that adhering to or following lacrosse rules and regulations gets even simpler. It is a unique yet interesting game to play with your family and kids during leisure.

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Claudia Kogi
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