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Boys Lacrosse Rules and Terminology

A high school boys lacrosse game is forty-eight minutes, consisting of four twelve-minute quarters.

In the event of a tie, the teams play sudden death overtime.

10 players play at a time; 1 goalie, 3 defensemen, 3 midfielders, and 3 attackmen.

Each team must retain 3 players in its offensive half of the field and 4 players in the defensive half of the field at all times. Failure to do so results in a technical foul off-sides penalty.

Play begins with a “face-off” at midfield. After a goal, play resumes with a face-off.

A player who touches or goes beyond the sideline or endline or causes the ball to do the same (last player to touch the ball) is considered out of bounds. Possession is awarded to the other team. 

On a missed shot, possession is awarded to the player closest to the ball at the time it goes out of bounds.

Personal Foul penalties (slashing, tripping, blows to the head, late hit, unnecessary roughness, illegal stick, etc.) are always time-serving (1:00-3:00). Much like hockey, time serving penalties are served by the offending player in the penalty area of the substitution box, thus giving the offended team an extra man advantage called "EMO" or a "man-up" opportunity. Unless the penalty is a "non-releasable" penalty (unsportsmanlike conduct, illegal stick, or illegal contact to the head), the penalty is released if the offended team scores a goal.

Technical Foul penalties (off-sides, crease violation, illegal procedure, pushing, etc.) are change of possession fouls unless the team that is fouled has possession, in which case they are time serving (:30) and the rules governing their release are the same as with personal fouls.






















The Areas of The Lacrosse Field

“X” - refers to the area directly behind the goal crease. Most offenses, both settled and unsettled, are initiated through “X”.

“The Box” - refers to two places on the lacrosse field - the first is the area delineated by the restraining line (side to side) and the two lines running from the restraining line to the endline. Offensive and defensive players must remain in the box during a face-off until one of the midfielders participating in the face-off gains possession or the ball enters the box area. In the last two minutes of a game, the winning team, or both teams if the game is tied, must keep the ball inside of their offensive box once it enters that area, or the result is a turnover.

The second “box” is the substitution area at midfield. Similar to ice hockey, teams may substitute players through the box while the ball is in play - one player comes off, one player goes on. These substitutions must occur on the proper side of midfield to avoid going offsides.

“The Crease” - technically, it is the 9’ radius around the goal, but it also refers to the area directly in front of the goal. Offenses typically have at least one player “on the crease” at all times - similar to having a player in the lane in basketball.

“The Hole” - a defensive term for the area in front of the goal (crease area). Coaches will often yell to their players to “get in the hole” in unsettled defensive situations.

“Down the Side” - refers to a fundamental strategy in the transition game and unsettled situations in which the team going from defense to offense pushes the ball “down the side” to an attackman on the wing, who then distributes it to a second attackman at “X”. 

Some Common Lacrosse Terms

Attack or Attackmen - the 3 offensive specialist that operate around the goal at the offensive end of the field.

Middie or Midfielders - the 3 players who operate primarily in the center portion of the field, playing both offense and defense.

Defense, Close Defense or Defensemen - the 3 players who work in coordination with the goalie to prevent the opposition from scoring.

Long Pole - refers to a midfielder who is a defensive specialist and plays with a longer stick. The rules allow only 4 long sticks to be on the field at one time.

Face-Off Man - usually midfielder who specializes in the face-off

Chasing the Shot - after a shot, the closest player (team) to the ball, when it goes out, is awarded possession. Thus, players will “chase a shot” to the point where it goes out of bounds.

Check-Up - a defensive term which means for all of the players on defense to find a player to defend (man to man).

Clearing - the running or passing of the ball from the defensive half of the field to the offensive.

Cradling - The rhythmical coordinated motion of the arms and wrists that enables a player to keep the ball secure in his stick and ready to be passed or shot.

Extra-Man or Man Up - A one-man offensive advantage (at least) that occurs following a time-serving penalty - usually 6 on 5.

Fast Break - a transition scoring opportunity in which the offense enjoys at least a one-man advantage - usually a 4 on 3.

Feeding - passing the ball to a teammate who is in a position to shoot.

Goal Line Extended or "GLE" - the imaginary line from the goal line to the sideline

Ground Ball - A loose ball anywhere on the playing field

Man-Down - the defensive situation that arises from a time-serving penalty against a team in which their defense is in at least a one-man disadvantage - usually 6 on 5.

Riding - The act of attempting to prevent a team from clearing the ball.

Slide - A move by a defender to give support to a teammate who has been beaten by his man.

Slow Break - refers to an unsettled offensive situation in which the offense has at least a one-man advantage, but the advantage is not as obvious as a “fast break.” In a slow break situation, the offense tries to get the ball to a player at “X” and find the open man.


For more lacrosse terminology, CLICK HERE.

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