Lacrosse, considered to be America's first sport, was born of the North American Indian, christened by the French, and adapted and raised by the Canadians. Modern lacrosse has been embraced by athletes and enthusiasts of the United States and the British Commonwealth for over a century.
The sport of lacrosse is a combination of basketball, soccer and hockey. Anyone can play lacrosse -- the big or the small. The game requires and rewards coordination and agility, not brawn. Quickness and speed are two highly prized qualities in lacrosse.
An exhilarating sport, lacrosse is fast-paced and full of action. Long sprints up and down the field with abrupt starts and stops, precision passes and dodges are routine in men's and women's lacrosse. Lacrosse is played with a stick, the crosse, which must be mastered by the player to throw, catch and scoop the ball.
Lacrosse is one of the fastest growing team sports in the United States. Youth participation in the sport has grown over 138% since 2001 to nearly 300,000. No sport has grown faster at the high school level over the last 10 years and there are now an estimated 228,000 high school players. Lacrosse is also the fastest-growing sport over the last six years at the NCAA level with 557 college teams in 2009, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. There are more than 500 college club programs, including nearly 200 women's teams that compete at the US Lacrosse Intercollegiate Associates level.
Brief History of Lacrosse
With a history that spans centuries, lacrosse is the oldest sport in North America. Rooted in Native American religion, lacrosse was often played to resolve conflicts, heal the sick, and develop strong, virile men. To Native Americans, lacrosse is still referred to as "The Creator's Game."
Ironically, lacrosse also served as a preparation for war. Legend tells of as many as 1,000 players per side, from the same or different tribes, who took turns engaging in a violent contest. Contestants played on a field from one to 15 miles in length, and games sometimes lasted for days. Some tribes used a single pole, tree or rock for a goal, while other tribes had two goalposts through which the ball had to pass. Balls were made out of wood, deerskin, baked clay or stone.
The evolution of the Native American game into modern lacrosse began in 1636 when Jean de Brebeuf, a Jesuit missionary, documented a Huron contest in what is now southeast Ontario, Canada. At that time, some type of lacrosse was played by at least 48 Native American tribes scattered throughout what is now southern Canada and all parts of the United States. French pioneers began playing the game avidly in the 1800s. Canadian dentist W. George Beers standardized the game in 1867 with the adoption of set field dimensions, limits to the number of players per team and other basic rules.
New York University fielded the nation's first college team in 1877, and Philips Academy, Andover (Massachusetts), Philips Exeter Academy (New Hampshire) and the Lawrenceville School (New Jersey) were the nation's first high school teams in 1882. There are 400 college and 1,200 high school men's lacrosse teams from coast to coast.
The first women's lacrosse game was played in 1890 at the St. Leonard's School in Scotland. Although an attempt was made to start women's lacrosse at Sweet Briar College in Virginia in 1914, it was not until 1926 that Miss Rosabelle Sinclair established the first women's lacrosse team in the United States at the Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore, Maryland.
Men's and women's lacrosse were played under virtually the same rules, with no protective equipment, until the mid-1930s. At that time, men's lacrosse began evolving dramatically, while women's lacrosse continued to remain true to the game's original rules. Men's and women's lacrosse remain derivations of the same game today, but are played under different rules. Women's rules limit stick contact, prohibit body contact and, therefore, require little protective equipment. Men's lacrosse rules allow some degree of stick and body contact, although violence is neither condoned nor allowed.
Field lacrosse is sometimes perceived to be a violent and dangerous game, however, injury statistics prove otherwise. While serious injuries can and do occur in lacrosse, the game has evolved with an emphasis on safety, and the rate of injury is comparatively low. Ensuring the safety of participants is a major focus for US Lacrosse and its Sports Science and Safety Committee, which researches injury data in the sport and makes recommendations to make the game as safe as practicable.
***This article on the history of lacrosse was provided by US Lacrosse
TABLE OF CONTENTS
II. LACROSSE POSITIONS
IV. HOW TO HOLD THE STICK
V. BASIC LACROSSE RULES
VI. PERSONAL FOULS
VII. BASIC LACROSSE SKILLS
VIII. GLOSSARY OF LACROSSE TERMS
IX. WALL BALL
X. LACROSSE FIELD
XI. US LACROSSE CODE OF CONDUCT
Lacrosse a.k.a. LAX: Is a game invented by American Indians; now played on a rectangular field by two teams of ten players who use long-handled sticks that have a webbed pouch to catch, carry and throw the ball toward the opponents' goal.
The sport of lacrosse is a combination of basketball, soccer and hockey. The plays are similar to basketball, the skill/physical level is similar to hockey, and the endurance demanded on the body is similar to soccer. This sport is the fastest on two feet and is a true team sport. Anyone can play Lacrosse - the big or the small. The game requires and rewards coordination and agility, not brawn. Quickness and speed are two highly prized qualities in lacrosse. An exhilarating sport, lacrosse is fast-paced and full of action. Long sprints up and down the field with abrupt starts and stops, precision passes and dodges are routine. Lacrosse is played with a stick (the crosse) which must be mastered by the player in order to scoop, throw, and catch the ball.
II. MEN'S LACROSSE POSITIONS: 10 players on the field per team.
The attackman's responsibility is to score goals. The attackman generally restricts his play to the offensive end of the field. A good attackman demonstrates excellent stick work with both hands and has quick feet to maneuver around the goal. Each team should have three attackmen on the field during play.
The midfielder's (a.k.a middie) responsibility is to cover the entire field, playing both offense and defense. The midfielder is a key to the transition game, and is often called upon to clear the ball from defense to offense. A good midfielder demonstrates good stick work including throwing, catching and scooping. Speed and stamina are essential. Each team should have three midfielders on the field.
The defenseman's responsibility is to defend the goal. The defenseman generally restricts his play to the defensive end of the field. A good defenseman should be able to react quickly in game situations. Agility and aggressiveness are necessary, but great stick work is not essential to be effective. Each team should have three defensemen on the field.
The goalie's responsibility is to protect the goal and stop the opposing team from scoring. A good goalie also leads the defense by reading the situation and directing the defensemen to react. A good goalie should have excellent hand/eye coordination and a strong voice. Quickness, agility, confidence and the ability to concentrate are also essential. Each team has one goalie in the goal during play.
Gloves, stick (a.k.a. the crosse), helmet NOCSAE approved, shoulder pads, arm pads and a mouthpiece are mandatory. Cleats, rib pads and a protective cup are recommended. A protective cup is required for any player in goal. A goalie stick (which has a bigger head), throat protector and chest protector is also required to play goal but will be provided by the coach. Game shorts and jersey will be provided by BYLA; all other equipment is the responsibility of the player.
For U13, the length of the crosse must be 36” to 42” inches for short sticks and 52” to 60” for long sticks. As long as you don’t cut the shaft, the standard stick length is legal. If you drop a Lacrosse ball into the pocket, then looking at the pocket from the side, you should not be able to see the top of the ball. If you cannot see the top of the ball, the pocket is legal. The stick must also have an end cap. Most sticks come with end caps but they sometimes fall off. The caps should be taped to prevent it from falling off.
IV. HOW TO HOLD THE STICK: “Your Lacrosse stick should become part of your body!”
To become proficient in passing and shooting, the player must be able to propel the ball from the stick with the wrist "snap." Many beginning players pass and shoot with an arm motion, or "push" the ball, which causes the ball to leave the stick on a low trajectory resulting in a low pass or shot. (An excellent way to develop the wrist snap is to utilize the “Wall” which is detailed in section VIII.) Wearing Lacrosse gloves, hold the stick in one hand (which ever is most comfortable, usually the arm that is used for throwing a ball) at its balance point and then place the head of the stick in the "box" area which is up above the shoulder near the ear. Then with one hand, "snap" the wrist which will cause the ball to come out of the stick in a straight line and bounce off the wall straight back into the stick, hopefully. If you can’t find a wall, use a friend/parent, they may have to use a baseball glove if they don’t have a Lacrosse stick.
Next, hold the stick with your top hand approximately half way down the shaft of the stick, same as step 1 and your opposite hand should cover the end cap. Snap the top wrist while bringing the bottom hand towards your dominant armpit. This will help to keep your stick in a vertical position. Passing is like casting a fishing line. Change your foot stance as you change your hands, lead with your left foot if passing from the right, and so forth.
To become proficient, the player must be able to catch the ball. It could be from a pass, intercepting a pass or even a shot. When catching, it is important to keep the stick head up, placing the head of the stick in the "box" area, which is up above the shoulder. This gives the player passing the ball a good target and once the ball is caught, the stick is in a position to pass or shoot. A player should always have stick up, ready for a pass.
To become proficient, the player must be able to scoop the ball. Due to a missed catch, a good stick check, drop ball, etc a player will have many opportunities to pick up “ground balls” during a game. When scooping, it is important to always be moving, never pick up a ball standing still! When scooping, the angle of the stick to the ground is the most important. The best way to pick up the ball is to have two hands on the stick and the head of the stick and the shaft level with the ground. The player should be running to the ball at 80% speed, then bend down and scoop the ball, then run at 100% speed, keeping the stick close to the body to avoid another player dislodging the ball with a poke check. Never rake the ball into the pocket, always scoop thru the ball.
V. BASIC LACROSSE RULES
Men's lacrosse is a contact game played by ten players: a goalie, three defensemen, three midfielders and three attackmen. The object of the game is to shoot the ball into the opponent's goal. The team scoring the most goals wins.
Each team must keep at least four players, including the goalie, in its defensive half of the field and three in its offensive half. Three players (midfielders) may roam the entire field.
Generally Youth games are 40 minutes long, with four ten-minute stop time quarters or 60 minutes with four fifteen minute running time quarters. Each team is given a two-minute break between the first and second quarters, and the third and fourth quarters. Halftime is usually ten minutes long.
Teams change sides between periods. Each team is permitted two timeouts each half. The team winning the coin toss chooses the end of the field it wants to defend first. The players take their positions on the field: four in the defensive area (one is the goalie), one at the center, two in the wing areas and three in their attack area (see section X for field diagram).
Men's lacrosse begins with a face-off. The ball is placed between the sticks of two squatting players at the center of the field (see picture at bottom of page 2). The official blows the whistle to begin play. Each face-off player tries to control the ball. The midfielders in the wing areas can run after the ball when the whistle sounds. The other players (attackman and defenseman) must wait until one player has gained possession of the ball, or the ball has crossed a goal area line, before they can release. Attackman stay in the attack area and the defenseman stay in the defensive area (see section X for field diagram).
Center face-off are also used at the start of each quarter and after a goal is scored, except in youth Lacrosse. When there is a five goal lead, the trailing team receives the ball at mid field. Face off resume when the margin returns to four goals. Field players must use their crosses to pass, catch and run with the ball. Only the goalkeeper may touch the ball with his hands. Players can kick the ball if needed but can not score by kicking the ball. A player may gain possession of the ball by dislodging it from an opponent's crosse with a stick check. A stick check is the controlled poking and slapping of the stick and gloved hands of the player in possession of the ball. Body checking is permitted if the opponent has the ball or is within five yards of a loose ball. All body contact must occur from the front or side, above the waist and below the shoulders, and with both hands on the stick. An opponent's crosse may also be stick checked if it is within five yards of a loose ball or ball in the air. Aggressive body checking is discouraged.
If the ball or a player in possession of the ball goes out of bounds, the other team is awarded possession. If the ball goes out of bounds after an unsuccessful shot, the player nearest to the ball when and where it goes out of bounds is awarded possession. You will see players sprinting to end line after a shot. The closest player to where the ball goes out of bounds on a shot is rewarded possession of the ball. An attacking player cannot enter the crease around the goal, but may reach in with his stick to scoop a loose ball unless the goalie has possession. If the goalie has possession inside the crease, attacking players can not interfere with the goalie. Defenseman are allowed in their own crease around their goal as long as they do not have the ball.
VI. PERSONAL FOULS
Slashing: Occurs when a player's stick viciously contacts an opponent in any area other than the stick or gloved hand on the stick. A slash can also be called if the referee feels the player’s poke or check was dangerous. Example: If a player swings the stick like a baseball bat. Slashing can be called even if there was no contact or the contact was on the stick. Just because the player hit the stick, doesn’t mean it was good defense. Also, any one-handed check can be considered a slash.
Tripping: Occurs when a player obstructs his opponent at or below the waist with the crosse, hands, arms, feet or legs.
Cross Checking: Occurs when a player uses the handle of his crosse between his hands to make contact with an opponent.
Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Occurs when any player or coach commits an act which is considered unsportsmanlike by an official, including taunting, arguing, or obscene language or gestures.
Unnecessary Roughness: Occurs when a player strikes an opponent with his stick or body using excessive or violent force.
Illegal Body Checking: Occurs when any of the following actions takes place:
a. body checking an opponent who is not in possession of the ball or within five yards of a loose ball; b. avoidable body check of an opponent after he has passed or shot the ball; c. body checking an opponent from the rear or at or below the waist; d. body checking an opponent above the shoulders. A body check must be below the shoulders and above the waist, and both hands of the player applying the body check must remain in contact with his crosse.
VII. BASIC LACROSSE SKILLS
Catching: The act of receiving a passed ball with the crosse.
Cradling: The coordinated motion of the arms and wrists that keeps the ball secure in the pocket and ready to be passed or shot when running.
Passing: The act of throwing the ball to a teammate with the crosse.
Scooping: The act of picking up a loose ball with the crosse.
Shooting: The act of throwing the ball with the crosse toward the goal in an attempt to score. The best shot is a bounce shot.
Checking: The act of attempting to dislodge the ball from an opponent's stick.
Poke Check: A stick check in which the player pokes the head of his stick at an opponent's stick through the top hand by pushing with the bottom hand.
Rake:A face-off move in which a player sweeps the ball to the side.
Pushing: Occurs when a player thrusts or shoves a player from behind. A push can also be called when a player makes contact with only one hand on the crosse.
VIII. GLOSSARY OF MEN'S LACROSSE TERMS
Clearing: Running or passing the ball from the defensive half of the field to the attack goal area.
Crease: A circle around the goal with a radius of nine feet into which only defensive players may enter.
Crosse (Stick): The equipment used to throw, catch and carry the ball.
Face-Off: A technique used to put the ball in play at the start of each quarter, or after a goal is scored. The players squat down and the ball is placed between their crosses (see picture at bottom of page 2).
Fast-Break: A transition scoring opportunity in which the offense has at least a one-man advantage.
Ground Ball: A loose ball on the playing field.
Handle (Shaft): An aluminum, wooden or composite pole connected to the head of the crosse.
Head: The plastic (or wood on old sticks) part of the stick connected to the handle with a pocket.
On-The-Fly Substitution: A substitution made during play.
Pick: An offensive maneuver in which a stationary player attempts to block the path of a defender guarding another offensive player.
Pocket: The strung part of the head of the stick that holds the ball.
IX. WALL BALL
The single most effective training technique that improved my game is one of the oldest and best. “WALL BALL” is the one aspect of training that can help any player develop (new or experienced) and be the sure handed ball control player, regardless of position, that every team needs.
Wall Ball will improve your stick handling, hand eye coordination, passing, catching, shooting, fakes, and trickery. The beauty of “wall ball” is that you do not have to rely on anyone else to get better. Just you and the wall. There are five phases of “wall ball” below that I feel can benefit everyone regardless of position. Find a wall in your area (it could be the side of a school, gym, handball court, etc) that is at least 15 yards long and ten feet high. Below is an outline but feel free to do any variation of these or make up your own.
Phase 1-Quick Stick/Rapid Fire: Line up around 3-5 yards from the wall. First, 50 right hand throw and catches. After completing 50 right hand throw and catches, do the same with your left. Did you notice I didn’t mention starting with your strong hand. With “wall ball” anything you do right, you follow-up left. This stage is great because it allows you to work on quick sticks, hand eye coordination, and timing. You will become better about getting rid of the ball in a timely fashion without even noticing it by practicing this stage.
Phase 2-12 Yard Passing: Line up 12 yards from the wall. Start with 30 right hand throws, which will come back to you on one bounce. When you retrieve the ball from the one bounce, cradle once, then follow-up with the next throw. When you have completed 30 right handed throws, follow-up with 30 left.
Phase 3-Throwing & Catching On The Run: First line up 5-7 yards from the wall on the far left side of the wall. I begin this stage with the stick in my right hand and while I am running alongside the wall (towards the other end), I throw and catch the ball on the run. After I run one length of the wall, I run back to the other end throwing lefty (doing the same thing I did with my right). Keep repeating these steps.
Phase 4-Shooting: Line-up around 12-15 yards from the wall. Get in proper shooting formation (hands loose, three quarter/overhand motion, snapping of the hips, and following through) mark a few places on the wall with tape to aim at. Shoot at about 80% velocity, having the ball come back to you with one bounce. Depending on where you aim, the ball may take bounces that aren’t the same, so you have to work a little bit. Start with 25 right, and follow up with about 25 left.
Phase 5-Trickery: This stage is fun. This is a great time to practice behind the backs (make sure you are not following through too much. Step in the direction you are aiming, and the behind the back motion is only about a foot, with the head of your stick ending up hitting the top part of your arm near your shoulder). Around the world, through the legs, and any other creative stuff can be incorporated at this time. I would leave around 5 minutes for this stage. I am a firm believer that this stage is important. This is not something I will encourage in games or practice but you will develop strong comfort level with your stick and great hand eye coordination.
The Lacrosse field is longer and wider than a football field; 110 yards by 60 yards. All Lacrosse fields are the same except Major League Lacrosse (like the Cannons) field has different lines, including a 2 point arch which is only in professional Lacrosse. Below is standard field specifications. Playing on a regulation size field is preferred; however the coaches and officials can agree to play on any size field available. The Lacrosse goal/net is 6 ft high by 6 ft wide.
XI. US LACROSSE CODE OF CONDUCT
US Lacrosse requires all players, coaches, officials, parents and spectators to sign and abide by a ""Code of Conduct"" that embodies basic common sense principles, demonstrates consideration of others, and projects a positive image to our young men and women.
Individuals and/or teams participating in US Lacrosse events that fail to abide by this code will be subject to ejection and disqualification from future US Lacrosse events. Thank you for your help in promoting these principles.
The Code of Conduct
Players, coaches, spectators and parents are to conduct themselves in a manner that ""Honors the Game"" and demonstrates respect to other players, coaches, officials and spectators. In becoming a member of the lacrosse community an individual assumes certain obligations and responsibilities to the game of lacrosse and its participants. The essential elements in this ""Code of Conduct"" are HONESTY and INTEGRITY. Those who conduct themselves in a manner that reflects these elements will bring credit to the sport of lacrosse, themselves, their team and their organization. It is only through such conduct that our sport can earn and maintain a positive image and make its full contribution to youth sports in the United States and around the world. US Lacrosse and its Youth Council support the following behaviors for those participating or involved in any way with US Lacrosse and youth lacrosse in general:
The essential elements of the ""Code of Conduct"" must be adhered to.
o Sportsmanship and teaching the concepts of fair play are essential to the game, and must be taught and developed both at home and on the field during practices and games.
o The emphasis on winning should never be placed above the value of good sportsmanship, the concepts of fair play, or the skills of the game.
o Derogatory comments are unacceptable. Use positive reinforcement with players and adults alike. It should be remembered that criticism, once made, can never be retracted.
o The safety and welfare of the players are of primary importance.
o Coaches must always be aware of the tremendous influence they have on their players. They are to strive to be positive role models in dealing with young people, as well as with adults.
o Officials are expected to conduct themselves as professionals and in a manner that demonstrates courtesy and fairness to all parties while exercising their authority on the field.
o Adults involved with the game must never permit anyone to openly or maliciously criticize, badger, harass, or threaten an official.
o Knowledge of the Rules of Lacrosse must be respected and adhered to by all who participate in the game of lacrosse, both in the letter and the spirit of the game. Attempts to manipulate rules in an effort to take unfair advantage of an opponent, or to teach deliberate unsportsmanlike conduct, is considered unacceptable conduct.
o Eligibility requirements, such as age and previous level of participation, must be followed. They have been established to encourage and maximize participation, as well as promote safety.
There are many aspects to Lacrosse that will be developed over time. Unlike other sports like Baseball and Basketball, most kids/parents have a basic understanding of the rules, positions and how use the equipment (like shooting a basketball or hitting a baseball). For many players/parents, this is their first experience with Lacrosse. Usually after the first or second game most players have a good understanding of the basics and most parents are used to the shock of seeing their kids being hit with a stick!
The most import mission of CYL and is to get the kids familiar with Lacrosse and to have fun.
Nine goals to victory
There are nine facets to every game that can leave your opponent with the impression that you play tough, smart and hard, that you are relentless and that you pursue all over the field. The more of these goals you achieve in every game, the greater your chance of victory.
Most of these goals are self-explanatory. We must get more loose balls, kill off penalties, and score when man-up. We must stay out of the penalty box, control more face-offs, clear the ball to our attack and bottle them up before they can clear. We must hustle and play physically. We need more "dominant moments" -- and we need good play from the "most important man on the field," who is the third person to the ball on offense or defense. Last, we must beat the opposition down the home stretch.
It's not about taking the most shots or making more saves. If we do better or tie the other team in at least five of the critical phases of the game, shots, saves and goals all tend to take care of themselves.
In every game, you have one full-field sprint riding on each of our nine goals to victory. Win or tie a specific goal, and you don't run; lose a category and you run.