Youth and High School Girls
One of the significant differences between girls' and boys' lacrosse is that more players take the field in a regulation game on a girls' team. The following are the positions in the girls' game and the responsibilities that go along with them.
The primary role of this position is keeping balls out of the net. A goalie must be quick on her feet and willing to go after loose balls around the crease area. The more confident your goalie is, the more effective she'll be at turning away the different types of shots she'll face.
After the goaltender position, point is the most defensive-oriented position on the field. The player handling this position works closely with the goalie, communicating what the opponent is doing and orchestrating where players need to be on the field to counter the attack.
Your point player must be a good communicator to help prevent defensive breakdowns from occurring. Because the point player doesn't stray far from the net, she's often in position to intercept passes to the middle of the field while defending an attack.
This player's main task is to cover the opposition's second home. Good footwork is an asset for excelling in this position because the player must stick with the opponent to deny passes and shots on goal.
The cover point player is also relied on to make clearing passes, so she must be proficient at catching passes from the goalie and quickly turning upfield to look for teammates who can receive the ball.
This player's key responsibility is covering the opposing team's third home. Important attributes for doing well in this position are good reflexes, the ability to read the opponent's attack, and the ability to jump into the passing lanes to intercept balls.
Left and right defensive wings
These positions require substantial running, as the players' primary responsibility is to guard the opponent's left and right attack wings.
This position is a magnet of activity on both offense and defense. Because the position requires strong play both with and without the ball, as well as a variety of other skills, the team's best player usually handles this position.
The center patrols the middle of the field. When her team has control of the ball, she looks to step up into the action, where she can feed the ball to the first, second, and third home players. When her team is on defense, she retreats to her team's defensive half of the field, providing coverage against the opponent's center, disrupting the passing lanes, and looking to intercept balls delivered by the attack wings.
Left and right attack wings
These positions cover a lot of territory as the players carry out supportive roles at the offensive end of the field — most notably, feeding the ball to the players manning the first, second, and third home positions. They also must hustle back on defense to help out the left and right defensive wings.
A team's offensive prowess is enhanced whenever its third home player is an efficient passer. She can feed the ball to the first and second home players, as well as the right and left attack wings. She also takes shots on goal when scoring opportunities arise and creates openings for herself to shoot or pass.
This position is similar to the point guard position in basketball, because the second home orchestrates the offense and makes the passes that help the offense run smoothly and effectively. In lacrosse, this player should be an excellent ball handler, because she'll likely have the ball on her stick more than most of the other players.
The offense will be more difficult to defend if the second home player is a threat to score goals, too.
This position represents the most offensive play on the lacrosse field. The first home's main responsibilities are to score goals and to deliver accurate passes to teammates who are in scoring position.
To excel in this position, a youngster must be quick and have sound ball-control skills.
Youth and High School Boys
Men's lacrosse is a contact game played by 10 players: 1 goalie, 3 defensemen, 3 midfielders, and 3 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 4 players, including the goalie, in its defensive half of the field and 3 players in the offensive half. The 3 midfielders may roam the entire field.
Each team's players take their positions with 4 players in the defensive clearing area, 1 player at the center, 1 player in each wing area, and 3 players in their attack clearing area.
The game begins with a face off. The ball is placed between the sticks of the 2 face-off men at the center of the field. The official blows the whistle to start play. Each face-off player tries to control the ball. The players in the wing areas can move; the other players can maneuver around in their respective areas, but must wait until one player has gained possession of the ball or the ball crosses into either goal area. Generally, face offs are used after a goal and at the start of each quarter. They always take place at the center line.
Players can run with the ball in their crosse [stick] for as long as they want, or they can pass the ball to a teammate.
A player may gain possession of the ball by dislodging it from the opponent's stick with a stick check, which includes 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 5 yards of the ball. However, all contact must occur from the front or side, above the waist and below the shoulders. An opponent's stick may also be stick checked if it is within 5 yards of a loose ball or a ball in the air.
Unlike any other sport, after an unsuccessful shot, if the ball goes out of bounds, the ball is awarded to the player closest to the ball when and where the ball goes out of bounds.
Attacking players may not enter the crease [circle] around the goal, but can reach in with their sticks to scoop the ball.
There are personal and technical fouls in lacrosse. The penalty for a personal foul is a one to three minute suspension from play and possession to the team that was fouled. Players with five personal fouls are ejected from the game. The penalty for a technical foul is a thirty second suspension if the team is in possession of the ball when the foul is committed, or possession of the ball going to the team that was fouled if there was no possession when the foul was committed.
The position of goalie in lacrosse is probably one of the most intense positions of all sports. Essentially, you must play catch with people at 100 mph. Unfortunately for the goalie, most people don't throw at his stick. A typical goalie wears a helmet with throat guard, a chest protector, and a pair of gloves. Some goalies wear long pants or long socks to help reduce the pain when a shot "twists" off their skin. A goalie does not wear any protection on the legs and relies on his stick ability to keep him safe. A goalie stick is typically of normal length, 40-50 inches, with an extra wide head. Unlike goalies in hockey, lacrosse goalies must be very mobile. They often come out of the circular crease that surrounds the 6X6 goal. Explosive speed and very quick hands are key ingredients in making a goalie, as well as a tolerance for pain. When a goalie comes out of the crease to fetch ground balls or to clear a saved shot, he becomes a target, much like the quarterback in football.
The goalie defends a square goal six feet wide by six feet high. Around the goal is a circular crease. The crease area is limited to entry by the goalie and defensive players only. Once the goalie makes a save he has 4 seconds to either pass the ball or run the ball out of the crease. In these four seconds no one may touch him. Once the goalie steps outside the crease he is no longer allowed back into the crease unless he yields possession of the ball.
The position of attack requires the most stick skill of all positions, with the exception of the goalie. The attack are always on the field as a scoring threat and, given an even match up, should always score. More so than any other position, the attack must practice timing pics, shots, passes, and dodges. Typically the attack work behind the net, called "x-behind", and on the flanks of the crease, called the "wings". This gives the attackmen the most room to dodge and cut. They must work with the midfield to run an effective offense.
The attack use dodging, pics (just like in basketball), and passing to generate a good shot. Just as in any other sport, the object is to move the ball around until the defense breaks and someone is left with an open shot. One way to do this is by letting an attackman go one-on-one with a defender. The attackman tries to beat his defender by dodging, causing another defenseman to slide, creating an unbalanced situation in which he can either shoot or pass to someone else who is wide open. The attackman can move in any direction with any amount of force, as there are no charging rules. The attackman, however, like all players cannot clamp the ball in his stick with his thumb, chest, or helmet. He is also not allowed to push or hit the defenseman's stick with his arms or hands. This is called warding.
Defensemen have the most under glorified position in lacrosse. They must keep the attack at bay. Their job is too keep the ball away from the net so the opposing attack doesn't get a good look at the goal. The job is difficult: A defenseman doesn't know where the attack are going or what they are going to do. In his arsenal the defenseman has a a six-foot-long stick. This stick allows a defender to keep the attackmen at a distance, thus allowing him to throw checks without being beaten on foot. A defenseman must be able to think and react quickly, and most importantly communicate with his fellow defensemen.
Defensemen are allowed to check the attackmen they are covering. What this means is a defenseman is allowed to use his stick to hit the attackman's stick and arms. A defenseman cannot strike the attackman on the head, and cannot strike the attackman's body with the stick with any significant force. This penalty is called a slash. Most slash penalties occur when a defenseman employs the use of a 'slap' check, which is when the stick is swung perpendicular to the attackman's shaft in a slapping motion. The other common check is the 'poke' check, in which the defenseman simply jabs straight on at an attackman's stick in a motion like that of a pool cue. Once the attackman is close enough, a defenseman can use his body for defense. Body checking, or hitting, in lacrosse is very similar to that in hockey. A legal body check is any hit that is head to head (no hitting from behind). People who are legal targets are anyone standing within five yards of a loose ball, or anyone with possession of the ball. Hitting someone without the ball, while another player has possession is called interference.