Lacrosse is one of the fastest-growing team sports in the nation.
As with any growing sport, there can be a bit of a learning curve for spectators who are new to the activity. With that in mind, here’s a closer look at the makeup and rules of play of lacrosse for the uninitiated.
Prep lacrosse in Louisiana is governed by the Louisiana High School Lacrosse League. Consisting of between 25-30 teams, the league is Louisiana based but also features teams from Mississippi and Alabama. Nationally, the governing body for the sport is U.S. Lacrosse.
The league is split up into four districts. The Southern district, for example, is made up of teams from the metro New Orleans area.
The object of the game is to shoot the ball into an opponent’s goal, using a stick to catch, carry or pass the ball in doing so.
Lacrosse features 10 players per side. Three midfielders go up and down the field, three attackers stay by the offensive goal and three defenders stay by the defensive goal. It team has a goalie similar to hockey.
While the sports features 10 to a side during competition, there is a lot of substitution due to the quick, up-and-down nature of the sport.
Lacrosse is a high-scoring game when compared to sports like hockey or soccer. Typical lacrosse scores might be 12-10, as opposed to 1-0 or 3-2 finals typical of hockey and soccer.
It is a full-contact sport with players wearing shoulder pads and a helmet similar to football.
Each player uses a stick with a rounded netting at one end to scoop up and toss a ball similar in size to a baseball.
Defenders play with a “long stick” which can be up to 72 inches in length. Other players use a “short stick” which is approximately 42 inches.
The “goalie stick” is between the size of a long stick and small stick in length. The head of a goalie’s stick is larger than that of other players on the field and is used to help the goal keeper in his defense of the goal.
The goal is six feet in height and six feet wide.
Lacrosse is played on a field the size of a standard soccer field in dimension, a game features four, 12-minute quarters, with the team swapping sides of the field after each quarter. The game does not use running time, meaning the clock stops if the ball goes out of bounds or there is a penalty. There is a 10-minute halftime.
A typical game take two-and-a-half hours to play, depending on stoppages of play for penalties or injuries.
Like hockey, players are sent to a penalty box for certain infractions. When a player is set to the penalty box, his team plays a man short.
Most penalties will land a player in the penalty box.
The length of time someone spends in the penalty box depends on the type and severity of the infraction. A stint to the penalty box can be anything from 30 seconds to three minutes. A three-minute penalty would be compared to a flagrant-two in basketball.
Most stints are about one minute. Depending on how egregious a foul, as determined by a referee, a one-, two- or three-minute penalty can be assessed.
There are “releasable” and “non-releasable” penalties.
With a releasable penalty, if the opposing team scores, no matter how much time might be left in penalty, that person can return to the field.
If it’s a non-releasable penalty, which is usually a personal foul, the offending player can’t return to field until penalty time has elapsed, regardless whether subsequent goals are scored.