Lacrosse play is similar to soccer, but the players control the ball (mostly) in the air instead of the ground like soccer. The object is to put the ball in the opponent’s net to score a goal.

The lacrosse field boundaries measure 60 x 110 yards (soccer is 60 x 100). There are two lines that cross the field, dividing it into thirds. These are called restraining lines and are used to keep each team divided and contained within these areas. The center circle is used to start the game and restart play after a goal. The goals (nets) are centered in a ring called the crease– an area in which only the goal keeper is permitted. In front of the goal is an 8 meter arc and hash marks that follow the arc across the front of the net. The 8 meter arc defines the area in which a defensive player must be within a stick’s length of an opponent and cannot be without that for more than three seconds. The marks are used to position an offensive player on play restart after a foul. The larger 12 meter arc defines the area in which defensive players are positioned after a foul for play restart.

The diagram shows a typical positioning of players at the start and restart in a game.

Each team has 12 field players and a goal keeper. Field players are designated by three different positions: attack, midfielder and defense. Attack players are considered offensive players, those who are focused on goal scoring. Defense players are those who prevent the opponent from scoring goals. Midfielders (aka middies) are the players that do both defensive and offensive play. Although these position names imply a specific purpose, all positions play defense when their team does not have possession of the ball and play offense when their team does have the ball. Coaches typically give each player specific details for their position that might include where to play on the field or which opponent to cover.

The video above covers girls lacrosse basics.

The game starts with a draw (face-off) between a player from each team at the center line within the center circle. The ball is sandwiched between the two sticks and expelled upward on the whistle, at which point both players attempt to gain possession of the ball. If neither player on the draw gains possession, remaining players enter play in a staggered fashion. First the players along the center ring may not step into the ring on the draw, but can play the ball with their stick when it is within reach. Players aligned on the restraining lines may not cross the line, but can play the ball when it is within reach.

If a team throws the ball “out of bounds”(beyond the field boundaries), then possession is given to the opponent and the game is restarted. If the ball leaves the field limit from a shot on goal, the ball is given to the team whose player is closest to the ball at the exit point. This is why you will see players race after the ball when a shot on goal is missed.