Lacrosse is becoming one of the most popular sports in the United States. For female athletes, lacrosse is something that has positively affected many lives including mine. The number of female lacrosse players nearly doubles every year. Lacrosse is a sport that can be learned at any age and developed with any type of skill level. Never forget everyone has to start somewhere!

College Women's lacrosse team huddled on a women's lacrosse field

How to Play Lacrosse: Positioning

Once you understand the positioning of women’s lacrosse, you will better understand the rules of the game. There are 12 players on the field during a game. This includes a goalie, 4 defenders, 3 midfielders, and 4 attackers. The goalie is pretty self-explanatory, as for the 4 defenders they strictly play defense, and as for the 4 attackers, they strictly play offense. The 3 midfielders on the field play both defense and offense, as well as taking the draw. The draw happens at the beginning of every game, and after every goal. It’s almost like a reset or a faceoff. It happens in the center of the field, and it is the 3 midfielders of one team against the 3 midfielders of the other. The defenders and attackers have no part in the draw they are waiting behind the restraining lines, it is strictly midfielders.

Tips for Defenders

As a defender you have one job, prevent the ball from getting in the back of the net to the best of your ability. Obviously, no one is asking you to stop the ball every possession, goals will happen. Your job as a defense is to limit the opportunity of the other team.

“Feet, fists, and forearms!”

Allison Daley, Canisius College ,Head Womens Lacrosse Coach

You never want to guard a player with your stick, certainly not by leaning on them with it. By thinking to yourself feet, fists, and forearms, while playing defense your will always remembering to guard someone with your feet. Your stick is simply there to help stop your attacker from catching the ball, but fundamentally you always want to guard someone in lacrosse with your feed. Footwork is a huge fundamental of women’s lacrosse defense, similar to basketball. Another huge fundamental is communication. It should never be silent on defense, but as much as you need to talk to your teammates, remember to listen as well! Another fundamental I have learned is eyes on hips. If you watch a player’s stick or feet when guarding them, that’s when they are able to make a move on you. Nobody can make a move with their hips, if you watch your opponent’s hips you will surely always know where they are going. As a defender, you should always be moving, even when you aren’t guarding the ball. Make sure to constantly be checking in with your head on a swivel ready to help your teammates!

Tips for Attackers

As an attacker you have one job as well, to put the ball in the back of the net. Again just like defense, no one expects this job to be done during every possession. But ideally every couple possesions, each position needs to be getting its job done, which will lead a team to success. When all pieces are cohesively working together, you are unstoppable!

“Sell the Goalie”

Caitlyn Vasille, Canisius College, Assistant Womens Lacrosse Coach

Every move you make as an offensive player needs to have a purpose. Whether you are driving into the 8 meter to score, or simply waiting for a pass behind the net, you need to have a purpose. Especially when driving it is vital to fake your defender, whether thats using a specific move or simply using a change of speed. As an attacker, you need to sell the goalie, by that I mean you need to put a fake on it. For example, faking high and shooting low. These tips are useful at all levels because they are fundamental. Having these skills done and always remembering them will bring you success. Another tip for offense players, is you always want to be moving, similar to defense. Even if you don’t have the ball, you still always want to be a threat. It is very easy for a defender to guard a player that is standing still, it is very difficult for a defender to try and guard someone while trying to see the ball.

How to Play Lacrosse: Rules

Now that you know the four positions of lacrosse the rules may be a bit easier to understand. The rules of women’s lacrosse are much different than other sports. Although a lot of the same principles apply.

Field Parameters

For starters, as I said earlier, there are 12 players from each team on the field at a time. A women’s lacrosse game has two 25 minute halves and a 90-second shot clock on each end of the field for the offense to take into account. As for the field, there is a big circle in the center of the field, this is where the draw is taken. As I said earlier the draw is taken at the beginning of every game, and after every goal. There is also a small circle around each of the two nets called a goal circle. There are two restraining lines that are on opposite sides of the circle as well. Lastly and most importantly, there is an 8 meter on each end of the field. The 8 meter connects to the goal circle and is an indicator for all the players of their distance from the net. The 8 meter helps set up plays, gives attackers a better idea of how far or close they need to shoot from in order to see success, and gives defenders an idea of how far they can pressure out. Above the 8 meters, there is a 12 meter, this is an indicator for all players on the field doing their jobs as well. Similar to hockey, there is space in play behind the net. We call this, below GLE, or goal line extended.

Women's lacrosse field diagram

In Depth Rules

Now that you are aware of the more basic rules that occur, here are some more in-depth rules. Similar to offsides in soccer, that is also a rule in women lacrosse. There are two restraining lines on the field, this indicates that there are only to be 7 players on each side of the possession at a time. For example on the offensive end, there would be your team’s 4 attackers and 3 midfielders active, as well as the other teams 4 defenders and 3 midfielders. Offsides will result in a shot clock reset for the opposing team. Another rule aside from offsides and the restraining line is a cover. You are not allowed to cover the lacrosse ball with the netting, or head, of your lacrosse stick. The first being shooting space, as a defender you are not allowed to step in front of a shot. This would result in shooting space, not only is it dangerous but it also prevents an attacker from having that free space to take thier shot. You are not allowed to simply throw your body in front of them. Getting shooting space happens inside the 8 meter and will result in a free position shot by the attacker. Another rule is a goal circle violation, this is exactly what it sounds like. Defenders are allowed to enter their goalie’s circles, but the other team’s offense is not allowed to step foot in it! This call will result in a change of possession. I’m sure you’re wondering why I haven’t talked about more violent rules yet seeing as we’re a bunch of females sprinting around with sticks! Thats where a check to the head comes in, a player is not allowed to check the opponent in the head whether she has the ball or not, similar to soccer, this will result in a yellow card and that team will be a man down for 2 minutes.

How to Play Lacrosse: Equipment

The equipment in lacrosse is not anything overboard. There are few essentials you need to play besides knowing the tips and tricks I’ve taught you above!

Personal Equpiment

This is equipment you need everyday in order to play, you will need to purchase this equipment on your own!

  • Women’s lacrosse goggles, I prefer Under Armour, any brand will do!
  • Women’s lacrosse stick, Dicks Sporting Goods is one of many stores that carry these.
  • Mouthguard
  • Cleats, women’s lacrosse cleats are preferred, but soccer cleats are a great substitute as well if not looking to purchase!
Women's lacrosse players holding women's lacrosse sticks on a field

Field Equipment

This is equipment that needs to be taken on and off the field before and after games and practices. THIS IS NOT EQUIPMENT YOU BUY! These are simply things you need on the field of play and obviously referees, but they are not store-bought… I hope.

  • Two Lacrosse Nets
  • Two 90 shots clocks… Only one is necessary if it is visible from both ends for both teams.