Get your hands on a stick. If you're just learning how to play, go to your local sporting goods or resale store, and you can find a basic stick for around $30. If you know someone that has an old stick they wouldn't mind letting you borrow, even better! There are three main components of a stick:
Learn how to cradle. Cradling is the equivalent of dribbling in basketball, a necessary skill that is important to the game. Cradling is a way to get past a defense man without him knocking the ball out of your stick. The point is to use centripetal force to keep the ball in your stick by a curling motion with your wrist. This is best done in front of a mirror while starting. Place the ball in your pocket (the area where the ball sits in your mesh) and hold your dominant hand a few inches below the head. begin with the head facing the mirror so you can see the ball. Now bring the head across your face while curling the wrist. Keep practicing until you get the hang of it. If you still don't get the hand of it try watching some videos of people playing lacrosse. Alright, now we're getting somewhere!
Learn to pass. Passing is one of the most critical skills you can have in the game of Lacrosse. It is used to move the ball up field, catch your opponent out of position while hitting a teammate for an assist, or just getting yourself out of pressure. Keep the head next to your ear and flick your wrist of your top hand while pulling your bottom hand towards you. Don't let it hook around your neck. Make sure to follow through with the motion. Eventually, you learn how your stick throws and can adjust the way you throw to be more accurate. The best thing you can do to help improve your skills is get to a brick wall and play "wall ball." This is where you stand a few feet from the wall and throw the ball against it. It will bounce back and then you practice catching...
Learn to Catch. This is all about hand eye coordination. Just catch the ball in your stick and make sure you don't cradle as it enters your stick. This is called cradle catching and is done by beginners. Instead of cradling, simply loosen your grip on your top hand and as the ball enters the stick give and ease the ball into the stick. Again, wall ball will really help.
Know that games are won and lost on ground balls. While approaching the ball step to it placing your foot near the ball. Sink your hips and put your head parallel to the ground. The butt of your stick should get down low as well. Scoop through and bring the head to your face. Immediately look for the outlet to a team mate.
Pass, catch, cradle and shoot with BOTH hands. Nothing impresses a coach more! Learning to use both hands requires patience, because it will not happen over night. A good way to learn your off-hand skills, is to look at what your dominate hand is doing. Mirror the way you are passing. Go through the same motions. After you do this, spend a week of practice using nothing but your non-dominant hand. During line drills, 6v6, fast break, anything! Only use your off-hand. This will be very frustrating, but keep at it. Using your off hand in games will seriously improve your play.
Men's/Boy's Lacrosse Rules
Lacrosse rules define the parameters of lacrosse play. As lacrosse is a contact sport, lacrosse rules are set up for fair play and player protection. (K-2nd there is no contact) There is a referee, an umpire and a field judge.
In lacrosse, there are two teams of ten players each (K-2nd there are two teams of 8 players each). A full-field team consists of a goalie, three defensemen, three midfielders and three attackmen. (3 Middies, 2 attacks, 2 defense, and 1 goalie).
The point of the game is to get the ball into the opponent’s goal, and whichever team scores the most goals, wins.
Among the players on each team, three players plus the goalie must stay in the team’s defensive half of the field. Three players must stay in the offensive half of the field, and three players (the midfielders) can roam up and down the entire field. (K-2nd 1 middie must stay back)
Lacrosse collegiate games last for 60 minutes and the quarters are fifteen minutes each. (K-2nd 40 minutes with 10 minute quarters with 2 minutes breaks between quarters and a 5 minute half time)
High school games are shorter--48 minutes, with quarters of 12 minutes each. There is a ten-minute halftime and a two-minute break between the other quarters.
Lacrosse teams change sides between periods and each team has two timeouts in each of the halves.
A Lacrosse game begins with a coin toss and the winning team decides which end they would like to defend first.
Play begins with a face-off. There are four players in the defensive area, one at the center, two on the wings and three players in the attack goal area. (K-2 there are 3 middies – 1 center/face and 2 wings, 2 attack, and 3 defense). The face-off players try to control the ball. When the whistle sounds, the players in the wing areas can run toward the ball. Everyone else must wait until one team has gained possession of the ball.
Players must use their crosses to catch, pass, or run with the ball. The only player who can touch the ball with his hands is the goalie.
Stick checks are used to get possession of the ball. This means a player can poke and slap at the stick and gloves of another player to try and get them to drop the ball and give up possession. (K-2 it is modified checking – shoulder and below)
Body checking is also allowed, similar to hockey. The opponent must have the ball or be within five yards of a loose ball. Body checking has to be above the waist and below the shoulders. (K-2 no body checking allowed)
Both hands must remain on the stick at all times. A crosse can be stick checked if within five yards of a loose ball.
Lacrosse rules allow for personal and technical fouls. If a ball goes out of bounds, possession is given to the other team.
If there was a shot that was unsuccessful on an out of bounds, the player nearest the ball is awarded possession.
An attacking player cannot enter the goal area, but he is permitted to reach in with his stick to try and get a loose ball.
How to Play Lacrosse
Learning how to play lacrosse involves learning defensive and offensive strategies that are used to help win a game. There are two types of defense in lacrosse, and these are man-to-man and zone. Most of the time teams use the man-to-man defense.
In the man-to-man defense, each player on the defense is responsible for one player on the offense. If one defensive player is left behind on a drive, another defensive player must cover for him. This is called a slide--at any moment a defensive player has to be ready to slide over and take on the opponent with the ball. The whole object of the defense is to get the ball away from the opponent and into the hands of its own offense.
Learning how to play lacrosse also involves learning to play different zone defenses. The 3-3 defense will have the area above the goal line divided into six zones. Three defensemen cover the bottom three zones and three midfielders cover the top three zones. Defenders do not go far below the goal line.
In lacrosse, man-to-man is used most because it allows players to steal the ball from the offense and be aggressive in intercepting passes. In learning how to play lacrosse, you will find that the strength of the man-to-man defense is often based on the abilities of the defensemen in terms of their speed, skill, and agility. Teams that don’t have some naturally talented athletes will sometimes play zone to make up for this deficiency.
Many things in lacrosse are similar to basketball and one of those things is the strategy of the offense. For instance, once a team has taken possession of the ball, it may fast break down the field looking for someone to breakaway and score. Then again, if a fast break doesn’t seem do-able, the offense can slow down the ball and literally walk it down the field.
When the offense has the ball they are always going to be looking for that one person who can beat his defenseman and get in position for a good pass. As most goals are scored from directly in front of the zone, the objective is to get someone open in this area to take a shot on goal.
A player on the offense should never be standing still. They should be in constant movement both before and after they have possession of the ball. In the first instance they should be moving to break away from their defenseman to get the ball or get free for a pass, and in the second instance, someone with the ball should keep moving or running at all times. It is this movement that will open up the space for you to make a shot on the goal. If you are unable to get a shot, you should be moving to be free to pass the ball to someone else who getting open.
The strategies of how to play lacrosse are similar to those in basketball and hockey. It is not hard to learn how to play lacrosse and it can be a lot of fun.
The History of Lacrosse
The history of lacrosse goes all the way back to the Native Americans. This makes it the oldest sport in North America. Originally, the sport had its roots in the religion of Native Americans, and it was played for many cultural reasons, including to heal the sick and resolve conflicts.
According to the history of lacrosse, the game was also used as a preparation for war, and tribes played one another in violent battles. Goals could be a rock or a tree, or even two goalposts. Balls were said to be made of many materials, from deerskin to clay, stone or wood.
A man named Jean de Brebeuf, who was a Jesuit missionary, saw lacrosse played by a Huron tribe in what is now southeastern Ontario, Canada, and the game spread to French pioneers, who played it throughout the first part of the 1800s. In 1867, the field dimensions, number of players and other rules were set by W. George Beers, who was a Canadian dentist.
Ten years later, in 1877, the first college lacrosse team was formed at New York University. In 1882, the first high school teams were formed at the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey, Philips Academy in Andover, Mass. And Philips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire.
The history of lacrosse for women began with the first game in 1890 in Scotland at St. Leonard’s School. The first U.S. women’s lacrosse team was established in 1926 by Rosabelle Sinclair at Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore, Maryland.
Until the middle of the 1930s, men’s and women’s lacrosse were played with the same rules. Women’s lacrosse continued with basically the same rules, but men’s lacrosse began to change in form and character. Today, men’s and women’s lacrosse are still played under different rules. The women’s game prohibits body contact and limits stick contact so little protective equipment is needed. The men’s game of lacrosse allows both stick and body contact but not violence.
Although lacrosse has a reputation for being a dangerous game to play, injury statistics prove that it is not. Lacrosse is one of the fastest growing team sports in the United States and there are over 500 men’s and women’s college teams. In the last ten years youth participation has grown immensely, with now around 200,000 high school students playing the game.
U.S. Lacrosse was established in 1998 to oversee the sport of lacrosse in the United States. Its headquarters are located in Baltimore, Maryland as is the Lacrosse Museum and National Hall of Fame. Its membership includes 250,000 lacrosse players, coaches and enthusiasts. U.S. lacrosse has men’s and women’s national teams as well as men’s and women’s under 19 national teams.