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What is Lacrosse?

By K. Waterman
Updated May 23, 2024
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Lacrosse is a popular sport in Canada, North America, France, England, and other parts of Europe. This exciting sport is a combination of soccer, basketball, and hockey and played with a small, hard ball and stick called the crosse. The crosse has a basket-like scoop on one end used to catch and throw the ball.

Lacrosse is primarily an amateur sport played at the high school and college level by both men and women. Intercrosse, the co-ed version of lacrosse, is even part of the physical education curriculum of many U.S. elementary, junior, and high schools. Lacrosse is a sport that requires stamina, as there is a great deal of running, but does not require its participants to be especially big or strong, as is required by basketball or football.

Men's lacrosse is played on a field that is 110 yards (100.5 m) long and 60 yards (54.8 m) wide. The game lasts for 60 minutes at the college level. There is a half time of 10 minutes, after the first two 15 minute quarters. Each men's lacrosse team has 10 players: a goalie, and three each of defensemen, midfielders, and attack men.

Each game begins with a center face-off, and as in soccer, only the goalie can touch the ball with his hands. Although lacrosse is considered a contact sport, players can commit technical and personal fouls for unusual roughness and stick checking.

Lacrosse has its origins in the Native American culture, and is considered the oldest North American sport. When the Native American tribes played lacrosse, the field could be any where from 1 to 15 miles (1.6 to 24.14 km)long and last for days. Lacrosse was thought to make men strong, and therefore better warriors.

Some tribes would "play" lacrosse with as many as 1000 men on each side of the field. They would scoop the ball, then made of wood, stone, deer skin, or clay, and fling it to another team member while running toward the goal. The early lacrosse goals were either a single pole or a set of poles through which they would throw the Lacrosse ball.

Modern-day lacrosse has been greatly influenced by the record of a game made by a Jesuit Missionary named Jean de Brebeuf. The game was played in 1636 in what is now Ontario, Canada, and followed a pattern similar to lacrosse's current game.

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Discussion Comments
By KaBoom — On Jul 08, 2011

@SZapper - That is funny. I had a friend in high school who played lacrosse and I remember her getting hurt a lot. I think you have to be kind of tough to seriously play this sport.

I definitely couldn't do it. In fact, when I took gym class freshman year I suffered an unfortunate lacrosse stick related injury. I got hit in the eye with a lacrosse stick! It was pretty dramatic, because I got hit so hard my contact lens fell out and I ended up with a black eye. I just never really had a taste for lacrosse after that.

By SZapper — On Jul 08, 2011

I'm from the East coast and lacrosse is one of the most popular sports here. People really get into it! In fact, when I was in high school the popular girls weren't cheerleaders they were lacrosse players! Funny huh?

By anon194298 — On Jul 07, 2011

Please could you try and include something about women's lacrosse? It has slightly different rules, so I feel it would be useful to add some information about it.

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