Warning: array_merge(): Expected parameter 1 to be an array, string given in /var/www/wp-content/themes/thegem/functions.php on line 123
Lacrosse 101 – McKinney Lacrosse
Lacrosse 101

The History of Lacrosse

Lacrosse is a Native American game that was played on a pitch field over a mile wide and sometimes lasted for days. Early lacrosse balls were made from deerskin, clay, stone, and sometimes wood. The game had a significant role in the community and religious life of tribes across the continent for many years. Early lacrosse was characterized by deep spiritual involvement, befitting the spirit of combat in which it was undertaken. Those who took part did so in the role of warriors, with the goal of bringing glory and honor to themselves and their tribes. The game was said to be played “for the Creator.”

Parent’s Guide to the Sport of Lacrosse

This guide introduces you to the basics of Lacrosse basics and will help you overcome many of your questions concerning the particulars of this magnificent game. Lacrosse, also passionately known as LAX (same pronunciation) is addicting in its fast pace and intense action. It is commonly said that those who take the opportunity to pick up a lacrosse stick will never put it down. As parents and players continue to be introduced to lacrosse for the first time it is important to understand where the game came from and what makes it so special. Honoring the history of lacrosse is very important to those who coach, play, and love this game. Lacrosse is the fastest-growing sport in America and this pamphlet will assist you in the understanding of how the game is played, an overview of rules, and LAX lingo…ENJOY!

Become a better lacrosse player by watching Players, Coaches, Trainer, and Referees sharing their Lacrosse knowledge! A great way to improve your game.

Common Referee Signals

Personal Fouls such as slashing, tripping, cross-checking, unnecessary roughness, and unsportsmanlike conduct are major violations. The official determines the length of the penalty, which ranges from one to three minutes.

Click here to view an example

Procedure Fouls are minor infractions that lead to a 30-second penalty. These fouls include crease violation, offsides, interference, holding, illegal screens, illegal procedure, stalling, and warding off. A player is ejected from the remainder of the game if he commits five fouls.

Click here to view an example

Additionally, players can be ejected from the game for fighting, playing too violently, or arguing with an official. Two to Three officials—a referee, umpire, and field judge—usually govern the game to ensure fair and safe play. Any violation of the rules results in a penalty. A player called for a foul is sent to the penalty box and his team must play without that player, or man down, until the penalty is over or the opposition scores. If the defensive team commits a penalty when the opposing team has the ball, play is allowed to continue until the opponent loses possession of the ball, at which time the penalty is enforced. This delayed penalty is called a slow whistle and allows the offense to maintain its advantage.

Glossary of Words You May Hear in the Stands from the Field

  • Body Check: Contact from the front that is permitted between the shoulders and waist when an opponent has possession or is within five yards of a loose ball.
  • Clamp: Quickly covering the ball with the backside of the head of the stick during a face-off.
  • Clearing: Transferring the ball from the defensive half of the field across the midfield line.
  • Cradle: Running with the stick in either one or both hands in a manner that keeps the ball in the pocket.
  • Cutting/Cutter: When an attacker runs toward the goal to receive a pass and take a clear shot.
  • Face-off: A player from each team stands face-to-face with their sticks on the ground along the centerline. The official places the ball between the two stick heads and blows the whistle. The two players then attempt to gain control of the ball using their sticks. Typical face-off moves include the clamp and rake. If a penalty is called before or during a face-off, possession goes to the opposing team.
  • Fake: To make a throwing motion with the stick just before shooting it to deceive the goalie.
  • Fast Break: When the offense exploits an unsettled defense with a quick transition downfield. Many goals are scored this way.
  • Feed: Passing the ball to a player to create a scoring opportunity.
  • Ground Ball: A loose ball that is on the ground. Players scoop the ball with the stick to pick it up.
  • Illegal Body Check: A late hit, or contact from behind, above the shoulders, or below the waist.
  • Interference: Limiting the free movement of an opponent who does not have possession of the ball and is not within five yards of a loose ball.
  • Isolation: Offensive players clear out of the way to allow an opening for a teammate to drive towards the goal with the ball.
  • Loose Ball: Ball not controlled by a player (e.g. on the ground or in the air).
  • Man-Down: When the defense is at a disadvantage due to a penalty. Also called penalty kill.
  • Man-to-Man Defense: Each player guards one specific player. Each defenseman matches up with an attacker, and each midfielder matches up with an opposing midfielder.
  • Man-Up: When the offense has an advantage following a penalty. Also called a power play.
  • Offsides: Violation called when a team has fewer than four players on its defensive side of the field, or fewer than three players on its attacking side.
  • On-the-Fly: Substituting during play. When one player exits the field through the penalty box, another can enter.
  • Pick: Attackers or middies stand in a position to block the path of a teammate’s defender to create space for the teammate to receive a pass.
  • Pushing: Illegal shoving of an opponent from behind.
  • Rake: Face-off move in which a player sweeps the ball to the side for a teammate to pick up.
  • Release: When a penalized player re-enters the game.
  • Riding: Attempting to prevent a team from clearing the ball.
  • Scoop: Picking up a ground ball in the crosse pocket.
  • Screen: Offensive player stands outside the crease in front of the goalie to block the goalie’s view.
  • Slashing: Illegal stick check to the body of a player that results in a personal foul.
  • Slow Whistle: Permitting play to continue during a penalty until the offense loses possession of the ball to allow an offense to maintain its advantage.
  • Stalling: Intentionally holding the ball without advancing toward the goal.
  • Stick Check: Defenders attempt to dislodge the ball from an opponent’s stick by executing a poke check or a slap check.
  • Tripping: Impeding an opponent at or below the waist and causing him to fall.
  • Unnecessary Roughness: Excessively violent and usually calculated contact to the opposition.
  • Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Physical or verbal actions considered to be abusive, obscene, or threatening by a game official.
  • Warding Off: While in possession of the ball, using a free hand to control an opponent’s stick or body.
  • Zone Defense: Strategy in which players defend a specific part of the field, close to the goal, instead of guarding a single opponent.

HONOR THE GAME – Inspirational insight for players


Walk silently onto clamorous fields, and remember the advantage that comes from quiet confidence. As best you can, without surrender, be of good will toward all opponents. Win quietly and decisively; and honor all teams and players, even those who are of lesser skill and experience. They too love the game. Avoid loud and unsportsmanlike people. They are vexations to the spirit of Lacrosse.

If you compare your game or success with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser players than yourself. Enjoy the wins as well as personal achievements in the game. Be aware of every success as you learn and play the game, however small; those moments will always be yours in the changing fortunes of teams and players.

Exercise caution when choosing heroes, buying equipment or believing rumors, for the world is full of trickery. But let not this blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, the game is full of heroism and honesty. Play your game. Accept winning and its rewards. Don’t be afraid to lose, for as important as any game is there will almost always be another. As you get older use your experience to dominate, gracefully surrendering the speed and strength of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit needed to lose even the biggest games with class and dignity. But never expect to lose. Many games are lost before they are played. Beyond trying as hard as you can all of the time, don’t take losing to heart. You are a lacrosse player, no less than any; you have a right to be on the field. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the experience of every victory and defeat will make you a better player and a better person.

Therefore, be at peace with the game, whatever you conceive it to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations in lacrosse, keep anchored in your family, education and career. For as much as we love the game, after devastating injury or loss, it’s important to already know that there’s more to life than lacrosse. Play hard.

Enjoy the game.