Boy's lacrosse is a contact game played by 10 players: a goalie, 3 defenders, 3 midfielders, and 3 attackman. Each team must keep at least 4 players, including the goalie, in its defensive half of the field and 3 players in its offensive end. It is the job of the 3 midfielders to make the transition from the defensive to the offensive half of the field. Each player carries a stick, or crosse, with a shaped net pocket at one end. The sticks will have an overall length anywhere from 40 inches to 72 inches. The length generally depends on the position played; attack/midfielders will have the shorter sticks, defensemen will have the longer sticks. The head of the crosse, or basket, must be between 6.5 and 12 inches. The wider baskets, 10 - 12 inches, are on the goalie's stick. The pocket is designed to carry a hard rubber ball about the size of a tennis ball and the weight of a baseball. For a more detailed description on lacrosse positions, click the Positions tab.
A lacrosse game starts with a face-off at mid-field. Face-offs are also used after each goal scored and at the start of each quarter. A ball is placed between the stick of two opposing players, 'crouching' at centerfield, with their crosses touching the ground. At the official's whistle, the players try to gain control of the ball. The players on the wings can immediately join the play but all other players must wait unit either one team has gained possession of the ball or the ball has crossed a goal area line.
A player may gain possession of the ball by dislodging it from an opponent's stick. This can be done by either a stick check or a body check (only stick checks are allowed for U11 players). A stick check is a controlled poke or slap with a crosse of an opponent's crosse or gloved arm. A body check must be from the front or side, above the waist and below the shoulders, and with both hands on the stick. A player can also stick or body check an opponent or opponent's stick that is within 5 yards of a loose ball.
It is because of this contact that lacrosse is sometimes perceived as a violent and dangerous game, however injury statistics prove otherwise. A combination of protective equipment, a strict adherence to the rules, and an emphasis on safety has kept the injury rate and severity as comparatively low.
If the ball goes out of bounds it is awarded to the team that hadn't touched it last. The exception is when a ball goes out of bounds following a shot on goal. In this case the ball is awarded the player that was closest to the ball when/where it went out of bounds.
Boy's lacrosse has both technical and personal fouls. In the case of a technical foul, possession of the ball is awarded to the other team. Depending on the personal foul, an infraction could result in the suspension of a player for 30 seconds, up to 3 minutes, during which time the offending team plays shorthanded.