September 1st, 2017
Boys Field Lacrosse – Info
Introducing the Players of Field Lacrosse
While box lacrosse is played mainly in Canada, the outdoor version of lacrosse is more popular in the rest of the world. Field lacrosse is especially popular in the northeastern U.S. (though since the 1980s, the game has spread throughout the U.S.) and differs from its box brother in many ways.
Because of the significantly larger playing field (110 by 60 yards as opposed to 200 feet by 85 feet in box lacrosse), a field lacrosse team, well, fields a few more players than a box lacrosse team. A men’s field lacrosse team includes nine players, plus a goaltender; a women’s team has eleven players, plus the goalie. The rest of this article introduces you to the field participants and the roles they play.
Though field lacrosse teams have more players on the field at once, each team is allowed a maximum of six players (plus the goalie) on one-half of the field at any one time. That is, when in their offensive zone, a men’s field lacrosse team must keep three players (plus the goalie) behind the midfield line. Of course, it’s not six on ten for them, as their opponent can only have seven players defending the zone (plus the goalie) at the same time.
NOTE: Tyke (U9) field lacrosse in Ontario is played on a much smaller field and is played seven on seven rather than 10 on 10.
This so-called field split in outdoor lacrosse forces more specialization in playing positions. The four main positions are attackmen, midfielders, defensemen, and goalies, though each position includes even more specific roles. Teams employ lines of three attackmen, three midfielders, and three defensemen. (Tyke/U9: 2 attackmen, 2 midfielders and 2 defensemen.)
- Attacking the goal: The attackmen are the primary offensive weapons looking to feed and score. They create most of the offense and generally do not play defense, serving as three players kept on the opposite side of the midline while the ball is at the other end. It’s not uncommon for the attackmen to stay on the field the whole game. Many attackmen have the ability to both feed and score, but some focus on only one of those offensive elements.
- Playing both ways: Midfielders play offense and defense, following the flow of the game and getting involved at both ends of the field. Midfielders, or “middies,” are crucial to a team’s transition offense and defense. Teams generally run three lines consisting of three midfielders each. For example, some midfields may be defensive specialists, coming on the field only in certain situations, while others may only play faceoffs and then run off the field. However, many midfielders also run regular midfield shifts, and a select few are dangerous offensive weapons. Although the three field players with longer sticks play defense, a fourth long stick can be used in the midfield.
- Creating a first line of defense: The defensemen generally stay on their half of the field while their team is on offense, though they are allowed to cross the midline in transition as long as an equal number of midfielders stays back. The role of the defensemen is generally to stop the opposing attackmen from scoring or creating offense. Occasionally, they will be dispatched to cover a dominant opposing midfielder.
- Keeping the ball in play: Goalies in field lacrosse have to be more athletic than those in box lacrosse because of the larger goal (6 by 6 feet, as opposed to 4 by 4 feet in box lacrosse). Goalies play with their sticks held upright and the head pointing skyward, unlike the hockey style used in box lacrosse. In addition to stopping shots and getting the ball out of the defensive end, goalies are also responsible for directing the defense.
There is no shot-clock in field lacrosse so ball possession is hugely important and a key component of all field lacrosse strategies.
The Positions on a Boys’ Lacrosse Team
In boys’ lacrosse, a typical full-scale game features one goalie, three defenders, three midfielders, and three attackers. The skills that are required to play these positions are as different as the kids who will be manning them for you. Starting from your own goal and working out, the following section outlines each position in boys’ lacrosse.
This player positions himself between the goal posts, and his top responsibility is to stop the ball from going into the net. Good hand-Replace the en dash with a hyphen because it’s a compound modifier?eye coordination and quick reflexes are musts for faring well in this position, because the goalie faces shots from all angles and at varied speeds.
Along with defending the net, goalies are counted on to perform other tasks, including the following:
- Communicating with the defense: When the team is defending an attack, the goalie must communicate to his teammates what is unfolding on the field (because the goalie has the best view of the field). He can also warn his teammates when picks are being set.
- Fueling the offensive attack: When your goalie stops a shot, he should be looking upfield to see whether a teammate is available to receive a clearing pass that begins an attack, catching the opponent out of position.
These players typically don’t receive as much recognition as the attackers and midfielders because they aren’t directly involved in the plays that produce the goals. But no matter how good your offense is at netting goals, if the team struggles at the defensive end of the field, it probably won’t have a lot of success on game day.
Because a team must keep at least four players (including the goalie) on its defensive half of the field at all times, defenders rarely stray past midfield. Instead, their responsibilities include covering opposing players on the attack. Defenders rely on good footwork to shadow opponents all over the field, and they use a variety of checks. Good passing skills also enable defenders to ignite attacks by getting the ball to their midfielders and attackers running down the field.
Lacrosse is a sport of fast-paced transitions, and the midfielders’ effectiveness on transitions has a big influence on the team’s effectiveness on both offense and defense.
Since midfielders cover the most territory of any position — they roam all over the field — the quicker they recognize situations, the more effective they’ll be. For example, when a midfielder anticipates a teammate gaining control of the ball, the player can begin moving toward the opponent’s goal to try to create a scoring opportunity.
Midfielders typically aren’t counted on to provide a lot of scoring punch. The more important qualities for this position are good stick skills, accurate passing skills, and the stamina to stick with opposing attackers.
The responsibility for scoring goals falls on the attackers, who spend games roaming in the opponent’s half of the field. Attackers must rely on the defenders to stop the opposition and the midfielders to feed them the ball.
The most productive attackers have more moves than a disco dancer. They must be able to spin free to score when they’re closing in on the opponent’s goal and defenders are bumping and stick-checking them.
Even though your attackers will score the majority of your team’s goals, be sure to acknowledge all the efforts that led to the score. Every youngster plays an important role in the team’s success, and it’s up to you to make each child feel valued and appreciated for his efforts, whatever those may be.