Men's lacrosse is a contact game played by ten players: a goalie, three defensemen, three midfielders and three attackmen. The object of the game is to shoot the ball into the opponent's goal. The team scoring the most goals wins.
Each team must keep at least four players, including the goalie, in its defensive half of the field and three in its offensive half. Three players (midfielders) may roam the entire field.
Collegiate games are 60 minutes long, with 15-minute quarters. Generally, high school games are 48 minutes long, with 12-minute quarters. Likewise, youth games are 32 minutes long, with eight-minute quarters. Each team is given a two-minute break between the first and second quarters, and the third and fourth quarters. Halftime is ten minutes long.
Teams change sides between periods. Each team is permitted two timeouts each half. The team winning the coin toss chooses the end of the field it wants to defend first.
The players take their positions on the field: four in the defensive clearing area, one at the center, two in the wing areas and three in their attack goal area.
Men's lacrosse begins with a face-off. The ball is placed between the sticks of two squatting players at the center of the field. The official blows the whistle to begin play. Each face-off player tries to control the ball. The players in the wing areas can run after the ball when the whistle sounds. The other players must wait until one player has gained possession of the ball, or the ball has crossed a goal area line, before they can release.
Center face-offs are also used at the start of each quarter and after a goal is scored. Field players must use their crosses to pass, catch and run with the ball. Only the goalkeeper may touch the ball with his hands. A player may gain possession of the ball by dislodging it from an opponent's crosse with a stick check. A stick check is the controlled poking and slapping of the stick and gloved hands of the player in possession of the ball.
Body checking is permitted if the opponent has the ball or is within five yards of a loose ball. All body contact must occur from the front or side, above the waist and below the shoulders, and with both hands on the stick. An opponent's crosse may also be stick checked if it is within five yards of a loose ball or ball in the air. Aggressive body checking is discouraged.
If the ball or a player in possession of the ball goes out of bounds, the other team is awarded possession. If the ball goes out of bounds after an unsuccessful shot, the player nearest to the ball when and where it goes out of bounds is awarded possession.
An attacking player cannot enter the crease around the goal, but may reach in with his stick to scoop a loose ball.
A referee, umpire and field judge supervise field play. A chief bench official, timekeepers and scorers assist.
If you stand still, it makes it very easy for a defender to cover you. Unless you are participating in a play where you are specifically not to be looking for the ball, you generally want to be moving to try to get open. Don't make the man with the ball run all over the place to get an open pass to you; move with him so that he can pass you the ball.
Sometimes you have a specific offense to run. More often, you need to be flexible and work with the flow of the game to get men in position to score. This means moving well with and without the ball, setting picks for your teammates (but remember: no moving picks!), and moving in whichever way leaves somebody open, with the ball, on the crease. This is something that comes with playing time; sometimes it's better to pass around the outside until you get an opening, sometimes it's better to drive in quickly. Test the defense and see what they can do.
On defense, you have a simple job: keep the ball out of the cage. Though the goalie is ultimately the last obstacle to a goal, your job is to make his job
easier. First off, don't let someone have an open lane to the cage. If someone beats his man, the next defender needs to slide to pick the cutter up. Then another defender needs to slide to pick up the newly open man. When this slide works well, the furthest man from the ball is open and the man with the ball is blocked and/or on the ground. If you're a big defenseman and somebody cuts in, let him know you're there. Make him prefer not to cut in for the shot.