What Is Lacrosse?

Lacrosse was invented by Native North Americans. Its name was dehuntshigwa’es in Onondaga (“men hit a rounded object”), da-nah-wah’uwsdi in Eastern Cherokee (“little war”), Tewaarathon in Mohawk Langauge (“little brother of war”), and baaga`adowe in Ojibwe(“knocking about of balls”).

The game was named lacrosse by early French lookers. It is widely and inaccurately believed that the name stems from the French term “crosse”, for the shepherd’s crooklike crosier carried by bishops as a symbol of office. Jesuit missionary Jean-de-Brébeuf noted the resemblance between the crosier and the shape of the racket stick in the Relation des Jésuites around 1640. In fact, the term crosse is a general word in French for any type of bat or stick used in a ball game. The name lacrosse is simply a reflection of this term, and perhaps a shorthand for a phrase such as “le jeu de la crosse” (the game of the stick).

Lacrosse traditionally had many different purposes. Conflict resolution and training of young warriors was only one part of the game. Games could be played on a pitch over a mile wide and sometimes lasted for days. Often players were gravely injured or even killed. Early balls were made out of the heads of the enemy, deerskin, clay, stone, and sometimes wood. Lacrosse has played 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, and as a religious ritual. The game was said to be played “for the pleasure of the Creator.”

What is the object of lacrosse?
The object is to put the ball into your opponent’s goal.

How does the game begin?
A lacrosse game begins with a face off at the midfield line at the X spot in the center of the field.

What is a face off?
A face off consists of the two center players at the mid-field line crouching down and placing their sticks on the ground so that the heads of the sticks have their backs to each other. The official then places the ball on the ground between the heads of the sticks, steps back and blows a whistle which signals to the players they can fight for possession of the ball.

When are face offs used?
At the beginning of a game, at the beginning of each quarter and after each goal is scored.

How many men are there on a lacrosse team?
Squads range from 25 to 30 men normally.

How many men are there on the field for one team?
There are ten men consisting of one goaltender, three defense men, three midfielders, and three attack men.

What are the goaltender’s special privileges?
He uses the largest stick on the field with a maximum width of 12 inches. He is the only one allowed to use a stick this large. He cannot be checked if he has gained possession of the ball within the crease area nor is an opponent allowed in the crease area.

What is defined as “in the crease area”?
A goaltender is considered in the crease as long as he has one foot on or within the 18-foot diameter circle. If he lifts his foot up and puts t back down while in the possession of the ball, it is called “out and in” and he loses possession of the ball.

How long can a goaltender stay in the crease with the ball?
A goaltender has four seconds to step out of the crease or throw the ball to a teammate. If he does not do this, he loses possession of the ball.