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. It is played on a large grass field comparable to a football field. The players try to throw the ball with their lacrosse sticks into the opponent's goal.
View a diagram of the field
The goals which resemble an ice hockey goal (front plane measurements: 6 x 6 feet = 1.83 m) are located within the field as in ice hockey. On the field are 2 teams with ten players each: one goalkeeper, three defenders, three midfield players and three attackmen. The stick shafts are made either of aluminium, wood or titanium and are approximately 1 m (attack/midfield) or 1.8 m (defence) long. The head of the stick is a plastic frame with a string/leather pocket. 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. Men's lacrosse begins with a face-off. The ball is placed between the sticks of two squatting players at the centre 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. Centre face-offs are also used at the start of each quarter and after a goal is scored.
Body checking is permitted if the opponent has the ball or is within three 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 three 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.
Attack: The attackman's responsibility is to score goals. The attackman generally restricts his play to the offensive end of the field. A good attackman demonstrates excellent stick work with both hands and has quick feet to move around the goal. Each team should have three attackmen on the field during play.
Midfield: The midfielder's responsibility is to cover the entire field, playing both offence and defence. The midfielder is a key to the transition game, and is often called upon to clear the ball from defence to offence. A good midfielder demonstrates good stick work including throwing, catching and scooping. Speed and stamina are essential. Each team should have three midfielders on the field.
Defence: The defenseman's responsibility is to defend the goal. The defenseman generally restricts his play to the defensive end of the field. A good defenseman should be able to react quickly in game situations. Agility and aggressiveness are necessary, but great stick work is not essential to be effective. Each team should have three defensemen on the field.
Goal: The goalie's responsibility is to protect the goal and stop the opposing team from scoring. A good goalie also leads the defence by reading the situation and directing the defensemen to react. A good goalie should have excellent hand/eye coordination and a emphasis voice. Quickness, agility, confidence and the ability to concentrate are also essential. Each team has one goalie in the goal during play.
The players wear a helmet and protective equipment because body contact is permitted: the player with the ball may be checked by the opponents' stick and body. Only the stick and the lower arms touching the stick may be checked. Illegal checks are punished with a time-penalty of one minute (personal foul).
The playing time by international rules is 4 x 20 minutes. Teams change sides between periods. Each team is permitted two timeouts each half.