(Photo Courtesy: Langley Events Centre/Minto Cup)
To the casual sports fan I ask this, do you enjoy the rough and high paced nature of hockey? Are you enamored by the creative and awe-inspiring offense of basketball? Well then my friend, lacrosse is the sport for you.
Again, this sport entails a physical and hard-hitting brand with high flying acrobatic goal scoring. Lacrosse is an exciting and unique game for so many reasons. For a new fan on the outside looking in, it can be difficult to understand what is actually going on the field.
Here are the Basics:
The court: Box lacrosse is played in a hockey rink (with no ice!). There is a centerline with a face-off circle. There is a draw line where the two players on each team line up to start the game. There is a crease around each net. Offensive players cannot step in the crease with ball possession.
The stick: It’s about the coolest piece of sports equipment around. It’s made of metal shaft with a plastic head where the basket net is strung to make a small pouch. The ball gets cradled in the basket and it’s harder than it looks to keep the ball inside. Oh yeah and at the end of the shaft is the butt end.
The ball: It’s essentially a heavy and hard bouncy ball
Player Equipment: Lacrosse players wear shoulder pads, kidney protectors, elbow/ forearm pads (called slash guards), gloves, a helmet with a metal cage, and, usually, shoes with a lot of ankle support.
The shot clock: While this shot clock is running there are two teams battling against one another, offense and defense. Possession is held by one team through carrying the ball in their sticks, once a team has possession the shot clock starts (cue basketball reference), which means the team has 30 seconds to record a shot on net which can either result in a goal, they can recover the ball after the shot and the shot clock resets or the opposing goalie or defense can take possession and the shot clock starts for their team.
The Draw: Two players line up and place the back of their sticks against the other, the ball is placed in between these sticks, the whistle is blown and the players attempt to draw the ball away from the other. This requires split-second timing and incredible forearm strength. This is an important facet of the game, because more possession of the ball, correlates to more offensive opportunities.
Offense: The offensive side is attempting to score any way possible, and I mean score ANY SINGLE WAY. The Offense cannot hit the Defenseman but they run plays and set picks in order to create more space to score. A pick is when an offensive play plants their feet in order to set up a one-man-wall while another offensive player directs an opposing into the one-man-wall. Think picket fence.
Defense: The defenseman’s prerogative is simple; stop the other team from scoring. They attempt this difficult feat through many ways. While the defense is trying to stop them, but not through any means. That’s where the rules come in. Yes, the defense can slash and cross-check the other team, but only when they have the ball in their possession, most of the time… But all in all the defensemen are allowed to check the opposing team along the arms while they have possession of the ball. It looks kind of rough… and it is.
Game time: All of this excitement happens in four fifteen-minute quarters.
Lacrosse is a game of skill, smarts, and strength. Where some players excel in skill, others combat them with strength and tenacity. As a spectator one will experience a mixed bag of highlight reel goals, bone-crushing hits, and incredible saves so turn on a game and enjoy the fastest game on two feet.