How to Play Lacrosse: Rules & Scoring

Instructor: Allyn Torres

Allyn has taught high school chemistry, and has a master's degree in curriculum and instruction.

In this lesson you will learn how to play the game of lacrosse. The origin of the sport, player positions, the rules of the game, and scoring will be discussed.

The Origin of Lacrosse

Lacrosse, as we know it now, is a sport that is very physical and fun to watch. While lacrosse is played for fun or for the spirit of competition, it served a much more important purpose in its beginnings. Native Americans are credited with inventing lacrosse. Its purpose was to prepare young men for war. Native Americans sometimes played with up to 1,000 people at once. They even used the sport to distract British soldiers while their tribe members captured a fort! Keep reading to learn more about this exciting sport.

Lacrosse Players

Introduction to Lacrosse

The objective of lacrosse (like many sports games) is to score the most points by the end of the game. Points are scored by getting a small hard ball into the opponent's net. Lacrosse players use a long stick with what looks like a small basket on the end to handle the ball. Lacrosse is played on a large field similar to the size of a football field. There is a goal on either end of the field, one for each team.

Lacrosse Field

There are 4 different types of positions in lacrosse, and 10 players for each team on the field at once. There are 3 attackmen (offensive players), 3 midfielders, 3 defenders, and 1 goalie.

Lacrosse is played in four quarters. Youth lacrosse quarters are 8 minutes long. High school lacrosse quarters are 12 minutes long, and college and professional quarters are 15 minutes long.


Scoring in lacrosse is pretty simple. Points can only be scored when a goal is made. When a player shoots the ball into the opposing team's net and the goalie fails to stop it, a goal is scored. Each goal is worth 1 point. In professional lacrosse there is a 2-point line on the field. Goals shot from behind that line are worth 2 points.


Every lacrosse game starts with a face-off. In a face-off, players stand with their hands and feet to the ground. Their sticks are laying on the ground in front of them. When the whistle blows, they use their sticks to fight to gain possession of the ball.

Every lacrosse game starts with a face-off.

Once a player has picked up the ball with his stick, he can run down field holding the ball or he can pass it to his teammates. Any player is allowed to run the length of the field so long as there are 4 players (1 goalie and 3 defenders) in the back field.

Offensive players cannot enter their team's crease (circle area around the goalie), unless they are given possession of the ball while in the crease. Defensive players are allowed to enter the crease.

Lacrosse has a lot of rules that involve timing. When a goalie blocks the other team from scoring he has 4 seconds to take the ball out of the crease. If he does not do this in 4 seconds, the other team will get the ball. Once the ball is removed from the crease, players have 20 seconds to get the ball across midfield. Then they have 10 seconds to move into the attack area (the portion of the field surrounding the opposing team's goal). If they fail to do either, the other team will gain possession.

Lacrosse has a few interesting rules that are unique to the sport, including the following:

  • If a player shoots the ball out of bounds, the team with a player closest to the line gains possession of the ball.
  • After each score, there is a face-off. This means that a team could potentially get possession of the ball again immediately after they score a goal.
  • In the last two minutes of the game, the team that has the higher score must remain in the attack area. If they do not do this, the other team will get possession of the ball.

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