Introduction

Lacrosse is a fast-paced team sport, characterised by the use of a stick with a meshed head at the top of it. The objective, like many sports, is to get the ball in the opposition’s goal. It can be played in a variety of ways including women’s field, men’s field, and box lacrosse.

The men and women’s games vary slightly but are ultimately very similar. Games are played in quarters and start with a face-off (men’s) or a draw (women’s) – a 1v1 fight for the ball, before possession is called. Depending on the format, the game consists of ten players and is played on a pitch roughly the size of a rugby pitch (field) or ice hockey rink (box). The ball used is a hard rubber piece of equipment, around the size of a tennis ball, and the rules dictate that only the Lacrosse stick (the Crosse) may be used to pick the ball up or pass it. In field, the variation Cheltenham Lacrosse Club play, the goal is 6ft x 6ft and protected by a goalkeeper and a circle around the goal (the Crease) which opposing teams may not enter. Ball can be won back from the opposing team by using stick and body hits (checks), which has earned the game a reputation of being very physical, particularly in the men’s game, meaning that protective gear is increasingly important – the men’s game enforces compulsory use of helmets and gloves!

A Cheltenham player fights for the ball in a face-off
One of the Women’s team fights for the ball in a “draw”

History

Lacrosse owes its beginnings in its modern form to a man named William George Beers and his Montreal Lacrosse Club. In 1856, Beers founded the club and in 1860, he puts some rules behind it. The first game under these rules was in 1867, where Montreal lost to Toronto Cricket Club by a score of 3-1. That’s right – Lacrosse owes itself (in a way) to cricket!

Lacrosse actually goes back way before Beers, some say it goes back as far as the 1100 AD. Lacrosse’s routes are in Native Americans and aboriginal Canadian communities. The games used to consist of 100-1,000 men on a field several miles long and lasted for 2-3 days straight as a kind of symbolic warfare. It is because of its roots, that World Lacrosse recognises the Iroquois Nation as a national team in men’s competitions.

In the latter part of 19th century, the sport spread widely across the English-speaking world, with dozens of teams forming across Canada, the US, England, Australia and New Zealand.

In 1890, the women’s game was formed in Scotland by a woman named Louisa Lumsden. It didn’t hit the states until 1926.

As of 2016, over 825,000 people in the world play Lacrosse. International leaders in the game include USA, Canada, England, Japan, Australia and Israel.