Lacrosse is an international sport, but its rules can vary depending on where you go. In the United States, kids of all ages play lacrosse on an outdoor field. However, box lacrosse players in Canada compete on a covered hockey rink. Although lax is essentially the same game all over the world, there are several significant differences worth noting.
How is Box Lacrosse Different from Field Lacrosse?
Major League Lacrosse teams, like the New York Lizards, play field lacrosse, while the National Lacrosse League is an example of box. Even though many of the same professional players compete in both leagues, the style of play is quite different.
The Field of Play
The most obvious difference between the two major variations of men’s lacrosse is the field of play. The American version is played on a grass field, which usually measures 100 yards long by 60 yards wide.
Box lacrosse athletes compete indoors on a playing area that does not have bigger dimensions than 180 feet long and 90 feet wide.
Size of the Goal
Goal sizes also differ considerably. A field lacrosse goal is two feet taller and two feet wider than the one used in box. A field goal measures six feet by six feet, while a box goal is four feet by four feet.
Number of Players
The rules of box lacrosse allow four fewer players in the game at a time. In field lacrosse, three attackman, three midfielders, three defensemen and a goaltender make up a starting unit, while a box squad is simply five players and a goalie.
The off-sides rule, which play a major role in field lacrosse, does not exist in box.
In the field game, four players must remain on the defensive side and three players on the offensive side at all times. The goalie, defenders and attackmen are allowed to switch sides if another player, typically a midfielder, remains on their side of the field.
Since players often fire at close range, box goalies wear more protective equipment than their field counterparts. While a field goalie, typically wears gloves, a chest protector, a helmet and a throat guard, an indoor goalie is often seen sporting bulky leg and thigh pads.
Another thing that sets the field game apart is the use of long pole sticks on defense. D-poles help players cover more space on a bigger field. In box, players generally only use short sticks.
The lacrosse head in both games also has a different look and feel to it. Box players use a head that has a more pronounced pinch, which makes it harder for opponents to dislodge the ball. However, in field lacrosse, the rules state that the ball must be able to roll out of the pocket unimpeded by any obstacle.
These two types of lacrosse styles have traditionally stood at opposite ends of the great shot clock debate. Box leagues, like National League Lacrosse, often feature a 30-second shot clock, while most levels of field lacrosse have yet to adopt this rule.
While box lacrosse was once reserved for the Canadian provinces, more and more youth athletes today are playing indoor games in the off-season to hone their skills for upcoming tryouts.