Box Lacrosse Explained

Box Lacrosse is played on a standard sized arena floor and features 6 players (goaltender and five runners) of an 18-20 player team on the floor at one time.

The strategy of Lacrosse is similar to that of basketball, with all five runners involved in the offense and the defense. Added to the appeal are the speed and excitement created by a 30 second shot clock. The combination of action and reaction makes Box as much fun to play as it is to watch.

Box Lacrosse is played almost exclusively in Canada, with annual National Championships occurring at seven levels. The award of the premiere junior (17-21) championship is the Minto Cup, while the best senior players in Canada (over 21) play for the Mann Cup.

There are currently over 47,000 Box players in Canada. Both males and females play this version of Lacrosse and the ages of competition range from 6-65 years.

Here are a few basic lacrosse rules to help you understand the game.

There is a face-off after a goal, a penalty or when the ball strikes the goalie in the helmet area.

Checking is an important part of the game but checking from behind and violent checks into the board are not allowed. Penalty shots can be called in extreme cases.

Cross-checking is not a penalty unless it is from behind.

High sticking is a judgment call. Incidental contact with the helmet by an opposing player's stick is not an automatic penalty.

Players or goalies out of the crease are penalized for catching the ball with their hand. Contact with the hand results in possession to the other team.

A player with the ball cannot push off with his free hand or arm. If so, possession is awarded to the other team.

Any player on the offensive team can be checked but if your team has possession of the ball, you cannot check back. Any responsive checking will result in loss of possession.

The ball can be kicked, but not for a goal.

You cannot go into the other team's crease to take a shot, or cut through it. Checking a player or touching the goalie while in the opposing team's crease results in a penalty.

The goalie in Lacrosse can play anywhere on the floor (there is no centre red line for offside) and functions as any other player on the team.

Disclaimer: The rules posted on this site, are intended as a guide to understand how the game is played. For actual league rules, contact a member of the KDLA executive. All game calls are subject to the Referee's judgement and to the Referee-in-Chief and executive board policy.
Basic Lacrosse Rules


Lacrosse has similarities to other sports , but is probably most like hockey and basketball. It has checking, shooting and goaltending like hockey, but has the 1-on-1 play, ball control, offensive and defensive strategies more like basketball.


Each team is allowed 6 players on the floor at one time, one of them normally being a goalie. 

The floor is divided into 3 zones: attacking, centre, and defensive. What is one team's attacking zone is the other's defensive zone.

Offensive Strategy

The offensive strategy in Lacrosse is similar to that of basketball. Once a team has possession of the ball, it may operate a 'fast break' offense by looking for the break-away pass, or it may operate a ball-control offense and walk the ball down the floor.

Once the offensive team has the ball in the attacking zone, they will be looking for a good 1-on-1 situation where their best ball handler can beat his man, or for a player open in the 'prime scoring area' to whom the ball can be passed.

The 'prime scoring area' is the zone in front of the crease from which most goals are scored. It can be compared to the 'slot' in hockey.

Defensive Strategy

Once the team loses possession of the ball it immediately retreats into its defensive zone. Most defenses play a man-to-man coverage.

Hockey style forechecking does not exist as for the same reasons as in basketball, the ball carrier has such good ball control that it is highly unlikely he will lose the ball. Only near the end of very close games will you see the losing teams 'press' the offensive team hoping for a turnover.

Left vs Right shot

Players who shoot right (right hand is held closest to the head/pocket) normally play the left side of the offense so that the head of the stick and the ball are closer to the center of the playing surface. This is very important when cutting to the net to take a shot.

The very best players are ambidextrous which makes it extremely difficult for a defender.

Change of Possession

When one team offends and no penalty is called, the other team is awarded possession. For example, if a player passes or shoots the vall into the stands the other team is given possession of the ball and play resumes immediately.

The most common change of possession calls are for 'loose ball interference', 'free hand', and '30 seconds'.

30 Second clock

Whenever a team is in possession of the ball and is at the same strength as the defending team, or is on a power play, the offensive team has 30 seconds in which to take a shot on the net, or they lose possession. If the offensive team loses control of the ball (a missed pass for example), the 30 second clock will continue to run as if the offensive team still has the ball. The 30 second clock will only be reset whenever a shot hits the goalie or the goal posts/crossbar, or when the defending team gains possession of the ball. The clock will continue to run if a shot misses the net.

10 Second rule (short handed)

When a team is shorthanded, they have 10 seconds to get the ball into their attacking zone. Failing to do so results in a loss of possession.

Offside, Icing or other line calls

In Lacrosse there is no offside or icing. When the offensive team is in the attacking zone and is playing shorthanded, they will automatically lose possession should the ball leave the attacking zone. This is called 'back over'.

Free hand (Pushing off)

A player in possession of the ball may NOT ward off defenders with a free hand or arm (a hand that is not holding onto the stick). this will result in loss of possession.

Loose Ball Contact (Interference)

If 2 players are going after a loose ball they must play the ball and not check the other player until he has possession.

The Goalie Crease

In Lacrosse the goalie crease is a restricted zone that is considered to be an imaginary vertical cylinder including the floor line.

Attacking players may not enter the crease of their own free will under any circumstances. If they are in possession of the ball and enter the crease, they lose possession. If they are pushed into the crease they must make every effort to get out quickly.

The offensive player may not reach into the crease to retrieve a loose ball. If an opposing player makes contact with the goalie in the crease it is usually a penalty.

A Player or goalie in possession of the ball outside the crease will lose possession of he enters or runs through his own crease.

In Novice and younger, a team may pass the ball to the goalie once in every possession.

The ball must be carried or passed out of the crease within 5 seconds of getting possession of the ball in the crease.

A player of the same team may enter his own crease in order to retrieve a loose ball, or to accept the ball from the goalie.

A goalie is still considered to be in the crease as long as one foot is inside the crease area.

Stuck Ball

Should the ball become lodged in the stick, play will be halted, the referee will free the ball, and then play will continue without change of possession.

High Sticking

Contact between a checker's stick and the opposition player's neck, face or helmet will normally result in a penalty. Incidental contact with the helmet is not automatically a penalty. If a player 'ducks' into a high stick, a penalty will NOT be called.


In Minor Lacrosse a player may NOT strike an opponent with that portion of the stick NOT held between the hands. Only stick to stick contact is allowed. Swinging the stick with one hand is very likely to lead to a penalty.

Follow Through (slashing)

A penalty will be assessed if a player in the process of passing or shooting follows through with his stick and slashes an opponent.

A penalty will NOT be called if the defender MOVES into the range of the follow through.

Cross Checking

A cross-check is defined as a check which consists of directing the stick held rigidly in two hands in a forceful manner against the body of an opposing player, or any check of this nature applied below the waist.

The proper way to check is to use BENT arms while making contact with the opposing player, then pushing.

ANY PLAYER on the team that has possession of the ball may be checked by a defender while in the attacking zone. The offensive player may not check back.

Checking from Behind

A penalty will be assessed to a player who body-checks or cross-checks an opponent from behind. This normally happens when a player with the ball is being pursued down the floor, or when playing a loose ball in the corner. This is the most serious of penalties and will be dealt with severely.

The Draw (face-off)

There is always a draw after a goal, a penalty (almost always), or when a ball strikes the goalie in the helmet area. Should the ball directly enter the net after striking the goalie in the helmet or face mask, the goal will be allowed.

The players taking the draw will be positioned so that their left shoulder points toward the opposing goal. Only the two players taking the draw are allowed inside the larger face-off circle until the ball leaves the 2 foot circle. Any other player entering the larger circle early will result in possession of the ball given to the other team.

Kicked Ball

The ball may be kicked, but not for a goal.

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