Lacrosse is a game played between two teams of which the object is to advance the ball into the opposing teams territory and shoot the ball into the opponent's goal. The team scoring the most goals at the end of regulation play is the winner.
The ball is kept in play by being thrown, carried or hit by the stick, rolled or kicked by one or more players in any direction, provided the ball stays in the field of play.
A team is comprised of 10 players; 1 goalie, 3 defensemen, 3 mid-fielders and 3 attackmen. Each team must keep at least 4 players, including goalie, in its defensive half of the field and 3 players in its offensive zone. The 3 mid-fielders are free to roam entire field.
The game has four quarters, plus a halftime. Teams change ends between quarters. Youth games are generally 32 minutes long, with eight-minute quarters; two minute breaks between quarters and a ten-minute halftime. High school games are generally 40-48 minutes long with either 10 or l2 minute quarters and 12 minutes at halftime. Collegiate games are 60 minutes long with 15-minute quarters and a 15-minute halftime. Each team is permitted 3 time-outs, only two in a half of play.
The game starts at the center of the field with a face-off. Face-offs are also used to start each quarter and to resume play after each goal. The ball is placed between sticks of two face-off players at the center of the field. The play starts when the official blows the whistle and face-off players try to control the ball. Wingmen are allowed to participate for control (release) of the ball. All other on-field players must wait until one player has gained possession or the ball has crossed a goal area line.
Players maneuver the ball by passing, running, etc., to gain position which will provide the opportunity for a player to attempt to score a goal, by throwing the ball with their stick, past the goalie, into the goal. The only player allowed to touch the ball with his/her hands is the goalie.
Players attempt to gain control of the ball by scooping or catching it with a stick or by dislodging the ball from opponent's stick by checking. Checking involves poking, slapping or hitting an opponent's stick and gloved hand. Players may also attempt to gain possession of the ball by controlled body checks.
Attacking players may never enter the area immediately around opponent's goal, known as the crease. Nor may a player physically touch the goalie while the goalie is in the crease. Should the goalie gain possession of the ball, opposing players may try and block the clear by standing in the goalie's line of sight and waving sticks. Opposing players may also reach into the crease to try and retrieve loose or ground balls, but may not interfere with the goalie.
Unlike other sports, should the ball go out of bounds after an unsuccessful shot, possession is awarded to the player closest to the ball when and where it went out of bounds.