Box Lacrosse vs Field Lacrosse: Quick Guide


While box lacrosse and field lacrosse have a bit of an overlap, since they are both variations of lacrosse, there are a few variations in them. On this page, I want to compare the differences between box lacrosse and field lacrosse. 

It is worth noting that just because you are good at one of these games does not necessarily mean that you will be good at the other. While the aim of the game is the same (i.e. shooting into the goal), they require slightly different playstyles in order to succeed. That being said, there will still be a few people out there that will play both variations of the game. This is because the time of year that each of them is played will be a little bit different.

The Field

Box Lacrosse vs Field Lacrosse

The first difference that you will notice when comparing box lacrosse vs field lacrosse will be the field.

Box lacrosse is played indoors. Field lacrosse will be played outdoors.

Field lacrosse will be played on a rectangular field that measures 110-years in length and 60-yards in width. 

Box lacrosse, on the other hand, will be played on ice hockey rinks. This means that the size of the field will be far smaller. It also means that the field will also not be completely rectangular. It will have the same shape as ice hockey. Of course, this also means that you will have boards at the back of the field, something that you will not get in field lacrosse. This means that it is unlikely that the ball will ever go out of play. This contributes to a more dynamic game.

Of course, there may be small variations in the sizes quoted here. These sizes will be for the professional level of the game. Some places may not have large lacrosse playing fields available, and thus they need to make do with something a little bit smaller. To be honest, this doesn’t matter all that much. Not until you get to the professional level. However, a team should always strive to get as close to official dimensions as possible.

The Players

Field lacrosse is played with a larger number of players, and the player composition will be slightly different. Field lacrosse will always have 9 players plus the goalie. The positions will then be set out like this:

  • 3 defenders
  • 3 mid-fielders
  • 3 attackers

There will be no variation on that team composition.

Box lacrosse will only have 5 players plus the goalie. While the players will be vaguely split up into offense and defense, with there being one more player in the offense, each player is expected to contribute to all phases of play. This means that you may find that players on the box lacrosse field are a lot more rounded out than field lacrosse players, although they may not excel in any area since they have to build up their skills in multiple positions.

The Goalkeeper

Goalkeepers in field lacrosse will only have a light amount of padding. This is because most of the shots they will be trying to fend off will be coming in from longer distances, and often this means that the shot speed is not going to be that high.

The padding that a box goalie wears will be enough to rival an ice hockey goalie. They are heavily padded. This is because the balls will be coming in at them frequently, and they will be coming in fast. If the goalie wasn’t wearing this amount of padding, then they could end up seriously injured by the end of the game.

It is worth noting that this padding is not there to protect the goalie from the players. In both field and box lacrosse, it is against the rules to come into contact with the goalie. The protection is there purely to protect the goalkeeper from the fast balls.

The Goals

Because the shots in box lacrosse are going to be coming in from a substantially closer distance, the goals are smaller. If they weren’t, there would be zero chance for a goalie being able to save a shot. They wouldn’t be able to react quick enough. The goal size in box lacrosse will be pretty similar to the size of the goals that you find in ice hockey.

Of course, in box lacrosse, this means that you need to have a pretty decent shot taker on offense. If not, then the goalie will be able to save almost every single shot that comes their way.

Stick Length

If you watch a game of field lacrosse, you will notice that the defending players will have longer sticks than the attackers. This is to allow them to intercept the ball a little bit better. This is important due to the larger size of the playing field.

This is not something that happens in box lacrosse. Both the attackers and the defenders will have exactly the same stick length.  

Length of the Game

Both box lacrosse and field lacrosse will last 60-minutes each. However, the time will be divided up in a slightly different way.

In field lacrosse, this 60-minutes will be split up into 15-minute quarters. I know that there are some leagues that will do things slightly differently but, at the pro level of the game, it is 15-minute quarters always.

Box lacrosse will be split up in a similar way to ice hockey. This means that there will be three 20-minute periods instead.

The longer period in box lacrosse will actually have a major impact on the dynamic of the game. Because many see box lacrosse as a faster sport, there will be a lot more ‘tiredness’ towards the end of the twenty-minute period. This means that the players that succeed the most in box lacrosse will be those that have impeccable fitness levels.

Box Lacrosse Time Limit

This is probably the biggest difference between the two sports.

In field lacrosse, shots are often a slow and calculated play. Well, as slow and calculated as high-speed lacrosse can get. Basically, once your team has possession of the ball, your aim is to break down the other team’s defense and get a shot on the goal. You can take as long as you want here.

In a bid to make box lacrosse a much more dynamic way of playing, you do not have an unlimited amount of time to take your shot. Once your team has possession of the ball, you have thirty seconds to make your shot. If you fail to make a shot, possession will revert to the other team. Of course, this means that you have to be much more tactical in your approach. 

In box lacrosse, the second you have posession of the ball, the timer starts ticking. You now need to work down the defense and get that shot off quickly. Many teams will spend hours and hours working on their plays here. Positioning is absolutely key. The job of the defense is to stop your team from getting that shot off. It is a great way for them to get possession back, after all.

This is a major rule change and it completely changes the dynamic of the game. For many people that have never watched lacrosse before, watching box lacrosse may be the way to go as a lot more happens in a short period of time. People do love a bit of action.

Contact

The rules are slightly different when it comes to contact. Although, do bear in mind that they are both contact sports. However, you should also remember that both of these sports only allow body checking. This means that there are no full-on tackles. That will result in a penalty.

If you are playing field lacrosse, then there are two situations where you can body check the opposing player:

  • If they are controlling the ball
  • If they are within 5-yards of a loose ball

When it comes to box lacrosse, the rules are different. You can only body-check players that are in physical possession of the ball. However, when it comes to stick checking, you can hit anybody that is in the offensive area.

Despite there being more situations in field lacrosse where you are able to challenge a player physically, the sport that can get a bit more ‘violent’ will be box lacrosse. This is due to the smaller playfield and the faster style of play.

Conclusion

So, there you have it. All of the major differences between box lacrosse and field lacrosse. I do suggest that you go through them so you can get a solid understanding of the way both of these games to play. I also encourage you to actively watch a couple of games. This way you can get a feel for which one is the right one to play for you. However, I am pretty positive that once you fall in love with the sport of lacrosse, you will probably end up wanting to play both of them.

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