While traditionally played outdoors, lacrosse is a sport that also has an indoor variant. However, you may be surprised to know that indoor lacrosse is regarded as a completely separate sport. Known as box lacrosse, there is a small amount of overlap with traditional lacrosse rules, but the smaller area box lacrosse takes place in completely changes the dynamic of the sport.
What are the benefits of playing lacrosse indoors?
To play outdoor lacrosse, you need to have fairly decent weather. This isn’t a sport that is particularly enjoyable to play on the colder and rainier days of the year. In fact, in many countries, lacrosse has a huge off-season as a result.
Box lacrosse doesn’t suffer from these issues. Since you can play at any time of the year, there isn’t really an off-season. However, many countries do stagger both the ice hockey and box lacrosse leagues. This is because ice hockey rinks are the exact size required for box lacrosse, so during the off-season, these ice rinks can be covered up and box lacrosse can be played in the same arena.
A lot of people also enjoy the more ‘dynamic’ way of playing box lacrosse. We will talk a little bit more about this soon, however, due to the smaller field size required for box lacrosse, the pace of play is a lot faster. It also demands a different skillset to traditional lacrosse matches, albeit with a small amount of overlap.
The smaller team size for box lacrosse is also preferred by many. However, do bear in mind that it is not a sport regularly played competitively, unlike standard lacrosse. While there are some box lacrosse leagues around the world, there are far fewer than normal lacrosse. This can make the sport a bit more difficult to break into if you want to join a team.
How many players are required for indoor lacrosse?
Each team in indoor lacrosse will have six players. This will be four less than in a traditional lacrosse team.
Due to the smaller number of players on the team, box lacrosse players tend to play in every position. Of course, the goalkeeper is going to stay in the same place in a match, but the rest of the players will be fluid in their positioning. This is a stark contrast to outdoor lacrosse where most people will have fixed positions, albeit fluidly moving between them on occasion at a pro-level.
Do you require the same amount of equipment for indoor lacrosse?
To an extent, yes.
As we will discuss in a short while, box lacrosse is a lot more physical in the way you play. Perhaps, not to the extent of ice hockey, but you will certainly be coming into contact with people a lot more often.
The result is that many people that end up playing box lacrosse will need to purchase additional padding for the sport. This is especially true for the goalkeeper who will often be kitted in out in extreme amounts of padding in comparison to their outdoor counterparts.
It is also worth noting that while you can play indoor lacrosse with an outdoor lacrosse stick, it is not recommended. This is, once again, due to the physicality of indoor lacrosse. You need something that is a bit sturdier because it will come into contact with other people. Even a top-quality outdoor lacrosse stick wouldn’t really stand up to much during a game of indoor lacrosse.
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While the rules between lacrosse and box lacrosse are fairly similar, the sports do demand a completely different skill set to succeed. There is no guarantee that a successful outdoor lacrosse player would perform well indoors.
Let’s begin with the physicality of the sport.
While you are likely to come into contact with people in outdoor lacrosse, it certainly wouldn’t be to the extent that is involved in box lacrosse. In fact, the physicality can often come pretty close to that of ice hockey. You will regularly be ‘checking’ people with your stick and often quite hard. Indoor lacrosse is not a sport for the lighthearted.
You may actually be surprised to know that, up until recently, fighting was a regular occurrence in box lacrosse. There were no real penalties to it (beyond a five-minute time out). This is something that has started to be phased out, particularly in the youth leagues, but regular fighting still takes place in the pro leagues of the sport. This shows you just how intense the games can get on occasion.
2. Goal scoring
While the exact size of the goals in box lacrosse will be determined by the rules, the goals will always be considerably smaller than that of standard lacrosse. This is in both width and in height.
This means that it can be a lot more difficult to score a goal in box lacrosse. In fact, goalscoring is pretty similar to that of ice hockey. You have a pretty hefty goalkeeper laden with padding standing in the way. It takes a lot of skill and speed to score in box lacrosse. As a result, you will often find that the overall score is a lot lower than in normal lacrosse.
3. Speed of play
This is the main difference between indoor and outdoor lacrosse.
Due to the field of play in indoor lacrosse being far smaller, the speed of play is going to be a lot higher. Some would say that playing box lacrosse requires a lot more in the way of physical endurance, but this is really going to be doing a disservice to outdoor lacrosse. You do still need to have wild amounts of endurance for that.
We suppose the best way to put it is that if you are playing indoor lacrosse, then you are expected to contribute to all phases of play. You do not really have any downtime if you are out there on the field, because there is always going to be something to do. You really do not have any time to catch your breath.
In order to be successful with box lacrosse, you do need to be a highly versatile player. You need to be able to understand and change what you are doing at an absolute moment’s notice. As we said before; the style of play means that even if you are successful with traditional lacrosse, it doesn’t mean that you are going to be successful when you take the sport indoors.
Should I play indoor or outdoor lacrosse?
It depends on what is most appealing for you. As we said, it is going to be a lot easier to find a team that plays outdoor lacrosse. However, the number of indoor teams is on the rise throughout the United States.
Due to the vastly different styles in play, it may be worth checking out a few recordings of the sport or, better yet, actually play yourself. You will quickly find that one of them will catch your attention more than the other!
Of course, you could always go down the route of others and play outdoor lacrosse most of the year, but when the weather is not brilliant for that, you can take things indoors.