Ice Hockey or Lacrosse, Which is Right for You? (Ice Hockey Vs Lacrosse)


When it comes to finding a sport to play, there a variety of options to choose from. When narrowing down those options, it may come down to whether you want to be on the ice or a field. 

Lacrosse and ice hockey are very different sports and require different techniques and skills that may be a determining factor when deciding. Whether you pick a pair of skates or a lacrosse ball, let’s break down the two sports to see which sport fits best for your lifestyle.

Ice or Grass?

When looking at ice hockey and lacrosse, the playing field is vastly different. For ice hockey, the name says it all. Ice hockey is played on an oval-shaped ice rink, which leads to other skills sets such as ice skating that has to be learned.

For lacrosse, the sport is played on a rectangular field/grass. 

The sport is also determined on the season as well. Lacrosse is played in the spring, completely outdoors. Individuals who want to play lacrosse will have to be prepared for the quick weather changes, as cold and warm fronts hit the spring every season.

Snow is also a possibility, as well as rain which could lead to mud on the field. This is something that could be messy and a hassle to play in. 

Hockey is typically played in the winter. While you will be indoors, the cold is something you should always be prepared for, as the hockey rinks are generally not warm whatsoever. 

What Skills will you Need to Learn?

One of the biggest differences between lacrosse and ice hockey are the skills sets that need to be learned. For ice hockey in particular, it is important to learn how to skate. As stated on Hockey Tutorial, there are many skills that need to be learned before actually playing the sport. 

One of the biggest skills that has to be learned before attempting to play competitively is the forward stride. The forward stride is how hockey players move forward on the ice. This is a highly important and necessary skill when it comes to playing ice hockey.

Additionally, the forward stride is important in gaining maximum speed on the ice with your skates.

Another two skills that are important to learn before beginning competitive ice hockey is the forward and backward crossover. This skill is necessary for quick and powerful turns. Crossovers, many ice hockey coaches will say, is an absolute necessity. 

The next skill that many ice hockey beginners need to learn to play the sport is tight hockey turns. Tight hockey turns are essential to the sport because it allows the player to make quick direction changes. This is important to learn as well because players need to be skilled at avoiding obstacles and players on the ice rink or shake off anyone who is grabbing onto them. 

Finally there is the hockey stop, which is essential for quick stops and changes on the ice. Overall, you have to be able to master skating on the ice. If you cannot master skating on the ice, then it will be extremely difficult to play ice hockey.

On Sports Rec, the article notes many of the basic lacrosse skills that are necessary for mastering the sport. The first two important skills to note are scooping and passing. Scooping is simply the act of picking up the ball off the ground with the stick. It is important to learn this while running for the ball, as the sport is full of running back and forthl. 

Passing is attempting to move the ball down the field to other players, in the direction of the goal. With your hands on the stick, it is important to make a quick snapping movement to throw it into another players’ pocket.

Two other important skills such as catching and cradling require concentration, the website explains. It is important to concentrate on making sure the ball lands into the head of your stick. Cradling as well requires you to move your wrist back and forth to make sure the ball does not fall out of the pocket.

Finally, shooting and dodging are the last two main skills required to learn before playing lacrosse competitively. Shooting is highly important to be able to score a goal. This skill as well as many others, require a certain stance to be able to accurately shoot into the goal.

It is important to use a great amount of force when shooting, to propel the ball to secure a win for your team. Finally, dodging is a very necessary skill when playing lacrosse competitively. For dodging, the goal is to move out of the other teams’ way, to avoid being blocked or hit and to continue bringing the ball down the field to secure a win.

What are the Teams Like?

When it comes to analyzing the teams, the number of people playing at once is another big difference when looking at the sport. During a game, for lacrosse, ten players are on the field at once. For ice hockey, only six players can be on the field at once. 

Due to this, the length of the games are also a bit different. For ice hockey, there are three twenty-minute periods of actual playing. There is also an intermission between each period.

For lacrosse, the total is sixty minutes of playing time. However, that sixty minutes is then broken up into four fifteen-minute periods instead. If there is then a tie, the game will have to go into overtime. This is called a victory overtime.

At victory overtime, the teams will then play in periods of four minutes until there is a victor.

The Rules

When looking at the difference between lacrosse and ice hockey, the biggest differences are the rules.

Like stated earlier, there are ten people on the field at once. These ten include three attackers, three middies, 3 defenders, and one goalie. 

When playing lacrosse, only four long poles are allowed on the field at one time. This rule is governed by the NCAA lacrosse regulations. 

When the lacrosse ball is in play, it cannot be touched by anyone’s hand. The only person allowed to touch the ball at that point is the goalie. Additionally, the ball is taken out of play instantly as soon as the ball is out of bounds.

These are just some basic rules that individuals who choose to play lacrosse will have to learn. More indepth rules can be found on the official lacrosse websites. 

For hockey, the rules are vastly different than lacrosse. Hockey is played with a puck rather than a ball, and it must not be kicked or touched by the hand. The puck cannot be kicked into the net or at any individual’s body parts.

During playing time each team puts 6 skaters on the ice. This includes three forwards, two defencemen, and a goalie. At the end of the game, it may be moved to a five-minute, overtime. In this case, whoever shoots the goal will win. 

If the game is still tied after overtime, there will be a shootout until there is a winner. There are also two referees and two linesmen that watch the game as it goes on. Their job is to look out and stop for penalties and icing. 

What Equipment will They Need?

For both sports, you will need a variety of equipment. For lacrosse, some basic equipment that you will need are helmets. For men’s lacrosse, you will need a helmet with a facemask but women’s helmets do no require any face masks. Goggles are also necessary, but only for women. The men are not required to wear any goggles.

Cleats are also a must. The specific cleats that have to be worn must have either molded cleats or have ribbed soles. There are also mouthguards to protect the teeth, lips, tongue, and other parts of the mouth and of course you have to have the lacrosse stick.

Boys are also required to wear lacrosse gloves to protect the hands, as well as elbow and shoulder pads. Boys also are required to wear protective cups.

While some of the equipment is similar, there are ice hockey pieces that are very different. For instance, you need a helmet that will not fall off your head. Visors and cages are optional but it is important to invest in a good helmet. Neck guards are also optional but are recommended for new players to prevent any sort of neck injury. 

One of the biggest musts when it comes to equipment are hockey pants. Hockey pants are meant to protect your lower back and your knees. Finally, there are the skates, something very important to invest in and needed to play ice hockey. 

So What Should I Choose?

Overall, it really comes down to where you see yourself playing. Both are very different environments and require very different skills. However, whether you are on the grass or skating on the ice rink, you will be playing an admirable sport no matter where you end up.

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