The answer to this question is that men’s lacrosse is a contact sport, while women’s lacrosse is a non-contact sport (or more specifically, a limited-contact sport).
Lacrosse is one of the most exciting and fastest-growing sports in North America today. It requires tremendous athleticism and energy and is popular in high schools and universities across the country.
It is also one of the oldest sports in the world; an early version of this game was played by Native Americans. It was originally a game that involved a lot more players and a lot more physical contact than its present form. The game was played between different tribes, and the goals could be situated miles apart. Over the years, lacrosse has been fine-tuned into the beloved game it is today.
If you’ve ever seen a lacrosse game, you’ll notice that it’s very fast-paced and that it requires a tremendous team effort. Players run around the field, lacrosse sticks are moved around with great speed, and the lacrosse ball darts around the field like a pinball.
Let’s dive right in to see what lacrosse is.
What is Lacrosse?
The two things you will notice immediately when watching a lacrosse game are the lacrosse sticks and the lacrosse ball. The premise of the game is simple: get the lacrosse ball into your opponent’s net using your lacrosse stick, and your team scores a goal. Think of the game of soccer but played with sticks and you’ll get the idea.
There are two main versions of this game: men’s lacrosse and women’s lacrosse. (There are also two other lesser played versions of this game: box lacrosse and intercrosse).
Before you play lacrosse, it’s important to have all the right equipment:
- A lacrosse stick
- A helmet
- Lacrosse gloves
- Pads for men’s lacrosse (shoulder pads, rib pads, and elbow pads)
A lacrosse field is 110 – 120 yards long and 60 – 70 yards wide. It is divided into 3 areas: the defensive area, the wing area, and the attack area.
10 players are allowed to be on the field at a given time. The 10 players are 3 defenders, 3 middies, 3 attacks, and 1 goalie. There must always be 4 players in the defensive zone and 3 players in the offensive zones. Any team that violates this rule is deemed offside.
Using the net of their lacrosse sticks, players need to catch, carry, pass or shoot the lacrosse ball into their opponent’s goal. Their team earns points when they successfully do so. A lacrosse game is 60 minutes long, divided into 4 sections of 15 minutes each. The team with the highest points at the end of the game wins.
A few other things to note: The lacrosse ball can only be passed using lacrosse sticks; it cannot be touched by hand (except for the goalie). The game must be played within the field, and the game is stopped once the ball is out of bounds. If the ball goes out of bounds, the opposing team is then granted the possession.
What is a contact sport?
A contact sport is a sport in which players can be expected to come into physical contact with other players. This means that a contact sport is intentionally designed to cause players to come into close contact with each other (and not merely by accident). The physical contact can happen between the bodies, or the playing equipment, of two or more players.
There are, however, different levels of contact that are possible in contact sports. Let’s have a look at a few of them:
These sports allow for players to come into physical contact with each other intentionally and sometimes forcefully during the game. These sports can occasionally result in significant injury.
Examples of full-contact sports are American football, rugby, and soccer.
These sports allow players to come into physical contact with each other, but only during short bursts of time. These sports are slightly safer than full-contact sports as they are designed with rules in place to prevent serious injury.
Examples are taekwondo, kickboxing, and karate.
These sports also involve physical contact, but the difference between limited contact sports and full-contact or semi-contact sports is that the rules of the game are specifically designed to minimize contact between players. This means that if physical contact does happen, it is usually in violation of the rules.
Examples are basketball, dodgeball, and netball.
These sports involve no physical contact between players. Usually, this is achieved by players being physically apart, making it nearly impossible to come into contact with each other. In the game of tennis, which is a non-contact sport, players stand at opposite sides of the tennis court and are separated by a net, making physical contact extremely unlikely.
Examples are golf, bowling, and snooker.
What are the differences between men’s lacrosse and women’s lacrosse?
The biggest difference between men’s lacrosse and women’s lacrosse is that physical contact is allowed in men’s lacrosse and forbidden in women’s lacrosse, although some physical contact may still happen due to players being in close proximity to one another.
This is the reason that men’s lacrosse is classified as a contact sport, while women’s lacrosse is classified as a non-contact sport (although, more accurately, it is a limited-contact sport as physical contact is still likely to happen).
This means that if a player touches or knocks into another player in women’s lacrosse, it’s considered a foul.
For this reason, players in women’s lacrosse are not required to wear pads. Players in the men’s sport wear padding on their bodies, as well as helmets with masks. However, players in women’s lacrosse still have to wear gloves, goggles, and mouth guards.
There are also 12 players in women’s lacrosse compared to 10 in the men’s version of the sport. In women’s lacrosse, players additionally need to abide within certain boundaries on the field that are not required in the men’s version of the sport.
Both men’s and women’s lacrosse permit stick checking. Stick checking is the blocking or manoeuvering of an opponent’s stick by striking or applying pressure at the top of their stick. This doesn’t necessarily have to include body contact. Another example of a sport in which stick checking is practiced is ice hockey.
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As we have seen, men’s lacrosse and women’s lacrosse contain different rules on physical contact, making men’s lacrosse a contact sport and women’s lacrosse a non-contact (or limited contact) sport.
Lacrosse is an exciting game to watch, and an even more exciting game to play. Playing lacrosse will improve hand-eye coordination and builds teamwork. Because it involves manoeuvering a tiny ball with the net of a stick, it is entirely different gameplay than other ball sports such as basketball or soccer.
Now that you know a little about lacrosse and its rules, why not go to a game and watch it play out yourself? Or better, why not give it a go? With its popularity across the United States, you’ll find yourself in good company. Most metropolitan areas will have multiple teams near you, so give it a try.