Lacrosse Positions: A Complete Guide


Lacrosse is a popular sport with a rich history. Originally created by the Algonquian tribe of Native Americans, this game has been modernized and appreciated by both men and women for many generations.

In the game of lacrosse, there are four main positions. If you’ve ever been interested in becoming a lacrosse player, choosing a position is highly important and involves a lot of deep thought. You need to be able to assess your own abilities and natural skills, as well as where you can build your talent to be an essential addition to the team. 

The Four Main Lacrosse Positions

1. Defender

As their name suggests, defenders are tasked with defending the goal. It is their responsibility to work with the goalie to make sure that the opponent does not score. The overall mission of a defender is to stay between the goal and the attackers in order to prevent them from getting the ball into the goal and scoring a point.

It is typical for defenders to use a longer stick than other players in order to more effectively block shots, as well as to disrupt any passes between the opposing players.

There are 3 total defenders in the game. The most important thing for a defender to know is that their communication with the other defenders on the team is key to achieving their goal of blocking the attackers. 

It’s also essential for defenders to be detail-oriented and have quick reaction times. Basically, in order for them to do their job well, they need to be several steps ahead of the players on the opposing team. 

2. Midfielder (Middies)

The territory of the midfielder is the entire field. They play both offense and defense; one of their main goals is to act as a transition between the two. They move from defense to offense or vice versa.

Midfielders also need to make sure that the players in their team aren’t called for offsides when transitioning the ball. This is a big responsibility, as it ensures a smooth game with limited interruption.

The most important skills a midfielder can have are endurance and speed. They need to be able to think and move quickly so that their team can take advantage of any opportunity that arises on the field.

In short, midfielders should be able to last longer than any other player on the field. 

3. Attacker

Attackers’ main responsibility is to score goals. Each team has 3 attackers who stay on the offensive side of the field. Their job is to receive the ball from midfielders and then move the ball into a scoring position.

Much like defenders, attackers need to be quick-witted and be able to think ahead of the opposing team. While the defenders try to outsmart attackers, the attackers need to do what they can to outsmart defenders in turn!

Attackers need to be technically skilled. This means they need to be experts with the stick and be able to both pass and shoot with precision. They also need to be able to pull off a variety of plays and fakes in order to successfully score goals.

One of the best things that an attacker can do to help their team is to identify scoring opportunities where others do not see them. Being able to seek these opportunities out, effectively communicate them with their teammates, and execute them successfully is key to a triumphant game.

4. Goal Keeper

It probably goes without saying, but the responsibility of a goalie is to protect the goal. It is one of the most important roles on the field since they are the final line of defense when it comes to the opponent scoring a goal. 

The goalie’s territory is a small area around the goal called a “crease.” Only goalies and their defenders can go into this area. Usually, the goalie will stay in the crease, but occasionally they might come out if it’s necessary for defense.

A good goalie needs to have unbeatable hand-eye coordination. They must be able to stop the ball when it’s coming at the goal from a variety of angles and speeds. 

Goalies should also be very tough because it’s possible that they might get hit by the ball, which can travel at very high speeds, throughout the duration of the game. A goalie should also be a skilled leader since they will take charge of directing the defenders to effectively helping them protect the goal from a score.

How to Choose a Lacrosse Position

There are a lot of things to take into account when choosing which position might be best for you.  Consider the following factors so that you know how to maximize your skills and be the best asset possible to your team.

1. Consider your level of athleticism

Obviously, lacrosse is a sport. Sports are played by athletes. In order to be good at any sport, a player must possess superior levels of flexibility, strength, speed, and agility. In short, you need to have significant physical fitness, as well as exemplary coordination. 

Certain positions are better suited for specific levels of athleticism. For example, defenders and attackers should be more focused on strength than speed, while midfielders will need to be much faster than they are stronger. Specifically speaking, midfielders must have a particularly high level of endurance because they are usually the ones moving around the most on the field.

On the other hand, since a goalie does not move around much and mostly sticks to the crease, this might be better suited for those who don’t have superior endurance but who have fast hand-eye coordination and good focus.

2. Assess your stick skills

Every single position in lacrosse requires the player to use a stick. The design of the stick often varies depending on your position. For example, as mentioned previously, a defender’s stick is usually longer than others. 

Regardless of your position, being able to handle the stick well is crucial to ensure you are a valuable player. It’s a key advantage to have good stick skills, but especially for certain positions.

Goalies, for example, need to have some of the best stick skills on the field. Since it is their main responsibility to ensure that they can stop a ball from entering the goal with the stick, their ability to maneuver the stick swiftly and adeptly is the last line of defense in the opponent’s chance to score a goal.

Furthermore, midfielders are key to ball transition. They should also have superb stickhandling skills because it is their responsibility to get the ball moving effectively between the offensive and defensive sides of the field. 

If your stick skills are good but not great, you might be better suited as a defender or attacker. These positions allow a little more grace as far as skilled stick handling is concerned.

3. Think about your body typ

Nowadays, lacrosse has progressed past the typical stereotypes of size versus player positions. However, your body type is still an important thing to consider when choosing a lacrosse position.

For example, if you have a bigger frame, it is likely that you could make a good goalie because it means that you take up more space in front of the goal. Similarly, defenders are typically bigger, mostly for the purpose of intimidating attackers when they attempt to score a goal. 

On the flip side, having a smaller body might mean that you would make a good midfielder or attacker. This is because both of these positions require speed and agility. A small attacker might have an advantage over a large defender because they might be able to move more efficiently around that barrier. 

However, your body type and size aren’t the deciding factors in your ability to play a position well. There are plenty of small goalies and defenders, as well as large attackers and midfielders in lacrosse.

4. Evaluate your speed

Lacrosse is a very fast-paced game. Because of that, speed is a key element in being a successful player, regardless of your position. Not only that, but exceptional coordination and footwork will make any level of speed more formidable.

Some positions require that players are faster than other positions. For example, midfielders should be some of the fastest players on the field. For this position, in particular, being fast and having a lot of stamina so that you can continue to move quickly are key. 

Similarly, goalies might not need to move their entire body fast, but they should be able to maneuver the stick quickly. Coupled with superior hand-eye coordination, this would make you a great goalie. 

If you aren’t particularly fast and you know that your talents lie more in the strength category, you might be better suited for the position of defender. While being a fast defender certainly won’t hurt, you can excel in this position even if speed isn’t your strong suit.

How To Begin Your Lacrosse Journey

Still unsure which position might be the right one for you? Maybe you’re torn between two options, or maybe you still have no clue where to begin. 

Don’t worry. The beauty of sports and team sports, in particularly, is the opportunity to explore and learn and grow. However, if you could still use a little more guidance, consider the following tips.

1. Watch videos

The internet is a really useful resource, even for a sport that is played in real life in the real field. A great way to know which position might be a good fit for you is by watching videos of lacrosse games and seeing which players’ roles appeal to you the most. 

Another great thing about the modern era is that there are probably a handful of content creators who deliver content specifically about lacrosse. Search around and see what you can find regarding the different positions, and see if any experienced players have advice for you.

2. Reach out to a local lacrosse player

The chances are that, if you’re thinking about playing lacrosse, there is a lacrosse team within reach of you with players and alumni who would be more than happy to talk to you about the game. 

This is a great chance to have a helpful discussion about the different lacrosse positions available to you. For example, if you think you’d be a good midfielder, but you aren’t totally sure yet, speaking with a “middie” who knows the skills and responsibilities well might be the final piece of knowledge you need to make a choice.

3. Attend a training session

The great thing about sports is that they’re often very accessible. Coaches want to be able to find great players, so things like summer camps and training sessions are a fantastic opportunity for potential players to learn more about the positions and the game as a whole.

Even better, training sessions mean that you can get on the field. Sometimes, the only way you can really know which position is the right fit for you is by actively trying it out. For example, perhaps you thought being a goalie was the position for you, but after spending some time in the crease, you realized you might actually prefer being a defender. 

4. Talk to a coach

Coaches know what they’re talking about. It’s literally their job to ensure that their team is at the top of their game and playing to the best of their abilities. Speaking with a coach could be extremely helpful.

Who knows? Maybe after a quick ten-minute conversation with a coach, they’ll be able to identify you as an attacker with fantastic potential.

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Conclusion

In conclusion, lacrosse is a fun and fast-paced sport that involves teamwork, dedication, and determination. Every player, no matter what their position is, needs to be able to work efficiently with their teammates to ensure that they can score as many goals as possible against the opposing team.

Picking a lacrosse position is just one of the first steps in your rewarding and sure-to-be-victorious lacrosse journey!

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