Why Is Lacrosse Called Lax? (16 Common Slang Terms in Lacrosse)

  • Time to read: 5 min.
Affiliate Disclaimer

Stick & Bat is an affiliate, and we earn from qualified purchases. We get commissions for purchases made through links in this post!

There are a lot of different slang terms used in lacrosse. However, before I dive into those, let’s start with the simplest one of them all. Why is lacrosse called lax? Well, you would think that there would be some big story around it. However, there isn’t.

Lax is simply the shortened version of lacrosse. It is pretty much the same as when other sports have their names shortened, e.g. in the UK; football will often be called ‘footie’. I do not know exactly when people started to refer to the sport as lax, but it seems that it is a term that evolved during the modern version of the game.

Playing the game of lacrosse also has a slang term. This is ‘laxing’. So. Yes. Lax is a verb. 

So, now that one is out of the way (and it is probably one of the easiest to explain of the lacrosse terms), I want to take a look at some more slang that you are likely to hear when you are playing the sport.

Most Common Slang Terms in Lacrosse

In this section, I want to go through the most common slang terms used in the game of lacrosse. Now, do bear in mind that these are common terms. Every lacrosse team will have their own lingo. Some of it may not quite match up to what I have discussed here. However, it should be something similar. I am mostly going to be talking about the tactical terms here (with a few others peppered in) because I want to help you improve at the game, and knowing tactical terms is the best way to go about that.

1. Lax Bro or Lax Rat

These two terms can be used interchangeably. It simply means ‘lacrosse player’. Lax Rat tends to be used more for the very serious players. There are some people that will see Lax Bro as a more derogatory term, although it is often only really seen as derogatory when it used by a non-player (or fan).

2. Alley

This is your fist tactical term. If a player is playing down the alley, it is talking about the positions near the center of the field. There are two alleys on each half of the field. One on the left, one on the right. These alleys are by the goal. Dead in the center of these two alleys will be the circle.

3. Alligator Arms

If you are a new player, you may be told that you have alligator arms. This just means that you should be extending your arms when passing or shooting. It means that you can get more power and control over the ball.

4. Man-to-Man Defense

If this is called, then it means everybody in defence will need to mark one offensive player. When this is called, you may be asked to ‘mark up’. This means that you will need to tell the other players who you are marking on the field. This probably isn’t something that you are going to be hearing all that much. This is because there will be the expectation that you know who is marking.

One term also used in defense is ‘man down defense’. This just means that one of the defenders is in a penalty. This means that the team is defending a man down. Your lacrosse team may have a way to deal with this situation. This would be something that you cover in training. 

While I am on the subject of penalties, if a team is one player down, then the other team is said to have an EMO, or Extra Man Advantage.

5. On-The-Hop

Is your coach screaming ‘on-the-hop’ at you? No. They don’t want you bouncing around the field. Instead, it means that you need to be a little bit faster. This may be a term used during the latter part of the game when the players on the field need to speed up a little bit because they are behind in goals.

6. Cradling

This is something that you will need to learn how to do when you are starting the game for the first time. Cradling is the motion that you do in order to ensure that the ball stays firmly rooted in the net.

7. Crease

This is the circle that surrounds the goal.

8. Crosse

This is the official name of the lacrosse stick. However, to be honest with you, the majority of people are going to call it the stick. It makes life so much simpler that way.

9. Dime

If somebody says you threw them a dime, it means that you made a very good pass. This is the sort of thing that you want to be hearing!

10. Double-Team

In most cases, one defensive player will mark one offensive player. However, if one offensive player seems to be posing a threat, then there may be a call to double-team them. This is a call made on the fly. It just means that two people are going to be marking that player as opposed to one. This will only last for a small while, then everybody can go back to whoever they were marking originally.

11. FOGO

Face-off, Get-off. This is for a player that is good at face-offs. They will be used all the time for face-offs but, shortly after the face-off, they will get-off the field.

12. Gilman

If a defensive player regularly throws the ball well into the offensive area (i.e. a long throw) then they are known as a Gilman. 

13. Goose

Knocking the ball along the floor as opposed to picking it up is known as a goose. If the ball is just sitting on the ground, it will be known as a ground ball.

14. Around the World

If you can pull off an Around the World, it means that you have mastered the handling of your stick. It means that you will be moving the stick across the front of your body and then around your back. A shot or pass will be made when the ball is behind your back. It is a complicated technique but one that you will see used a lot in professional lacrosse.

15. Slashing

If you stick check a player without hitting their stick or the arm holding the stick, this is known as slashing. This is a penalty. 

16. Wing Area

If you are asked to pass into the wing area, it means the areas either side of the goal. The farside of the field.

Do You Need to Know These Slang Terms?

Nope, Obviously, it is handy to know some of the slang terms. Some could help when planning tactics. However, to be honest, the game is perfectly playable without knowing the lingo. What you need to pick up will quite easily be picked up within a few games, or even by watching a couple of lacrosse games on YouTube.

If you do not understand a term, then feel free to ask your fellow players. They are there to help you grow as a player. After all, if you understand exactly what they are saying, then the entire team is going to benefit.


Remember; I have only introduced some basic terms about lacrosse here. The more you play, the more lingo you will pick up. However, I think what I have talked about here is going to be a great start if you are venturing into the world of lacrosse for the very first time.