Master Your Role on the Field – Lacrosse Positions Explained

lacrosse midfielders running on a fast break play

Lacrosse is a fast-paced, high-scoring game that requires players to possess a diverse set of skills and abilities. To better understand this dynamic sport, it’s essential to grasp the unique roles and responsibilities of the different lacrosse positions. Each position operates as an integral piece of the team’s strategic puzzle and focuses on particular aspects of the game, contributing to the team’s overall success.

There are four primary positions in lacrosse: attack, midfield, defense, and goalie. Attack players are the team’s offensive powerhouses, skilled in dodging, passing, and scoring. Midfielders showcase their versatility by being involved in both offensive and defensive plays, while defenders protect the goal by limiting the opposing team’s scoring opportunities. Finally, the goalie is responsible for preventing the ball from entering the net, acting as the last line of defense.

Throughout this article, the specific roles and responsibilities of each lacrosse position will be dissected and explained. Gaining insight into these positions not only elevates one’s understanding of the sport but also aids in developing strategies to excel on the field.

Core Lacrosse Positions


Attackmen are the primary goal-scorers in lacrosse. They focus on the offensive end of the field and work together to create scoring opportunities. Attackmen need exceptional stick skills, quick decision-making, and the ability to handle pressure from defenders. Some key responsibilities of attackmen include:

  • Scoring goals
  • Threading precise passes
  • Making coordinated plays with teammates

Their primary objective is to generate offense, so attackmen must be highly skilled in both ball and stick handling.


Midfielders are versatile players, playing both offense and defense, responsible for transitioning the ball between the two ends of the field. They are involved in every aspect of the game, requiring excellent endurance and athleticism. Key responsibilities for midfielders include:

  • Controlling possession through face-offs
  • Assisting in goal-scoring opportunities
  • Providing defensive support

Due to their multi-faceted role, midfielders are often referred to as the backbone of a lacrosse team.


Defensemen are the protective force on the field. Positioned on the defensive end, their main objective is to prevent the opposing team from scoring. They need strong communication skills, as defensive formations continually adapt based on the opposition’s movements. Key responsibilities for defensemen include:

  • Guarding the attackmen and protecting the goal area
  • Clearing the ball from the defensive zone
  • Using their long sticks to disrupt the opponent’s offensive flow

Defensemen must be strong, agile, and possess great decision-making skills.


The goalkeeper is the last line of defense in lacrosse. Positioned within the creased area, the goalkeeper is responsible for stopping shots and protecting the goal. Various skills are needed for this position, such as reflexes, hand-eye coordination, and exceptional communication. Key responsibilities for goalkeepers include:

  • Blocking and saving shots
  • Initiating clears to teammates
  • Directing the defensive unit

As the backbone of the defensive unit, the goalkeeper plays a pivotal role in preventing the opposing team from scoring goals.

Key Responsibilities

Attack Responsibilities

Attackers in lacrosse are responsible for scoring goals and creating offensive opportunities. They are typically positioned in the offensive end of the field and focus on scoring, passing, and utilizing their stick skills to outwit the opposing team’s defense. Speed, precision, and a strong understanding of offensive strategies are essential for attackers. Their key responsibilities include:

  • Scoring goals by shooting or passing to teammates in a good scoring position
  • Possessing excellent stick skills to maintain control of the ball
  • Being athletic and agile to navigate through defensive players
  • Evading defenders using feints, tricks, and precise movements

Midfield Responsibilities

Midfielders are versatile players who play both offense and defense in lacrosse. They are responsible for transitioning the ball between the opposing team’s ends and have a vital role in both attacking and defending. Midfielders need endurance, speed, and excellent passing skills to succeed in their position, with key responsibilities such as:

  • Facilitating smooth transitions between offense and defense
  • Supporting both the attack and defense with effective passing and ball movement
  • Being adaptable and able to play multiple roles on the field
  • Demonstrating strong athletic abilities and endurance

Defense Responsibilities

Defenders in lacrosse are focused on preventing the opposing team from scoring goals and protecting their goalie. They typically play near the crease and closely mark offensive players, utilizing their defensive skills to disrupt the opposing team’s attack. Key responsibilities of defenders include:

  • Preventing the opposing team from scoring through effective positioning and stick skills
  • Marking and covering offensive players, forcing them into low-percentage scoring opportunities
  • Communication with teammates to maintain a cohesive defensive unit
  • Utilizing speed and physicality to win possession of loose balls

Goalie Responsibilities

The goalie is the last line of defense in lacrosse and has a crucial role in stopping the opposing team’s shots on goal. Positioned within the crease, the goalie must possess strong reflexes, hand-eye coordination, and communication skills to succeed. The key responsibilities for a lacrosse goalie include:

  • Saving shots on goal by using quick reflexes and proper positioning
  • Controlling the crease and organizing defensive strategies
  • Communicating effectively with teammates to coordinate defensive efforts
  • Clearing the ball to teammates, initiating offensive transition

Skills and Techniques

Offensive Skills

Offensive skills are crucial for attack players and midfielders, as they are responsible for scoring goals. One key skill is having excellent stick handling abilities. This involves controlling the ball with your stick, making accurate passes, and maintaining possession during the game.

Shooting is another essential offensive skill. Players must master different techniques to shoot the ball effectively and score goals. Hand-eye coordination plays a significant role in successful shooting, as players need to aim their shots precisely while evading defenders.

In addition to shooting, players also need to learn different dodging techniques to create scoring opportunities, get past opponents, and maintain possession. Some examples of dodging techniques include:

  • Split dodge: Switching hands and changing direction quickly
  • Roll dodge: Rolling around the opponent while protecting the stick
  • Face dodge: Faking a shot and moving past the defender

Defensive Skills

Defensive skills are particularly important for defenders and midfielders. One fundamental skill is positioning, which involves staying between the opponent and your team’s goal. Good positioning requires constant awareness of the ball, the opponent, and the field.

Another essential skill is checking, where players use their sticks to dislodge the ball from the opponent’s possession. There are two main types of checks:

  • Poke check: Jabbing at the opponent’s stick or hands with your stick
  • Slap check: Swinging your stick down on the opponent’s stick or hands

Body positioning and footwork are also crucial in defense. Players must maintain a low stance with their knees bent and hips low, as well as move laterally to stay in front of the opponent. Lastly, defenders should master the technique of scooping ground balls to retrieve loose balls quickly and maintain possession for their team.

Goalie Skills

As the last line of defense, goalies are responsible for preventing the opposing team from scoring. As a result, they need a unique set of skills. One essential skill is hand-eye coordination, as goalies must react quickly to incoming shots and make saves.

Goalies should also possess a strong understanding of the arc—an imaginary semicircle around the goal. This allows them to position themselves optimally to block shots. Furthermore, goalies must master various save techniques, such as stick saves, body saves, and kick saves, depending on the shot’s direction and speed.

Another key skill for goalies is outlet passing. After making a save, it is the goalie’s responsibility to start the offensive transition by accurately passing the ball to a teammate.

Lastly, goalies are required to wear specialized equipment, such as additional padding, a throat guard, and a chest protector. Familiarizing themselves with this equipment is essential for their safety and overall performance on the field.

Specialized Positions

Long Stick Midfielder

The Long Stick Midfielder (LSM) in lacrosse is a specialized position designed for defensive play in the midfield. They typically use a long stick to increase their reach and are responsible for disrupting the opposing team’s offensive strategies. LSM often assists in transitioning the ball from the defensive end to the offensive end, while also generating turnovers with their extended range. In this team sport, a LSM needs to have exceptional defensive skills, as well as the ability to create offensive opportunities for their team.

Face-Off Specialist

A Face-Off Specialist (FOS) or Face-Off Get Off (FOGO) is a lacrosse player who specializes specifically in face-off situations. Winning face-offs is essential to maintain possession and control of the game. A FOS uses a unique combination of speed, strength, and strategy to secure the ball for their team after each face-off. They typically use a wide head on their stick, optimized for increased surface area and improved control during face-offs. Once winning the face-off, they often quickly substitute with another midfielder to allow for optimal dodging and offensive capabilities.

Short Stick Defensive Midfielder

The Short Stick Defensive Midfielder (SSDM) is another vital role in lacrosse, with a primary focus on defending against the opposing team’s offensive players. They use a short stick, providing them with better control and agility in comparison to LSM. This position is crucial for preventing the opponent from scoring and maintaining the overall defense of the team. Their responsibilities may include defending players one-on-one, causing turnovers, and assisting in the transition from defense to offense. A successful SSDM has strong defensive skills and agility to keep up with the fast-paced gameplay and rapid changes in direction.

Lacrosse Variations

Field Lacrosse

Field lacrosse is the traditional variation of the sport, typically played in high school and collegiate levels. There are ten players on each team, divided into attack positions, midfielders, defenders, and goalies. The primary responsibilities of each position are as follows:

  • Attack: Creating offensive opportunities by passing, shooting, and scoring goals.
  • Midfield: Covering the entire field, playing both offense and defense, controlling the midfield line.
  • Defense: Defending the team’s net, closely covering opposing attackers, and retrieving ground balls.
  • Goalie: Protecting the net, making saves, and organizing the defense.

Players must master essential skills, such as catching, cradling, and scooping ground balls. Field lacrosse features various penalties, from minor infractions to major fouls, which result in temporary player removal.

Box Lacrosse

Box lacrosse, a variation more common in professional leagues, is played indoors with six players on each team. The playing field is smaller than in field lacrosse and resembles a hockey rink without ice. The positions in box lacrosse generally have the same responsibilities as field lacrosse, with slight adjustments to accommodate the smaller playing area. The fast-paced nature of box lacrosse emphasizes quick decision-making and agility.

Women’s Lacrosse

Women’s lacrosse differs significantly from men’s lacrosse in both rules and positions. There are 12 players in women’s lacrosse, consisting of five attacking players, six defensive players, and one goalie. The attacking players’ positions include first home, second home, and third home, as well as two general attackers. The women’s game emphasizes more finesse and less physical contact than the men’s game, with unique rules in place to ensure player safety.

For those interested in playing lacrosse, understanding the different positions and their responsibilities in various game types is essential. Each variation offers unique challenges and opportunities for growth in skill and teamwork.

Additional Considerations

Positioning and Strategy

In lacrosse, positioning and strategy are crucial for success. Each position has specific roles and responsibilities that contribute to the overall performance of the team. For example, lacrosse goalies require quick reflexes, excellent reaction time, and the ability to be vocal leaders on the defensive end. They are responsible for guarding the goal and making saves with their specialized goalie stick.

Midfielders, on the other hand, need high stamina and the ability to quickly transition between offense and defense. These versatile players are often responsible for covering the points, making them essential in preventing offsides penalties.

Attackers, such as wing attackers, use their skills to create scoring opportunities by working together with their teammates. They must excel in stick-handling, dodging defenders, and accurately shooting on goal.

Equipment and Protection

Lacrosse is a fast-paced, physical sport that often requires its players to wear protective gear. Some essential equipment includes:

  • Helmet: A well-fitting helmet with a face mask is necessary for protecting the head from impacts and potential injuries.
  • Gloves: Lacrosse gloves protect the hands and provide better grip on the stick.
  • Elbow Pads: These pads protect the elbows from impacts and falls, as well as provide additional support for the forearm.
  • Shoulder Pads: Shoulder pads protect the collarbone, shoulders, and upper chest from potential contact and collisions.
  • Cleats: Players wear cleats to provide traction and support on the field.

Goalies also require extra protection, such as chest protectors and larger helmets to accommodate their unique responsibilities in guarding the goal.

Lacrosse at Different Levels

Lacrosse is played at various levels, including youth leagues, high school, college, and professional leagues. Each level has its own specific rules, regulations, and style of play.

Men’s lacrosse typically has more physical contact compared to other versions of the game. This contact nature of the sport makes protective gear extremely important.

Women’s lacrosse is generally considered less physical, with an emphasis on stick-checking and positioning rather than body contact. As a result, the equipment requirements for women’s lacrosse differ slightly from men’s, with less focus on heavy padding and more emphasis on agility and control.

Overall, the positions and strategies used in lacrosse can vary depending on the specific league, level of play, and gender. It is important for players to adapt to these different playing situations and to continue to develop their skills and understanding of the game as they progress through the ranks.

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