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Mens Lacrosse Position Guide
Learning the positions of Men’s Lacrosse can be confusing for some. The game has several positions with different roles and even some specialist positions. For beginners, there are fewer positions than the advanced game. This is normally to keep everything simpler and because players haven’t specialized yet. Once players mature and realize their best assets they can fill a specific role, or choose a specialist position. Beginners should stick to the basic positions for lacrosse in order to learn the game better before specializing. All men’s lacrosse positions will be explained in this article from the most basic to the most specialized so all players can learn. But first, all players should know ALL PLAYERS PLAY OFFENSE AND DEFENSE IN LACROSSE!
Related & Just In: 2018 NFHS Boy’s Lacrosse Rules Changes
What Are the Different Positions In Lacrosse?
There are four simple positions in Lacrosse that the most basic teams will use. The youth lacrosse positions are as follows: Goalie, Attack, Midfield, and Defense. The field lacrosse positions and indoor lacrosse positions are interchangeable at this point. Most young players can play all of them if they are unsure on what to choose. Both versions of the game have these positions despite having different rules that I will explain later. Each position does require specific skill sets, but like I said before ALL PLAYERS PLAY OFFENSE AND DEFENSE IN LACROSSE!
Positions in Lacrosse: Goalie
The Lacrosse Goalie, or keeper, is the last line of defense and the first line of offense. The Goalie spends most of the game within the crease protecting the goal, but they are free to move whenever they please. Since the offsides rule in lacrosse is based on having 3 players in your offensive zone while having 4 in your defensive zone the keeper can cross midfield during play. This is why I referred to them as the first line of offense. After a goalie saves a shot they begin a clear from the defensive zone. Goalies are only allowed to stay in the crease for 4 seconds with the ball after a save. This forces them to leave the goal to clear, and some take full advantage of that opportunity.
When not clearing, Goalies command the defense. They are at the helm and must direct traffic for those who can’t see everything they do. This means Goalies should always be communicating with their defense about what they are seeing. Goalies will typically have 3-5 marks around the front of the goal where they stand. These spaces are for having the best angle to stop a shot. Goalies follow the ball around their defensive zone, shifting in their stance as the ball moves. They are in an athletic stance with their stick ready to attack shots rather than wait for them. Goalies often use their angles, stances, and fast hands to “Be Big” to stop as many shots as possible. They will use anything available to them to stop shots and try to use their body as stick as efficiently as they can.
Positions in Lacrosse: Attack
The Attack, Attackmen, or Attackers are the most notable scores on a team. They are often the players with the best stick skills who are the most offensively talented. Attackmen vary in size, speed, and style but their job is to score goals. Like I mentioned before ALL PLAYERS PLAY OFFENSE AND DEFENSE IN LACROSSE! This means that when the Goalie is clearing, the Attack are riding. They are trying to get the ball back from the defense, or not allow them to get into their offensive zone. Successful rides result in extra possessions and more goals, so ride like your life depends on it. If you lost the ball to the defense then it’s your job to get it back.
When you get the ball as the attack you are the first option for scoring. The attack normally create the most scoring opportunities and facilitate the offense. To do this you need to have great stick skills and great vision. Both come from time and work.
Stick skills are crucial as an attackman and can be the difference between playing and watching. Catching, throwing, and shooting are all necessary; but, the list of skills you need to be elite doesn’t stop there. To truly be a great attackman you must be able to dodge with the ball, protect your stick, and finish when given the opportunity to shoot. Attackman are almost always covered by long poles so being able to keep the ball and run through checks are both also useful.
All of these skills come from working with your stick more and being more fluid. Attackmen are very comfortable having the ball in their stick or coming to it. If you aren’t able to handle the pressure of receiving or sending feeds then attack may not be for you. If you feel a burning sensation to score, then attack may be your calling. So start practicing evading checks, protecting your stick, and being able to handle the ball so you can become a leading scorer.
Lacrosse Positions: Midfield
The midfielders in lacrosse are the workhorses of the team. While it’s true ALL PLAYERS PLAY OFFENSE AND DEFENSE IN LACROSSE, these guys keep it pretty even. Midfielders work on both sides of the ball and are usually doing the most running. They have to move from offense to defense quickly and work with both the attack and defense. For this, midfielders must work on their offensive and defensive skills in order to get the most time on the field.
On higher level teams the midfielders can become specialized and mainly work on offense or defense, but they need to know both. There are plenty of times each game when a midfielder will have to run to the other side of the field to defend or try and score on a fast break. If you get stuck on the other side and don’t know what you are doing expect a talking to once you sub. If you can step out of your role and score as a defensive middie then expect the loudest cheer of the game.
As a midfielder, your athleticism and versatility are your best assets. So if you plan on being on the field you’re going to need to get on the wall and the track. Endurance, footwork, and stick skills will all aid you in becoming a better overall player and that’s perfect. Midfielders are normally the most general players. They are just lacrosse players that really do it all. Being a well-rounded player gives you the best chance to get minutes. The players that want to be on the field the most are probably going to be the midfielders who want to work hard. These players need to be determined so if you’re an athletic player just looking to play choose midfield.
Lacrosse Positions: Defense
The lacrosse position “defense” does normally refer to the three close defensemen guarding the attack. This doesn’t really encompass lacrosse defense, but it serves as a good marker. To explain, defining a defender is difficult because of how many people play defense. For a base definition, your Defenders should be those that defend best when behind or very close to the goal.
At the lowest levels of lacrosse where there are no long sticks or “d-poles” defenders are just whoever starts the faceoff on the same side as the goalie. This changes as the level of play and size increase so that d-poles can be used properly. You are allowed four long sticks on the field at one time and you will notice that most teams start each face with four. This gives that player a longer reach for scooping up groundballs and for defending. If that fourth long stick can’t get the ball on the faceoff then they will stay on and help with defense. If they recover the ball then he will likely sub off so a short stick can play offense in his place.
The four potential d-poles make defining “defender” difficult because you rotate in defense. The faceoff d-pole is often the LSM or Long Stick Midfielder. They usually match up against the best offensive midfielder on the other team and sub off when their team has the ball. However, a d-pole on the wing of a faceoff could be a defender that you rotate down after the faceoff. You can even use two d-poles on the face with a short stick in the offensive zone and rotate one down. Your team also may want to rotate a short stick to guard an attackman based off of a matchup. All of these situations make it difficult to define the “defenders” because ALL PLAYERS PLAY OFFENSE AND DEFENSE IN LACROSSE.
Make sure that the defenders that you set up down low are strong enough to hold their ground and quick on their feet. Defense is completely reactionary. You need to try to control offensive movements by reacting to their initial plans. If you can dictate where they are moving the ball or their players then you can properly control their offense. This only allows difficult shots and plenty that your goalie should be able to save. Always remember that defense is about working with others and covering their mistakes so they can cover yours. Recovering on defense is a system, and it wins championships based on functionality. If your defense can’t work as a unit it won’t succeed. So make sure that if you are going to play defense you can communicate and watch everything on the field at once.
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