Box lacrosse: Wikis


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Box lacrosse
Box lacrosse goalkeeper.JPG
A box lacrosse goaltender
Highest governing body Federation of International Lacrosse
Nickname(s) Lax, Boxla
First played 1930s, Canada
Contact Collision
Team members 6 at a time

Box lacrosse, also known as indoor lacrosse and sometimes shortened to boxla or simply box, is an indoor version of lacrosse played mostly in North America. The game originated in Canada, where it is the most popular version of the game played, from the traditional field lacrosse game. It is played between two teams of six players each, and is traditionally played on an ice hockey rink once the ice has been removed or covered. The playing area is called a box, in contrast to the open playing field of field lacrosse. The object of the game is to use a long handled racket, known as a lacrosse stick, to catch, carry, and pass the ball in an effort to score by ultimately hurling a solid rubber lacrosse ball into an opponent's goal.

At the highest level box lacrosse is represented by the Senior A divisions of the Canadian Lacrosse Association (Western Lacrosse Association of the British Columbia Lacrosse Association and Major Series Lacrosse of the Ontario Lacrosse Association), and the National Lacrosse League.

While there are thirty-one total members of the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL), only eight nations have competed in international box lacrosse competition. Only Canada, Iroquois Nationals and the United States have finished in the top three places at the ILF World Indoor Lacrosse Championships.



Lacrosse is a traditional Native American game which was first encountered by Europeans when French Jesuit missionaries in the St. Lawrence Valley witnessed the game in the 1630s.[1] Box lacrosse is a modern version of the game that was invented in Canada during the 1930s as a way to promote business for ice hockey arenas during the summer months. Joseph Cattarinich and Leo Dandurand, owners of the National Hockey League's Montreal Canadiens in the 1920s, led the participating ice hockey arena owners to introduce the new sport.[2] Canadians adopted the new version of the sport quickly. Eventually it became the more popular version of the sport in Canada, supplanting field lacrosse.[3] However, many field lacrosse enthusiasts viewed the new version of the sport with negativity.[4] Lacrosse was officially declared Canada's National Summer Sport with the passage of the National Sports Act (Bill C-212) on May 12, 1994.[5][6]

Box lacrosse has been adopted as the primary version of the game played by the Iroquois.[7] Lacrosse is seen a method of cultural identity and healing to Native Americans,[8] and is the only sport in which the American indigenous people are sanctioned to compete internationally, participating as the Iroquois Nationals.[9]

The first professional box lacrosse games were held in 1931. That summer the arena owners formed the International Lacrosse League featuring four teams: the Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Maroons, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Cornwall Colts.[10] The league only lasted two seasons.[11] In the wake of the original International Lacrosse League opened the American Box Lacrosse League featuring six teams: two in New York City, and one each in Brooklyn, Toronto, Boston, and Baltimore. The league played to small crowds on outdoor fields such as Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park, before closing midway through its inaugural season.[12]

The Canadian Lacrosse Association began sponsoring more and more box lacrosse. In 1935, the Mann Cup, the most prestigious lacrosse trophy in Canada,[13] was contended for under box lacrosse rules for the first time. Previously, the national senior men's lacrosse championship, awarded since 1901, was competed for under field lacrosse rules. The Mann Cup is an annual tournament that presents the champion of the Western Lacrosse Association and Major Series Lacrosse in a best of seven national championship.[14][15] A few years later, in 1937, the Minto Cup, began being awarded under box lacrosse rules to the junior men's champions. Currently the Canadian Lacrosse Association oversees the Mann Cup, the Minto Cup, the Presidents Cup (Senior B national championship) the Founders Cup (Junior B national championship) all under box lacrosse rules.[16]

Briefly in 1939, a professional box lacrosse league started up in California, called the Pacific Coast Lacrosse Association. This four team league league also folded shortly after opening.[17] Professional box lacrosse did not return to the United States again until 1968 when the Coquitlam Adanacs franchise played one Western Lacrosse Association season in Portland, Oregon.[18]

National Lacrosse League action during an All-Star Game in 2005

A new professional indoor lacrosse league was created in the 1970s with the formation of the National Lacrosse League (this league is not related to the National Lacrosse League created in 1998). This league, which featured both Canadian and American teams, folded after two seasons.[19][20]

The rebirth of professional box lacrosse in the United States came on March 13, 1986, with the formation of the Eagle Pro Box Lacrosse League, which was incorporated by Russ Cline and Chris Fritz.[21] The league originated with four teams: the Philadelphia Wings, New Jersey Saints, Washington Wave, and Baltimore Thunder, and unlike box lacrosse generally, was played during the winter.[22] The league rebranded itself as the Major Indoor Lacrosse League (MILL) immediately after its second season, and in 1998 renamed itself again, this time to the National Lacrosse League. In 1998, the National Lacrosse League entered into the Canadian market for the first time with the Ontario Raiders.[21] Although 10 of the league's 13 teams are based in American cities, more than two-thirds of the players are Canadian.[23]



Players, equipment and officials

During play, a team consists of six players: a goalkeeper and five "runners". A runner is any non-goalkeeper position player, including forwards, transition players, and defenders. When the sport originated teams played with six runners.[2] However, in 1953 the sixth runner, a position called rover, was eliminated.[24] Team rosters are typically a total of as many players as a team can carry . The goalkeeper can be replaced by another runner (often when a penalty has been signaled by the referee or at the end of a quarter).[22][25]

A player's lacrosse stick must be between 40 inches (1.0 m) and 46 inches (1.2 m) in length (youth levels may use shorter sticks). In most box lacrosse leagues, the use of a traditional wooden stick is allowed.[26] In the National Lacrosse League, wooden lacrosse sticks are not allowed.[22] Besides a lacrosse stick, each player must also wear a certain amount of protective equipment, including a lacrosse helmet with facemask, lacrosse gloves, arm and shoulder pads, and back/kidney pads (optional in some leagues).[27]

During a typical game the number of officials can range from one to three, depending on the league and level of play. In most games there are at least two referees: a lead official and a trail official.[28] In National Lacrosse League games there are three officials per game.[22]


The goaltender's responsibility is to prevent the opposition from scoring goals by directly defending the net. Box lacrosse goaltenders equipment includes upper body gear (measuring no more than 3 inches (7.6 cm) up and 5 inches (13 cm) out off the shoulder—much larger than similar gear for field lacrosse or ice hockey goaltenders), large shin guards that must measure no more than 11 inches (28 cm) at the knee, 9 inches (23 cm) at the top of the shin and 7 inches (18 cm) at the ankle, and a field lacrosse helmet or ice hockey goalie mask according to the rules set by the CLA for the 2012 season.

The 9 feet (2.7 m) to 9 feet 3 inches (2.82 m) diameter area surrounding the net is called the "crease". Players except for the goaltender may not enter the crease while playing the ball. Punishments for crease infractions include a change of possession, resetting of the time-clock, or a possible two minute penalty depending on the infraction. Opposing players may not make contact with the goaltender while he is in the crease. Once he leaves the crease, however, he loses all goaltender privileges.[22]

Even as box lacrosse grows in the United States, the American goalkeeper is a rarity. The skills required to be a successful field lacrosse goaltender and a successful box lacrosse goaltender are very different and do not lend well to one another.[29]


A defender is a player position whose primary responsibility is to prevent the opposing team from scoring. Unlike in field lacrosse where some defensive players carry "long poles" (a lacrosse stick with a 6 feet (1.8 m) shaft or handle), all box lacrosse defenders play with a maximum 46 inches (1.2 m) long stick.[30] Defensive tactics including cross checking (where a player uses the shaft of his stick to push the opposition player off balance), body checking (where a player makes contact with the opposition player in order to slow him down), and stick checking (where a player makes contact with the opposition player's stick in order to knock the ball loose).[31]


A transition player is a player whose responsibility is primarily to play during defensive situations with an offensive mindset. The goal of this player is to create fastbreaks and scoring opportunities.[30][32]


A forward is a player position on the field whose responsibility is primarily offensive. Typically, a forward is dominant throwing with one hand or the other, and will primarily play on that side of the floor. Some players, known as creasemen, do not focus on one side or the other. These players instead focus their offensive attention near the crease area in front of the goaltender.[30]

Playing area

Detailed diagram illustrating the differences and similarities between Canadian Lacrosse Association and National Lacrosse League box lacrosse playing areas

The playing area of box lacrosse is typically a ice hockey rink during the summer months. The playing surface is usually the concrete floor underneath the melted ice. Generally the playing area is 180 feet (55 m) to 200 feet (61 m) in length and 80 feet (24 m) to 90 feet (27 m) in width.[33] The National Lacrosse League plays on artificial turf placed on top of the ice.[22] Some leagues, and teams that have dedicated box lacrosse arenas (such as the Iroquois), have outfitted their playing surface with artificial turf similar to the National Lacrosse League.[8]

Box lacrosse goals are dimensions are traditionally 4 feet (1.2 m) wide by 4 feet (1.2 m) tall. In the National Lacrosse League and Major Lacrosse League, the dimensions are slightly larger at 4 feet 9 inches (1.45 m) wide by 4 feet (1.2 m) tall.[22] These nets are significantly smaller than in field lacrosse nets which measure 6 feet (1.8 m) wide by 6 feet (1.8 m) tall.[34]

Duration and tie-breaking methods

A traditional game played under the rules of the Canadian Lacrosse Association consists of three periods of 20 minutes each (similar to ice hockey), with the teams changing ends each period. The National Lacrosse League plays four 15-minute quarters rather than three periods.[22] If the game is tied at the end of regulation play, overtime can be played. Overtime may or may not be sudden victory, depending on the league.[22][35]

Ball in and out of play

Each period, and after each goal scored, play is restarted with a face-off. If a ball travels over the boards and outside of the playing area, play is restarted by possession being awarded to the opposing team to that which last touched the ball.[22]

During play, teams may substitute players in and out freely. Sometimes this is referred to as "on the fly" substitution. Substitution must occur within the designated exchange area in front of the players bench in order to be legal. The sport utilizes a shot clock and the attacking team must take a shot on goal within 30 seconds of gaining possession of the ball. In additional, players must advance the ball from their own defensive end to the offensive half of the floor within 10 seconds.[22][25]


A fight during a lacrosse game between two players on the Toronto Rock and Calgary Roughnecks

For most penalties, the offending player is sent to the penalty box and his team has to play without him and with one less player for a short amount of time. Most penalties last for two minutes unless a major penalty has been assessed. The team that has taken the penalty is said to be playing shorthanded while the other team is on the power play.[30]

A two-minute minor penalty is often called for lesser infractions such as tripping, elbowing, roughing, too many players, illegal equipment, holding, or interference. Five-minute major penalties are called for especially violent instances of most minor infractions that result in intentional injury to an opponent, as well as for fighting. Players are released from the penalty box when either the penalty time expires, or the opposition scores a goal (or two goals for the instance of a major penalty).[22]

At the officials' discretion a ten-minute misconduct penalty may be assessed. These are served in full by the penalized player, but his team may immediately substitute another player on the playing area unless a minor or major penalty is assessed in conjunction with the misconduct (a "two-and-ten" or "five-and-ten"). In that case, the team designates another player to serve the minor or major; both players go to the penalty box, but only the designee may not be replaced, and he is released upon the expiration of the two or five minutes. In addition, game misconducts are assessed for deliberate intent to inflict severe injury on an opponent. A player who receives a game misconduct is ejected and may not return to play. Receiving two major penalties in a game will result in a game misconduct.[22]

A penalty shot, where a player from the non-offending team is given an attempt to score a goal without opposition from any defending players except the goaltender, may be awarded under certain circumstances. By rule, teams must have at least three runners in play. If a team commits a third penalty resulting in a "three man down" situation a penalty shot is awarded in favor of having the offending player serve in the penalty box. A penalty shot may also be awarded, at the referee's discretion, if a defensive player causes a foul to prevent a goal (by throwing his stick, holding, tripping, or by deliberately displacing the goal, or a defensive player intentionally falls and covers a ball in his own team's crease).[22]


Similar to fighting in ice hockey, fighting is illegal in box lacrosse. However, what separates box lacrosse and ice hockey from other sports is that at the top levels of professional and junior lacrosse, a five-minute major penalty is given and the players are not ejected for participating in a fight.[36]

Fighting in youth or club level box lacrosse is typically penalized with expulsion and suspensions. In 1990, when the Six Nations created the new Mohawk lacrosse league, fighting was specifically targeted as unacceptable. Violators were ejected from the game in which the altercation occurred and given a minimum three game suspension.[37]

International competition

Box lacrosse is the most popular version of the sport in the Czech Republic.[38] It is also played to a marginal degree Australia, primarily by players who have played field lacrosse.[39] Club level box lacrosse leagues in the United States have increased the number of players exposed to the sport, including the: Baltimore Indoor Lacrosse League[40] and the Philadelphia Box Lacrosse Association.[41]

The first world championship of box lacrosse titled "The Nations in 1980" was held in British Columbia in July 1980 involving teams representing the United States, Australia, Canada East, Canada West and the North American Natives. Canada West (Coquitlan Adanacs) defeated the North American natives in the nationally televised final from Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver. This was the first time in history that Indigenous peoples of the Americas people represented themselves in a world championship.[18]

The second international box lacrosse tournament was held in 2003, with the inaugural World Indoor Lacrosse Championships. The competitors were national teams from Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, the Iroquois Nation, Scotland, and the United States.[42] The 2007 Championships had eight nations participating, the previous competitors plus England and Ireland. Canada, Iroquois Nationals and the United States have won gold, silver, and bronze respectively in each of the World Indoor Lacrosse Championships held.

Other international tournaments have been played. Annually, the European Lacrosse Federation holds the Aleš Høebeský Memorial tournament in Prague. This is the largest European box lacrosse tournament.[38] In 2002 and 2004, the Heritage Cup was played between the United States and Canada featuring mostly players that were members of National Lacrosse League teams.[43][44]


Historically, box lacrosse has been exclusively a men's sport. Women who played the sport of lacrosse typically played the more genteel women's field lacrosse version.[45] Recently, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia have established girls' and women's box lacrosse leagues.[46][47]

During the 2003 NLL season, goaltender Ginny Capicchioni appeared in two preseason and one regular season game to become the only woman to make an appearance in the National Lacrosse League.[29][48]



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  2. ^ a b Fisher, p. 157
  3. ^ Fisher, p. 120
  4. ^ Fisher, p. 161-164
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  6. ^ "National Sports of Canada". Sport Canada. May 12, 1994. Retrieved 2008-11-09.  
  7. ^ Vennum, p. 281
  8. ^ a b Hu, Winnie (July 13, 2007). "Indians Widen Old Outlet in Youth Lacrosse". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-10-31.  
  9. ^ Fryling, Kevin (2006-07-27). "Nike deal promotes Native American wellness, lacrosse". University of Buffalo Reporter. Retrieved 2006-07-28.  
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  11. ^ Fisher, p. 158
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  17. ^ Fisher, p. 165-166
  18. ^ a b Shillington, Stan. "A Place In Sport History". Retrieved 2008-10-28.  
  19. ^ "National Lacrosse League: History". Major League Sports Almanac. Retrieved 2008-11-04.  
  20. ^ "NLL Pro Stats: 1974 and 1975". Wamper's Bible of Lacrosse. Retrieved 2008-11-04.  
  21. ^ a b "Lax 101: League History". Retrieved 2008-10-27.  
  22. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "National Lacrosse League Rulebook" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-10-27.  
  23. ^ NLL Team Rosters on, as of March 25, 2007
  24. ^ "OLA Lacrosse History: 1953". Thistles Lacrosse History. October 8, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-28.  
  25. ^ a b "Box Lacrosse: The Game". Canadian Lacrosse Association. Retrieved 2008-10-28.  
  26. ^ Vennum, p. 287
  27. ^ "Box Lacrosse Equipment Guideline". Retrieved 2008-10-28.  
  28. ^ "Officials Forms: Referee Floor Positioning diagrams in PowerPoint". Canadian Lacrosse Association. Retrieved 2008-11-10.  
  29. ^ a b "The American Goalie". October 8, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-28.  
  30. ^ a b c d "Canadian Lacrosse Association has developed the Parents and Players Guide to Box Lacrosse" (PDF). Canadian Lacrosse Association. Retrieved 2008-11-04.  
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  34. ^ "Rules of Men's Field Larosse" (PDF). International Lacrosse Federation. Retrieved 2007-03-30.  
  35. ^ "Canadian Box Lacrosse Rules" (PDF). Nepean Knights Minor Lacrosse Association. Retrieved 2008-11-10.  
  36. ^ Dowbiggin, Bruce (October 7, 2008). "Court case will make Bertuzzi's past very difficult to ignore". Calgary Herald. Retrieved 2008-10-28. "Only hockey and lacrosse -- both Canadian games -- let a player fight and still remain in the game. No other popular team sport in the world does the same."  
  37. ^ Vennum, p. 234-235
  38. ^ a b "European Lacrosse Federation - Men's Box Lacrosse". Retrieved 2008-10-28.  
  39. ^ "Williamstown Lacrosse Club History". Williamstown Lacrosse Club. Retrieved 2008-11-06.  
  40. ^ "Baltimore Indoor Lacrosse League". Baltimore Indoor Lacrosse League. Retrieved 2008-10-31.  
  41. ^ "Philadelphia Box Lacrosse Association FAQ's". Retrieved 2008-10-31.  
  42. ^ "2003 World Indoor Lacrosse Championships". Outsider's Guide. Retrieved 2008-11-04.  
  43. ^ Joe, Fee (October 5, 2002). "American outburst rocks Canadians in Heritage Cup". Outsider's Guide. Retrieved 2008-11-04.  
  44. ^ Philly, R.A. (October 16, 2004). "Canadians swipe Heritage Cup, 17-8". Outsider's Guide. Retrieved 2008-11-04.  
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  47. ^ "BC Women's Lacrosse Website". Retrieved 2008-11-06.  
  48. ^ "Lacrosse: First Woman Plays In League Game". New York Times. April 14, 2003. Retrieved 2008-11-06.  


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