There are multiple positions in lacrosse, each of which has unique demands. Every player will require excellent conditioning, stick handling skills, strength, power, and change of direction ability, but each player’s degree to which each of these skills matter will depend on their respective position. It is important to understand the distinct differences between each of these positions as it can assist coaches with how they train each player both on the field and in the weight room.
There are two different styles of gameplay in lacrosse: box and field. Box lacrosse only has six players on each team and is played indoors, whereas field lacrosse has ten players on each team. The rules, equipment, and tactics are somewhat different between box and field lacrosse; however, the positions are still relatively the same. Each team has defenders, midfielders, attackers, and one goalkeeper. For simplicity, this article discusses the positions of athletes based on their position in both box and field lacrosse rather than each discipline separately. Below is a breakdown of each position and its responsibilities.
The Lacrosse Positions Explained
The defenders are responsible for protecting the area close to the goal and assisting the goalie as the last line of defense against the opposing team. Defenders use a longer lacrosse stick to deflect and block opposing shots and passes. Their primary responsibility is to cut the attackers off from the opposing team so that they do not get clean shots on goal. They also transition the ball to midfielders and flip the field as quickly as possible.
The midfielders are essentially a ‘hybrid’ position in that they can play both offense and defense over the entire lacrosse field. They are primarily responsible for transitioning the ball from defense to offense quickly, which can create a huge advantage. They must also carefully monitor everybody’s position on the field so that they do not get called for an offsides penalty. Midfielders must be great communicators with both sides of the ball at all times.
The attackers are the players who do the goal scoring and stay on the offensive side of the field. They receive the ball from the midfielders in transition and must use an array of stick skills to maneuver around the defenders to pass to their teammates to get clean shots on goal. Sometimes it can take several passes and fake attempts to get a single shot on goal; therefore, attackers must have great communication with their fellow teammates and exceptional stick handling skills.
The goalkeeper or ‘goalie’ is the literal last line of defense in preventing goals from being scored by the opposing team. They are perhaps one of the most important positions on the field and must cover the entire area around the goal known as the crease. At times they may go beyond the crease, but they must be extremely careful as anything that gets behind them will have a completely open opportunity at scoring. Goalies tend to have excellent hand-eye coordination and, despite wearing significant padding, must withstand several painful shots on goal in a game.
Not all positions in lacrosse are created equal. Some positions require the athlete to cover significant distance throughout the game while others are more static by nature and defensive. Communication between all positions is key for an effective game plan to be executed and each position plays a critical role in the success of the team. Coaches must understand the unique differences between each player’s position so that the most effective training measures possible to be implemented.