How Does Women’s Lacrosse Differ From Men’s?

Women’s and men’s lacrosse are like two completely different games due to several variations in equipment, field play, and rules. Both are games of speed and agility, yet women’s lacrosse in not at all a contact sport. As a result, the women’s game developed into more of a finesse, controlled game, far less aggressive than men’s lacrosse.

Women’s lacrosse is played with twelve players on the field, whereas men’s is played with ten. In women’s lacrosse, seven players, consisting of four mid-fielders and three homes (attackers) can attack the opposing defense, while three defenders, a midfielder, and a goalie must drop back on the defending half as to not be called off-sides.

In men’s lacrosse, however, three players must be positioned on each side of the field, with three defenders and a goalie staying back on the defending half the whole game. Also, in women’s lacrosse substitution of players is allowed only when play has stopped, whereas in men’s, substitution occurs throughout the game.

Also, there is no out-of-bounds in women’s lacrosse, whereas in men’s there is. In men’s lax, the team who knocked the ball out-of-bounds turns it over to the other team. The only time in women’s when this happens is if the ball is thrown into the audience, in which case possession will go to the player who shot it out-of-bounds, rather than resulting in a turn-over.

Penalties in men’s lacrosse result in a change of ball possession or being carded out of the temporarily or permanently depending on the severity of the penalty and the amount of warning given by the referee. In women’s lax, defensive penalties near the goal end up with a free shot from a designated distance. Also, yellow cards and red cards are given for unsportsmanlike conduct, whereas men’s lacrosse work off a system applying personal fouls and technical fouls.

Being that the women’s game is much more controlled, the players do not wear nearly as much protective gear, and generally make use of a mouth guard and goggles. Men’s lacrosse players require more protective equipment, sporting helmets with a built-in face-masks and protecting the hands, shoulders, arms and fingers from dangerous checks with padded gloves.

Women’s lacrosse sticks are shorter than men’s with tighter strings, making it more difficult to keep possession of the ball when attacking. Since there is no rough checks allowed in women’s lacrosse, the shallow pocket allows the ball to sit on the surface, so defenders can more readily tap it loose. In men’s lacrosse, due to the more lenient contact rules, a defender can still free the ball via forceful contact and rough checks, making it possible to knock the ball loose even though it is cradled deeper by looser strings. Furthermore, various stick sizes are used in men’s with defender’s typically using longer sicks and offenders using shorter sticks.

Men’s lacrosse is known for its rough tendencies, allowing serious checking to the opponent’s stick and tough defense, whereas women’s lacrosse does not allow body contact or checking to the stick. In the women’s game, the appropriate way for a defender to get the ball loose is to tap on the stick of the attacker repeatedly until the ball falls to the ground. The looser strings in women’s sticks allow for tapping to actually work.

Kevin Eaton

Hello! I’m Kevin – an openly biased Baltimore Orioles fan; a youth baseball parent; an obsessive-compulsive scorekeeper; a travelling ballpark tourist and a taste tester of defiantly unhealthy ballpark culinary offerings. In this space I share my love for the game of baseball and in doing so, connect with other really great people who love the game as much as I do.

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