Ultimate Showdown: Box Lacrosse vs Field Lacrosse Explained

January 8, 2024

The Key Differences: Box Lacrosse vs Field Lacrosse

Stepping out onto the lacrosse field can feel like you’ve landed on a whole new planet, especially when you’re weighing box lacrosse against its cousin, field lacrosse. Trust me, I’ve paced that same decision-making ground – each sport has its own unique spirit and rules that make it special.

After diving headfirst into both styles of play, it’s clear they might share a backbone but their personalities are worlds apart. The following insights will be your compass as you navigate the distinct landscapes of these two games, guiding your quest to find where your passion fits best in this grand lacrosse universe.

So lace up those cleats (or indoor shoes), because we’re about to journey through the subtle yet pivotal distinctions that set box apart from field lacrosse.

Key Takeaways

  • Box lacrosse is played indoors on a smaller field with walls, and field lacrosse is played outdoors on a larger open field.
  • The goals in box lacrosse are smaller, which makes scoring harder. Players have to be really good at aiming and goalies need fast reactions.
  • In box lacrosse, you can hit people into the boards and there’s no rule for being offside. Sticks are shorter than those used in field lacrosse where defenders may use long sticks.
  • Field lacrosse has more running because the fields are bigger. Midfielders run back and forth helping their team play both offense and defense.
  • Equipment for each type of lacrosse is different too. Box players wear helmets like hockey players and padded gear because it’s so physical. Field players have different helmets and sometimes wear less padding.

Understanding Box Lacrosse vs Field Lacrosse

A lacrosse player sprinting in a field with a stick under the open sky, box lacrosse vs field lacrosse

I love the game of lacrosse, and it’s important to know that there are two main types: box lacrosse and field lacrosse. Box lacrosse is kind of like indoor soccer because it happens inside where the walls keep the ball in play.

It’s usually in a place that looks a lot like an ice hockey rink but without the ice. This version is really fast and you can check people into the boards which makes it pretty exciting.

Field lacrosse, on the other hand, feels more like football or soccer since it’s outside with lots of room to run around. The goals are off by themselves instead of against a wall and players have to be careful not to let balls go out of bounds or they’ll lose them.

In this outdoor game, teams spread out more across a big grass field and play under the sky, that’s why some folks call this one “traditional” or “outdoor” lacrosse. Both games use sticks to catch, carry, shoot goals, but they’re different in many ways including rules about how you can move on the playing surface.

Key Differences between Box Lacrosse vs Field Lacrosse

A comparison between box lacrosse vs field lacrosse players in action.

Box Lacrosse vs Field Lacrosse have several key differences, including field dimensions, goal sizes, rule variations, and the roles of different positions on the team. Understanding these distinctions is crucial for players looking to excel in either version of the sport.

Field Dimensions

I’ve played lacrosse in both box and field settings, and let me tell you, the size of the playing area really changes the game. Box lacrosse is played inside on areas that are usually 180 to 200 feet long and 80 to 90 feet wide.

That’s similar to hockey rinks. This smaller space means players have less room to move around, which makes for a faster-paced game.

Field lacrosse, on the other hand, gives players a lot more space because it’s played outside. The field is much bigger than a box lacrosse rink. Players run up and down a field that can be about as big as one used for football or soccer games.

There’s more ground to cover, which affects how teams play defense and offense. The extra space also lets players build up speed for big plays from further out!

Smaller Goals in Box Lacrosse

One big thing about box lacrosse is that the goals are much smaller. They’re just 4 feet wide and a bit under 5 feet tall. That’s way different from field lacrosse, where the nets are 6 by 6 feet.

This means as a goalie, you’ve got less space to cover. But for the offensive players shooting at these tinier targets? Well, it’s tougher for them to score.

Because of this, everyone in box lacrosse has to work really hard on their shots. Attackmen have to be super accurate, and goalies need quick reflexes to block those lightning-fast balls heading towards such small goals.

It makes the game exciting and challenging at every turn!

Rule Differences between Box Lacrosse vs Field Lacrosse

Now we’ve talked about the smaller goals in box lacrosse, let’s dive into some of the rule differences that set box and field lacrosse apart. These rules can change how we play and enjoy each version of the game.

  • Box lacrosse has no offsides rule. This means players can run anywhere on the floor without worrying about crossing a line at the wrong time.
  • In box lacrosse, you can score from quick transitions or breakaways. This makes the game super fast and exciting.
  • Field lacrosse has its own style for scoring and goalie play. Goalies need different skills for each type of lacrosse.
  • One key rule difference is crosschecking. It’s allowed in box lacrosse but not in field lacrosse. Players must learn when they can use their stick to block others.
  • Sticks also have different rules. In field lacrosse, defenders often use long poles which are longer sticks to reach further. But in box lacrosse, everyone uses a short stick.
  • Field dimensions are bigger outdoors. There’s more space to run around compared to an indoor rink.
  • Body checking rules vary too. Box players can be more physical with body checks than those playing outside.

Different Positions

Understanding the unique player roles in box lacrosse vs field lacrosse is crucial-each position demands distinct skills and responsibilities. In box lacrosse, the gameplay is more condensed due to the smaller playing area, which requires players to adapt to tight spaces. Field lacrosse offers a larger playing field, demanding endurance and strategic positioning over greater distances. Let’s break down the different positions in both variants.

Box Lacrosse Positions Field Lacrosse Positions
Goalie Goalie
Forward Attackmen
Defense Defensemen
Transition Midfielders

In box lacrosse, each position contributes to the fast-paced nature of the game. Forwards focus on offense, requiring them to maintain constant motion and fine-tune their stick-handling skills amid tighter defense. Defense players leverage their bodies and quick footwork to block opponents, and the transition role is pivotal for shifting between offense and defense swiftly.

Field lacrosse positions mirror traditional sports roles with attackmen, midfielders, and defensemen, encompassing a broad range of tactics influenced by the open space. Midfielders often cover the most ground, supporting both defensive and offensive plays. All players in field lacrosse, regardless of position, must have high levels of stamina to navigate the expansive field.

Equipment Variations in Box Lacrosse vs Field Lacrosse

'Lacrosse equipment laid out on field, ready for game.'

The equipment used in box lacrosse differs from that of field lacrosse, including differences in sticks, helmets, jerseys, footwear, and other protective gear. Understanding these variations is essential for players to excel in either version of the sport.


In box lacrosse, the sticks are shorter, around 40″ to 46″, while in field lacrosse, they are longer, ranging from 52″ to 72″. The difference in stick length affects how players handle and control the ball during play.

Additionally, defenders in box lacrosse use slightly longer sticks compared to other players in the game.

Furthermore, field lacrosse defenders have an option to use a significantly longer stick of about 6 feet while everyone else opts for a standard short stick of approximately 40 inches.



Box lacrosse helmets look a lot like the ones you see in ice hockey. They are built to protect the head and face from impacts during fast-paced indoor games. On the other hand, field lacrosse helmets are specifically designed for the unique demands of outdoor play, ensuring players stay safe without hindering their movements or vision on the field.

In box lacrosse, helmets resembling those used in ice hockey ensure maximum protection during intense indoor gameplay. In contrast, field lacrosse calls for helmets tailored to meet the specific needs of outdoor play while providing essential impact protection.



When it comes to jerseys in lacrosse, there are a few key differences between box and field lacrosse. In box lacrosse, players wear long-sleeved jerseys, while in field lacrosse, the jerseys have short sleeves.

The long sleeves in box lacrosse help protect players from the physical nature of the game and also provide a better grip for holding or checking opponents with the stick. Furthermore, these different jersey styles reflect the varying demands and playing conditions of each version of the sport.

In addition to sleeve length variations, another notable difference is seen in team branding on jerseys. Field lacrosse often showcases larger team logos and player numbers on both the front and back of jerseys.

On the other hand, box lacrosse typically features smaller logos without player numbers on their chests due to limited space caused by protective gear such as shoulder pads or rib guards.



In box lacrosse, the footwear used needs to be suitable for field turf or concrete surfaces. The indoor playing surface requires the players to have appropriate footwear that can provide them with the required traction and support.

On the other hand, in field lacrosse, players need footwear suitable for grass or turf. Since the playing surfaces are different for box and field lacrosse, having the right footwear is crucial to ensure player safety and performance on the field.

The different demands of each type of playing surface necessitate specific footwear choices for box and field lacrosse players. This not only impacts their movement but also influences their ability to play efficiently based on the surface they are competing on.


Other Protection

In box lacrosse, players wear additional protective gear compared to field lacrosse. Goalies in box lacrosse use extra padding such as knee pads and protective pants for added safety during the game.

Moreover, box lacrosse players wear helmets similar to those used in ice hockey, providing more protection against impacts and collisions on the smaller playing surface.

Now let’s take a look at how equipment requirements different when it comes to sticks in Box Lacrosse vs Field Lacrosse.


Benefits of Playing Box Lacrosse vs Field Lacrosse

A group of lacrosse players in action in a box lacrosse arena.

Box lacrosse offers a faster-paced game with more scoring opportunities, making it an exciting option for players. On the other hand, field lacrosse allows for a more strategic and open playstyle that emphasizes athleticism and skill.


Speed is a crucial factor in lacrosse. In box lacrosse, the smaller playing surface leads to a faster-paced game compared to field lacrosse. Players must be quick on their feet and think fast to react to the dynamic nature of the game.

This fosters rapid decision-making and enhances overall speed and agility on the field while also developing sharp reflexes essential for success in box lacrosse.

This emphasis on speed gives players an opportunity for quicker skill development that translates well into various areas of play such as shooting accuracy, defensive reactions, offensive strategies, and goalie saves.


In box lacrosse, playing defense requires quick thinking and agile movements due to the smaller playing area. Constant communication among defenders is vital for effective coordination and positioning.

Box lacrosse can help players develop resilience and toughness, essential characteristics for strong defensive play.

The physical nature of box lacrosse encourages a more aggressive style of defense, improving players’ ability to disrupt opponents’ strategies. Additionally, with no offsides rule in box lacrosse, defenders need to be adaptable and versatile in both offensive and defensive situations.


In box lacrosse, the offense needs to be quick and precise. Players have less space to work with, so they need to make fast decisions and accurate passes. This pressure pushes offensive players to improve their skills in ball movement, shooting accuracy, and strategic teamwork.

The smaller goal size also demands a high level of precision from offensive players, prompting them to enhance their scoring abilities.

Box lacrosse’s offensive dynamics foster better communication among players. With constant motion required for effective gameplay, offensive players must work together cohesively. This leads to improved team strategies and more cohesive on-field performance.


As a goalie in box lacrosse, I wear additional gear similar to hockey goalies. This includes knee pads and protective pants. Box lacrosse goalies face around 100 shots on goal per game, resulting in quicker, sharper reaction times.

The gear and the sheer amount of shots make being a box lacrosse goalie demanding but thrilling. It requires quick reflexes and intense focus throughout the game. The smaller playing area in box lacrosse also means that as a goalie, I need to be constantly aware of my positioning and movement to defend against fast-paced shots from all angles.


In conclusion, the differences between box lacrosse and field lacrosse are significant. From the playing surface to the equipment used, each version of the game presents unique challenges and opportunities for players.

Understanding these variations can help players and coaches alike make informed decisions about which version of the sport suits them best. Whether it’s the fast-paced action of box lacrosse or the strategic play of field lacrosse, both offer valuable experiences for athletes looking to develop their skills in this exciting sport.


1. What’s the main difference between box lacrosse and field lacrosse?

Box lacrosse is played indoors, often in ice hockey rinks without the ice, while field lacrosse happens outdoors on larger football or soccer-sized fields. They differ a lot – from playing surface to rules!

2. Are the sticks the same in both types of lacrosse?

Not quite! Lacrosse sticks can vary between games. For instance, indoor players might choose different sticks that suit quick moves and tight spaces, unlike those used on big open fields.

3. Does box lacrosse have a shot clock like basketball?

Yes, indeed! Box lacrosse uses a shot clock just like basketball to keep the game fast-paced; it’s part of what makes matches exciting to watch.

4. What about penalties? Are they different too?

You bet – minor penalties in box could send you off for two minutes just like ice hockey! In comparison, outdoor has personal fouls that don’t always mean time in a penalty box but can lead to ejection if severe.

5. Can women play both kinds of lacrosse as well?

Absolutely! Women’s field is thriving with its own set of rules tailored for those who love playing under an open sky.

6. Is goaltending alike in box and field versions?

Goaltenders dress differently due to their unique challenges – indoor goalies wear more protective gear because they face harder shots in closer quarters than their counterparts facing wind and sun outside!