How Well Do You Know Lacrosse?



By: Zoe Samuel

6 Min Quiz

Image: pexels

About This Quiz

Lacrosse is a game that is played on both sides of the Atlantic, but looks different in each place. It originally comes from Native American tradition, primarily that of the Iroquois. Before the arrival of Europeans, this tribe made its home in what is now New York state, and its neighbors, and their democratic and federalized Iroquois Confederacy, provided the Founding Fathers with a model on which to base the Articles of Confederation and later the Constitution. Given that they inspired American democracy, it's no surprise that they also inspired American sports!

The Iroquois version of the game was played with many dozens of players and lasted several days. It had a strong spiritual component and was about celebrating the Creator. It received its English name via the French, "la crosse", literally meaning, "the stick." While it used to be really quite meaningful, these days, lacrosse is a lot more about beating the holy hell out of your opponent - unless you're playing the women's game in which case bodily contact is more highly regulated.

How well do you know the history, rules, and culture of this rather violent but also rather fun game? It's time to put your knowledge to the test!

From what (translated) name is the name "lacrosse" translated?

Le jeu de la crosse literally means the game of the stick. It's the French name for the Native game. French missionaries renamed it when they made their own version in the 1800s.


How many players are on each team?

A lacrosse team has 10 players. There are 4 defenders, plus a goalie and three offensive players. The other three are midfielders.


How long is a game?

Lacrosse used to be several days long; Native Americans played it from sunup to sundown for two or three days. However, these days it is played for an hour.


In what size increments are the game played?

The game is played in quarters. There are short breaks between for the team to regroup, make substitutions, and eat a slice of orange!


How many players must a team have in the defensive zone at all times?

This is a rule that stops the team clustering up one end of the field. Compare it to the offside rule in soccer in terms of its effect on the flow of the game.


How many players must be in the offensive zone?

The game requires three players to stay in the offensive zone. Usually these are the three attackmen, meaning the midfielders do the most running! This helps the game flow back and forth and not get stagnant.


How long is a lacrosse field?

A lacrosse pitch is 110 yards long. This is the nearest round number to 100 meters. This is a product of the metric system being developed in France shortly before lacrosse was introduced there.


How wide is a lacrosse field?

60 yards is the nearest round number to 50 meters. Again, this is a product of lacrosse being developed in France, which switched to the metric system as a result of their Revolution in 1789.


Besides shin pads, how much padding is worn in the women's game (excluding the goalie)?

The women's game did not used to require any protection, but these days it is expected that people will wear goggles. However, this is only laxly (ahem) enforced at the high school level. It's a good idea considering that sticks are swinging around your face.


If the ball goes out of bounds during regular play, who gets possession?

The ball goes to the other team. This is the same as most sports of this type. The chosen player throws it in from just outside the line.


If the ball goes out of bounds due to a missed shot at goal, who gets the ball?

If the ball is aimed at the goal, but goes out, then who gets it is highly situational. That is, the same team or the rival team may get it depending on who was closest to it when it went out!


How do new players enter and old players leave during play?

The substitution zone is the only place that a player can leave or enter the field during play. During stoppage - such as after a goal or coming back from a break - then the players can be substituted without going through it.


Which of these is NOT a personal foul?

Cross-checking, illegal body checking, and slashing are all dangerous. That's why these are considered a personal foul. That's different from a technical foul, though.


What's the shortest time that a player go off the field during a penalty?

The penalty may be longer depending on the foul. However, it starts at one minute for a personal foul.


If a goal is scored while a player is serving a penalty, can they come straight back onto the field?

A "releasable" penalty is less severe in that a player may come back in early if either team scores. This is unlike a "non-releasable" one where they have to serve their time in full!


What is the term for a team that has a player off the field?

If you're a man down then you're playing with one less player. This is the same terminology as a variety of similar sports. The team with the extra player is now "man up".


At what school was women's lacrosse introduced?

St. Leonard's is one of the premiere girls' boarding schools in Scotland. A nun saw lacrosse and thought it was a good wholesome sport. It's now a leading girls' sport in the United Kingdom.


What is the governing body of lacrosse, international?

The Federation of International Lacrosse governs international contests and sets rules. It's basically the FIFA of lacrosse!


By what name is indoor lacrosse known?

Box lacrosse has a softer ball and often plastic sticks. There's also far less padding and you wear ordinary sneakers. All in all, it's a gentler game.


What is the biggest prize in the men's game?

The World Lacrosse Championship is the World Series or the World Cup of lacrosse. International teams compete to represent their country every fourth year, in the same years as the soccer World Cup.


When was field lacrosse first played at the Olympics?

1904 saw the first lacrosse game at the Olympics. Interestingly the sport was not a medal sport in some years, being demoted to a "demonstration game" only. These days it's a medal sport again!


NCAA is the highest division of collegiate lacrosse in the US. How many teams are in the division?

There are 71 teams in the NCAA lacrosse game. This works out because it's a league, so it doesn't matter that it is an odd number that cannot be easily divided up!


What is the main body for the men's professional game in the USA?

Major League Lacrosse was founded quite recently, in 2001. It only has nine teams and isn't entirely professionalized. However the game is one of the fastest-growing in the US, so this is set to change.


Which of these is NOT part of the head of a lacrosse stick?

The head of the stick has three parts: a scoop, net and sidewall. The traditional net does not have a hoop-shaped wall around both sides; instead, one side is open. This makes the stick less dangerous and a little more fun.


Two Native tribes set the rules of lacrosse in 1794. The Seneca are one. Which is the other?

The Mohawk and the Seneca set the rules of what they defined as lacrosse. This shows us it was not just an Iroquois game. It was truly a Native American game.


Two tribes played lacrosse to distract the British so they could capture which fort?

This Michigan-based fort is on the island of Mackinac. It was a colonial outpost. The two tribes decided that the British couldn't resist sports (to watch, anyway) so staged a game to lure them out. Embarrassingly for the Brits, it worked!


Where did French missionaries first see a game of lacrosse?

If you picture Michigan as a mitten (a left hand, if we're looking at the back of it; a right if we are facing its palm) then Huron County is the Thumb. This is where Frenchman Jean de Brébeuf first saw the stick game he took back to his native land.


One of lacrosse's two native names literally translates to "men hit a rounded object". What translation best describes the other?

The Ojibwa Native Americans played a version of lacrosse called "baggataway" which literally means "little brother of war". Given how violent the game is, this is a very good name for it.


What did the Oklahoma Choctaw add to their sticks?

It happened around 1900 and it was very dangerous - on purpose. The Oklahoma Choctaw had been through a lot in the last couple generations, with many having survived the Trail of Tears. They thus probably had every right and need to crack some skulls, which is exactly what their lead weights were for!


What Native American team was the first to play at the international level in 1987?

The Iroquois Nationals represented all six of the nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, which you'll recall we already discussed. It was a Native American democratic organization that the Founding Fathers cite as inspiration for how they structured the United States.


What is a lacrosse ball made of?

The ball is rubber and solid, and if it hits you in the head, it hurts like blazes. Trust us, we know. There's a reason the men's game has all that padding.


What shape is the cross-section of the shaft of a lacrosse stick?

The stick is not round. This is because your fingers are jointed, so the stick is designed to fit as they fold around it. It's quite slim so this is a good way to add grip.


From which of these is a modern lacrosse stick generally NOT made?

People still use wood sticks, but they are not the fashion any more. This is because they splinter, which can be dangerous in a contact sport. It's also because they require linseed oil, which is messy and hard work.


What is the maximum length for a lacrosse stick?

Some players carry sticks more in the 42" range. However, the goalies and offensive players carry much longer sticks. This is in the men's game; the 72" stick would not be legal in the women's.


What sort of shoe is worn on a lacrosse field?

You wear cleats to play lacrosse. This is one of the few ways that it's actually less dangerous than soccer, where people use spikes. Still, if you get them in the calf, you're going to know about it. Again... trust us.


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