Box lacrosse is a full contact, indoor version of lacrosse, played inside a hockey rink when the ice is melted or covered. Instead of calling it a rink, it is called a "box". Traditionally the playing surface is turf, concrete or tile but some outdoor rinks are grass. The objective of box and field lacrosse is the same; to use a lacrosse stick to catch, carry, and pass the ball in an effort to score by throwing or kicking the ball into the opponents goal. Box lacrosse is more popular in Canada while field lacrosse is more popular in the United States. Box lacrosse originated in Canada and is their co-national sport along with hockey.
While box lacrosse is similar to hockey, it's flow and game play are more closely related to basketball. The offense involves full team strategy utilizing all 5 runners. The offensive players are setup as two toggles (crease), two shooters (wings) and one point (top). The goalie sits inside the crease, which offensive players are not allowed to enter with the ball in their stick. If an offensive player enters the crease before they take a shot, the shot is nullified and possession is rewarded to the opposing team.
Like basketball, in box lacrosse there is no offside or "icing". For intermediate players and older, there is a 30 second shot clock. This keeps the pace of the game moving very quickly. Box lacrosse penalties are similar to hockey, but lacrosse has many ‘possession’ calls instead of penalties, which keeps the play moving quickly.
While the objective and essential skills of box lacrosse are the same as field lacrosse, there are some notable differences in between the two variations. We have listed the most notable differences below.
Field Size - Inside a hockey rink (200'x85')
Goal Size - 4'x4'
Players Per Team - 6 Total, 5 runners and a goalie
Shot Clock - Yes, 30 seconds (all levels)
Offsides - No
Penalties - Minor (two minute), Major (five minute), Misconduct (ten minute) and Match (disqualification)
Long Sticks - No, every player uses a short stick
Field Size - 110 yards x 55 yards
Goal Size - 6'x6'
Players Per Team - 10 Total (12 women's), 9 field players (11 women's) and a goalie
Shot Clock - Varies on level. Shot clocks are used in college and pro field lacrosse, not youth
Offsides - Yes, both men's and women's
Penalties - Technical (30 second), Personal (one - three minute or disqualification)
Long Sticks - Men's, yes (4 allowed on the field at a time), women's no
"If I had my choice, I would have every player under the age of 12 play box lacrosse exclusively or at least a majority of the time. The number of touches of the ball and the ability to develop better stick skills in a game of box lacrosse far surpasses what happens on a field."
– Bill Tierney, 6x NCAA CHAMPION
Current Head Coach, University of Denver
“American field players would really help themselves if they were exposed to a steady stream of box experience. Box lacrosse is an extremely valuable background for a young player, we need to incorporate more of the indoor skills in to the field game. It is almost a requirement to have a top player with indoor experience on your roster right now.”
Former Head Coach, Brown University & University of Virginia
“Being a part of the finesse and physicality of box lacrosse has been a great experience for me. I feel that I have learned and improved as an overall lacrosse player. Learning to adapt in tight space while reading defenders and offensive players has been the biggest improvement in my game.”
– Paul Rabil, NLL, MLL & PLL All-Star, NCAA All-American