Field Lacrosse Vs Box Lacrosse Differences

If you’re a lacrosse player there is no doubt you’ve head of field lacrosse and box lacrosse, and it likely depends on where you live as to which one you play. Field lacrosse is hugely popular in the United States and growing every year, while Box Lacrosse is mainly popular in Canada. In recent years, there is starting to be more of a crossover between the two, with many US players starting to play Box Lacrosse in the off season to keep their skills sharp. There are quite a few differences between the two sports, including the field they are played on, equipment, number of players, and there are a few key rule differences. In this article we’ll give you a detailed overview of all the key differences!

Lacrosse Playing Fields

Field Lacrosse

Like the name of the sport, Field Lacrosse is usually played on an outdoor football or soccer sized field, and in some cases can be played inside on a turf field. The standard size is 110 yards in length from the end lines and 60 yards in width from the sidelines. A field lacrosse is played on a much bigger field than compared to box lacrosse. Below is a diagram of how a field lacrosse playing surface is layed out. 

Box Lacrosse

Box lacrosse is also sometimes referred to as indoor lacrosse, and is typically played on an ice hockey rink when the ice has been removed, or in indoor soccer fields. As you might imagine, this is a lot smaller playing area compared to field lacrosse. The only real professional lacrosse league, the NLL plays box lacrosse in hockey arenas around north america. 

Field Lacrosse and Box Lacrosse Rule Differences

Number Of Players

As you can probably guess, the number of players in the game at any time is a major difference between field lacrosse and box lacrosse. You can probably assume this just by looking at how big the field lacrosse pitch is compared to a box lacrosse rink. 

  •  Field lacrosse is played with 9 players and 1 goalie on the field at any given time. Field lacrosse team positional players have 3 defenders, 3 mid-fielders, and 3 attackers. The roles of each player is slightly different, defenders are meant to stop the opposing teams attackers from scoring. Mid fielders play a combination of defense and offence, and primary excel in the transition game. Attackers are the skilled goal scorers, who’s main job is to score. 
  • Box lacrosse is played with 5 players and 1 goalie on the field at any given time, excluding penalties. The best analogue to Box Lacrosse is that it is a combination of basketball and hockey. Box Lacrosse is typically set up with 2 defender players and 3 attack players, but this can vary team to team depending on the strategy. 


If you’ve seen both sports being played, you might wonder why a box lacrosse goalie is dressed like he is going to war while a field lacrosse goalie is wearing almost nothing except a helmet. The main reason is the size of the field and the size of the goalie area, since box lacrosse is played on a much smaller field the shots the goalie will face come from much closer and would inflict a ton of pain. The goalie area (where players cannot enter) is much smaller in box lacrosse, while in field goalies has a bigger goalie area. 

Field Lacrosse Goalie

A goalie in field lacrosse typically uses four main pieces of equipment; helmet, gloves, cup, and a lacrosse goalie stick. Usually shots come from much further away than in box lacrosse, and the goalie area is bigger so players can’t get as close. The net is also a lot bigger than in box lacrosse, giving the player more space to shoot at and therefor being less likely to hit the goalie with a shot. 

field lacrosse goalie

Box Lacrosse Goalie

Box lacrosse goalies are heavily protected, wearing a ton more equipment than a field lacrosse goalie does. They will typically wear the following; shin guards, helmet, shoulder pads, gloves, and protective shoes. They need the extra equipment as they will face a lot more shots from a close distance, as the goalie area in box lacrosse is not nearly as big. The nets are smaller in box lacrosse to give the goalie a better advantage to facing shots from close proximity. 

box lacrosse goalie

Shot Clock

This rule is specific to box lacrosse only, in field lacrosse there is no time limit in order to have a shot on net. The shot clock rule in box lacrosse is almost identical to basketball, where as soon as a team gains possession of the ball they will have 30 seconds to get a shot on net. If a shot is not taken on the opposing teams net within the 30 seconds, the ball is turned over. This creates a very fast pace of play in box lacrosse, and there is less of a strategic aspect to it as there might be in field lacrosse. 

Player Equipment

In box lacrosse, there is no difference between stick lengths for offensive players or defenders. In field lacrosse, this is a key difference as defending players will have longer sticks (52″ – 72″) compared to offensive and mid-field players (40″ – 42″). The reason for this is the field lacrosse playing area is so much bigger, defensive players need the extra length to give them a chance defending offensive attacks. The longer sticks enable them to keep attack players further away from the goal. 

Contact Rules

Both field lacrosse and box lacrosse are full contact sports, with box lacrosse being the more physical of the two. In field lacrosse, contact can be made if a player has possession of the ball or if there is a loose ball, you can make contact with any players within 5 yards of the ball. In box lacrosse, you can only make contact if a player has control of the ball. In box, you can also hit players without the ball in the offensive zone, in designated areas. 

In both sports, you cannot make contact with the goalie unless they are out of the goalie crease and have control of the ball. 

Year Round Accessibility

One of the major reasons field lacrosse isn’t a popular in Canada is the seasonal requirements to play. Box lacrosse is a more accessible alternative as weather is not a factor, while in the United States the weather is much more temperate and field lacrosse can be played year round in some states. More and more players in the United States are starting to play box lacrosse in the off season months, while in Canada field lacrosse continues to gain in popularity. 

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