Box vs. Outdoor Lacrosse 101

Lacrosse is a unique sport for many reasons. One in particular is that there are two versions of the sport at the professional level – one is indoor (box) and the other is field (outdoor). This can be confusing to those that are unfamiliar with lacrosse, or even those that have played before. This post will talk about the differences and similarities between the two versions of the same game. While there are many excellent resources that dive into the depths and technicalities of both versions, our goal is to remain introductory and to provide important background.

Before diving too deeply into the nuances of indoor and outdoor lacrosse, it’s important to understand some of the key differences first.  The first key difference is the venue attributes.  Box lacrosse is played indoor and field lacrosse is played outside. Box lacrosse closely resembles the game of hockey with the same dimensions but without the ice, whereas field lacrosse plays on a bigger field with similar dimensions to football or soccer.

Box lacrosse has smaller field proportions and also smaller goals. These mimic the ones used in hockey where the goalie takes up the majority of the frame. For outdoor, they are bigger and deeper (6x6 ft.) so there is more space to shoot. Because the field and goal sizes are smaller than outdoor there are also less players on the field at a time. There are 10 for outdoor and 6 for indoor. In later posts we will explore how those numbers influence the style and play, but for now it’s good to simply know that key distinction.

Up to this point we have focused on the differences between indoor and outdoor lacrosse, which might lead the reader to think they are wildly different games. This is true to an extent but there are many similarities and parallels which are transferable between the two. The first similarity that both games share is the objective. No matter what style of lacrosse you are playing, the objective is always the same: to score a point by throwing the lacrosse ball into the opponent’s goal.

The gear that a player wears in both games is the same. Every player will need the following essential pieces of equipment: lacrosse stick, helmet, shoulder pads, gloves, arm pads, and a cup (check out an earlier post for more info here: Lastly, the fundamentals are the same no matter how you are playing lacrosse. Passing, catching, cradling and running are all key skills to have. If you’re playing lacrosse, these are the building blocks to being successful!

For the many reasons above, box and outdoor lacrosse are both similar and yet different in how they are structured and played. In upcoming posts, we will delve into more of these examples and how players can and should adapt between them. The majority of lacrosse players play outdoor and won’t deviate from that style. Though this is commonplace, the growing trend is for players to experience and play both. We could not be more excited to continue that trend! The box game provides ample opportunity to learn skills that aren’t as available in outdoor. As Bill Tierney, Denver University head coach (6x national champion) said, “If I had my choice, I would have every player under the age of 12 play box lacrosse exclusively or at least the majority of the time.”

Stay tuned for upcoming posts!


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