The differences between Field and Box Lacrosse are like night and day. Going back as far as the beginnings of each sport, you see one that was born from the land, played by the indians, and past down for generations. The other arose from owners looking to add patrons during slow times for ice rinks. From field types and sizes of different areas, to things such as length of sticks, you will find that Field and Box lacrosse are vastly different games. So let us take a moment now and examine the differences between these two exciting varieties of this sport.
Let's examine the field of play. In the game of field lacrosse, the game is played out in the elements, usually on large, grass fields within a stadium or college setting. For the most part, this is the game you will see on the TV set most often, and the one that is played on NCAA and high school fields throughout the country. In the box lacrosse game, you will usually find it taking place on a covered over hockey arena floor somewhere near you. In other word, the game is played indoors. Replacing the lush, green grass though is usually some type of synthetic turf, which for me is just not as comfortable to fall on.
How about the time differences in the game itself. Both are made up of 60 minutes worth of playing time, but are broken up differently. In field lacrosse you are playing 4 quarters, broken into 15-minute intervals. This gives a team a few more additional breaks to recover from the fast pace of the game. In box lacrosse, the 4 quarters are abandoned in favor of 3 longer periods, normally 20 minutes in length.
Goalies have a bit of a different time as well. There are two big differences in this area. In the field lacrosse game, the goalie is asked to protect a goal that is 6 feet wide and 6 feet tall, whereas in the game of box lacrosse, the goaltender is dealing with only a 4 by 4 foot goal. There is also a great disparity though in equipment for the goaltender as well. If you have watched field lacrosse, you notice that the goaltender basically looks like he has the same equipment as all the other players on the field, with the exception of a bigger crosse at the end of his stick. The box lacrosse goalie could not look anymore different. They wear a combination of: Gloves, helmet, shoulder pads, chest protector, leg pads, and sometimes thigh pads. It is a wonder with all the padding, and the smaller size of the goal, that anyone scores in box lacrosse, but they do.
Shot Clocks? That's a basketball term, right? No my friends, its not. In the game of box lacrosse, the offensive team is definitely on the clock per say. They have 30 seconds to take a shot at the goal, or the possession resorts back to the defensive team. You will not find the same thing in a field lacrosse game, where a team can take as much time as they like, as long as they are not whistled for a stalling infraction.
The number of players on the field, and the name of the positions they play also differ in both type of lacrosse. In the indoor game, you will find there are only 6 total players (1 goalie, 5 forwards) on the field at any one time. Gone are the distinctions as well of defender, midfielder, and attackers. All the players on the field, with the exception of the goalies, are forwards and do it all on the field. This is because in the box game, there are no offensive and defensive zones per say, and offsides is not in the rulebook. In field lacrosse, a much different setup ensues. You have a total of ten people on the field, but instead of everyone doing the same thing; you do have players playing those specific roles mentioned above. The field is broken up into zones, and of course, the offsides rule has to be abided to.
There are a couple last issues that should be mentioned as well. In the indoor game, everyone carries the same size stick. You can imagine with the smaller confines, boards, and the like, it becomes next to impossible for someone to carry a long defensemen pole in that type of situation, without worrying about spearing someone accidentally. Outdoors, with the much larger field, along with the separate positions, the different size poles are much easier to control. I think this other point worth mentioning is that you will find that box lacrosse is a much more contact intensive brand of lacrosse. I have seen the term violent used, but I don't think that's appropriate here. Due to the smaller confines of these indoor arenas, you have much more close in contact, and thus much more hitting and checking while engrossed in the action.
So there it is folks. I hope this article gave you a bit of insight into the differences between the two brands of lacrosse, and maybe helped to give you a better understanding of what makes each of them great in their own way.