Lacrosse Terminology

Lacrosse Terminology, Words & Commands

This page will help you learn important lacrosse terminology. Knowledge of various lacrosse terms and commands will help you to better understand the game (and what the coach and players are shouting from the sideline). If we are missing any key lacrosse words or terms, please contact us and we will add them to the list.

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  • Alligator Arms – This is a negative lacrosse term used when a player has his arms in tight to his body when shooting versus the arms being fully extended. When the arms are fully extended, players can  generate more shooting power.
  • Attack/Attackmen – The three players who stay on the offensive side of the field and focus on scoring. Visit our lacrosse attack page for tips on how to be a better lacrosse attackman.
  • Ball Hog – Someone only looking for his own shot. Unwilling to pass to an open teammate who is in position to score. You will see many of these types of players in youth lacrosse. Not a positive lacrosse term. A ball hog generally hurts overall team performance (because the ball hog ball hog prevents ball movement and easy goals).
  • Ball Hunt – A ball hunt is when everyone searches for all of the balls after practice (given the many missed shots and poorly aimed passes during beginner and intermediate lacrosse).
  • Body – You will often hear defensive coaches shouting “Body!”. They are telling their defensive players to use their bodies to push out an offensive player versus relying on stick checks that a large or strong offensive player can run through.
  • Body Check – Hitting opponent with your body. Players can only hit an opponent within 3 yards of the ball. They can not hit them from the back. Not legal for young players.
  • Box Lacrosse – A Canadian lacrosse game played indoors where you can play the ball off the wall. This game is great for learning how to score in very tight spaces and how to protect your stick. A good off-season activity for lacrosse players.
  • BTB (Behind the Back) – BTB is a lacrosse term that means Behind The Back. This is an advanced shooting technique where a player shoots or passes the ball behind his back. For more on BTBs, please Beginner Lacrosse’s section on behind the back shooting.
  • Butt or Butt-End – A butt is the end cap at the bottom of the lacrosse stick. Coaches & players refer to the bottom of the stick as the butt-end of the stick.
  • Clamp – Trapping the ball with a lacrosse head during a face-off.
  • Clear – A clear is a lacrosse term that means getting the ball out from the defensive half of the field and into the offensive half (i.e. a goalie clear).
  • Cleats – Shoes with spikes used by lacrosse players to play on grass fields. They have much better traction than regular sneakers.
  • Cradling – A technique used to keep the ball in the lacrosse stick when running, etc.
  • Crease – The circle around goal that offensive players are not allowed to enter.
  • Cross Check – An illegal check where a player uses the shaft of his lacrosse stick to check his opponent. According to the rule books, a lacrosse cross check is a “check with that part of the handle of the crosse that is between the player’s hands, either by thrusting away from the body or by holding it extended from the body”.
  • Cut – Offensive players cut towards the goal (trying to elude a defender) in order to receive a pass and hopefully score.
  • D-Pole – A D-pole is the long stick (defensive pole) used by lacrosse defensemen. Not allowed for younger players. A d-pole is also called a “long pole”. A short stick can be hidden/protected by a player’s body whereas a d-pole has the advantage of its long reach.
  • Defender/Defensemen – The three players who stay on the defensive side of the field. They focus on blocking or preventing an opponent’s shot, pushing out opponents, stripping an opponent of the ball and working with the goalie.
  • De-Twig – This is where a stick check has knocked an opponent’s stick (“twig”) out of his hands and the stick has fallen to the ground.
  • Dodge – Dodges are where players uses various moves to bypass opposing players in order to pass or score. See the Beginner Lacrosse section on Lacrosse Dodges for dodging instructions, videos, etc.
  • Elevator Shot – A lacrosse elevator shot (or riser shot) is an advanced shooting technique that involves shooting underhand or with a low sidearm and the ball “rising” from this low position to score in the top of the net. See the Beginner Lacrosse section on Lacrosse Shooting Techniques for elevator shot instructions, videos, etc.
  • Face-Off – To start the game or after each score, the opposing players seek to win the ball in a face-off and control the start of play. Visit our Lacrosse Face-Offs section for tips and videos.
  • Failure To Advance – Penalty called when a clear fails to move across the midfield line within a set period of time.
  • Fast Break – A player or players are racing up field with the ball and have gotten past their defenders. This is a transition play and often leads to a scoring opportunity. Teams need to practice fast break drills.
  • Feed – This where a player passes to (feeds) a teammate for a score. This is an assist for a goal.
  • Fiddle Stick – This is a “toy” lacrosse stick. Have your kids practice with real lacrosse sticks (versus a fiddle stick) when playing around at home… but they probably won’t listen to you! 🙂
  • Five Hole – The open space between the goalie legs. A very skilled offensive player can score via the “five hole” by shooting between the goalie’s legs.
  • FOGO – A FOGO is a lacrosse term for a face-off specialist… “Face Off Get Off”. A FOGO generally just does face-offs and does not play as a regular middie.
  • Garbage Goal – A garbage goal in lacrosse is where a ball bounces loose from a goalie (or off the “pipe” of the goal) and an opposing player picks it up right in front of the net and scores. Attackmen must be ready for this type of scoring opportunity.
  • Gilman – A “Gilman” clear is a desperation clear where the goalie (or a defender) chucks the ball as far down the field as possible (and tries to get it into the offensive side of the field). For example, a Gilman clear might be done when a goalie is under heavy pressure during a clear and can not find an open man to pass the ball to. Rather than turn it over, the goalie might attempt a Gilman clear.
  • Go To X – A coaching yelling “Go to X” is telling an attacker to take a position behind the goal.
  • Goal Line Extended (GLE) – An imaginary line that extends out from the sides of the goal. Defenders will try to prevent an attacker from crossing this line (because an attacker can’t shoot on the goal behind the net). This line is also called GLE.
  • Goalie – The player in the goal who is trying to stop opponents from scoring. You should encourage this player because this is a tough position (i.e. on occasion, he will be scored on a lot and hit by hard rubber lacrosse balls). He is a critical member of the team.
  • Ground Ball – A ball that is loose on the ground. As they say, ground balls wins games (if you win control of the ground balls).
  • Head – This is a lacrosse term for the plastic upper portion of a lacrosse stick where a player catches a lacrosse ball.
  • Hole – A defensive area in front of the goal. You will hear “Get back in the hole!”.
  • Long Pole – A long pole is the long pole (defensive pole) used by lacrosse defensemen and LSMs. In contrast, middies and attackmen use short poles. It is also called a “d-pole”. A short stick can be hidden/protected by a player’s body whereas a long pole has the advantage of its long reach.
  • LSM – LSM stands for a Long Stick Middie. This is a defensive middie armed with a long defensive stick.
  • Man-To-Man Defense – Where defenders will pick up and stick with individual opponents in order to prevent them from scoring a goal (versus playing a zone defense).
  • Man-Down – Due to a penalty (i.e. slashing), a team is playing with one less player for a set period of time. The team is down “a man” in numbers.
  • Man-Up – Due to a penalty on the opposing team, a team will have a man advantage because the other team loses a player for a set period of time.
  • Middie – A middie means midfielder. A lacrosse middie must be fast and have great endurance because he will often play on the offensive and defensive sides of the field. In contrast, the attackmen are stuck generally on the offensive side of the field and the defenders generally stay on the defensive side of the field.
  • Middie Back – If a defender crosses the midfield line with the ball, a midfielder must stay back in order to maintain three “defenders” plus the goalie in the defensive half of the field. You will hear players yelling “Middie Back” to tell a midfielder to stay on the defensive side of the field in order to avoid an off-sides penalty.
  • Midfield Line – The line that divides the field in half (into offensive and defensive halves).
  • Midfielder – The three players who play offense and defense. This is a critical position as midfielders have to be able to score and then hustle back to play defense. You will see frequent substitution at the midfielder position given the amount of running done by these players.
  • Off-Sides – A penalty where the requisite numbers of players are not on their side of the field (i.e. three defenders and the goalie). Someone has gone “off-sides” and there are now too many players on one half of the field.
  • Paul Rabil– Paul Rabil is probably the most famous player in lacrosse today.
  • Penalty Box – This is where a player serves his time for a penalty (i.e. a slashing penalty). He must stay in this box until his time is up and he is released to play again.
  • Pick (or Screen) – Where player takes a stationary position in order to block an opponent in order to free a teammate for a pass or shot.
  • Pinnie – A lacrosse practice uniform. Usually reversible with a dark-colored uniform on one side and a light-colored uniform on the other side (so coaches can split the kids into two easily identifiable teams).
  • Pocket Pounder – A pocket pounder is a tool used in lacrosse to build a deeper pocket in the mesh of the lacrosse stick. A deeper pocket will help ball retention, etc. However, if the pocket is too deep, it can be called for a penalty.
  • Rake – You will hear a lot of coaches yelling “Don’t rake!”. When raking, kids will stop and pull a ground ball back to them with their lacrosse stick. Rather kids should push through the ball & scoop up the ball on any loose ground balls so they don’t lose momentum on a play.
  • Release – The word used to tell a player in the penalty box that he may re-enter the game. He has served the time of his penalty (i.e. 1 minute in the penalty box).
  • Ride – A ride is a lacrosse term for when an offensive player will “ride” an opposing defensive player with aggressive stick checks in order to force a turnover and get the ball. For example, on a clear, a goalie could pass the ball to one of his defensemen and an opposing attackman will ride the defender in order to force a turnover or to prevent a possible fast break.
  • Screen (or Pick) – Where player takes a stationary position in order to block an opponent in order to free a teammate for a pass or shot.
  • Screening – Where an attacker attempts to block the vision of the goalie (by positioning himself between the goalie and the shooter) so a teammate can score.
  • Shaft – The metal part of a lacrosse stick where a player grasps the lacrosse stick. The part which is attached to the head of a lacrosse stick. Usually made of aluminum, titanium or composite metals.
  • Shortie – The term shortie is not about a player’s height. Rather, this lacrosse term refers to a player with a short pole (versus a long pole). Coaches look for offensive players to go against shorties on the other team (because a player with the shorter pole is generally easier to go around than a player armed with a long pole).
  • Short Stick – This is stick that attackmen and middies use. It is shorter than the long pole (d-pole) carried by defenders and LSMs. A short stick can be hidden/protected by a player’s body whereas a long pole has the advantage of its long reach.
  • Sidearm Shooting – This is a shot where a kid fires the ball from the side versus overhand. It tends to be a more powerful lacrosse shot but less accurate than an overhand shot. See the section on Lacrosse Shooting Techniques for sidearm shooting instructions, videos, etc.
  • Slashing – A foul where a player swings his stick and hits another player (i.e. hits their helmet).
  • Slide – Where a defenseman has left his position or player to help another defender (especially if the other defender has been beaten by an offensive player).
  • Stick Check – A legal defensive technique where a player uses his stick to stop an opposing player (i.e. poke check). Visit our lacrosse checking page for more details.
  • Top-Side – This is where an offensive player tries to get above a defender into the middle of the field for a better percentage shot. A defender will try to prevent an opposing player from getting top side.
  • Tripping – A foul where a player trips an opposing player (i.e. places stick between the legs of an opposing player).
  • Turf Shoes – Special shoes used by lacrosse players to play indoors. Cleats are used for outdoor lacrosse.
  • Wall Ball – This is great lacrosse training tool where players use a wall to practice passing, shooting and catches.
  • Warding – Warding is an illegal technique where a player does a one arm cradle and moves his free arm to block an opposing player’s stick (versus keeping it stationary).
  • Worm Burner – Worm burners are low to low underhand shots in lacrosse. The shot skims along the ground and scores in the lower portion of the net.
  • X – X is a position about 5-10 yards behind behind a lacrosse net.
  • Zone Defense – Players take defensive positions based on the zones around the goal versus playing man-to-man defense.

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