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Top Rule Differences Between Box and Field Lacrosse

Box and field are both lacrosse, but that doesn’t mean they’re carbon copies. There are many rule differences between box and field, and they can fundamentally change how the game is played.

Sure, you’re still throwing a ball into a net with a strung stick, but the movements, the schemes, and the philosophies can all differ widely based on the dynamics the sports’ parameters force, and understanding both is important to becoming a well-rounded lacrosse player.

That’s part of why PrimeTime Lacrosse offers opportunities in box and field lacrosse, including the Galactic Games in Hampton, New Hampshire, which is set to provide boy’s box players with an unforgettable experience in January 2021.

Here is a look at some of the top rule differences between box and field lacrosse.

Major Rule Differences Between Box and Field

Goals and Goalies

Field lacrosse nets are 6-feet by 6-feet, and while the goalies are wearing pads, the padding is minimal and doesn’t make the goalie much bigger of a blocker – throw on a chest pad, helmet, groin protection, gloves, elbows, pick up a stick and prepare to defend 36-square feet of cage.

Box lacrosse nets are much smaller, usually around 4-feet by 4-feet, and the goalies look more like the Michelin Man with large legs pads, thigh pads, a huge chest and arm pad unit, large gloves, and a helmet. Sometimes box goalie sticks are also a lot bigger!

Toronto Rock Rochester Knighthawks NLL 2017 Photo: Micheline V box lacrosse goalie
Photo: Micheline V

Field of Play

Field lacrosse takes place on a large, standard-sized grass or turf field that’s 100-plus yards long and 50-plus yards wide. There is a ton of space to run. Box lacrosse is played inside hockey rink boards and glass or chain link fencing, and the playing surface can be turf, grass, concrete, or even wood! It’s a lot tighter, and the ball rarely goes out of bounds. Instead, it generally bounces off the boards, allowing play to continue.


Not all crosschecking is legal in box, and not all crosschecking is illegal in field, but crosschecks are limited to field almost exclusively to on-ball defending. In box, though, you will see offensive players crosscheck their defenders to get free, or you might see two players just crosscheck each other as a little, “hello, how ya doing?” It’s almost constant in box, and the crosschecking rule differences between box and field change the game tremendously for both the O and D. You see a lot more two-man games, more picking, and more contact in general in box.


There is no offsides in box, whereas in field there must always be at least seven players on each half of the field. While this doesn’t seem like a huge rule difference between box and field right away, it really affects how the game is played. Transition and breakaways are far more common in box because there is no offsides. An entire half of the floor is occupied by just a goalie, and this makes for a striking difference.


Rules now vary between the sports on pockets and head width, and while this all obviously changes both games, we are really only talking about stick length in this section.

In field, defenders can use 6-feet long sticks, while everyone else (expect goalies) uses 40-inch short sticks. In box, everyone is using a short stick, but if you look closer, you’ll see not every short stick is the same. While the shortest are still 40 inches long, defenders can use a slightly longer stick, which can measure up to 46 or 48 inches, depending on the league.

The addition and removal of the true 6-feet long stick makes a big difference in game play, but you will notice that the best defenders in either version of the game are often able to pick up the other-sized defensive stick and still see success. For newer and younger players, the transition from one version of the game to the other can prove to be a challenge but one that ultimately pays dividends with increased skill, understanding and ability.

Opportunities in Box and Field Lacrosse

It can be hard to find ways to get both box and field lacrosse experience, especially if you live in an area dominated heavily by one or neither. PrimeTime Lacrosse hosts events in box and field lacrosse to help foster a worldly lacrosse experience and education. From hosting the Galactic Games to the Lake George National Invitational to sponsoring Penguins Select Lacrosse, PrimeTime focuses on providing children and adults with chances to learn and play the sport they love.