On Tuesday, the World Lacrosse organization announced the new “Olympic” format for lacrosse known as World Lacrosse Sixes.
What is Sixes?
First, watch the video clip below as it does a good job outlining what Sixes is. In a nutshell, Sixes is World Lacrosse’s vision for a successful Olympic future.
Here are a few of the major differences:
• :30 second shot clock
• Games are played in four eight-minute quarters
• Goalies initiate play after goals are scored; draws / faceoffs occur only at the start of each quarter
• Field size is 70×36 meters
• Flow of the game emphasizes tempo, with fewer stoppages in play
• Everyone plays both sides of the field (defense/offensive); substitutions are made on the fly
• Sixes rosters are comprised of 12 players, which leads to more playing time and more touches on the ball
Four faceoffs per game, no long sticks in the men’s game.
Why this format?
Money and, to a lesser extent, timing.
Here in the States, it’s easy to wonder why we’re making changes to the game. But the rest of the world is eagerly trying to grow lacrosse while facing very real challenges. It is expensive to play lacrosse, and it’s even more expensive when you throw in the need to carry larger rosters. This new format only requires 12 players, and when I speak to my friends in countries like Serbia, Slovenia, Denmark, they have no problem getting 12 players to a practice, but they struggle to ever get enough for a scrimmage or game until its time for tournaments. When we look at the Olympics, we also know that it will be costly to carry rosters of 20 or more. Smaller roster sizes are huge plus for INTERNATIONAL growth. But isn’t Sixes just a version of box on a field? It sure is, but trying to get box lacrosse facilities set up in 90% of these countries isn’t possible (at this time).
As for the timing, yes, lacrosse is in a hurry to take what seems to be a ton of positive momentum and ride that into an Olympic showing. There seems to be an additional push to make sure that if possible, we play in the LA Games here in the United States. In order to meet this tight timeline, we need to keep pushing, and that means presenting a plan that we think is most likely to get us in for 2028.
Lastly, nothing anywhere says that Sixes will be the permanent format. Maybe this format is exactly what we need to get our total country count to 100 or so, develop a much better international presence, help spread the game globally, and then we can see a more traditional Olympic lacrosse in the future.
What Will It Look Like?
In 2019, the USA Women’s National Team and WPLL played a game under the new Sixes rules (with a slight modification to the shot clock).
What do people think?
There are basically three groups of people when it comes to Sixes: North Americans who want the game in the Olympics at all costs, Blue group countries that have large domestic player counts who don’t want the rules to change at all, and the rest of the world that is attempting to grow lacrosse in their countries but struggle to get the numbers they need to be competitive.
I think our friend Chris Boushy, who is a Professional NLL player in Canada and happens to be involved in South Africa Lacrosse, said it best: