Lacrosse Positions – Getting Back to Basics Talking Which Players Suit Which Positions

Here on our site “” we want to cover as much within the world of lacrosse as possible. That being said, this article is going to get back to the basics, and outlining for all of us, all of the lacrosse positions.  Let’s get a better idea for what sort of player suits each position in lacrosse.


Please note: Although this is rather a basic topic, we hope to invite the insight, input, and personal experience from committed LAXers who can add to our conversation about the positions of the sport.

 We want to keep this information organized and straight forward, so from here on out, each of the lacrosse positions will be discussed as followed:

Position Role – We want you to understand what would be responsible of a player who plays ‘X’ position.

Body Type – Although there is no set in stone rule saying if you are above ‘X’ height and ‘X’ weight you must play this position, it is helpful to get a general understanding for the body type typically suited for each position.

Athleticism – Some lacrosse positions call for differing physical skill sets. If you are quick and agile one area on the field may be more appropriate for you than another.

Stick Skills – Some positions require a level of stick skill above the others. However, no matter the position you play, having superior stick skill NEVER HURTS.

Attitude – What can make a player more suited for one of the lacrosse positions versus another, is ATTITUDE. It is extremely beneficial that your attitude suits the role you will have to pick up. We will explain more about this as we go along.

Unique Rules – Along with each position, there are differing stipulations on the way the player can play the game. Now that you have the format, let’s get started. (Know what you are looking for already? Click the link to the one of the lacrosse positions you are most interested in and skip the others)

Talking Basics with Lacrosse Positions:

Lacrosse Positions: Goalie

Position Role –  First and foremost, the goalie must be prepared to protect their net. As the last line of defense against that ball finding nylon, the goalie plays a vital role to having a successful team. The goalie needs to be vocal. Being the furthest player back as the offense approaches (most often), the goalie can view the field with a wider perspective than any other player. Goalies may be able to see a potential offensive play brewing that a defender cannot. The goalie needs to have the confidence and voice to keep the defensive unit on the same page. Not something that people always think about, but the goalie needs to be prepared to fuel an offensive attack. If after saving a shot the goalie has the opportunity to make a pass to a potentially dangerous midfielder, their team can be on the fast-break going the other way.

Jesse Schwartzman/lacrosse position - goalie

Jesse Schwartzman of the Denver Outlaws

Body Type – Having a goal who covers as much of the net as possible would be beneficial right? Well not necessarily, the body type of the goalie is not of critical importance. Although a slender body for a goalie would make more room for an attacker’s scoring real estate, what is more important is the goalie’s level of athleticism (see below).

Athleticism – A goalie needs to have lightening quick reflexes and excellent hand/eye coordination. PERIOD. Attackers coming down the defense’s throat are ready to rocket the ball at the net whenever they get an opportunity. Sometimes these shots are more predictable, but other times, they come by surprise and the goalie needs to be prepared to cover every inch of the net in a split second. Thus, the size of the goalie plays less of a factor than the quickness, agility, and attention.

Stick Skills – At most the goalie will be making 15 to 30 yard passes out of the back. Superior quality stick skills are not of dire necessity, but again, it could not hurt to have a goalie who is prepared to rifle a pass to a midfielder to start the attack the other way.

Attitude – A good goalie needs to be fearless. If you fear taking a hit with a ball in the slightest, perhaps protecting the net is not your forte. Goalies notoriously have lots of personality and are ready and willing to be vocal leaders of the team. They need to have a willingness to learn the game as reading offensive motive of attack is critical. Maybe most importantly, goalies need to have a ‘next play mode’ type of mindset. If they end up eating a shot for a goal, they cannot let that destroy confidence to save the next one.

Unique Rules – The goalie defends a goal that is 6ft. wide and 6ft. high. Surrounding the goal is a circular crease. Similar to the 6 second rule in soccer, once the goalie makes a save and has possession, he/she has 4 seconds to pass the ball or run the ball out of the crease. For those 4 seconds the goalie is untouchable, however if they take a jaunt outside the crease, they are not allowed back in the crease until they get ride of the ball. A goalie plays with a stick of ‘normal length’ typically 40-50in., however the head of a goalie’s stick is wider. They wear additional gear, that being a throat guard and chest protector.

FURTHER RESEARCH ON THIS  ONE OF THE LACROSSE POSITIONS: Watch some tape from Jesse Schwartzman of the Denver Outlaws

Lacrosse Positions: Defender

Position Role – A defender’s primary job is to disrupt the offensive attack. They want the least amount of shot opportunities at their net as possible. Less shots, means less pressure on the goalie, means less chance of giving up a goal. All good stuff. A defender cannot simply be a brain dead goon ready to body up anybody and everybody who meets them on the field. They need to be smart and attune into the game, constantly trying to read the offensive attack and where any potential threats are arising.

Mike Manley of the Rochester Rattlers: Lacrosse Position - Defender

Mike Manley of the Rochester Rattlers

Remember as well, there is not just one defender. The defenders must work as a unit, communicate, and understanding their defensive assignments. Some defenders are asked to be more aggressive and put more pressure on attackers, while others must play a bit more reserved and be prepared for any penetration of the furthest back line. Also important, defenders should be able to provide some help to the attack. After a save, or after picking up a loose ball, a defender may be required to launch the attack with a pass to a midfielder waiting in dangerous space.

Body Type – There are two sides to the physical body side of things when talking about defenders. There are defenders who are big and on the slower side, and there are defenders who are small, sturdy and quick.

Athleticism – Athleticism connects back to what we said on body type. A big, tall defender can always be beneficial to a team. However, a team may be even in greater need of a player who has speed on their defensive line. A short, quick defender can put interesting pressure on the opposing offensive players.

Stick Skills – It often times is said that players in the back can ‘get away’ with having less than stellar stick skills. No matter the truth to this, having a defender with some stick skill can be huge for sending the attack the other way.

Attitude – The attitude a defender has must be unique. They must be very humble, as they are ask more so to defend goals rather than score them. They have an aggressive nature, but remain careful to not over commit and get beat by an attacker’s moves. Fearing to be aggressive at all can allow the offense to get too close to the net. They must be willing to study the game and understand offensive motives of attack.

Unique Rules – A defensemen (or women) has a long stick. The longer stick allows a defender to keep the attackers at a distance, and as well throw some checks without risking being beaten. The defender can check the attack they are covering. They can use their stick to hit the opposing players’ sticks and arms but nothing else (i.e. head and body). Hitting anything else is labeled as a “slash” penalty. There is also the ‘poke’ check which is a defender using their stick like a pool cue. The defender can use their body for defense. Body checking, or hitting in lacrosse has been said to be very similar to that in hockey. There are only hits straight on, no hits from behind.

FURTHER RESEARCH ON THIS  ONE OF THE LACROSSE POSITIONS: Watch some tape from Mike Manley of the Rochester Rattlers 

Lacrosse Positions: Midfielder

Position Role – The midfielder or middy as many of us call them are the end-to-end type players on a lacrosse team. They need to be well equipped to help the team on both the offensive and defensive side of the field. Lacrosse is a game of transitions (the fastest game on two feet anyone?) and the midfielders are the heart and soul of the transition game. The midfielders on the team must establish congruency between the defensive line and the attackers.

Peter Baum of the Ohio Machine

Peter Baum of the Ohio Machine

Of all the lacrosse positions, an elite game sense is required most for playing in the midfield. They need to know when it is best to push the attack and place themselves in a threatening position, and as well recover back on defense when they feel the opposing team is making a threatening advance themselves. Middies retrieve loose balls, they clear saved shots and they are constantly making runs up and down the field all the while doing their best to control possession of the ball for their team.

Body Type – The midfielder needs to have a great level of strength. Their physical prowess means nothing if they do not have the strength to when a face-off in the middle of the field.

Athleticism – A midfielder is asked to be quite the dynamic player. If you do not feel like you are at an exceptional level of fitness, playing in the midfield might be ugly. A midfielder needs to be able outlast every single player on the field.  A midfielder having speed and explosiveness is an added benefit but the primary focus of a midfield player should always be their level of fitness.

Stick skills – The midfielders should be the most skilled players on the field. Their stick must feel like an extension of their arm. With working on elite stick skills, the vision and sense for the field can come easier and midfielders will be more than capable to orchestrate a successful attack. A midfielder player needs to be a threat. The more attention the take from the defense, the more opportunity will open for the attackers on the team. That being said, a midfielder with the ability to shoot with power and accuracy is also essential to playing the position effectively. They may have less opportunity for taking a shot at the net, but that is exactly why they need to make the most out of their opportunities when they have them.

Attitude – Personally, I think midfielders need to play like quiet assassins. A cocky, arrogant midfielder attracts too much attention. As we said before, the midfielder needs to be ready to be the linking piece between the attack and the defense and their attitude needs to follow. Midfielders need to be the type to lead by example. From every practice to every game, working hard rubs off on other players.

Unique Rules – Particularly unique to the midfielders is the offsides rule. Of course the offsides rule applies to everyone, but the midfielders being the occupants of the most ground on the field need to pay close attention to this for their squad. The center line divides the field in half. Their must be 4 players on the defensive side of the field at all times and 3 players on the offensive side. Midfielders must be aware of this balance and should keep the team in check.

FURTHER RESEARCH ON THIS ONE OF THE LACROSSE POSITIONS: Watch some tape from Peter Baum of the Ohio Machine 

Lacrosse Positions: Attack

Position Role – The attackers need to put the ball in the net. Pretty simple right? Well sort of, manufacturing an effective attack is quite complex, and attackers need to see those opportunities to score that others do not. Attackers do not only need to be able to finish the play and score, but they need to be a great passer as well. Attackers inherently grab a lot of attention on the field, and with that attention they need to find the players on their team the defense has seemed to leave unnoticed.

Rob Pannell of the New York Lizards

Rob Pannell of the New York Lizards

The attackers are usually restricted to one side of the field. On that one side of the field however, the attackers must feel at home. They need to have a level of comfort around the net and begin to grow a sense for creating threatening moves on the field. Attackers should score, or create scoring opportunities OFTEN, unless  they are outmatched. If they are outmatched, do not be surprised if the coach looks to make a change however.

Body Type – There is not a standard body type for an attacker. An attacker can be big and muscle their way to the goal, or they can be smaller, quick and agile and use their cunning to create for their team.

Athleticism – As said before, an attacker can be of various sizes and shapes. However, whatever maneuverability they can add to their arsenal the better. The greater the footwork of an attacking player the harder they are to defend. They need to have exceptional hand/eye coordination as well. Having the ability to take shots with both hands makes an attacker twice as unpredictable. Awesome.

Stick Skills – Similar to the middies, attackers should have top level stick skill. Their ability to be crafty is what gives them opportunities to score or pass to a threatening teammate. As mentioned before, the more ways a player could potentially score the better. If you have a desire to be an elite attacker, be able to score WITH BOTH HANDS. Attackers must be prepared to make precise passes in crowded situations. Or as well, take that shot quicker than a defender or goalie can react. Simply put, spend some serious time with the stick if you hope to be a huge threat to any defense you play against.

Attitude – Attackers have to be confident. If they do not think they are going to score going into a game they are playing the wrong position. An attacker has to think that every shot they take has a chance to go in. If they do not think that, they are doing their team a disservice. A lacrosse team puts confidence in their attackers to score. An attacker who is confident can beat their defender every time. If you are reserved and suffer from some fear of failure, making moves on the field to outwit your defender will be that much harder. Attackers need to be aggressive. They have to be thinking goals, every time they touch the ball, all game. They have to be tough, willing to withstand a beating from a defender, but they cannot let that conflict with their vision of getting goals for their team.

Unique Rules – The attackers can move in any direction with any amount of force as there are not any charging rules. Attack players cannot clamp the ball in their stick with their thumb, chest or helmet (like all players). They cannot push or hit the defender’s stick with their arms or hands, that is called ‘warding’.

FURTHER RESEARCH THIS ONE OF THE LACROSSE POSITIONS: Watch some tape from Rob Pannell of the New York Lizards 


There you have it, the lacrosse positions outlined and explained for you. If you have any further questions, insights or concerns, please leave a comment below or shoot us an email. Speaking of email however, sign up for our nearly established mailing list! All subscribers will be provided with the most up-to-date “OneStopLacrosse” content and news. Keeping LAXin!