More than 500 years ago, the Iroquois, Huron and Algonquin tribes were engaged in a sport that would become lacrosse. Baggataway, as lacrosse was then known, was used as military training with as many as 1000 players at a time gunning for the deerskin ball. Over time, the melee that was lacrosse would become a game governed by the rules set forth by US Lacrosse, whose primary aim is to preserve the integrity of the game and safety of the players.
Europeans first learned about lacrosse from Native Americans in the 1600s. A French team was the first to challenge a Native American team in 1740 and lost quite handily. In 1851, a European team finally defeated a Native American team; the sport subsequently increased in popularity in the Montreal area. French settlers gave lacrosse its name because the sticks used by the Natives bore a resemblance to the crosier, which bishops would carry during religious ceremonies.
Field and box, the two types of lacrosse, have different rules and regulations. Box lacrosse, for example, involves more contact because the area of play is smaller. Each type of lacrosse takes place on a different surface; field lacrosse is played on a grass or turf field and box lacrosse takes place in a hockey style arena. Men and women can participate in both versions of the sport.
One of the most important rules in lacrosse is the hand-ball rule. If a player other than the goalie touches the ball with his glove, the other team receives possession of the ball. Other infractions like cross-checking, high-sticking, holding, checking from behind and hooking will lead to the referee sending the player off the playing surface for two minutes. The referee can eject a player from the game for more severe infractions, such as spearing and fighting.
Because of the physical nature of lacrosse, players must wear protective equipment. Participants should wear helmets, gloves, shoulder pads, elbow pads and kidney pads. You will also need a lacrosse stick, which comes in the form of a shaft with a pocket on the end. Goalies can wear additional padding on their legs, torsos and arms, since they must block the ball. Goalies also use a stick with a larger head, which helps them to make saves.