Those Darn Box Lacrosse Rules!

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Those Darn Box Lacrosse Rules!

Postby picknroll » Mon Sep 21, 2009 3:15 pm

Well, I hate to admit this but I've probably been to 20 or 30 Stealth games over the last few years without really understanding the rules of Canadian Box Lacrosse. Ironically I've finally figured it out after the Stealth have gone. Thought I would pass on my new-found knowledge even though we don't have a box team to go watch any more.

Now I am not talking about the obvious difference like 6v6 versus 10v10 and the 4 foot goal instead of the 6 foot goal. Those are things that you can immediately see when watching a box game. I'm talking about differences in rules that make a huge difference in the game, but may not be so obvious to the casual box fan.

1. Legal Off ball Contact
In field lacrosse contact with a player greater than 5 yards from the ball is interference, unless the offensive player runs into a staionary defender (i.e. off ball pick). Off ball contact is legal in box lacrosse in the offensive area equivalent to the restraining line in field lacrosse. That's why you see the offball guys fighting for position. You can literally push the offball guy out. Big difference.

2. No Man/Ball on Ground Ball
Somewhat ironically (to me) you can't play the man on ground balls. Contact is allowed, but every player must be playing the ball on ground balls. A field-type man/ball play will result in an interference call and possession will be awarded to the other team.

3. Penalties on Loose Ball Pushes
In field lacrosse pushing from behind on a loose ball results in loss of possession. In box lacrosse the offender gets sent to the penalty box 4 minutes non releasable. The reason behind this rule is there are boards in box lacrosse so a push from behind could result in a player being slammed into the boards.

4. No Clamps on Face Offs
It blew me away when I learned that after all the face offs I watched in box I never realized there was no clamp. The first motion of the face off guy's stick must be backward. It's basically a ground ball contest with the ball popping as each face off guy draws his stick back.

5. No "Possession" Call on Face Offs
There's a little circle in the center of the field. As soon as the ball leaves that circle players from each end are free to leave the restraining box.

6. Limited Slap Checks
Any "wind up" on a slap check can result in slashing even if the defender hits all hand or stick. Not sure about this one as I seem to remember seeing one-handed wrap checks in those Stealth games. Poke checks and lift checks are legal just like field, it's just the slap check that is different and must be a very small controlled slap check.

7. Legal Cross Checks
This is the one that's always a jaw dropper for us field guys. It can't be lacrosse if cross checking is legal! Actually this is not as bad it sounds. Legal cross checks must occur with the defender's arms full extended before making contact with the offensive player. The defender can not start with his elbows bent and then extend out hitting the ball carrier (which I used to think was legal). That's why there are "cross checking" calls in box lacrosse, which I never understood. Every time I heard a cross checking call I would think "wait, cross checking is legal - how is that a penalty?". It's because the defender did not have his arms fully extended before engaging. The box lacrosse version of cross checking is bascially "equal pressure" defense, but using bare stick. It's still a tough one for us field purist to swallow. The box guys wear special pads because of the ability of the defender to use a bare stick. They wear hard shell pads on their upper arms as the offensive guy is often leaning into bare stick and they also wear hard shell rib pads.

8. Thirty Second Shot Clock
This is one of the obvious differences, but the strategy changes caused by the shot clock are not so obvious. The defensive strategy in box become "contain" as there is no need for a take away check. The defense wins if they contain for 30 seconds so there's no point in risking take away checks. "Contain" means win position - both on ball and off ball. That's why it's such a physical battle out there for position. Offensively perimeter ball movement doesn't help much. It's a pick and roll game where fast ball movement is paramount to get off a quality shot in 30 seconds.

I'll have to admit my bias is toward the field game, like most Californians. I do believe it is interesting; however, to understand this box game that produced players like Gary Gait, arguably our greatest field player. It's really a totally different game.
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