Box Lacrosse vs. Field Lacrosse: Similarities & Differences (An Exclusive 2023 List)

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If you're a lacrosse fan, you know about field lacrosse and box lacrosse. You might play one variant or another, depending on where you live.

Field lacrosse is more popular in the US and box lacrosse in Canada, but many Americans switch to the box variant to keep their skills sharp during the winter season.

However, this is not the only difference, as field and box variants include other differences and similarities.

Stay tuned as the guide discusses a wholesome list of box lacrosse vs. field lacrosse and offers a detailed review!


Take Away Key Points:

  • Box lacrosse is an indoor lacrosse variant, while field lacrosse is an outdoor lacrosse sport taking place on a different playing surface
  • The size of the playing field differs - the field area is much bigger
  • Box lacrosse requires fewer players than field lacrosse game-play
  • Indoor players use similar sticks, while fielders have different short or long sticks
  • Indoor players have a shot clock that the fielders lack
  • Goalies also wear different equipment, as field game offers more space and possibilities for less equipment, unlike the box game
  • The field is played only in summer months, while indoors is played during the whole year
    field play includes offsides, while the indoor play doesn't have offsides

National Lacrosse League vs. Major Lacrosse League

box lacrosse helmet vs field lacrosse helmet

The NLL and the MLL are the main representative official bodies of the men's field and box lacrosse leagues. The NLL is the leading association for indoor lacrosse, while the MLL governs the field variant. Their primary purpose is to set specific regulations, rules, and standards for teams to follow, and keep the game optimal, generally speaking.

The associations are also responsible for various competitions and championships, determining the organization and management of the tournaments.

However, the MLL doesn't exist longer by its old name. It merged with the Premier Lacrosse League, and together they have created a new Premier Lacrosse League, responsible for teams, rules, and competitions.

Key Differences Between Box and Field Lacrosse

Let's list all the significant differences between the two sports to better understand their concepts.

1. Box vs. Field lacrosse playing area

The first distinction between box and field lacrosse is the playing area. Traditional field lacrosse is played on a field resembling a football field or a soccer field. Box lacrosse is played indoors, on a confined ice-hockey rink with removed ice or an indoor soccer field.

Field lacrosse playing area measures 110x60 yards of the turf field, while box lacrosse is typically played on an ice hockey rink that measures 180-200x80-90 feet. Goals are also of different sizes. Box game uses 4x4.9 feet goals, while field game uses 6x6 feet goals.

2. Field lacrosse vs. Box lacrosse rule differences

Another difference between box lacrosse and field lacrosse tackles the number of players. This is the key difference between the two sports.

The field lacrosse includes ten players at any given time - nine players and one goalie on the playing surface. The field lacrosse players include:

field lacrosse stick vs box lacrosse
  • Three defensive players: the main goal is to prevent the opposing team's offensive player from scoring goals
  • Three midfielder lacrosse players: excel in a transition game, combining offense and defense
  • Three offensive players/attackers: the primary goal is to score goals, and these lacrosse players generally have sharper stick skills

Playing box lacrosse includes six players on the indoor lacrosse field:

- five runners, and

- one goalie at any time, but not penalties.

The five players combine three offensive players and two defenders, but the positions will also vary if the team's strategy is different.

3. Box vs. Field lacrosse goalies

The third difference between box and field lacrosse is in the goalkeeper's equipment. The field lacrosse goalie might seem to wear only a helmet, while the box lacrosse goalie wears full protective equipment. Let's see why.

The field lacrosse goalkeeper wears only four pieces of protective gear: a helmet, gloves, a lacrosse stick, a cup.

The main reason for this is field lacrosse game plays on the field lacrosse pitch, an open area with too much space for the game.

In addition, shots usually come from a much greater distance than in box lacrosse. The goalie area in field lacrosse is also much bigger than in box lacrosse, so players cannot get so close to the goalkeeper.

Finally, netting is also bigger in the field than box lacrosse; lacrosse ball is less likely to hit the goalkeeper.

On the other hand, the box lacrosse game takes place on the indoor soccer fields or ice-hockey ranks, so box lacrosse players have less space from the start.

A box lacrosse goalkeeper is fully protected with more playing gear than the field lacrosse goalies wear. Box lacrosse goalies usually wear:

The box goalies need more equipment as they face more shots nearby, as the goalie area in the box is much smaller than in the open field. Also, the net is smaller than the field variant, so box players are likelier to hit the goalie with their shots.

4. Box vs. Field lacrosse equipment

box lacrosse goalie vs field lacrosse goalie

Another key difference in the box vs. field lacrosse is the equipment.


Playing box lacrosse sport doesn't require different stick lengths. Box players use the same sticks regardless of their positions.

However, the outdoor game requires different sticks for players in the defensive and offensive zone. Defending players use a long stick (52-72 inches), while attacking players and midfielders use a short stick (40-42 inches).

The main reason for such general rules is the size of the playing area. The outdoor lacrosse sport offers more space for all players, so the defense must use longer sticks to prevent the opposing team from scoring. In addition, the long sticks keep attackers further away from the goal.


Box lacrosse players wear either volleyball or basketball shoes for traction and protection, while field players wear cleats, turf shoes, or soccer cleats.

5. Contact rules

Both field and box lacrosse are full-contact sports, but box lacrosse is even more physical and harder too. Thus, specific rules refer to both variants. Let's learn the differences.

Making contact

In the box lacrosse sport, players can only make contact if another player has ball control. The rules also allow hitting players without the ball in the offensive zone in specifically determined areas.

In the field variant, players can make contact only in the loose ball case or if another player has possession of the ball. So, players can make contact within five yards of the ball.

However, the two variants are similar in making contact with goalkeepers. No one can touch the goalies when they are inside the crease - a designated area with privileges. Once the goalkeeper is out of the crease and has control of the ball, other players can make contact with him.


Box lacrosse is more physical than the other game, so the play includes more off-ball movements involving cross-checking. The field play is different, as cross-checking is played only in defense.


In field play, only midfielders can play on both sides of the terrain, but attackers and defenders must remain in their designated areas. However, the box play does not include offsides, so players must learn how to play in both offensive and defensive areas.

6. Shot clock

The shot clock rule applies to box lacrosse only and is identical to basketball shots. The team has thirty seconds to shoot the ball once they gain possession. Otherwise, the opponents get possession of the ball. This rule creates a faster pace in the game of box lacrosse, so only a little time for a strategy.

Field lacrosse, on the other hand, doesn't use the time limit to shoot on the goal and net. So, there is a better strategic aspect in the open playing field.

7. Year-round accessibility

The main reason the open lacrosse playing field is not popular in Canada is the weather and seasonal requirements. Box lacrosse is more accessible and popular as it's played inside, regardless of the weather conditions. It's played year-round.

Field lacrosse games take place outside due to required weather conditions. Therefore, it can be played only during summer if the weather permits.

However, more and more players choose to play box lacrosse during the off-season, as they practice more not to lose their strength. Compared to this, field lacrosse continues to gain popularity in Canada.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is box lacrosse better than field lacrosse?

The box game is not necessarily better than the field variant. It's only harder and faster, requiring a short time to score goals. In addition, there is more physical contact among the players, and fighting is also allowed to some extent, so the game requires more physical strength.

Is field lacrosse more popular than box lacrosse?

field lacrosse ball vs box lacrosse ball

Yes, field lacrosse is more popular than box lacrosse, but only in the United States. However, box lacrosse is more popular than field lacrosse in Canada.

Is box lacrosse dangerous?

Yes, it is dangerous to some extent. But remember that box lacrosse is as dangerous as any other full-contact, such as ice hockey, football, wrestling, etc. However, with the proper equipment, respecting rules, and following the given standards, players can be safe during matches.

How much does a professional box lacrosse player make?

A professional box lacrosse player earns $171,396 on average. The salaries range from lower than $149,369 to higher than $196,599.

Does box lacrosse have more tournaments than field lacrosse?

Both lacrosse variants organize specific World Lacrosse/ World Indoor Lacrosse championships every four years.

How old do you have to be to play box lacrosse?

You need to be between five and 65 years old to play box lacrosse. The younger players are divided into specific categories with their rules ad standards.

The Final Verdict

The sports use different equipment, the number of players, and playing areas of different sizes for the optimal game. The games also provide or do not offer offsides and require less or more physical strength.

The closed variant is available during the whole year round and is more popular in Canada, while the open-field game is reserved only for summer months and is more popular in the United States.

For this reason, various players choose the closed variant during the off-seasons to practice more and gain more strength and sharpness. As fans, you can try both variants to see which one suits you better.

Freddy Woods

Freddy is the heart and soul of Lacrosse Runner. As a former athlete, Freddy is very passionate about Lacrosse. He keeps up with the sport's changes and innovations and often tests the new equipment released by the leading manufacturers. Read more here