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Lacrosse Check


The lacrosse check is an essential element of the game. The game is very physical and contact is a big part of it. Being aggressive and physical is a very good quality to have for a lacrosse player especially for defensive and midfield players, but even attackers can benefit from good checking technique especially during a loose ball situation.

Checking is not an attempt to injure or hurt an opponent and penalty's can be called for excessively violent or over aggressive checking. A check may never be below the waste (tripping), above the shoulder(slashing), or from behind for body checks.

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Lacrosse Instruction

Lacrosse check is basically an attempt to:

  • Try to dislodge a ball from an opponent by attacking their stick with your stick
  • Try to harass or disrupt an attacking player
  • Try to block or move an opponent from picking up a loose ball

There are two different basic types of lacrosse check that can be employed:


Stick checks are where a player harasses or attempts to dislodge the ball from an opponents stick, or when he uses his stick to gain position on an offensive player. Stick checks can be made as long as the attempt is to try to contact the opponents stick or glove which is considered part of the stick. Stick checks must be under control and not excessively Violent. You cannot swing the stick like a baseball bat or axe for example.

  • Poke Check - Is a type of lacrosse check used by Long pole defensemen who will very often poke check a player by jamming the net end of his stick into the offensive players gloved hand or stick. This is done by thrusting the stick much like a lance or spear. Using the net end to keep the offense away from the defensive player and to dislodge the ball if possible. As long as the defensive player can maintain position away from the offensive player they have a much better chance to defend the attack. As soon as the offensive player can get close it is easier for them to get by the defender to take a shot. Foot work is absolutely critical to playing good defense. Like in Basketball maintaining position between the offensive player and the goal is critical. The glove is considered to be part of the stick for purposes of checking so the defender will often aim for the glove and utilize the poke check to keep the offensive player away or to dislodge the ball.
  • Slap checks - are a lacrosse check where the defending player slaps at the opponents stick with his own stick and tries to jar the ball loose. It is important that the attempt is to contact the stick. If the slap check misses the stick usually they will not be called for a foul as long as the slap is on the glove or forearm and the force applied is not excessive. Slap checks are meant to dislodge the ball and harass the offensive player not to hurt them. If an overly aggressive slap is applied officials will likely flag the offender with a personal foul penalty even if the check was within the letter of the law so to speak.  While officials tend to allow some latitude on slap checking, A slap check above the shoulder or below the waist is extremely dangerous and that will gain a slashing penalty every time. It is important that proper use of the slap check is being reinforced and that abuse is not tolerated. We encourage officials to establish firm slap check ground rules with teams early in the game so that abuses don’t occur and games get out of hand. I have seen many officials allow way too much in the way of questionable or down right illegal checks and it can be first dangerous and second can totally turn a lacrosse match into a hockey game in a hurry, fights and all. Obviously the younger the players the more strictly the rules should be applied in the interest of safety. The crosse is no longer a weapon regardless of its roots. 
  • Ice Pick Check -
  • Wrap check -
  • Overhead Check -
  • Lift Check -
  • Chop Check -
  • Ding Dong Check -
  • Kayak Check -

The Body Check is the other basic type of lacrosse check. Body checks can only be performed against the ball carrier, or any player within 5 yards of a loose ball. A good example of that would be when a player does a stick check to a ball carrier and knocks the ball to the ground. As players converge to try to scoop the loose ball back up players can basically be blocked away from the ball in an effort to keep them from gaining possession. Except for those two situations body checking is not allowed. A body check is thrown with a players shoulder in a similar manner to how a football player would block for a runner. Tackling is not allowed. Body checks are not allowed at the younger age levels so make sure to check the rules on contact for the age bracket you are playing. Body checks can never be below the waist, above the shoulder, or from behind. Players are never to use their heads as weapons as severe injury can occur.

Cross checking - is a legal lacrosse check where the checker holds their stick in both hands with hands close together, and pushes an opponent with both hands. It is applied by holding the stick in both hands and pushing the offensive player away like if you were doing a bench press. The key to the cross check is that the stick should be held with both hands close together. If the hands are held shoulder width apart like they would be when you are bench pressing or like a soldier might carry a rifle in two hands, that is not legal. You can never check the player with the portion of the stick that is between the checkers hands. The idea is that the force should be delivered by the punching hands which are right next to each other and not by the stick. Crosse checks must be applied below the neck and above the waste, never from behind, and the contact point of the checker should be both hands. If the stick between the hands is touches the player being checked that is an illegal cross check and is a personal foul.

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