How Many Players Are on a Lacrosse Team?


From the perspective of a casual spectator, the sideline of a lacrosse team can seem like it is packed full with players. It is difficult to get an accurate gauge of the exact amount of many players on one lacrosse team.

An average sized lacrosse team has 22 to 23 players listed on the roster. However, the number of players can range from 18 on the low end to 26 on the high end. During games, only 10 players are permitted on the field for one team. This makes 20 players on the field in total between the two teams.

Lacrosse coaches do not just determine the amount of roster spots at random. There are a myriad of variables that heavily influence the amount of players on a lacrosse team. These factors are revealed in greater detail in the following paragraphs.

The Average Amount of Players on a Lacrosse Team

As aforementioned, lacrosse teams have 22 to 23 players on average. This is not to say this number is the end all be all. There are plenty of lacrosse organizations that operate just fine with a few less players or a few more players than this average number.

Ultimately, the final roster construction is up to the lacrosse coaches and program directors. There are an assortment of different ways that lacrosse coaches arrange their teams. I provided a chart below to illustrate how most lacrosse teams structure their roster.

Player PositionAmount of Players
Goalies2
Long Pole Defenseman5 or 6
Midfielders8 or 9
FOGO1
Attack5 or 6

Again, the chart above is simply a general guideline of how most lacrosse teams choose to format their roster. How the roster is ultimately chosen is dependent on a number of different circumstances. We will discuss the most prominent of these circumstances next.

Variables that Influence the Number of Players on a Lacrosse Team

The vast spectrum of different sized teams in the sport of lacrosse can be baffling to newcomers. How can there be such a diversity of roster structures?

Adequate Playing Time

The foremost reason that players and coaches generally keep the roster to around 22 to 23 players is playing time.

There is only so much playing time that can go around. As a lacrosse coach, it can be difficult to distribute everyone an equal share of playing time. This is especially evident with larger sized lacrosse teams.

Players want to see the field as much as they can and lacrosse coaches want to be as fair as they can. For both parties to be satisfied, most lacrosse coaches put a cap on their lacrosse teams to prevent the roster from growing too large.

In addition, adequate playing time has a direct relationship with player exposure for club organizations. Most players that invest into participating on a club team do so to take their game to the collegiate level. To reach their collegiate lacrosse aspirations, playing time is a must.

Lacrosse coaches are aware of this fact, which is why they try to showcase their best product when college coaches are present. In situations like these, it is tough to dole out fair game time to players. This complication is magnified with more sizable club lacrosse teams.

This is why most lacrosse coaches and program directors try to eliminate the potential issue of playing time before it even has a chance to manifest itself. They implement try-outs and different competitive tiers to round out the lacrosse rosters with an appropriate sized number of players. For the most part, this method works.

Maximizing Player Stamina

Another major factor in determining roster size is player stamina.

Player stamina is unquestionably tested when the game schedule is packed so tightly. These long, intense games exact a heavy toll on player endurance.

For example, club teams typically take part in lacrosse tournaments. In these lacrosse tournaments, teams are scheduled to play multiple games within the span of a day. Taking on more players for these tournaments is a standard measure for lacrosse coaches to take. It is done to ensure that the players are not overly exhausted when it comes to the latter slate of games.

Often times, the last couple of games are the ones with the most implications. This is the time when the playoffs start and the road to the tournament championship begins.

Without sufficient depth to round out the roster, the players will be too depleted to make a late run at the championship. A steady stream of substitutions helps to diminish this effect.

Next Man Up Philosophy in the Case of Injury

Injuries are another element to take into account when constructing a lacrosse roster.

Unfortunately, injury is a part of lacrosse no matter what level of competition it is. When a player falls victim to injury, the game must go on.

For this reason, the roster needs to have enough depth for someone to take their position on the field. With a roster that is sized too modestly, the coach will not be able to put players in the positions they normally play.

For instance, if the last close defenseman goes down with an ankle sprain, a midfielder will have to pick up the long pole and replace him. The majority of lacrosse teams deliberately structure their teams so the chances of ever reaching this point of desperation are minimal.

This is why each position is stacked with multiple lines at the youth, high school, and collegiate level. Injury is a universal plague that affects every realm of lacrosse. It is for this reason that lacrosse teams need to make every effort to prepare for its eventuality.

Coaching Preference

In addition, coaching preference is another aspect to consider in the formation of a lacrosse roster.

Individual lacrosse coaches have their own offensive and defensive schemes they like to run in game. Some of these lacrosse strategies demand that the roster be structured in a certain way to optimize for its success.

For example, there are a number of lacrosse coaches that preach quick player shifts during games. The rationale behind this substitution strategy is that the players compete at maximum intensity for a short period of time and then sub off for someone who is fresh.

The theory is that it provides teams with a decisive advantage in player stamina since the same players are not on the field the entire game. It also incentivizes the players to run full speed each and every time they touch the field.

The central pillar to properly implementing this strategy is roster depth. There needs to be a steady reserve of players on the sideline ready to hit the field at the drop of a dime. There is no point in constantly subbing on and off if it is the same two players doing the exchange.

Thus, coaches that implement this strategy would most likely carry a few extra players than your average sized lacrosse team.

Furthermore, many lacrosse coaches tend to incorporate team scrimmages into practice. It is an extremely useful tactic to simulate game scenarios. Team scrimmages are also particularly popular among the players. Team scrimmages keep the players happy and the coaches happy.

With ten players per practice squad, at least twenty players are needed to accomplish this. And this is without substitutions. This is another crucial reason why lacrosse coaches choose to have a bit more than twenty players on the roster.

Money

This last variable has to do more with club organizations rather than school programs, but I will include it nonetheless. The final variable that impacts the creation of a lacrosse team is money.

At the end of the day, lacrosse club organizations are a business. The livelihood of the club directors and lacrosse coaches depend upon the amount of many players that are willing to pay to participate in their program.

The more lacrosse players there are on a team, the more money they have in their pocket. Most club organizations do not jam pack lacrosse rosters to fill their pockets, however, I am sure there are some out there that do.

This is why it is important that you research a club organization prior to joining their program. Make sure their program is reputable. Lastly, be certain that the roster does not have an excessive amount of people on it to ensure that you get your fair share of playing time.

The Amount of Players on the Field for Each Team During Games

In contrast to the variable number of players that can be on a lacrosse roster, the number of players out on the lacrosse field per team at any given point during a game remains fixed. Each team is allotted 10 players out on the field at once, which equates to 20 players out on the field in all.

The amount of players per position is listed below for your benefit.

PositionAmount of Players
Goalie1
Defensemen3
Midfielders3
Attack3

There are only two scenarios when the number of players out on the field for a team dips below 10.

The first type of scenario revolves around substitution errors. If a player subbed off the field but no one from the bench came on to replace him, their team would be playing with 9 players instead of 10 players.

The second scenario deals with penalties. A player that commits a foul must sit in the ‘penalty box’ and be excused from play until their penalty is served. During this time, the penalized team must play in a ‘man down’ situation. Again, the team would be playing with 9 players rather than 10 players.

Besides these two scenarios, it is standard for a team to have 10 men playing out on the field.

Austin Carmody

I am the owner of Lacrosse Pack. I enjoy hitting the local lacrosse fields and honing in on the craft in my free time.

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