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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A 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
  • Body Checks

Stick Checks

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 Check - 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 - While having two hands on your stick, you run with your opponent and release your bottom hand, then wrap your stick around your opponent's body. If right-handed, you would throw against a lefty cradler. You are trying to hit the head of his stick. If you miss the check, get both hands back on your shaft ASAP and try again. Out of all the checks, this is the easiest and most effective check.
  • Overhead Check - While running with your opponent, you go over his head while your butt end is pointed to the sky. You are trying to come down on his hands or stick. It's dangerous, but it looks great when you land it! Good check for taller players. Former Hopkins player and current coach Dave Pietramala was the master of this check.
  • Lift Check -
  • Chop Check -
  • Ding Dong Check - While running with an opponent, you lift both hands up like you are going over his head while your stick is in front. Instead of going over his head, you come back down across the front of his body to check his stick. This is an advanced check that is extremely effective once you learn how to throw it properly. Rick Beardsley from Syracuse made this check look easy against first-team All-Americans.
  • Kayak Check - Also called the "scissor" check. When a right-handed defenseman is going against a right-handed cradler, a kayak can be thrown. After throwing a butt dig, you come in close like you are doing a dig again. Only instead of digging the butt, you cross your hands while throwing the butt end of your stick at your opponent's stick head. You have to cross your arms like scissors while reaching with your butt end to hit his stick head. Not many people can throw it effectively. Hopkins great Rob Doerr threw the most effective kayak I have ever seen.

Body Checks

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 3 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.

Some great tips to get you going:

Try Some Dodges

Every man on the attack should try at least two dodges every game. Learn at least three different types of dodges.

Zigs and Zags

Zig your cuts, fake left - go right, fake right - go left. Don't always run at the same speed, change of pace is a very effective method of getting open.

Fake Passes

When you have the ball, be constantly faking passes - keep your defense man's stick moving. Go ahead, throw that sky-whammy.

Loose Ball on the Ground

When there is a loose ball on the ground, go after it fast and hard, you must have the ball!

Outside Shooting

On all long shots, a man must be on the crease.

Make Good Passes

Take pains to make every pass a good pass.

Move the Ball

Don't dodge if there is an open man. Don't hold the ball long unless you are planning a dodge. Keep it moving with quick, short passes.

Be an Outlet

If an attack man is being ridden hard and can't dodge or get away - the nearest man on each side goes to help him.

After the Pass

If you receive a pass after cutting and haven't got a good shot, hold onto the ball.

Crease Play

On every screen shot the crease man should check-up on the defense man's stick, and immediately face the goalie, so that he is ready to bat in a rebound.

Keep Proper Spacing

Never stand so close together that one defense can cover two offense.

Time Your Cuts

Time your cuts, don't cut if the man with the ball is not watching or not in position to pass.

Teamwork is Key

Always remember that teamwork is the key to a good attack.

Possessing the Ball

When in possession of ball, make the defense man play your stick - watch his stick - the position of it will determine the direction of your feed and the type of dodge you might try.

Give and Go

After receiving a pass, as the ball moves around the outside, look first at the man who threw you the ball to see what he is doing, then at the crease.

Ride Hard

When you lose the ball, ride it. The close attack must ride and ride hard until the ball is past midfield.

Hard Work

Hard work is great, but hard and efficient work is even better.

Away From the Defense

In moving the ball around the circle, make all passes sharp, short, and to the outside, away from the defense man.

Get it Off the Ground

After picking up a loose ball, turn and face the crease immediately. If nobody is open, move in fast until you are picked up.

Make Passes Hard

Make feed passes hard.