Similar to football, the sideline of a lacrosse game is always occupied by lacrosse players. Some are waiting to be sent to the field such as LSMs; others are backup players who are waiting for their opportunities. Regardless of his/her role, every player is an integral part of the team. Yet casual fans and parents might not even know how many players are there on a lacrosse team, let alone the other finer details.
Hence, in this post, we will delve into the topic of how big is a lacrosse team and how many players typically are there. And when it comes to the number of players on the roster, there are a couple of considerations teams take into account which we will get into as well.
In a gist, depending on the program, a common-sized lacrosse team has 25 players, ranging from 15 players on a small team to 45 players on a D1 team. And in an official men’s game, there are only 10 players per team on the field. Whereas in a women’s game, there are 12 players per team at a time.
The average number of players on a lacrosse team
Although on average a lacrosse team has 25 players, many teams choose to go above or under. This goes to show the average isn’t a magic number that is suitable for every team, a smaller or bigger team works just as fine.
By convention, there are a few popular ways to compose and arrange the roster. I researched the top 10 D1 lacrosse teams and every PLL team to illustrate. So below are two charts to demonstrate how D1 lacrosse teams and PLL teams structure their rosters.
NCAA D1 Teams
|Player Positions||Number of Players on average|
|Size of the team||49|
PLL Lacrosse Teams
|Player Positions||Number of Players on average|
|Size of the team||26|
One key takeaway is collegiate lacrosse has roughly double the number of players as professional lacrosse, in particular, D1 teams have way more midfielders than PLL teams. There are many factors and reasons as to why they have different sizes of teams. Let’s find out in the next section.
Read also: Best Beginner Lacrosse Sticks in 2022
Factors that determine the size of a lacrosse team
There are a couple of important reasons why teams have different sizes, namely level of play, efficient playing time, room for injuries, team strategy and budget.
Level of play
As you see in the previous section, depending on the level of the program, there’s no one size fits all. At the high school and college level, as there are more players to select from, teams tend to retain as much talent as they can. Even though there’s a cap on the number of varsity players, lacrosse coaches are generally open to keeping the majority of the players on the roster.
However, in professional lacrosse, teams have significantly fewer players to maintain their competitiveness and efficiency. Every year there’s only so few college players get drafted to play pro as there are fewer opportunities to go around.
Efficient playing time
There is a big downside to large sized lacrosse teams, which is not enough playing time to pass around. In order to give every player a fair chance to play and showcase his/her skill, coaches have to limit the number of players they put on the team.
Because playing time is crucial for players looking to continue their careers to the next level, coaches don’t take this decision lightly. To promote fairness, at the beginning of the season, all players will go through try-outs to demonstrate their skills. This is the best way to gauge whether a player got the skills to make varsity lacrosse.
Room for injuries
Injuries are the biggest enemies teams can’t shy away from. Especially during a busy season, injury is an external factor that impacts the outcome of the games. When injuries do happen, teams must be prepared to fill in the spots.
Because of this, every lacrosse team has multiple players ready to take one specific position in case of injuries. This is why you see every player position has well above the number of players needed on the field at a time. No one can predict when injuries will happen, so the best thing teams can do is to be prepared.
The factors we mentioned above are for objective reasons, this one, however, is heavily influenced by the team coaches. Different coaches have different styles, which leads to different preferences in how they structure the roster.
For coaches that like to run aggressive offensive schemes, players have to quickly run up and down the field during transitions. This allows the team to have an upper hand against the opponents who prefer playing at a slower pace. To carry out this strategy, the team needs enough middies to sub in and out so that they could run at full speed without getting tired.
This is just one example where a team strategy could influence how the roster is structured. And since this is a decision by the coach, it gives you a glimpse into how different strategies affect the size of the teams.
This is less of a concern for NCAA lacrosse teams, but for MCLA and Professional leagues, budget plays an important role. By and large, the size of the budget has a direct impact on how big the team could be.
After all, running a lacrosse team is like running a business. It requires money to operate. Especially for MCLA, players have to pay dues in order to play since they are essentially clubs.
A potential red flag to be aware of when it comes to the budget is if a club or amateur team has more than 50 players, they are likely milking the players and pocketing the money.
NCAA programs won’t have this concern since they are supported by the schools and NCAA organization financially.
I hope this post provided you with the knowledge and answer you were looking for. Put simply, to determine how many players are on each lacrosse team, there are a few considerations to take into account. As an experienced player or fan, you could sometimes pick up a few things about the team simply by scanning the roster.