What Is Intercrosse?

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The game of Lacrosse is widely spread, especially in the USA. However, there is a version of the game that it is not as popular.

Let’s talk about Intercrosse.

What is Intercrosse? Intercrosse is a modified non-contact version of Lacrosse, mainly created for educational purposes. The game is played with the same equipment as Lacrosse, but different stick and a softer and hollow ball. The game is based on three main ideas: autonomy, respect, and socialization.

When writing this article, I found out that there is not much out there regarding Intercrosse. Therefore, I decided to make an extensive guide to help anybody who might be interested in the sport.

What is Intercrosse?

As mentioned before, Intercrosse is a modified version of Lacrosse. In its origins, the game was created with the idea of being a version of Lacrosse accessible to students of all ages and athletic conditions. 

Some rules were modified, as well as some of the equipment.

The 3 main modifications made from Lacrosse were:

  1. Contact prohibition: in Intercrosse no contact is allowed between the players or the stick and the players. This way, the sport turns out to be less competitive and aggressive, focusing on interceptions and the occupation of spaces.
  2. The ball: unlike the solid rubber ball used for Lacrosse, the ball in Intercrosse is made out of soft rubber. Following its educational purposes, the use of a bigger and softer ball makes the practice safer for the players.
  3. The stick: the major differentiating element in the stick is the material of the head. Whereas the one used in Lacrosse is made out of synthetic mesh or leather and nylon string, in Intercrosse is made entirely from plastic.

Who Invented Intercrosse?

When talking about Intercrosse origins, it is important to know a bit of the history of its “father”, Lacrosse.

According to the first documentations reported, since the 17th century Native Americans from North America and Canada used to play a game called “Baggataway”. The game was believed to be played as preparation for war and spiritual experience; hundreds of men were divided into two teams, and some games lasted days.

Lacrosse as we know it today was founded in 1856 when the first official lacrosse team was created in Canada.

Later in 1982, Pierre Filion (Canada) invented Intercrosse.

In 1980, along with his colleagues -psychologists, sociologists, and teachers- Pierre started discussing the foundations of the new sport. He wanted to create a sport based in Lacrosse, accessible to anybody, regardless of age or physical condition. This way, he wanted to encourage young generations to do exercise.

History Timeline

Intercrosse was invented1982
First Intercrosse trials1985
International Intercrosse Federation (FIIC) was created to spread the sport worldwide1985
First World Games organized by the FIIC1987
First World Cup by nations in Auderghem (Belgium)1999
European Cup creation2010

Educational Game

The sport of Intercrosse was invented by education experts and academics with the sole purpose of creating a sport accessible to anybody that would encourage kids to play sports. Along with those lines, Intercrosse promotes the active participation of the whole team, making it a perfect fit for educational institutions.

The two main aspects that triggered the creation of the sport from a variation of Lacrosse were:

  1. Violence with the use of the body and the stick is permitted by the rules. Lacrosse is a contact sport where players are challenged at any moment. Intercrosse creators wanted to reduce the degree of physicality to make the practice more inclusive.
  2. Differentiation in the rules of the sport depending on gender. By proposing gender-mixed teams, students would have a better understanding of equality through the game. Lacrosse regulations differ depending on gender, and it is subject to discussion by some education professionals.

Essentially, Intercrosse is based on four core values, representing the spirit of the sport. These values are reflected throughout the game and its rules. These values are also known as MARC:

  1. Movement. For example, one of the unique rules of Intercrosse is the prohibition of walking. On top of that, players are only allowed to have the ball for more than 5 seconds. As a result of the combination of these two rules, players are constantly moving.
  2. Autonomy. When playing Intercrosse, players will gain possession of the ball when intercepting it -from a pass, shot,etc-. This way, the chances of a “weaker” player to gain possession of the ball are higher, increasing the inclusion of all players equally.
  3. Respect. Intercrosse promotes a significantly high personal-space distance compared to other contact sports. This way, respecting each other’s boundaries will be crucial in order to succeed.
  4. Communication. Teamwork is encouraged during the game thanks to rules like the 5 second-rule, for example. As the players are only allowed to have the ball for such a small amount of time, the team that works best together will increase their chances of winning.

How do You Play Intercrosse?

Like many other sports, the objective of Intercrosse is to score more goals than the opponent within the regulation time. In order to score the most goals possible, the teams must focus on gaining possession of the ball.

The 10 basic aspects of the game can be listed as follows:

  1. The game is played with a stick, similar to Lacrosse. The main differentiator aspect is the head, made out of plastic instead of the traditional ones used in Lacrosse.
  2. No contact is allowed neither between the players nor the stick. Any contact with the opponent’s body or stick will be sanctioned as a fault, and the ball will be given to the opponent.
  3. Teams must be gender-mixed.
  4. Intercrosse is generally played in 2 teams of 5 players per side. There are two combinations possible: 4 field players and 1 goalkeeper or 5 field players and no goalkeeper.
  5. Each team will have a captain, wearing C on his or her jersey. The captain will be the only player allowed to deal with the referees, in a polite manner.
  6. The ball can be passed, thrown rolled or bounced in any direction using the stick. Exceptions may apply, but we will go into details further down.
  7. Players can freely move around the field, except for the cases we will talk about under the Rules section.
  8. There are two squared goals, similar to the ones used in the game of Lacrosse.
  9. Players are not allowed to carry the ball for more than 5 seconds.
  10. The attacking team must shoot the opponent’s goal within 30 seconds.

The following video will give you an overview of the main aspects of the sport:

What are the Rules of Intercrosse?

The rules of intercrosse are fairly simple, yet there are quite a lot of aspects that you should know.

The Court

  • The court’s dimensions. Intercrosse is played in a rectangular court with a width of 20m or 65 feet, and 40m or 131 feet in length. If played in a school, the dimensions can be flexible and be adapted to the facilities.
  • Ideally, the surface might be flat and skid-free.
  • The preferable material for the practice of Intercrosse is the wooden floor, free of obstacles if possible.

The Lines

  • When playing Intercrosse, the lines are part of the court. Therefore, the dimensions are taken from the outside of the lines of the field.
  • With a minimum of 2,3” or 5cm in width, the lines in the court must be the same color, and in contrast with the court color. By painting them in different colors, the objective is to maximize visibility.
  • The court is divided into three different lines: lateral lines, end lines
  • The court is divided by the central line into 2 zones of the equal surface.
  • 1m behind the lateral line, outside the court, next to the central line there will be an area for the minor officials. In that area, they can allocate a table and 4 chairs and the equipment necessary for the game -30-second clock, scoreboard controller, score sheet, etc-.
  • Substitution zone: it will be allocated on the same side as the minor official’s table. This area will be used for the players to be substituted. It is allocated 9’,8” -3m- away from the central line and measuring 26’,2” -8m- in length.
  • The ceiling must be at least 23’ height -7m- above the court.

REGULATION TIME

  • Each game in Intercrosse will be divided into 4 quarters of 12 minutes.
  • After both the 1st and 3rd quarters, there will be a 2-minute break.
  • Half time: between the 2nd and 3rd quarters, there will be a 5-minute break.
  • The team starting the 1st quarter will also start the 3rd one. Likewise, the team starting the 2nd quarter will also start the 4th and last.
  • At the start of each quarter, each player will take his position in his defensive zone. The ball will be put into play from the goalkeeper’s crease either by the goalkeeper himself or by a field player of his team. Players will be allowed to cross the central line as soon as the head-referee whistles.
  • The scoreboard’s sound signal will announce the end of each quarter, after which the ball will be considered as dead.
  • After each quarter, the teams will switch sides, but the benches remain on the same side.

Overtime

Normally in the sport of Intercrosse, the games consist of 4 quarters. However, if both teams are tied when the time is over, there will be a maximum of two overtime periods of 5 minutes of duration each.

After overtime, if there is no winner, a penalty shootout will determine the winner.

Penalty Shootout

The team winning a coin toss will decide which team will shoot first.

There will be 4 players taking the shots.

Both teams will be alternating shooters.

If the score is still tied, each team will pick a new shooter, until one team misses its penalty and the other team scores, winning the game.

Goalkeepers are also allowed to take penalty shots.

If they all have shot, they can start again, but repeating the same order.

Coin Toss

A coin toss will determine possession of the ball and the courtside. The same will be done before the overtime period and penalty shootout.

Time-out

For each half, each team has 2 time-outs of 1 minute each, not transferable.

Overtime: 1 extra time out.

Time outs are typically only asked when having the possession of the ball.

SUBSTITUTIONS

In the game of Intercrosse, the players can be substituted at any time during the game, similar to handball.

The goalkeepers can be substituted by another goalkeeper or by another field player.

Substitutions can be made only in the substitution zone, next to the central line.

If a team commits an illegal substitution, a foul will be given. Depending on which team is committing the foul, there will be two different outcomes. Defensive team: penalty for the opponent. Attacking team: the ball’s possession to the opponent.

30 Second Rule

The team in possession of the ball will have 30 seconds to shoot on the opponent’s goal. Otherwise, the ball will be given to the opposing team.

If a team shoots at the opponent’s goal, hits the goalkeeper or a goal post, and then retakes possession of the ball, the 30-second clock will be reset at the referee’s signal.

When a penalty shot is called by the referee, a new 30 second period will be given to the team putting the ball back into the game. The 30 seconds will start at the referee’s signal.

The 30-second clock will not be reset under the following situations:

When the ball hits a defensive player and the possession is retaken.

After a time-out.

When fouls that don’t require a switch of possession is committed.

5 Second Rule

One of the unique rules of Intercrosse is the 5 seconds rule. This means that a player cannot keep the ball in his possession for more than that amount of time. 

If this occurs, the ball will be given to the opposing team.

It will be considered in possession when it stays in his/her stick’s head for a brief instant. Balls bouncing off the stick’s head won’t be counting as possession, even if it gets into the head’s pocket.

If a player loses the ball and then recuperates again, it won’t be given an extra 5 seconds, only the remaining seconds.

The ball can’t stay in the goalkeeper’s crease more than 5 seconds. If this occurs, it will be given to the opposing team.

Walking

In the sport of Intercrosse, the players can either run or stay still. Therefore, any player walking -except for the goalkeeper inside the crease- will be committing a fault.

Walking is not permitted under a penalty of giving the ball to the opposing team.

What is considered walking? Taking more than 1 step will be considered as walking.

Pivoting is allowed, similarly to basketball.

As soon as the pivoting foot loses contact with the floor, the player must start running.

The goalkeeper can walk inside the crease.

Holding the Stick

Players must always hold the stick with both hands, otherwise, the ball will be given to the opposing team.

Situations where the players can hold the stick with one hand:

  • Catching a pass.
  • Throwing a pass.
  • Shooting.
  • Faking a shoot or a pass.
  • Recuperate a loose ball.
  • Interceptions.
  • During substitutions.
  • The goalkeeper will be allowed to defend the goal with one hand when inside the crease.

Contacting the Ball

In Intercrosse, the players are not allowed to touch the ball intentionally with any part of the body. This limitation will apply to stop, push or deflect the ball.

Only goalkeepers are allowed to touch the ball, when inside the crease.

If a player touches the ball in an illegal way, he or she will incur into a fault, and the ball will be given to the opponent.

If the ball is touched in an illegal way to stop the ball from scoring, a penalty will be given.

Referees

For each game, there will be one head referee and 4 minor officials: timekeeper, 30-second timekeeper, official scorekeeper and assistant scorekeeper.

Equipment Specifications in Intercrosse

It's time to go over the required specifications for the various equipment used in Intercrosse.

The Goal

  • In Intercrosse, the goal will be similar to the ones used in Lacrosse. Therefore the goal will be squared, with the following dimensions: 1,22m x 1,22m (48”x48”).
  • In order to ensure stability, the structure will weigh a minimum of 65 pounds (29,5kg).
  • It is important to reduce the risk as much as possible. Therefore, the goal will be in contrasting colors, one for the net and a different one for the structure to maximize visibility.
  • The goal will be placed at the center of both end lines, one for each team. The end of the goal line will be aligned with the posts.
  • The crease: the goalkeeper’s territory will be delimited using the center of the goal line as a central point, a half-circle with a radius of 2,75m or 9’ will be traced with a 5cm wide line. This territory will be called the goalkeeper’s crease and will include the half-circle line itself.
  • A straight line of 60 cmx5 cm will be traced 9 m from the center of each goal line, indicating the starting point for a penalty shot. This line will be called the penalty shot line.

The Stick

  • The weight must be between 280g and 380g (9,87oz to 13,4oz)
  • In Intercrosse, the stick used will be called the Crosse. Unlike the ones used in Lacrosse, the head is made out of plastic.
  • The stick consists of a head, a guard and a handle.
  • The length of the stick (handle+head) will be between 86cm and 102,5cm (33,8” to 40,35”).
  • The head only will have a length of 26 to 27,5cm (10,2” to 10,8”)
  • It is the same for the goalkeeper and for the players.
  • The head will be built of plastic and can’t be altered in any way.
  • The hand is made out of wood, fiberglass or metal.

The Ball

  • The ball will be made out of soft rubber, in order to reduce the risk of violent impacts.
  • The weight will be between 80-100g (2,8oz - 3,5oz)
  • The circumference of the ball can be between 23-25cm (9” - 9,8”)

Intercrosse Player Equipment

In Intercrosse, the equipment is pretty much identical to the equipment used in Lacrosse.

However, there are differences between the equipment used by field players or the goalkeepers.

For the field players the equipment will be the following:

  • Stick.
  • Jersey.
  • Running shoes.
  • Shorts.

The goalkeeper’s equipment will be built with the purpose of protecting his or her head and body;

  • Helmet and facemask: helmet with a cage-type facemask to protect his or her head and face.
  • The neck protector: it will come attached to the helmet and facemask.
  • Gloves: any gloves similar to hockey and lacrosse. 
  • Pants: American football pants or ice hockey pants can be used. Hip protection can’t be longer than thigh protectors.
  • Leg protectors: similar to ice hockey players, baseball catchers or lacrosse leg protectors.
  • Shoulder protectors: curved, not squared or pointy.
  • Forearm protectors: max of 20cm or 7,9”. 

Is Contact Ever Allowed in Intercrosse?

The answer to this question might seem obvious as we know that the prohibition of contact is one of the core rules in Intercrosse. 

However, in a sport where 10 players are sharing relatively small space contacts are inevitable. So yes, contacts happen in Intercrosse.

Therefore, we can find within the rules of Intercrosse some situations where contacts might be allowed under certain circumstances. Ultimately, it will be the referee’s decision to call the contact or let the game go.

In determining whether or not to penalize such contact, the referees will in each instance consider the following fundamental principles:

  • Consistency in applying with good criteria the concept of advantage/disadvantage.
  • Seek the continuity of the flow of the game. For example, if a player touches incidentally another player, and the responsible player does not get any advantage of the situation, the referee should let it go, thus benefiting the player that has been touched. Otherwise, it would give an advantage to the infractor.
  • It is very important to apply common sense when ruling an Intercrosse game. Although competitiveness is desirable, other aspects such as the players’ abilities and their attitude throughout the game should be taken into consideration in order to deliver a good balance between the rules and the flow of the game.

What is an Offensive Pick in Intercrosse?

As we just mentioned above these lines, some forms of contact are allowed throughout a game in Intercrosse.

Within the most common situations where contact is allowed, we find the offensive picks.

As in many other sports, an offensive pick is a strategy that allows the players to free a teammate from a defensive player. Picks can be used to free players with the possession of the ball or without the possession of it.

In an Intercrosse’s game, an offensive pick will be legal when the following 3 conditions are met:

  1. The player performing the pick is stationary when contact takes place.
  2. Both feet are on the floor when contact takes place.
  3. The player performing the pick holds the stick either vertically or at a minimum of 45 degrees, using both hands.

Defending in Intercrosse

When playing defense in Intercrosse, the only form allowed will be the man-to-man defense. When in its defensive zone, the team not in possession of the ball will have a brief time by the referees to set a man-to-man defense.

Characteristics of the man-to-man defense:

  • Each defensive player will have a defensive zone no greater than 6’5” or 2m around his or her opponent.
  • A zone defense will be called if a player does not respect the 6’5” -2m- zone rule, resulting in a penalty shot for the opponent’s team.
  • Likewise the zone defense, the players are not allowed to perform double defense when marking the opponents. If a team is called a double defense, a penalty shot will be awarded to the opponent’s team.

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