Box lacrosse is a variant of the traditional field lacrosse game that is played indoors on a smaller, enclosed playing surface known as a box. The history of box lacrosse is rich and has evolved over time. NJLT Box
LATE 19TH CENTURY: ORIGINS
The roots of box lacrosse can be traced back to the late 19th century in Canada, particularly in cities like Montreal and Toronto. The sport’s origins are closely tied to field lacrosse, which was already popular at the time.
Ball players, a hand-colored lithograph by George Catlin
EARLY 20TH CENTURY:
As the popularity of field lacrosse grew, players and enthusiasts sought ways to continue playing the sport during the colder months when outdoor conditions were less favorable. In the 1920s, indoor lacrosse games began to be played in hockey arenas, which provided enclosed spaces that were conducive to playing during winter.
The game’s rules started to adapt to the indoor environment, with modifications to accommodate the smaller playing area and the faster pace of play. These adaptations laid the groundwork for what would become box lacrosse.
The sport continued to evolve, with more structured rules emerging specifically for indoor play.
In the 1930s, leagues and organizations dedicated to box lacrosse began to form, especially in Ontario, Canada. The first “official” box lacrosse league, the Ontario Lacrosse Association (OLA), was established in 1933. This marked a significant step in the sport’s development, as it provided a platform for organized competition and rule standardization. The sport continued to evolve, with more structured rules emerging specifically for indoor play.
North American Indian Lacrosse
SPREAD & PROFESSIONALIZATION
Box Lacrosse gained popularity beyond its Canadian roots and spread to the United States and other countries. The sport continued to grow in popularity, and by the 1970s and 1980s, professional box lacrosse leagues emerged, such as the National Lacrosse League (NLL) in Canada and the Major Indoor Lacrosse League (MILL) in the United States (which later became
Global Expansion and Modernization
Box Lacrosse continued to expand globally, with more countries adopting the sport and establishing their own leagues and competitions. The rules of the game continued to evolve to enhance player safety, improve gameplay, and accommodate the growing talent pool.
The NLL and other professional leagues gained more prominence and popularity, helping to increase the sport’s visibility and fanbase. Today, box lacrosse remains a thriving sport with a passionate following. It’s played at various levels, from youth leagues to international competitions.
Throughout its history, box lacrosse has maintained its unique identity and characteristics, offering a fast-paced and physically intense version of the traditional game. Its evolution from informal indoor play to organized leagues and international competitions has solidified its status as a distinct and beloved form of lacrosse.
1990 Lacrosse Game
2014 Lacrosse Game