A Guide To The National Lacrosse League

The National Lacrosse League is a professional box lacrosse league in North America. It was founded in 1986 and currently has fifteen teams in total, with ten teams in the United States and five in Canada. The league is headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and is the largest and most successful professional lacrosse property in the world.

For those who are new to the sport of lacrosse, the National Lacrosse League can be an exciting and intimidating place. However, with the right guidance and knowledge, anyone can enjoy the fast-paced, action-packed games that the league has to offer. This guide aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the National Lacrosse League, including its history, rules, and teams, to help fans get the most out of their experience.

History of the National Lacrosse League

Origins of Lacrosse

Lacrosse is a sport that originated among various Native communities in North America in the early 17th century. It was played throughout modern Canada, but was most popular around the Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic seaboard, and American South. The game was played with a ball and a stick, and the objective was to score goals by hitting the ball into the opposing team’s net.

Formation of the National Lacrosse League

The National Lacrosse League (NLL) is a men’s professional box lacrosse league in North America. It was founded in 1986 by Chris Fritz and Russ Cline, and it is headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The league currently has fifteen teams: ten in the United States and five in Canada. The NLL has a rich history, with many notable players and teams. One of the most famous players in league history is Tom Finneran, who holds the record for most consecutive indoor lacrosse games played (138). The league has also had many successful teams, including the Toronto Rock, who have won six championships. In 2003, the NLL announced a return to the YES Network (Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network) for the 2003-04 season. This move helped to increase the league’s visibility and popularity, and it has continued to grow in popularity ever since. Overall, the National Lacrosse League has a rich history and is an important part of the North American sports landscape. With its exciting style of play and passionate fanbase, it is sure to continue to grow and thrive in the years to come.

The Teams of the National Lacrosse League

Current Teams

The National Lacrosse League (NLL) currently has fifteen teams, with ten teams located in the United States and five in Canada. These teams are:

Team City Country
Albany FireWolves Albany, New York United States
Buffalo Bandits Buffalo, New York United States
Calgary Roughnecks Calgary, Alberta Canada
Colorado Mammoth Denver, Colorado United States
Georgia Swarm Duluth, Georgia United States
Halifax Thunderbirds Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
Las Vegas NLL Las Vegas, Nevada United States
Minnesota Swarm St. Paul, Minnesota United States
New England Black Wolves Uncasville, Connecticut United States
New York Riptide Uniondale, New York United States
Philadelphia Wings Philadelphia, Pennsylvania United States
Rochester Knighthawks Rochester, New York United States
San Diego Seals San Diego, California United States
Saskatchewan Rush Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Canada
Toronto Rock Toronto, Ontario Canada

Former Teams

Over the years, the NLL has had several teams that are no longer in operation. These teams include:

  • Anaheim Storm
  • Arizona Sting
  • Boston Blazers
  • Calgary Roughnecks (original)
  • Chicago Shamrox
  • Columbus Landsharks
  • Edmonton Rush
  • Montreal Express
  • New Jersey Storm
  • New York Saints
  • Orlando Titans
  • Ottawa Rebel
  • Portland LumberJax
  • Quebec City Express
  • Rochester Knighthawks (original)
  • Syracuse Smash
  • Vancouver Ravens

It’s worth noting that some of these teams have since been replaced by new teams, such as the Rochester Knighthawks, which were replaced by the Halifax Thunderbirds.

The Rules of the National Lacrosse League

Playing Field

The indoor lacrosse playing surface of the National Lacrosse League (NLL) shall be of artificial material as approved by the NLL. It shall be enclosed by a wall known as the dasherboards which may be constructed of wood, plastic, and/or other materials. The dimensions of the playing surface shall be 200 feet long by 85 feet wide. The goals shall be 4 feet wide by 4 feet high, and the crease shall be 9 feet in diameter.


The equipment required for players includes a stick, helmet, gloves, shoulder pads, elbow pads, and mouthguard. All equipment must meet NLL standards and be approved by the league. Players must wear the same color jerseys as their teammates, and goalkeepers must wear a different color jersey from both teams.


The NLL uses a 30-second shot clock that starts its countdown once one team gets possession of the ball. If the offense does not shoot the ball in time, they lose possession. The game consists of four quarters, each lasting 15 minutes, with a 15-minute halftime break. Teams may call a timeout once per half, and the game may end in a tie.


A goal is scored when the ball completely crosses the plane of the goal line. Each goal is worth one point. If a goal is scored during a power play, it is considered a power-play goal. If a goal is scored while a team is short-handed, it is considered a short-handed goal. If the game ends in a tie, the teams will play a sudden-death overtime period. The first team to score wins the game. Overall, the NLL rules are designed to ensure player safety while maintaining the fast-paced and exciting nature of the game. By following these rules, players and fans alike can enjoy the thrill of indoor lacrosse in a safe and fair environment.

The National Lacrosse League Season

Regular Season

The National Lacrosse League (NLL) regular season usually starts in December and runs through April. The 2022-23 season will have the largest schedule in the league’s history with 135 games. The season will begin with Face Off Weekend on December 2-3, 2022, featuring six games, three matchups in Canada and three in the U.S. Each team will play 18 games, nine at home and nine away. The top four teams in each division will advance to the playoffs.


The NLL playoffs will begin in May with the top four teams from each division competing in a single-elimination tournament. The first round will feature divisional matchups, with the winners advancing to the division finals. The division finals winners will then meet in the NLL Championship game.

Championship Game

The NLL Championship game is the culmination of the season and is played in June. The game will feature the winners of the division finals, with the team with the best record hosting the game. The winner of the game will be crowned the NLL Champion. The NLL season is an exciting time for lacrosse fans, with high-intensity games and top-notch players from around the world. With the largest schedule in league history, the 2022-23 season promises to be one of the most exciting yet.

Watching and Attending National Lacrosse League Games

Television and Streaming Options

Fans who cannot attend National Lacrosse League games in person can still enjoy the action from the comfort of their own homes. The National Lacrosse League has partnered with ESPN to broadcast select games on its linear networks. Fans can also stream games live on ESPN+ and TSN.ca. Additionally, the National Lacrosse League offers a subscription-based service called NLLTV, which allows fans to stream all games live and on-demand. Subscribers can also access exclusive content, such as player interviews and behind-the-scenes footage.

Attending Games in Person

Attending a National Lacrosse League game in person can be an exciting and memorable experience. Tickets can be purchased through the league’s official website or through individual team websites. Prices vary depending on the location of the game and the seat selection. Fans attending games in person should be aware of the league’s COVID-19 policies and procedures. As of 2023, the league requires all fans to wear masks while inside the arena. Fans may also be required to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result. Fans can also enhance their game-day experience by participating in pre-game events and activities. Many teams offer fan zones, where fans can meet players, participate in games and contests, and purchase team merchandise. Overall, whether watching from home or attending in person, the National Lacrosse League offers an exciting and entertaining experience for lacrosse fans.


The National Lacrosse League is a professional indoor lacrosse league that has been in existence since 1986. With 15 franchises across the United States and Canada, the league has grown to become the third-highest attended indoor sport in the world, behind only the NHL and NBA.

The league has undergone several changes over the years, including the introduction of new teams, a new playoff format, and conference realignment. The 2022 season saw the introduction of two new teams, the Albany FireWolves and Panther City Lacrosse Club, which brought the total number of teams to 15.

The National Lacrosse League has a rich history, with roots dating back to the Native American game of lacrosse. Over the years, the league has grown to become a major force in the world of professional sports, with a loyal fan base and a reputation for exciting, fast-paced action on the field.

Whether you are a die-hard fan or a newcomer to the sport, the National Lacrosse League has something to offer. With a wide range of teams, players, and events, there is always something new and exciting happening in the world of indoor lacrosse. So why not check out a game or two and see what all the fuss is about?

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