World Lacrosse has officially launched a new six-a-side discipline ©World Lacrosse

World Lacrosse has officially launched a new six-a-side version of the sport with the ultimate goal of Olympic inclusion.

The format - called World Lacrosse Sixes - has been developed following a comprehensive consultation process around the world and aims to accelerate the growth of the sport.

It is believed the streamlined discipline will appeal more to the International Olympic Committee which wants to reduce the cost and complexity of the Games and promote more youth-focused sports.

Sixes will bring the size of a lacrosse team down from 10, while there will also be a 30 second shot clock.

Matches will be played in four quarters of eight minutes and there will be fewer stoppages in play alongside greater speed and tempo.

The new discipline is described as "a modern interpretation of a game built upon time-honoured traditions and values" and World Championships are now planned.

It is not designed to replace the traditional lacrosse disciplines of field and box but it is hoped sixes will allow more countries to be competitive over time.

"This is the beginning of an exciting new era for World Lacrosse and lacrosse players around the globe," said World Lacrosse President Sue Redfern. 

"As the newest offering from our International Federation, World Lacrosse Sixes is an ideal complement to our existing field and box disciplines. 

"Sixes blends many of the most popular aspects of the field and box games and introduces new elements that appeal to the next generation of sport participants and fans. 

"Many of the most successful International Federations in sport are introducing smaller sided variations of their traditional offerings in order to meet the interest and demand of today's athletes, and that's what sixes helps us achieve."

The first rules for sixes were announced in November after World Lacrosse's Blue Skies Working Group developed the discipline.

The new discipline is aimed at increasing the worldwide appeal of lacrosse, with the ultimate goal of Olympic inclusion ©Getty Images
The new discipline is aimed at increasing the worldwide appeal of lacrosse, with the ultimate goal of Olympic inclusion ©Getty Images

An identity has been created by London-based brand agency Zag, while research has found that 97 per cent of national team athletes support the pursuit of Olympic inclusion.

"Throughout the development of this new discipline, the voice and perspective of athletes has helped shape every major decision that was made," said World Lacrosse chief executive Jim Scherr. 

"Today's introduction is just the beginning. 

"We will continue to modify and refine this discipline, leaning heavily on input from those for whom it was designed while expanding the technical resources available to players, coaches, officials and league administrators. 

"We will also introduce an international calendar of events, culminating with a World Championship, through which players from around the world will be able to showcase their skills in sixes."

Sixes is due to be the lacrosse discipline contested at next year's World Games in American city Birmingham.

A number of National Federations are also planning their own domestic competitions.

"Our goal was to create an innovative new discipline that helps to scale international participation growth and position lacrosse for inclusion at the highest levels of international sport competition," said Steve Stenersen, who chaired the Blue Skies Working Group. 

"Creating a hybrid version of our existing field and box disciplines with smaller squad sizes was quickly embraced as a common solution to achieve both objectives. 

"Through an exhaustive and inclusive two-year process that benefitted from the input of hundreds of athletes, coaches and officials across our membership, World Lacrosse Sixes was born.

"Just like those of our current field and box disciplines, which will remain essential components of our international competition platform, the rules of World Lacrosse Sixes will continue to evolve and refine over time based on the input of stakeholders throughout the world."