The Game of Lacrosse (Boys)
Lacrosse is played between two teams. The object of the game is to advance the ball into the opposing teams territory and shoot the ball into the opponent's goal. The team scoring the most goals at the end of regulation play is the winner.
The ball is kept in play by being thrown, carried or hit by the stick, rolled or kicked by one or more players in any direction, provided the ball stays in the field of play.
A team is comprised of 10 players; 1 goalie, 3 defensemen, 3 mid-fielders and 3 attackmen. Each team must keep at least 4 players, including goalie, in its defensive half of the field and 3 players in its offensive zone. The 3 mid-fielders are free to roam entire field.
The game has four quarters, plus a halftime. Teams change ends between quarters. Youth games are generally 32 minutes long, with eight-minute quarters; two minute breaks between quarters and a ten-minute halftime. High school games are generally 40-48 minutes long with either 10 or l2 minute quarters and 12 minutes at halftime. Collegiate games are 60 minutes long with 15-minute quarters and a 15-minute halftime. Each team is permitted 3 time-outs, only two in a half of play.
The game starts at the center of the field with a face-off. Face-offs are also used to start each quarter and to resume play after each goal. The ball is placed between sticks of two face-off players at the center of the field. The play starts when the official blows the whistle and face-off players try to control the ball. Wingmen are allowed to participate for control (release) of the ball. All other on-field players must wait until one player has gained possession or the ball has crossed a goal area line.
Players maneuver the ball by passing, running, etc., to gain position which will provide the opportunity for a player to attempt to score a goal, by throwing the ball with their stick, past the goalie, into the goal. The only player allowed to touch the ball with his/her hands is the goalie.
Players attempt to gain control of the ball by scooping or catching it with a stick or by dislodging the ball from opponent's stick by checking. Checking involves poking, slapping or hitting an opponent's stick and gloved hand. Players may also attempt to gain possession of the ball by controlled body checks.
Attacking players may never enter the area immediately around opponent's goal, known as the crease. Nor may a player physically touch the goalie while the goalie is in the crease. Should the goalie gain possession of the ball, opposing players may try and block the clear by standing in the goalie's line of sight and waving sticks. Opposing players may also reach into the crease to try and retrieve loose or ground balls, but may not interfere with the goalie.
Unlike other sports, should the ball go out of bounds after an unsuccessful shot, possession is awarded to the player closest to the ball when and where it went out of bounds.
There is limit on the total number of players each team may carry on its roster. Most teams carry six to nine defensemen, six to nine attackmen, nine to twelve mid-fielders and three goalies. This provides three complete rotations of players (4 for mid-fielders). This is only a general rule of thumb and will vary considerably based on availability of players and coaching philosophy. There can be a maximum of four long sticks on the field at any one time (not including goalie). The remainder must be short sticks.
There will be situations (penalties) where one or both teams will be required to play with less than the full ten-member team. These are typically known as Man Up or Man Down situations and are usually handled with special field formations. Apon issuance of a penalty, which requires one or more players to go to "The Box", substitutes are not permitted to take their place. Teams must play with a reduced number of players until officials release penalized players back onto the field.
The game is played on a rectangular field measuring 110 yards long by 60 yards wide. The field is marked at 55 yards with a centerline and at 30 yards across the centerline with an (X) to indicate face-off zone. (See diagram).
Goals are typically manufactured of steel or aluminum, measuring 6 feet square at the widest opening and converging to a point 7 feet behind the opening. A mesh net is tightly secured to the goal. Each goal sits inside a circle with a radius of 9 feet, called the crease. Each crease is positioned 15 yards from the field's end line and 30 yards from each sideline.
OTHER IMPORTANT AREAS OF THE FIELD INCLUDE:
Goal Area - area inside restraining lines at each end of field.
Defense Clearing Area - area behind two solid lines that run across the field 20 yards in front of the goal.
Wing Areas - indicated by two lines, 20 yards long and 10 yards in front of each sideline.
"The Box" Area - is located directly in front of the officials' table and is used as a holding area for players to wait out their penalties. It is also the access area for substitute players entering and exiting the field.
Lacrosse Rules & Regulations
The game of Lacrosse is physical.Â Rules have been established which are intended to protect safety of players and maintain control over the game.Â Each game must have a minimum of two officials; a referee and an umpire.Â There may also be a field judge and a chief bench official.Â Decisions regarding third and fourth officials are made by the organization hosting the game.
It is the coach's responsibility to teach and instill in each player that they are expected to be physical, but not violent.Â They are required to play with mental and physical control.
The NCAA has put forth a comprehensive series of regulations and penalties for infractions.Â Following is a brief summarization of some of the major and common rule violations.
PERSONAL FOULS are infractions of a serious nature, which carry suspension from the game for periods ranging from a minute to three minutes, depending on the severity and intent of the infraction.Â The penalty's length is determined by the officials.
Cross Check is a check by one player on another with the part of the stick between player's hands.
Slashing occurs when a player swings his/her stick at an opponent in a deliberate, vicious, or reckless fashion, or when the stick comes in contact with an area of an opponent other than on their stick or gloves, unless opponent is actively attempting to deflect a legitimate check with part of their body.Â Slashing also occurs when the stick of a player strikes any part of an opposing player's body above the neck, unless when done by a player in an act of shooting, passing or scooping the ball.
Illegal Body Checks occur when checking a player not within 5 yards of the ball, a late hit, contact from behind or above the shoulders or below the waist.Â This occurs when a body check is thrown on an opponent who does not possess the ball, or when an avoidable body check of the opponent is made after the opponent has made a shot or pass.
Tripping is obstructing an opponent at or below the waist with any part of the stick or body.Â If a player makes a legitimate check with the stick to dislodge the ball from an opponent's stick and subsequently the opponent trips over his/her own or the checker's stick, this is not tripping.
Unnecessary Roughness occurs when a player uses unnecessary and deliberate violent contact on an opposing player or is an infraction of the rules by being excessively violent when holding or pushing.
Unsportsmanlike Conduct occurs when a person who represents a team attempts to argue with or influence the decision of a game official, using a threatening, profane, abusive, or obscene language or gestures during the game; or baits, taunts or acts in a manner considered unsportsmanlike by a game official.
Illegal Crosse is the use of a Crosse which does not conform to NCAA rules and standards.
Illegal Gloves are gloves which do not conform to required standards or when the glove's fingers and/or palms have been altered or removed.
Technical fouls are less serious than personal fouls and are subject to a 30 second suspension from play of the offending player.
Holding occurs when a player impedes or interferes with an opponent's stick movement.
Off-Side occurs when there are more than six players on the opponent's side of the field.Â This also occurs when a defenseman crosses the center line as the ball is being cleared up the field and all three attackmen and middies have progressed past the center line.
Warding Off occurs when a player with the ball uses his/her free hand or any part of his/her body to hold, push or control the stick or body of the player applying a check.
Stalling is when a team intentionally holds the ball without advancing toward the goal.
Screening occurs when an offensive player moves into or makes contact with a defender with the purpose of blocking the defensive player from opponent being played.
Illegal Procedure is a term that includes touching of the ball by a player other than the goalie, playing in the game without a stick, use of illegal equipment, avoidable lateness of the team, placing a stick in an opponent's face, entering the game prior to expiration of a penalty, delay of game, more than 10 men on the field, and illegal playing out of bounds.Â (see complete description in NCAA rules).
Interference occurs when one player interferes with the free movement of an opponent.Â Exceptions: when opponent has the ball and a player is within five feet of an opponent, or the ball is loose or on the fly, and both players are within five feet of the ball.
Pushing is when a player pushes, thrusts, or shoves an opponent from behind.Â Â Pushing is permitted from the front and sides when an opponent has possession of the ball or is within five yards of a loose ball.
The Game of Lacrosse (Girls)
Diagram of a Women's Lacrosse Field
Those with questions about the Official Rules for Girls' Youth Lacrosse should contact Rob Zapletal, or an official from the Connecticut Women's Lacrosse Officials Association (www.cwloa.org)
Guidance — No Checking/Modified Checking
US Lacrosse is attempting to send a consistent message regarding checking to youth players, whether they are using the regular women's lacrosse rules or following the girls' rules. Players below the seventh grade level should not be stick checking. It is the hope of the Rules Committee that mandating no checking will allow the beginning player to work on the basic fundamentals of the game - passing, catching, footwork, proper positioning, and marking - before they are introduced to the more advanced skill of stick checking.
Once players have mastered the basic fundamentals, coaches will want to introduce stick checking. Players on 7th and 8th grade teams will be allowed to use modified checking as an intermediate step towards full checking. Modified checking is defined as checking the stick if it is below shoulder level, using a downward motion away from the other player's body. Use of modified checking will allow the older youth player to learn proper checking skills, while at the same time encouraging good cradling and stick handling skills for the attack player. Umpires and coaches should strictly enforce this rule, never allowing checks near a player's head or face.
It should be noted that stick-to-stick contact is not necessarily a violation of the no checking/modified checking rule. A defender who is holding her stick in good defensive position may force the attack player to cradle into her stick causing contact. This is not considered a stick check, as the attack player initiated the contact, not the defender. A similar situation would exist when the defender puts her stick up in an attempt to block or intercept a pass and the attacker makes contact while in the act of passing or catching the ball.
Please note that it will be left to individual school districts, counties, and leagues to decide what they consider a seventh grade team and an eighth grade team.
Official Rules for Girls Youth Lacrosse
The purpose of the Official Girls Youth rules is to familiarize young players with the sport of women’s lacrosse by introducing them to the terms, the field, the playing positions, the concept of teamwork and the skills required to play the game safely and fairly. These rules were written by the US Lacrosse Women’s Division and ratified by the US Lacrosse Youth Council in an effort to standardize youth rules for girls throughout the United States.
Youth leagues may decide on age or grade divisions of play that best suits their needs. If age divisions are used, we suggest the following guidelines: 6-8 year olds (Under 9), 9-10 year olds (Under 11), 11-12 year olds (Under 13), 13-14 year olds (Under 15). If grade level divisions are used, we suggest the following guidelines: grades 1 and 2, grades 3 and 4, grades 5 and 6, grades 7 and 8. Using a player’s year of graduation from high school is also acceptable.
The girl youth rules are divided by levels (A, B, and C). Level B and Level C rules do not allow checking and do allow certain stick modifications to make throwing and catching easier for the beginning or younger player. Level A rules allow for modified checking and require the use of a regulation crosse and pocket. Leagues, tournaments and programs with players below the 5th grade level must use either Level B or Level C rules. Players from the 5th grade through the 8th grade should progress from Level B or C to Level A rules.
Goals - regulation lacrosse goal cages; smaller (street hockey type) cages may be used for indoor play and for Level C playing outdoors.
Ball - may use a regulation ball (yellow), or a “soft” ball. It is highly recommended that new or beginner programs use the soft ball until players have developed their throwing and catching skills. If a soft ball is used, it should be approximately the same size as a regulation ball. A regulation ball may be used for indoor play, however a “no bounce” ball is recommended.
Sticks - Level C may use a youth stick with mesh or traditional stringing or regulation women’s crosse and may have a modified pocket. With a modified pocket, only half the ball may fall below the bottom of the sidewall. Level B must use a regulation women’s crosse with either a regular or modified pocket. Level A must use a regulation women’s crosse with regular pocket.
• Legal Sticks for Women's Lacrosse
Protective equipment - mouthguards are mandatory at all levels. Eye protection requirements for all levels must be the same as outlined in Rule 2-9 of US Lacrosse Women’s Rules. Close fitting gloves and soft headgear are permitted; no hard helmets may be worn except by the goalie. Goalie must wear helmet with face mask, separate throat protector, chest protector, abdominal and pelvic protection, goalie gloves, and leg padding on the shins and thighs. The protective helmet, designed for lacrosse, must meet the NOCSAE test standard. All protective devices used should be close fitting, padded where necessary, and not be of excessive weight.
• Protective eyewear update
The field should be marked according to US Lacrosse Women’s Rules, including a restraining line. (See Rule 1). Team benches should be placed opposite spectators where possible.
Level A - desirable field length is 100 yards between goal lines, 10 yards behind each goal, and 70 yards wide.
Level B - desirable field length is 90 yards between goal lines, 10 yards behind each goal, and 50 yards wide.
Level C - desirable field length is 50 yards between goal lines, 10 yards behind each goal, and 25 yards wide. Field markings should include two goal circles (radius 2m) with a goal line in each, two 8m arcs around each goal circle and a center line.
Level A and B - Coaches may move along the full boundary line on the bench/table side of the field only, except for the area directly in front of the opposing team and either team’s substitution area. Coaches may not stand near or walk in front of the opposing team area. Coaches must remain behind the level of the scorer’s table extended. Violation of this rule is a misconduct foul.
Level C - Coaches are permitted on the field for the purpose of instructing players.
Each team (home and away) will provide a sideline manager whose duty shall be to control effectively the actions of spectators not in conformity with the standards of proper conduct.
Start of the Game
The procedure for the start of the game/draw shall be the same as outlined in Rule 5-1, 5-2 of the US Lacrosse Women’s Rules with the following modification: for all levels, if score is kept, a free position will be taken at the center by the team with fewer goals if a four or more goal differential exists. When this occurs positioning for the draw will apply with the defender standing 4m away at a 45 degree angle and all other players must stand. The player taking the free position may run or pass, but may not shoot until another player has played the ball.
All play is started and stopped with the whistle. All players must stop and stand when the whistle blows (to stop play). All may move again when the next whistle blows.
A goal is scored when the ball passes completely over the goal line and into the goal cage. Scoring must be by an attacker’s crosse, and not off the body of an attack player. A goal may be scored off the defender’s body or crosse.
Substitution is unlimited and the substitution procedure should be the same as outlined in Rule 5-20 and 5-21 of the US Lacrosse Women’s Rules, i.e. substitute any time during play, after goals, and at halftime.
Duration of Play
Level A - 25-minutes running time per half (maximum)
Level B - 25-minutes running time per half (maximum)
Level C - 20-minutes running time per half (maximum)
At all levels, the clock will be stopped on every whistle (to stop play) in the last two minutes of each half. Teams may choose to play four quarters, but total playing time should not exceed the maximum time for each level. The clock will stop on every whistle (to stop play) in the last minute of each quarter.
Fouls shall be the same as those outlined in Rule 6 of the US Lacrosse Women’s Rules with the following modifications:
1. No shooting on free positions, unless using a goalkeeper or modified goal opening (Level C). (Major Foul)
2. No checking (Level B and C). (Major Foul)
3. Modified checking only (see definitions) (Level A). (Major Foul)
4. No holding the ball for more than 3 seconds when closely guarded/marked (see definitions) and the defense has both hands on her stick and is in position to legally check were checking allowed. (All levels). (Minor Foul)
Note: If the player with the ball takes the stick to the other side of her body and thus away from the defender making a legal check impossible, the 3-second count would be over. If the defender adjusts her position to where a legal check could be made, or the stick is brought back to a checkable position, the count starts again. If another teammate joins the defender and that second defender is in good position to check, the count starts again. The umpire will give an audible 3-second count. The purpose of this rule is to encourage good defensive positioning and to make the offensive player aware of her defender. The attack player must try to keep the stick away from the defender, and, if she does not she will be forced to pass or she will lose the ball. Even when the defender may not check, if she is in good defensive position she will force the attack player to pass. This will give her team a chance for a play on the ball either by interception, by blocking the attempted pass, or by forcing a bad pass and causing a ground ball.
Penalties for Fouls
The penalty for fouls is a free position with all players, including the offender, moving 4m away from the player with the ball. For specifics on major, minor, and goal circle fouls and carding, see Rule 7 in the US Lacrosse Women’s Rules. A 3-second count violation is considered a minor foul with the closest defender to the ball carrier being awarded the ball. The only modification for these youth rules is in Level C, where all free positions are indirect (i.e., the player with the ball may never shoot directly from the free position).
Definition of Terms
Closely Guarded - player with the ball has an opponent within a sticks length.
Free Position - penalty awarded for a foul. Player who has been fouled gets the ball and all others must move 4m away.
Indirect Free Position - no shot on goal may be made until the player with the ball passes the ball to another player.
Checking - checking the stick only if the entire stick is below shoulder level. The check must be in a downward direction and away from the body.
Pass - exchange of the ball through the air from one teammate’s crosse to another.
Possession - a player has the ball in their crosse.
Position to Check - player has an opportunity to legally check the stick without fouling (the 3-second count starts when the umpire deems that the player with the ball could be checked legally if checking were permitted.)
Level A Specifics
1. Eleven field players, one goal keeper.
2. Field size: 100 yds. x 70 yds. is recommended.
3. Regular field markings, including restraining line.
4. Regular women’s crosse, regulation pocket.
5. Modified checking only.
6. 25-minute halves (max.), running time.
7. May shoot from direct free positions.
Level B Specifics
1. Eleven field players, one goal keeper.
2. Field size: 90 yds. x 50 yds. is recommended.
3. Regular field markings, including restraining line.
4. Regular women’s crosse, modified pocket allowed.
5. No checking.
6. 25-minute halves (max.), running time.
7. May shoot from direct free positions.
Level C Specifics
1. Seven field players, use of a goal keeper is optional.
2. Field size: 50 yds. x 25 yds. is recommended.
3. 8m arc, no 12m fan, no restraining line, center line (no circle).
4. Youth sticks (mesh allowed) or regular women’s crosse, modified pocket.
5. No checking.
6. 20-minute halves (max.), running time.
7. May not shoot from any free position, unless using a goalkeeper or modified goal opening.
These rules were written with the safety of all the players being of utmost importance. Youth lacrosse should be fun, challenging and safe. To that end, the umpires shall have the authority to penalize any foul, unsafe play, or unacceptable behavior not covered specifically in these rules. Play should be as continuous as possible, and any foul which does not gain an advantage for the offender or her team should result in a “held” whistle whenever possible.