BASIC RULES OF LACROSSE
10 Important Boys’ Lacrosse Rules
Offside. Midfielders can enter any area of the field, but attackmen, defensemen and goalies are confined to their area of the field. To prevent an offside, a team must have four players on each side of the field at all times.
Face-offs. When the official blows his whistle on a face-off, the four players in the wing area (two from each team) that surrounds the two face-off players at midfield can release to get the ball, but the other players must wait until a player has gained possession of the ball or the ball has crossed the goal line.
Body checks. Think of a baseball player’s hitting zone. A boys’ lacrosse player can make only a body check to the front side of an opposing player and between the knees and shoulders. It is illegal to check to the head or back side. Also, if a player is in an unprotected position – say he’s scooping a ground ball – it is illegal to check him.
Slashing and spearing. In boys’ lacrosse, an illegal slash is a stick check to the helmet or back, or a poke check to an opponent’s body other than his gloved hand as he holds the stick. In the bantam division, a one-handed check is considered a slash. A spear – hitting an opponent with the helmet – also is illegal.
Holding. Just as a boys’ lacrosse player cannot hold another player with his hands, he can’t use his stick to hold a player with or without the ball. On ground balls, it is considered holding if a player uses his stick to deny another player the ball.
Unnecessary roughness. This lacrosse rule often is a judgment call of the referee. Basically, a lacrosse player can’t make an excessive check against an opponent. He can’t step into a check from more than five yards or two steps away. Also, he must attempt to slow down if the offensive player has just released the ball.
Offensive interference or screen? An offensive player cannot purposely impede a defensive player’s path with his body or stick. Although this is not a time-serving penalty, the offensive team loses possession of the ball. An offensive player can screen a defender if the two are near the ball, but the screener must have his feet stationary and hold his stick up straight.
Kicking a stick. Obviously, kicking is not allowed in boys’ lacrosse. It also is illegal to kick an opposing player’s lacrosse stick, even inadvertently. This happens when players are tightly bunched and trying to move a ground ball to open space.
Crease violation. Many shots are taken from close range and attackmen cannot step on or within the lacrosse goalie’s crease until the ball goes into the net. This does not pertain to an offensive player being pushed inside the crease by the defense. It’s best to practice footwork around the crease, so attackmen learn to avoid stepping on and into the crease.
Goalie clear. When a lacrosse goalie gains possession of the ball, he has four seconds to clear the ball from his crease or must step outside the crease with the ball.
10 Important Girls’ Lacrosse Rules
Draw control motion. On draw controls, the two opposing players must move the ball with an up-and-away motion with their lacrosse sticks. A downward or outward motion is illegal, and the ball is awarded to the non-offending team with a free position.
Restraining line. An offside is called when a team has more than seven players on or over the restraining line in its offensive end or more than eight players on or over the restraining line in its defensive end.
3-second rule. Girls’ lacrosse encourages ball movement when the person with the ball is closely guarded within the restraining area. The offensive player has three seconds to pass the ball or change her cradle – either switching her hands or the level she is holding the ball. If the ball remains stationary for more than three seconds, the referee awards the defense with a free position. This lacrosse rule is exempt if the offensive player is behind the goal and the defensive player guarding her is in front of the goal and mirroring her.
Avoid the goalie circle. Players must stay out of the goalie circle. A goal does not count if the shooter or another offensive player steps on or into the goal circle or interferes with the goalie. A defensive player can reach her stick inside the goal circle to block or redirect a shot. Below the ninth-grade level, a shooter may not follow through with her lacrosse stick into the goalie circle.
Free position or indirect free position. The penalty for fouls is a free position. When a team is awarded the ball after a foul, the player can run, pass or shoot it. However, an indirect free position is awarded for minor defensive fouls inside the 12-meter fan, and the player who restarts the ball can’t shoot until a defensive player or a teammate touches it. Only a goalie can take a free position within the 8-meter circle and no free position can be taken within four meters of a field boundary.
Major or minor fouls. All players must stand at least four meters away from the player restarting a free position or indirect free position. On a major foul, the offending player must stand four meters behind the player taking the free position. On a minor foul, the offending player stands four meters away in the direction from which she approached before committing the foul.
Empty stick check. A girls’ lacrosse player can’t check another player’s stick that isn’t in contact with the ball. This applies only when the opponent could have gained possession of the ball.
Offensive charging. A girls’ lacrosse player with the ball cannot push into a defensive player who has established position. This major foul often occurs within the 12-meter fan when a player is going toward the goal.
Dangerous propelling. A player cannot maneuver the ball in her lacrosse stick in a dangerous manner and without regard to the people around her.
Pick or screen? An illegal screen occurs when a player without the ball, by her positioning, forces an opponent to take another route. To be legal, the player must be set within the visual field of the opponent, allowing the defender time and space to change her direction.