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LACROSSE RULES

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BOYS LACROSSE RULES

THE OBJECT

The object of lacrosse is to score the most points. Points are scored when a player kicks, nudges, bats with the stick, or throws with their stick the very hard tennis sized rubber ball into the opponents net. Players cannot use their hands to throw the ball into the net.

LENGTH OF PLAY

Games are divided into four timed quarters. The length of the quarter depends on the age group of the game being played.

  • Youth quarters are typically 8 minutes long.
  • High School quarters are 12 minutes.
  • College, Pro, and International games have 15 minute quarters.

At the end of each quarter teams must switch ends.
When time runs out at the end of the fourth quarter the team with the most points wins. Ties are decided by sudden death playoffs.

FIELD LAYOUT

The basic layout of a lacrosse field utilizing NCAA rules is 110 yards long by 60 yards wide. As compared to a football field which is 120 yards including the end zones by 53 1/3 yards wide. Lacrosse rules have been modified for most high school and youth organizations, so that a standard american football field can be utilized. Goal nets are 6' x 6' and reside within a 9' circle called the crease. The net is positioned 15 yards from the end line giving about 13.5 yards between the back of the crease and the end line.
Click here to: see a basic diagram of the playing field.

LACROSSE POSITIONS

Lacrosse is played with 10 players.
3 Attackmen
3 Midfielders
3 Defenders
1 Goalie
Click here to: see a diagram of the positions on the field.

BASIC PLAY

Play begins with a face off in the center Face-off square or circle. The lacrosse face off is similar to a hockey face off. Two opponents face each other and try to win possession of the ball. The lacrosse face off is different because the two players basically start on their hands and feet with their sticks laying along the center line, and the ball between the heads of the sticks. At the officials signal each player can employ a number of different lacrosse face off skills and tactics to win possession of the ball, but there is no substitute for being quick or powerful. Most often the ball will be knocked or passed to a player other than the two fighting for the ball in the face off. Once a player is able to pick the ball up with their stick possession occurs. The object is to get close enough to the opponents net to throw the ball into the net scoring a goal. A goal counts as one point. In Major League (professional) Lacrosse there is a two point line where goals shot from behind that line score two points, but that is the only place the two point rule is in effect.

Offensive players maneuver down the field toward the goal by running with or passing the ball to a team mate. Players can run the entire length of the field as long as they are not offside's by not leaving enough players in the defensive end.Offensive players cannot enter the crease area that surrounds the goal. The crease is a circle that surrounds the goal and it is where the goalie works.  Defensive players can enter the crease area. If an offensive player enters the crease, it is a crease violation and position goes to the opponent. Offensive layers cannot go into their own crease either unless they gain possession while in the crease they can take the ball out.

TRANSITION TIMING

If the goalie makes a save and gains possession of the ball he must pass or take the ball out of the crease within 4 seconds or the ball will be awarded back to the opponent.

As the ball is transitioned from the defensive end toward the offensive end the offensive team has 20 seconds to cross midfield. Once they cross midfield they have 10 seconds to move into the attackarea. These time restrictions help greatly to keep teams from going into a shell. They must move the ball or possession is lost.

UNIQUE RULES

One of the real different rules in lacrosse is that when a player takes a shot and the ball travels out of bounds the team that is closest to the line where the ball went out of bounds has possession. Often the offense will position a player behind the goal so that when a shot is made they will be closest to the spot where the ball went out of bounds when the ball goes out of bounds. You will also see the goalie sprint toward the back line when a shot is made to try to be the closest to the line so that the defensive team will gain possession. The stick is not an extension of the player, but the hand is, and players will thrust their stick toward the line to be closest.

Another fantastic rule is that after a score there is a face off. So the team who just scored could easily gain possession again by winning the face off and this leads to runs where a team may score several unanswered goals which allows a team to come back and it is one of the reasons why lacrosse is such a tremendously exciting game.

In the final two minutes of the game the team that is ahead must play with the provision that they must stay within the attack zone. Failure to stay in the attack zone constitutes offensive delay of game and possession will be transferred to the losing team. This only applies to the team that is ahead.

THE POSSESSION

During a face off teams are required to keep four players including the goalie behind their own defensive restraining line, and three attackers behind the offensive restraining line. During the face off the 3 midfielders from each side fight for possession of the ball. Once a player picks the ball up with his stick and controls it possession occurs and the defensive players may now move forward to the midfield line if they so choose and attackers may move back to the midfield line as well if they so choose, but teams must maintain 4 defensive players in their own half of the field during play and three attack men on the offensive half of the field. It does not matter which of the players stay on which half as long as 4 defensive players and three attack are maintained at all times. Defensive players are allowed to go on the attack including the goalie as long as a midfielder stays behind to keep the number of defenders at 4. If a defender crosses the midfield line and the number of defenders in their own end is less than four, offside's occurs and possession is awarded to the opponent. Likewise if an offensive player leaves the offensive half of the field and a midfielder does not stay behind to keep the number of offensive players at least three. This aspect of the game allows for creative transition play. Defenders can initiate a fast break as long as a midfielder stays behind. In today's lacrosse world more and more teams especially at the higher levels are developing specialist midfielders that play strictly offense or defense, and do not transition from defense to attack and visa versa. Personally, while I understand the reasons why this is happening and the very diverse skills that are required at either end, I am greatly saddened because for me one of the most exciting plays in Lacrosse is the fast break involving the long stick defensemen or midfielder or even on a rare occasion the goalie taking the ball the length of the field and scoring or setting up a fast break goal.  It can kind of be related to the days in football when players played both ways. Today that almost never happens in college or pro football, but it used to be very common. We are heading in a similar direction with lacrosse and this generation may be the last to see the really tremendous complete midfield players who are equally adept on both ends of the field.  I hope that is not true.

THE CHECK

The game of lacrosse is very physical and contact is very much a part of the game. Being aggressive and physical is a very good quality to have. Checking is a basic lacrosse skill. There are two different types of check that can be employed. Stick Checks and Body checks. Stick checks can be made as long as the attempt is to try to contact the opponents stick. And in some of the older aged divisions body checks can happen as long as the check is to the body above the waist and below the neck.

The goal of the game is to score the most goals, but the real challenge is in maintaining possession of the ball until a shot can be made. Once a player establishes possession keeping it is not easy.  Defending players attack the stick of the player in possession and try to knock the ball loose with their own stick. This is called stick checking. They can also hit the ball carrier or anyone within 5 yards of a loose ball with their shoulder like a football block. This is called a body check and is legal as long as it not from behind, above the waist, and below the shoulder.

If you are looking for how to play lacrosse information on a particular skill go to Lacrosse Skills.
If you are looking for how to play lacrosse information on how to coach a particular skill go to Lacrosse Drills.

PENALTIES

There are two types of penalties: Technical fouls and Personal fouls.

Personal fouls - Slashing, Tripping, Illegal Cross Checking, and checking from behind a player are usually given 1 minute penalties. Penalties can be increased to 2 or 3 minutes or even ejection can be assessed for major or especially sever personal fouls.

Technical fouls such as - Offside's, Crease violations, pushing from the rear, thumbing. and Warding Off constitute a loss of possession.

PLAYING A MAN DOWN

When a personal foul penalty occurs and a one minute (or longer) penalty is assessed the offending player is remove to the penalty area in front of the scorers table. The player must remain in the penalty area until the penalty has been served.

You can find an official rule book at the US lacrosse web site and check with your particular association for specific rules.


GIRLS LACROSSE RULES

FIELD POSITIONS

FIRST HOME

The first home's responsibility is to score. Located in front of the goal, the first home must continually cut toward the goal for a shot, or cut away from the goal to make room for another player. She should have excellent stickwork.

SECOND HOME

The second home is considered the playmaker. She should be able to shoot well from every angle and distance from the goal

THIRD HOME

The third home's responsibility is to transition the ball from defense to attack. She should be able to feed the ball to other players and fill in wing areas.

ATTACK WINGS

The wings are also responsible for transitioning the ball from defense to attack. Wings should have speed and endurance and be ready to receive the ball from the defense and run or pass the ball.

DEFENSE

POINT

The point's responsibility is to mark first home. She should be able to stick check and look to intercept passes.

COVERPOINT

The coverpoint's responsibility is to mark second home. She should be able to receive clears, run fast and have good footwork.

THIRD MAN

The third man's responsibility is to mark third home. She should be able to intercept passes, clear the ball, run fast and have good footwork.

CENTER

The center's responsibility is to control the draw and play both defense and attack. She should have speed and endurance.

DEFENSE WING

The wings are responsible for marking the attack wings and bringing the ball into the attack area. Wings should have speed and endurance.

GOALKEEPER

The goalkeeper's responsibility is to protect the goal. She should have good stickwork, courage and confidence.

Girls' lacrosse is a non-contact game played by 12 players: a goalkeeper, five attackers and six defenders. Seven field players may cross the restraining line and four stay behind. The object of the game is to shoot the ball into the opponent's goal. The team scoring the most goals wins.

Girls' and women's lacrosse begins with a draw, which is taken by the center position. The ball is placed between two horizontally held crosses (sticks), placed back-to-back, at the center of the field. At the sound of the whistle, the ball is flung into the air as the crosses are pulled up and away. The sticks must come up over the players' head. A draw is used to start each half and after each goal, and it takes place at the center of the field. Only five players from each team are permitted between restraining lines at the time of the draw. Once the signal for the draw occurs, the players behind each restraining line may cross over.

The collegiate game is 60 minutes long, with each half being 30 minutes. The high school girls game is 50 minutes long, with each half being 25 minutes. In both collegiate and high school play, teams are allowed two timeouts per game, only after a goal. The restraining line, a solid line 30 yards up field from each goal, extends across the width of the field. Solid/hard boundaries were added to the game in 2006. Total length can be from 110 to 140 yards, while total width can be from 60 to 70 yards. There must always be at least 10 yards of space between the goal line and the end line at each end of the field. There is a circle in the center of the field where the draw occurs. Two arcs are marked from the center of the goal line. The eightmeter arc with hash marks four meters away from each other bisect the arc. The 12-meter fan runs out from the goal line extended. Substitution area, used by both teams, is in front of the scorer's table and is indicated by two hash marks placed 5 yards on either side of the midfield line.

Seven attacking players only are allowed over the restraining line in their offensive end and only eight defenders are allowed over the line in their defensive end. The additional defender is the goalkeeper. Players may exchange places during play, but the player should have both feet over the line before the teammate enters.

When a whistle blows, all players must stop in place. Rough checks, and contact to the body with the crosse or body, are not allowed, however, incidental body contact may occur.

Field players may pass, catch or run with the ball in their crosse. A player may gain possession of the ball by dislodging it from an opponent's crosse with a check. A controlled check (crosse to crosse contact) is an attempt to knock the ball free. No player may reach across an opponent's body to check the handle of a crosse when she is even with or behind that opponent. A player may not protect the ball in her crosse by cradling so close to her body or face so as to make a legal, safe check impossible for the opponent.

All legal checks must be directed away from the player with the ball and cannot come withina 7" sphere of the head. No player is allowed to touch the ball with her hands except the goalkeeper when she is within the goal circle. A change of possession may occur if a player gains a distinct advantage by playing the ball off her body.

Fouls are categorized as major or minor, and the penalty for fouls is a "free position." For major fouls, the offending player is placed four meters behind the player taking the free position. For a minor foul, the offending player is placed four meters off, in the direction from which she approached her opponent before committing the foul, and play is resumed.

When a minor foul is committed in the 12-meter fan, the player with the ball has an indirect free position, in which case the player must pass first or be checked by an opponent before the team may shoot.

A slow whistle occurs when the offense has entered the critical scoring area and is on a scoring play and the defense has committed a major foul. A flag is displayed in the air but no whistle is sounded so that the offense has an opportunity to score a goal. If the offense is capable of getting a shot off, the flag is withdrawn. A whistle is blown when a goal is scored or the scoring opportunity is over. An immediate whistle is blown when a major foul, obstruction or shooting space occurs, which jeopardizes the safety of a player.

The Youth Council of US Lacrosse has adopted rules for girls youth play.