Boys Lacrosse Rules Changes - 2017

1-3-2a: If a flat-iron goal is used on a grass field, it may be attached to the ground with ground anchors.

Rationale: Ground anchors are not typically used on grass fields.  This change will allow the rules to be aligned with standard practice.  The rule change would allow but not require ground anchors.

4-3-1 Exception 2: If a player or team commits a foul before any faceoff, the ball will be awarded to the offended team in its offensive side of the field at the Center.

Rationale: Currently there is a distance of 5 yards from all surrounding players and re-start from spot of the foul. This ruling of “a free clear” is no longer correct and should have been deleted in the current rules book in order to be consistent with Rule 4.4.2 SITUATION B, which calls for a re-start from “the spot where the ball was when play was suspended.”

4-3-3: Paint, a single wrap of tape, or other material of contrasting color to the head may now be used on the handle of the crosse for any player taking a faceoff.

Rationale: New handle materials are already in production and create a more durable solution than tape. The current rule only allows for tape; this rule change would allow for the emerging best practices.

4-18-4: No defensive player, other than a properly equipped goalkeeper, can enter his own crease with the perceived intent on blocking a shot or acting as a goalie. Penalty: Conduct foul on the defensive player. A second violation by the player will be enforced as releasable unsportsmanlike conduct.

Note: Officials will stop play as soon as they notice the situation. However, if a shot is already in flight when this is noticed, the shot will be allowed to come to its normal conclusion before the whistle blows to stop play.

Rationale: Risk minimization only the goalkeeper may be located within the crease.

6-5-2: Failure to wear the required mouthpiece (unless it comes out during play) is now a technical foul.

Rationale: Change brings foul into conformity with current trends in the sport and makes it more likely to be enforced and, therefore, should bring greater compliance for risk minimization.

6-10-3: During the last two minutes of regulation play, stalling rules are in effect for the team that is ahead by four goals or less.  When the score differential is five goals or more, neither team is forced to keep the ball in the goal area unless warned to “keep it in.”

Rationale: The current “automatic stall warning” in the last two minutes creates a dangerous situation where a team that is essentially “out of the game” is given more opportunity to “punish” the team that is ahead since that team is forced to “keep it in.”

Crosse Dimensions (Rule 1-6-1, Article 1)

Head dimensions are moving to the NCAA specifications, but this will not be enforced until the 2018 season to give players time to purchase new heads. This is a big plus in the consistency column between NCAA and NFHS rules, and once enforced, will benefit teams traveling in the regular and offseason because no matter which rule set is used, the stick specifications will be the same.

Last year the rules committee delayed the implementation of the 4-inch shooting string rule to the 2016 season. Starting next season all players may not have strings below 4 inches from the top of the head, which eliminates the “U” or “V” shooting strings. Players should restring their sticks now to get used to this in fall ball and ask the officials to check their sticks before the game if they have any questions.

The crosse shall be an overall fixed length of either 40 to 42 inches (short crosse) or 52 to 72 inches (long crosse), except for the goalkeeper’s crosse, which may be 40 to 72 inches long. The circumference of the crosse handle shall be no more than 3½ inches. The head of the crosse at its widest point shall measure between 6½ and 10 inches, inside measurement, at the top and the bottom of the wall. (See Figure 3) There shall be one crosse 10 to 12 inches, inside measurement at its widest point, at the top and bottom of the wall. This crosse shall be used by the required designated goalkeeper. The walls of any crosse shall not be more than 2 inches high. EXCEPTION: The gut wall.

Beginning in 2018, minimum stick specifications shall be as follows:

Some description

The measurements for the crosse shall include:

Measurement from throat (inches)Minimum distance between narrowest point of head (inches)
1.253 (all measurements)
3.03 (all measurements)
5.03.5 to 4 on front; 3.5 on back
Widest point6 (all measurements)

NOTE: From the 1.25-inch measurement to the widest point of the crosse, the distance between the sidewalls of the crosse must be at least 3 inches.

Rationale: The committee defined crosse dimensions and specifications at different locations to address issues with the ball being stuck in the crosse. This change in equipment will beginning in 2018 to allow for phased implementation.

No player shall use a crosse that does not meet the specifications of Sections 6 and 7. Furthermore, crosses in which the pocket has sagged to such a depth that it has become difficult for an opponent to dislodge the ball and crosses in which the construction or stringing at the bottom is designed to withhold the ball from play also are prohibited. Additionally, no player may use a crosse that has stringing that retards the normal and free dislodgment of the ball by an opponent. The pocket shall be deemed to have sagged too deeply if the top surface of a lacrosse ball, when placed therein, is below the bottom edge of the side wall (this prohibition does not apply to the goalkeeper’s crosse). (See Figure 4) A crosse that has been altered in such a way as to give an advantage to an individual is illegal. Adjustable-length handles are illegal. Handles that have been altered in any fashion other than taping or adding another covering designed to improve the grip are illegal. The use of pull strings to alter the depth of the pocket is illegal. No more than one sidewall string on each side is allowed. A broken crosse is considered as no crosse.

Rationale: The committee expanded the crosse prohibitions. Specifically, the changes are intended to inhibit the use of pull strings and sidewall strings to lodge the ball in the crosse.

Crosse Prohibitions (Rule 1-8)

Language was added for consistency with other rule codes to prohibit the use of pull strings to alter pocket depth. These strings have only one function: to quickly make the pocket shallow following a goal, and is a clear attempt for a player to have his cake and eat it too. Players shouldn’t be allowed to have a deep pocket and a string that makes his pocket magically legal at the flick of a wrist. Also, players may only use one sidewall string. 

Facing Off (Rule 4-3-3, Article 3)

One thing that players must keep in mind with these changes is they will be down in the faceoff position longer. The sequence will be:
Official holds the ball and indicates where on the ground the players will center their sticks (typically by pointing the tip of his shoe on the line), and then says “down.” 
The players go down and get into position. At this time the official will look at both players and will verbally or physically adjust the body or stick of one or both players as needed.
The official will place the ball centered between the heads of both sticks. With his hand on or near the ball the official will say “set.” At this point the players may not move. 
The official will back out and blow the whistle. He does not have to be stationary when blowing the whistle and the whistle will vary.

If a player keeps coming down with his stick on the line or his hand on the plastic after repeated adjustments and verbal warnings by the official; the official may call a pre-whistle violation. Just because the officials may adjust players does not mean players get to come down illegal every time. The cleaner faceoff players get into position, the less time they will spend crouched down being adjusted.

By far the biggest violation for faceoff players and coaches to note is: A violation will be called if a player picks up and carries the ball on the back of his stick. It is legal to clamp the ball with the back of the stick, but it must be moved, raked or directed immediately. Immediately is defined as within one step.

To put it simply, the pinch-and-pop is still legal, as long as the player pops the ball out before he steps in any direction.

4-3-3 (NEW): ART. 3 … FACING OFF
The official conducting the faceoff will start the procedure by holding the ball and bringing the players together.

a. The official shall indicate to the players the spot on which the faceoff will take place and instruct the players to prepare for the faceoff by saying “down.” 
b. Once the players are down they are to move into their faceoff position as quickly as possible. Players may kneel or stand as they get into position for the faceoff.
c. The crosses and gloves shall rest on the ground along the center line, parallel to each other up to, but not touching, the center line.
d. The official shall make certain that the reverse surfaces of the crosses match evenly and are perpendicular to the ground. Each player must have both hands wrapped around the handle of his own crosse, touching the ground. The right hand may not touch any part of the head of the crosse. The player’s feet may not touch his crosse. Both hands and feet of each player must be to the left of the throat of his crosse. Each player must be positioned so his entire body is to the left of the throat of his crosse. It is legal to lean over the center line.
e. If the players are not positioned properly, the official may adjust the players’ positioning (including crosses) to ensure the faceoff will be conducted fairly for both players.
f. Once the players are in the proper position, the official shall place the ball on the ground, in between the head of each crosse, paying close attention to placing the ball in the middle of the head of each crosse.
g. Once the official is satisfied with the placement of the ball and the positioning of the players’ crosses, he shall instruct the players to remain motionless by saying “Set.” The official will still have his hand on or near the ball or crosses when the command “Set” is given. For hearing-impaired players, a reasonable accommodation for the "set" command and whistle sound will be provided. 
h. After the “Set” command, the official shall back out and blow the whistle when clear of the scrimmage area. The official does not have to be stationary, and may still be moving backwards, when he blows the whistle to start play. The whistle cadence will vary with every faceoff.
i. A violation will be called if a player picks up and carries the ball on the back of his stick. It is legal to clamp the ball with the back of the stick, but it must be moved, raked or directed immediately. Immediately is defined as within one step.
j. A player may not lie on the ball or trap it with his crosse longer than necessary for him to control the ball and pick it up with one continuous motion, or withhold the ball from play in any other manner.
k. It is illegal to kick, step on, or place any other body part to his crosse or the crosse of the opponent. It is illegal for a faceoff player to use his crosse to hold or pin down a player’s crosse.
l. It is illegal for a player to use his hand or fingers to play the ball. This shall be enforced immediately as an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Inadvertent touching of the ball when the hand is grasping the stick should not be called as an unsportsmanlike conduct foul.
m. It is illegal for a player to grab an opponent’s crosse with the open hand or fingers. This shall be enforced immediately as an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
n. A single-wrap of tape must be applied to the handle of the crosse for any player taking a face-off. The tape is to begin (but not be touching) the plastic at the throat of the crosse and continuing six inches down the handle. Tape must be of contrasting color to the head, gloves, and shaft.

Over and Back (Rule 4-14-3, Article 3)

Think backcourt violation in basketball. If the offensive team satisfied the 10-second advancement count by touching the ball into the attack box on their half of the field, it is a violation if the ball returns to the defensive half of the field except on a shot or if the defensive team deflects the ball.

This could be an immediate whistle or a play-on. If the ball breaks the plane of the midline and the offensive team was the last to touch it and it lands at the feet of an attackman while he is surrounded by opponents, then it should be an immediate whistle because he has no chance for a clean pickup. However, if the ball rolls over the midline and an attackman makes a beeline for the ball and there isn’t a defenseman within reach, the official may signal and say “play-on” to give the attackman a chance to pick up the ball and push for a fast break.

4-14-3 (NEW): ART. 3 . . . Once the ball has been successfully advanced into the goal area, a team is provided the opportunity to run its offense in its offensive half of the field. If the offensive team carries, passes or propels the ball to its defensive half of the field and the offensive team was last in possession, and last touched the ball (except on shot), the result will be an immediate a turnover or play-on. If the ball does not touch or go over the centerline, no infraction has occurred. Players may legally bat the ball to keep it in the offensive half of the field, but if it is possessed and their feet are in the defensive half, it shall be a turnover.

Rationale: The committee added a new “over and back” rule to keep the ball in play in the offensive half of the field once possession has been established in the goal area.

Slashing Rule in Boys Lacrosse

Rule 5.7.1: “Swinging a crosse at an opponent’s crosse or body with deliberate viciousness or reckless abandon, regardless of whether the opponent’s crosse or body is struck.”

At all levels of play, officials must judge whether a swing is vicious, reckless or both. The threshold for vicious and reckless swings is higher at the high school level compared to the youth level. A game between two high school rivals will have a higher limit for what constitutes slashing than a U11 game.

A vicious swing is most clearly defined as one that would do serious damage if a player were not wearing equipment. A huge two-handed swing that crashes down on the top of a shoulder pad is a vicious swing because without equipment, a player would likely suffer an injury.

A reckless swing is one that demonstrates a lack of control. The two most common examples are when a defender is beat and quickly swings his crosse behind him, and a riding attackman whips a one-handed check to a clearing midfielder who just broke past the midfield line. Those checks have a low chance of only hitting stick or glove hand, and if a player swings in desperation and hits the body, it’s likely that a flag will be thrown.

One key part of this rule that many people miss is that contact is not required for a slash to be called. While it is very rare for slashing to be called at the high school level without contact, it is more likely at the youth levels, where such an uncontrolled swing needs to be flagged so the coach has an opportunity to teach his player about better defensive fundamentals.