Boys Lacrosse Rules Changes Made By National Federation


INDIANAPOLIS— A focus on sportsmanship and risk minimization highlighted many of the rules changes approved by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Boys Lacrosse Rules Committee at its July meeting in Indianapolis. All 16 rules revisions were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

With the recent concentration on reducing head injuries in high school sports, the committee added new language to Rule 5-4 which states that “a player shall not initiate an excessive, violent or uncontrolled slash to the head/neck.” In addition, the rule now prohibits an offensive player in possession of the ball from blocking an opponent with the head or initiating contact with the head.

Kent Summers, NFHS director of performing arts and sports, said if the contact to the head/neck is considered deliberate or reckless, the penalty shall be a minimum two- or three-minute non-releasable foul. “In light of the potentially devastating, long-term effects of head injuries, it remains a priority to eliminate or minimize the frequency and impact of violent checks and collisions,” Summers said.

The committee addressed sportsmanship issues with changes in Rules 4-3-6 and 5-10-1d. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty will be assessed if a player deliberately uses his hands or fingers to play the ball, or if a player grabs an opponent’s crosse with the open hand or fingers.

“These revisions were made in response to situations where players attempt to deceive officials by using their hands or fingers to strip the ball from an opponent’s crosse on the faceoff,” Summers said.

Summers noted that inadvertent touching of the ball when the hand is grasping the stick should not be called as an unsportsmanlike conduct foul.

In other changes, an addition was made to Rule 4-3-5 stating that “the official shall vary the cadence of sounding the whistle for each faceoff.” In another risk-minimization change, a new article was added to Rule 1-9 recommending a protective cup for all players.

The committee also provided schools another option to mark the center faceoff spot on fields. In addition to the traditional “X” at the center of the field, schools can opt for a 4-inch square that is a contrasting color. Summers said this option will enable schools to play in college facilities without making changes to the fields.

Following is a summary of the remaining rules changes approved for high school boys lacrosse:

Rule 1-5: White balls shall be used unless both coaches agree prior to or during the game to use a yellow, orange or lime green ball.

Rule 1-6-2: If a ball stop is used, only one may be used, and the dimensions shall be a maximum of 2 inches in length, 1½ inches in width and ¼-inch in thickness.

Rule 1-8: Any strings or leathers are limited to a hanging length of 2 inches.

Rules 1-2 and 6-5-2s: At the beginning of the game, the home team is required to provide a scorebook, a timing device, a table and a working horn.

Rule 2-5-2: The recommended uniform for officials now provides an option for black or white shorts. Also, all officials working the game are to be dressed the same.

Rule 4-15-2: The requirement for advancing the ball into the goal area is met when the ball touches anything within that area or a player in possession of the ball touches the line or is inside the goal area.

Rule 6-5-2v: Another example of illegal procedure was approved: “When no player from the team awarded possession picks up the ball and moves to the position of the restart within five seconds of when the officials are ready to restart play.” (Note: This only applies to situations in which Rule 6-5-f does not apply.)

Rule 6-6-3b: A coach or player may leave the bench/coaches area to exchange a crosse with a player on the field in the opposite end of the field from that team’s bench during a live ball or dead ball.

Rule 7-3 Exception: Deleted “live-ball” from the exception.

Rule 7-13: Regarding inadvertent whistles, the team with possession or entitled to possession when the whistle was blown shall retain possession.

Rule 2-6-1: Clarified the rule regarding state association authority as follows: State associations may intercede in the event of unusual incidents that occur before, during or after the officials’ jurisdiction has ended or in the event that a contest is terminated prior to the conclusion of regulation play.

According to the 2010-11 NFHS Athletics Participation Survey, 2,192 schools sponsor boys lacrosse at the high school level with 95,683 participants nationwide.