Idaho Lacrosse Association

Lacrosse 101


Lacrosse 101 will introduce you to how the game of boys contact lacrosse is played and rules associated with contact lacrosse.  It is designed to give parents some insight into what they will be observing on the field.  


1) Lacrosse Basics:


  A) Sportsmanship:  The goal of the youth and high school lacrosse league is to provide an experience for these young men to develop not only lacrosse skills but to develop skills that will help them throughout their lives.  Sportsmanship, teamwork, and respect are all skills that we strive to instill in the players.  All of the actions and interactions between the coaches, players, fans, and officials are scrutinized by all of the players.  Please make sure that what they see is bringing out the best in them.  Remember that a great shot is a great shot, even if the other team scores.  A great save is a great save, even if the other goalie made the save.  A great game is a great game, even if the other team wins.  Please keep this in mind when watching the games.


 B) The Field:  The lacrosse field is similar in size to a regulation soccer field.  Regulation size is 110 yards long by 53 1/3 to 60 yards wide.

  1. Midfield line:  This splits the field into the offensive and defensive sides.  There must always be 4 players in your defensive side and 3 players in your offensive side.

  2. Offensive and Defensive Zone lines:  These lines are located twenty yards from the midfield line and are 20 yards in front of the goal line.  There are rules that apply to these lines during the face off and when clearing the ball.

  3. Crease area:  The crease is the circle that surrounds the goal and is 18 feet in diameter.  This crease area is centered 15 yards in front of the end line of the field.  The crease is a protective zone for the goalie.  No offensive player can step into the defensive crease.  There can be no interference with the goalie when he is in the crease.

  4. The goal area:  The regulation goals have 6 x 6 foot openings.  This is placed in the center of the crease (9 feet from the front and centered.

  5. The Wing Area:  This is a strip that is located 20 yards from the center of the field and 10 yards from the side lines of the field.  During the face off, the wing middies (midfield players) are confined to this are until the whistle is blown.

  6. Scorers Table:  This is located 6 yards from the field of play at the center line.  The area behind the table is for the score keeper/ time keepers.  The area in front of the table extending out 5 yards from the center line is for players serving penalty time and for players getting ready to substitute on the fly (this area is called the penalty area).  No coaches, fans, players (except as described above) are allowed in this area.

  7. Fan area:  The fan area is across the field from the player bench area.  Fans should be 6 yards beyond the side line.  No fans should be in the area of the end lines for safety reasons on passed shots.  If someone is in the end line area for retrieving balls, they should have a helmet on.

 C) Positions:  The teams consist of 10 players on the field at a time.  If a player is penalized, their team will be man down until the penalty is released.  The ten positions are broken out into 4 unique player groups.

  1. Goal keeper/Goalie:  The goalie is the last line of defense to stop a shot.  The goalie is allowed to use a larger stick head for stopping the shots.  The goalie has privileges unique to his position as well as equipment unique to his position.  The goalie is required to wear throat protection and chest protection.  The goalie may wear arm pads (optional) and shin guards, football pants with our without pads.  The goalie may use any part of his body or cross to stop a shot.  The goalie cannot be touched when he is in the crease (body or stick).

  2. 3 defensemen:  These players protect the defensive side of the field.  The defensemen generally guard the opponent’s attack men and are allowed to play with longer shafts on their sticks.  At any time only 4 long sticks are allowed on the field for each team.

  3. 3 midfielders/middies:  These players play both offense and defense.  They are usually the ones to move the ball from their defensive zone to the offensive zone.  The middies will usually play a 2 to 4 minute block of time and be rotated out to rest.

  4. 3 attack men:  The attack is the offensive players who play on the offensive side of the field.  They generally are the best ball handlers on the team.

 D) The Play:

        1) Length of Game:  

    High School play is made up of 4 quarters each consisting of 12 minute stop time play.  If the game is tied at the end of regulation play,

Sudden-victory overtime consisting of 4 minute stop time periods will be played until a goal is scored.

    Tournaments or special circumstances:  To speed up game play during tournaments or in trying to finish a delayed game before nightfall, the officials and coaches may move to a running time clock.

     Score Differential Situation :  A running clock is also implemented when a team is up by 12 goals or more after the first half of play (called score differential situation).  Should the score differential be reduced to less than 12 goals, then normal play will resume.  

    Stop time: referee’s blow of the whistle stops and starts the clock.  When a face-off occurs or a ball is brought into play, a whistle will start the clock.  When a goal is scored or a ball goes out of play, a whistle will stop the clock.   During stop time play, penalties will be stop time and will commence with the next whistle resuming play.

    Running time:  An on field injury, an official’s time out, or a team time out will be the only time the referee’s whistle will stop the clock.  The referees’ blow of the whistle during a face-off, goal, or the ball moving into/out of play will not stop the clock.  Penalties will be served as running time with the exception of time outs and will commence with the next whistle resuming play.


    2) Intervals:

There are 2 minutes between quarters 1 and 2 and between quarters 3 and 4.  There is a 10 minute half time between quarters 2 and 3.  


    3) Start of game:

    The play of the game is started with the attack players in the offensive zone (20 yards from midfield), the defensive players in the defensive zone (20 yards from midfield), and the middies positioned with one at the center of the field (face-off X) and the other two positioned at each wing line.

    The face off is done at the start of each quarter and after each goal is scored.  The face off consists of the center players squatted into a face off stance.  Once the whistle blows to start the play, the two players work to get possession of the ball.  The teams wing middies move into the center of the field to help with possession.  Once a team has obtained possession of the ball, the referee will call out possession and the attack and defense are allowed to move outside of the restraining line (offensive or defensive box).

    The team with possession of the ball will be called the offense and when they are inside the offensive half of the field, they will be called “on the attack”.  If the offense steps out of bounds, or passes the ball to a teammate and it is lost out of bounds, the ball is turned over to the other team.  If the offensive team shoots at the goal and the ball goes out of bounds, the closest player to where the ball is when it goes out of bounds is rewarded the ball (this is called backing up the shot).  If the offense commits a penalty, the ball will be turned over to the opposing team.  If the defense commits a penalty, the game can go into a “slow flag”, a “play on”, or a whistle and stop play situation (explained later).

    After a team shoots on goal and the ball is stopped by the goalie, the goalie has 4 seconds after he obtains possession of the ball in the crease to either pass the ball out or exit the crease area.  The team with the ball in their defensive zone has 20 seconds to move it across the midfield line.  The terminology used to move the ball out of the defensive side of the field is called a “clear”.  A successful clear is when the team can move the ball across the midfield line and into its offensive side of the field without losing possession.

    For High School, the team with the ball has 10 seconds to move the ball from the midfield line into their attack zone (20 yards in from the midfield line) and if they leave the attack zone with the ball, they have 10 seconds to return it to the attack zone (exception is that during the last 2 minutes of the game, the attack cannot leave the attack zone if they are ahead).  


 E) Referees/Game Officials:  The referees or game officials have authority over all play of the game; and jurisdiction over anyone connected with either team including spectators.  They shall keep a record of the number of goals scored by each team, the number of the player scoring the goal, and the number of team timeouts.  They shall check with the scorekeeper at the end of each period to ensure accuracy with their score.  At the end of each half, the referee shall check and approve the score.  The referees will also sign each score book at the end of the game.  The primary concern of the officials is the safety of the players on the field.


 F)  The Coaches:  The coaches shall provide a player list to the score table.  The list shall start with the attack, midfield, defense, and goalies.  The top attack player on the list will be called the “in home”.  This player will serve any penalties called against the team (bench violations, etc.).  


 G)  The Timekeeper: Keep the official game clock time.  Stop and start game clock when officials whistle starts and stops play on the field.  Keep penalty time and inform the player when time is expired in his penalty.  The timekeeper should not release a penalty if the play of the game is close to the substitution box to prevent possible injury to players.  Inform the nearest referee when there are 20 seconds left in the quarter.  During the last quarter, inform referee when there is 2 minutes and 10 seconds remaining in the game.  Sound the horn when time in the quarter has expired.  Sound the horn when the coaches call for “horn”.  This is to substitute players into the game when the ball is out of bounds on the side lines “called substituting on the fly”.  This cannot be done when the ball goes out of bounds on the end lines.


 H) The Scorekeeper:   Is responsible for; keeping an accurate account of the statistics of the game, oversee all activities occurring within the Table Area and maintaining an unbiased attitude in regards to the game.  The home scorekeeper should arrive no later than 30 minutes prior the start of the game to oversee field set up, log opposing team players into the scorebook, and ensuring that all equipment needed for the table is in good working order (time clock, stopwatches, and horn).  The home scorebook is the official scoring device for the game.


 I)  Fans:  The fans are to be located on the opposite side of the field from the bench.  No fans are allowed behind the team bench or in the score table area unless they are part of the score/time keepers group.  Please keep 6 yards from the field of play and out of the areas behind the goals to ensure safety.


 J)  Sideline managers:  Each team will provide a sideline manager who will help encourage, maintain, and manage the sportsmanlike behavior of spectators and fans.  These adults will be responsible for insuring that the spectators and fans support the athletes, coaches, and officials in a positive manner.  These managers will introduce themselves to the officials prior to the game.  They will notify an unruly fan or spectator that unsportsmanlike behavior may lead to ejection and/or game cancellation by the officials.


2) Equipment:  All players must have the following equipment to play boys  lacrosse.  Mouth guard (readily visible color), protective cup, helmet, stick, protective gloves, shoulder pads (optional for goalie), elbow/arm pads (optional for goalie).  Cleats for field turf are suggested.  The Goalkeeper shall wear a throat and chest protector.  The goalkeeper may wear shin guards and/or football pants with or without pads.  No jewelry shall be worn.  A religious medal or medical alert medal must be taped.


3) Penalties:  There are two types of penalties; Personal fouls and technical fouls.  Personal fouls are assessed for actions by a player and technical fouls can be the result of team or individual actions.  Technical fouls are assessed a 30 second releasable penalty.  Personal fouls are assessed from a 1 to 3 minute penalty that can be releasable or un-releasable (if the offended team scores, the player still has to sit his penalty time).  The body check rule for youth is modified to state that no take-out checks are permitted.  A take-out check:  a check in which the player lowers his head to shoulder with the force and intent to take out (put on the ground) the other player.


Penalties:  The following is a brief summary of the types of penalties.


 A) Personal:  The player is assessed a 1 to 3 minute penalty for personal fouls.  The penalty can be releasable (if the opponents score a goal, the penalty time expires) or un-releasable (the player must sit the entire penalty time).

Cross Checking:  Using the stick between the hands to check an opponent.

Illegal Body Check:  Checking the opponent’s body from behind or the sides, above the neck or below the waist.

Illegal Cross:  The stick does not meet regulations.  Most commonly the pocket does not release the ball or is too deep.

Slashing:  Striking the opponent with your stick inappropriately.  The only place that is allowed is the stick and the gloved hand in contact with the stick.

Tripping:  Tripping your opponent in possession of the ball.  Most commonly called when running someone down from behind.

Unnecessary Roughness:  Use of more force than necessary to get the job done will be called unnecessary roughness.

Un-sportsmanship conduct:  Any taunting, arguing with the officials, or throwing a stick will be called.


 B) Technical Fouls:  A player or team can be assessed a 30 second penalty for any of the following technical fouls:

Crease violations:  Offense in the opponents crease.

Screening:  Offensive players keeping the goalie from being able to see the ball; called when the intent of the offensive player is to face guard the goalie.

Offside:  This can be a slow flag type penalty.  

Pushing:  Equal and opposite force is allowed.

Stalling:  The movement of the ball must be toward the goal.  Stalling is called when a team is not making an attempt to move the ball toward the goal.

Warding:  Using hand movement when carrying the cross with one hand to push away the defenders cross.


 C) Play-On:  Play on situations occur where a loose ball technical foul or crease violation will place the offended team at a disadvantage if the official were to suspend play.  The referee will not blow the whistle and not throw the flag unless the offended team is hurt by the penalty (losses the ball as a result).  An example of this is goalie interference on a clear.  If the clear is successful, no penalty is called.


 D) Slow Whistle/Flag down situation:  A penalty occurs but the offended team retains possession of the ball.  The flag will be thrown but no whistle will stop play until possession by the offended team is lost (usually by a shot or dropping the ball).  As soon as the ball hits the ground, the whistle is blown and the offending team is assessed the penalty.  If a goal is scored in a slow whistle situation, the penalty will be served if it was a personal foul.  If it was a technical foul, no penalty will be given.