Modifications to the stick check process and an adjustment to the restraining line rule during the administration of the draw were among the changes supported by both the high school girls’ and youth girls’ lacrosse rules committees for the 2023 season. Additionally, sportsmanship, knowledge of the rules, and dangerous use of stick were identified as three points of emphasis at both levels of play for 2023.
The high school rule changes have been approved by the board of directors for the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and for the youth level by USA Lacrosse.
“The rules committees made small but important tweaks this year to simplify penalty administration in some instances, which helps lead to more consistent officiating,” said Caitlin Kelley, senior director for sports administration at USA Lacrosse and liaison to the NFHS and USAL Girls’ Lacrosse Rules Committees. “The changes this year continue the focus on providing more consistency across the national landscape by eliminating some potential subjective standards in the game as well as allowing officials to focus on the game’s critical components without unnecessary distractions. Additionally, there were some minor girls’ youth rule adjustments in order to provide more consistency with the high school game and to enhance the player experience without sacrificing safety.”
Regarding Rule 2-4-4a, the committee eliminated the requirement to apply pressure to the ball in the pocket during crosse inspection. This adjustment will ensure that the method of checking pocket depth is done in a consistent manner.
Rule 5-2-5d now states that players may not step on or over the restraining lines after the official’s hand is in contact with the sticks at the draw until the restraining line is released regardless of number of players between the restraining lines. This change will help officials focus on the play around the draw and maintain game safety without needing to monitor the restraining lines away from the play.
To improve the pace of play, Rule 5-4-1 now allows a player that is fouled outside the critical scoring area to take the free position and self-start within 4-meters of the spot of the foul rather than within playing distance. Also, Rule 5-4-5c now allows the defensive player awarded a free position to self-start when there is a foul by an attack player within the critical scoring area, unless the game clock is stopped.
Rule 5-5-1f now eliminates alternate possession for offsetting fouls when one of the fouls requires the issuance of a card. This is intended to create a more appropriate penalty assessment by awarding possession to the team that was not issued a card.
Rule 7-1-2c was modified to allow the goalkeeper to carry the ball into the goal circle after it has been cleared and played. The rationale for the change was to provide another option for the goalkeeper to return to the goal circle with the ball.
Rule 10-1y PENALTIES was changed to move administration of a free position for a three-second violation from the spot of the ball to the 12-meter fan when the ball is outside the critical scoring area and above the goal line extended. This is intended create a more appropriate penalty assessment for the infraction.
Specific to the girls’ youth rules, Rule 5.7 (Goal Circle Violations) was adjusted by deleting “a player may not follow through into the goal circle on a shot” and its associated penalty.” Observations have shown this is not a safety risk and the rule is often misunderstood and difficult to observe by youth game officials. The change aligns with high school rules and provides consistency at both levels of play.
Also, on Rule 6.3, the minimum pass rule requirement for 8U was eliminated, with allowance for leagues to establish minimum passing rules if so desired.
“The NFHS and USAL rules committees did an outstanding job this year balancing some important but small changes with the desire to maintain consistency in the playing rules and supporting the accessibility and growth of the game for players, coaches, and officials,” Kelley said.
USA Lacrosse training materials for the 2023 season will be updated shortly and can be accessed online at www.usalacrosse.com/girls-and-womens-rules.
A complete listing of the girls’ high school lacrosse rules changes are available on the NFHS website.