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Women's lacross (Girl's Rules will vary Slightly)

The rules of women's lacrosse differ significantly from men's lacrosse and are specifically designed to allow less physical contact between players. As a result of the lack of contact, the only protective equipment required is eyewear and a mouthguard. Although these are the only protective equipment, there are still many injuries due to accidental checks to the head. The pockets of women's sticks are shallower than those of the men, making the ball harder to catch and more difficult to shoot at high speed. Women play with three attackers (or "homes"), five midfielders (or "middies"), three defenders (starting from the back, called "point", "cover point", and "third man"), and one goalie. Seven players play attack at one time and seven defenders are present. There is a restraining line that keeps the other four players (plus the goalie) from going into the attack. If those players cross the line, they are considered offsides and a penalty is given.

In women's lacrosse, checking is much different than in men's. One way it is different is that women may only check if the check is directed away from the ball carrier's head. Also, women may only check using the side of their stick. If caught by one of the referees using a the flat of the head, it will be called as a "held check" and the opposing team will get the ball.

There are two types of fouls in woman's lacrosse, major and minor. When a minor foul is committed anywhere on the field, the player who fouled is set four meters to whichever side she was guarding the person she obstructed. If a major foul occurs outside of the 12 meter fan or eight meter arc, the fouler must stand four meters behind the player she fouled.

There are two different surroundings around the goal on both sides of the field. The eight meter arc Women's Field (click for a larger image)and the 12 meter fan. When committing a major foul inside either of these areas, all players that were previously inside the surrounding must take the most direct route out. The player who was fouled now moves to the nearest hash mark that is located around the edges of the arc or fan and either takes position to shoot or to pass (although, most often to shoot). When the whistle is blown, the player with the ball may move up and try for a goal.

The most important rule in women's lacrosse is shooting space, this is a violation of the rules. It occurs when a defender moves in at a bad angle on the offender while shooting in the 8 meter arc. This is a dangerous play made by the defender.

Women's games are played in two 25-minute halves. These 25 minutes are running time, except for the last two minutes, during which time stops when the whistle is blown (This can differ when playing high or middle school games). While the whistle is blown, players are not allowed to move. In women's lacrosse, players are not allowed to touch the ball with their body or cover the ball with their stick in order to scoop it into their stick or protect the ball from picked up by an opponent.

The women's lacrosse game has been modified significantly over the past ten years.[8] Modifications include limiting the amount of players allowed between the two restraining lines on the draw to five players per team. Stick modifications have lead to offset heads, which allow the women's game to move faster and makes stick moves and tricks easier. In 2002, goggles became mandatory equipment in the United States (but not a requirement in international rules). In 2006, hard boundaries were adopted.

Penalties for women's lacrosse are assessed with the following cards:

  • The green card, given to the team captain, is for a delay of game.
  • The yellow card is for a first-time penalty and results in the player being removed from the field for five minutes (three minutes in high school competition).
  • The red card is the result either of two yellow cards or one unsportsmanlike behavior ruling, and causes the player to be ejected from the game. If the red card is for unsportsmanlike behavior, the player is also not permitted to play in the following game.

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The ball is slightly smaller than a tennis ball and made of dense rubber. Girls’ games are played with a yellow ball. Sticks are between 35-1/2” to 43-1/4” long. The pocket is considered legal if the top of the ball is even with or above the sidewalls of the stick head when dropped into the pocket and slight pressure is applied. Mouth guards and eye protection are mandatory. Goalies wear a helmet with throat guard, gloves, and chest protector. (Many elect to wear additional protection.)
Middle and high school games are two 25-minute halves. The only time the clock stops is after every goal and on any whistle within the last two minutes of each half. If a team has a four-goal advantage the clock will run after goals.
There are 11 field players plus a goalie for each team.The lines on either side of the centerline are called restraining lines. Only seven field players from each team are allowed into the offensive side of their restraining line. This prevents congestion in front of the goal. First, second, and thirdhome, also known as “line attack”, have roles that are primarily offensive; shooting on goal and feeding cutters. They will typically stay behind their opponents restraining line. The attack wings, center, and defense wings, also known as midfielders, are counted on to play equal parts offense and defense and they run the length of the field. The point, cover point and thirdman, also called line defense, are defensive specialists. They tend to stay behind the restraining line when the ball is on offense.


Clear: Any action taken by a player within the goal circle to pass or carry the ball out of the goal circle.

Critical Scoring Area: An area 15 meters in front of and to each side of the goal and nine meters behind the goal. An eight-meter arc and 12 meter fan are marked in the area.

Crosse (Stick): The equipment used to throw, catch, check and carry the ball.

Crosse Checking: Stick to stick contact consisting of a series of controlled taps in an attempt to dislodge the ball from the crosse.

Deputy: A player who enters the goal circle when the goalie is out of the goal circle and her team is in possession of the ball.

Draw: A technique to start or resume play by which a ball is placed in between the sticks of two standing players and drawn up and away.

Eight-Meter Arc: A semi-circular area in front of the goal used for the administration of major fouls. A defender may not remain in this area for more than three seconds unless she is within a stick's length of her opponent.

Free Position: An opportunity awarded to the offense when a major or minor foul is committed by the defense. All players must move four meters away from the player with the ball. When the whistle sounds to resume play, the player may run, pass or shoot the ball.

Free Space To Goal: A cone-shaped path extending from each side of the goal circle to the attack player with the ball. A defense player may not, for safety reasons, stand alone in this area without closely marking an opponent.

Goal Circle: The circle around the goal with a radius of 2.6 meters (8.5 feet). No player's stick or body may “break” the cylinder of the goal circle.

Grounded: Refers to any part of the goalkeeper's or deputy's body touching the ground for support outside of the goal circle when she attempts to play the ball from inside the goal circle.

Indirect Free Position: An opportunity awarded to the offense when a minor foul is committed by the defense inside the 12 meter fan. When the whistle sounds to resume play, the player may run or pass, but may not shoot until a defender or one of her teammates has played the ball.

Marking: Being within a stick's length of an opponent.

Penalty Lane: The path to the goal that is cleared when a free position is awarded to the attacking team.

Scoring Play: A continuous effort by the attacking team to move the ball toward the goal and to complete a shot on goal.

Stand: All players, except the goalkeeper in her goal circle, must remain stationary following the sound of any whistle.

Sphere: An imaginary area, approximately 18 cm (seven inches) which surrounds a player's head. No stick checks toward the head are allowed to break the sphere.

12 Meter Fan: A semi-circle in front of the goal used for the administration of minor fouls.

Warning Cards: A yellow card presented by an umpire to a player is a warning which indicates that she will next receive a red card and be suspended from further participation if she continues to play dangerously and/or conduct herself in an unsportsmanlike manner. A green card is presented by an umpire to the team captain indicating a team caution for delay of game.


The goal cage is 6’ by 6’. The circle around the goal is 8.5’ in diameter and is called the crease. Field players must treat this line as a cylinder and cannot break the plane of this cylinder with their bodies or sticks. The goalie is allowed to cover the ball when the ball is inside the crease. If the goalie leaves the crease with the ball in her stick, she may not step back in while still in possession. If the goalie leaves the crease a field player may go into the crease and take her place if her team is in possession of the ball. This deputy (the unpadded field player’s new name in goal) is not allowed to block shots.

The other lines around the goal are known as the 12-meter fan and the 8-meter arc. Major fouls by the defense occurring within its 8-meter arc result in a free possession for the offense. The player who is fouled moves to her nearest hash mark on the arc. The defensive player who committed the foul must stand on the 12-meter line behind the ball carrier. The arc is cleared of all other players. Any player who is within 4 meters of the player taking the free position must move to be 4 meters away. Upon the ref’s whistle, the player with the ball is allowed to shoot, pass or maintain possession.

The center circle is used for the draw, which happens after every goal and is done in a standing position with the ball placed between the backside of the two players’ sticks.

The draw takes place at midfield to start each half and after every goal. The ball must go higher than the midfielder’s head or else there is a redraw. Besides the players conducting the draw, 4 players from either team may stand on the edge of the circle. The other players must be behind their respective restraining lines. Players may move before the whistle but must remain outside the circle or behind the restraining line. A team with a 4 goal or more deficit is awarded an indirect free position at the center of the field in lieu of a draw. The opposing center must be 4 meters away at a 45° angle. The center with the ball may not score without first passing the ball.
Occasionally you will see a throw. This is used when a draw has not been legal or when there are offsetting fouls (one by each team) on the field.
Out of deference to the games heritage as a Native American war game, there are no uniform boundaries in girls’ lacrosse. The ball is awarded to the player closest to the ball when it goes out of the playing area. That is why you see players running hard after the ball as it’s going out of the playing area until they hear the whistle.
All players must stop and stand still when the whistle blows to stop play. A player moving after the whistle can be called for a foul and change of possession awarded.
Substitution is unlimited and may occur at any time. Substitutions must check in at the scorer/timer table and enter the field through the team substitution area. The player coming off the field must completely exit the field before her substitute may run onto the field.
There are two types of fouls: Major and Minor. Major fouls usually pertain to offenses that are potentially dangerous. Players may not use their sticks recklessly or impede the progress of an opponent. Attackers may not hold or cradle the ball directly in front of her face. Players may not push, trip or back into an opponent with their bodies or set illegal picks.Some major fouls occur only within the 8-meter arc. A defender cannot play zone within this arc for more than 3 seconds; they must mark up and get within an extended stick’s length of an offensive player. Likewise a defensive player cannot be within the shooting space of an attacker, (defined as the cone between a ball handler in the act of shooting and the goal), unless they are within a stick’s length of the attacker.Minor fouls are things like checking an empty stick, covering a ground ball with a stick, (raking), or guarding the ball with ones feet. Players may not ward off with a free arm or play the ball with their hand or body. A minor foul by the defense that occurs within the 12-meter fan results in an indirect free position, which means the player with the ball must pass the ball before a shot can be taken on goal. The player who committed the foul is moved 4 meters away behind the player with the ball. A minor foul occurring with in the 8-meter arc also results in an indirect free position but the defensive player committing the foul is placed on the 8 meter arc directly in front of the player with the ball who is positioned on the 12 meter fan.When type of foul is committed outside of the arc or fan, (the critical shooting area), change of possession is awarded and the player committing the foul must stand 4 meters behind the player with the ball.
Checking is the striking of an opponent’s stick head in an effort to dislodge the ball. Stick checks should be controlled, short, quick taps. There should not be a backswing. A defender may never check toward the head or body. The modified version of checking is employed at grades 7 and 8 A defender may not check a stick head that is above the opponent’s shoulder. To counter the advantage this gives the player with the ball, a 3-second count is employed when the defender has both hands on her stick and is in good position to check a stick that is above the ball handler’s shoulder. If the player with the ball doesn’t reposition her stick away from the defender or pass the ball by the end of the 3-second count, it is considered a minor foul and possession is awarded to the defender.

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