Ask A Ref: Goalie Stick Switching And Equipment


Editor’s Note: In our last edition of Ask A Ref, Gordon Corsetti filled us in on how players can, and can not, exchange sticks on the field of play. This week, he’s covering goalie sticks, how they can be used on offense, and we can draw the line. If you’re interested in reffing, check out Gordon’s book, “Advancement Rules: Improving Your Lacrosse Officiating“, on Amazon!


Connor sent me two unusual questions regarding goalkeepers:

1. Lets say a team was crushing another team 16-0. If the goalie wanted to come out and play offense for the fourth quarter is he allowed to keep the goalie protector on his helmet, use his stick, etc, and play offense?

2. Could a player play with a goalie stick on offense the whole game, if the team’s goalie used a midfielder’s stick?

There are two rules that deal with both of these questions, but as with most rules, there is some interpretation involved.

Rule 2-1-1 states that, “A team shall begin the game with at least 10 players, and must have a legally equipped goalkeeper on the field at all times, or it forfeits the game.

This rule establishes that a legally equipped goalkeeper must always be on the field. That means one player must have a helmet, throat guard, chest protector, mouthpiece, protective cup, and a goalie stick while on the field. There is a situation that goes along with this rule:

Goalkeeper B1 must leave the game due to an injury, expulsion or penalty.

Team B refuses to send in another player to play that position.

RULING: Team B must put a legally equipped goalkeeper on the field or it
forfeits the game.

The rules require a legally equipped goalkeeper to be on the field at every moment of the game, however they do not state where that player has to be. That is where the interpreting comes in.

In response to the first question of “can a goalie come out and play offense and keep the protector on his head?”, the answer is an absolute yes. As long as he keeps his goalie gear on and goalie stick in his hands there is still a legally equipped goalkeeper on the field, so you are well within the rules to do just that.

The answer to the second question about switching sticks with a goalkeeper is a resounding no. As soon as the sticks are exchanged you now have a goalkeeper playing without a goalie stick, which means he is an illegally equipped goalkeeper and play must be stopped.

There are two possible outcomes that I can see if you try something unusual with exchanging goalie equipment or sticks during a game. One, the officials will stop play get the goalkeeper geared back up properly and give the ball to the opposing team. Two, the ill-equipped goalkeeper is more likely to get injured before the officials have a chance to kill the play because they are not wearing the extra gear that field players wear (elbow pads, shoulder pads, etc). My recommendation to goalkeepers around the country is to stay in the cage and only come out when necessary.


  1. I have a follow up question that falls in line with these questions, and it maybe silly but my interest is piqued. Since we have established that the rules require a legally equipped goalkeeper to be on the field at every moment of the game, but do not state where that player has to be, I’d like to know if this scenario is legal:

    A team has a player, A1, declared as the designated goalkeeper in the official scorebook lineups. A1 is a legally equipped goalkeeper wearing the required goalkeeper protection equipment and carrying a goalkeeper?s crosse, but positioned on the team’s offensive side of the field. A second player, A2, is positioned in the team’s crease, wearing the required goalkeeper protection equipment, in addition to shoulder pads and arm pads, and has a short crosse.

    All the conditions of 1-17, 1-21-a, 2-1, and 6-6 A.R. 19 seem to be met.

  2. You may not have two players suited as the goalie, with that being said, this question can almost be simplified by thinking about when a goalie crosses midfield and calls for a middie back. We know he can take the ball all of the way down to the opposing goal, and if a turn over occurs before he gets back to his crease, a player(A2) is allowed to step in the crease and defend the net. This does not give A2 the same privileges as the goalie, such as touching or batting the ball with his hand while in the crease, but the 4 seconds count in the crease and in and out rules still apply.

    I hope that answers it, sorry for being a little late.

    COC District 6 Official
    9 years NFHS experience