Ask a Ref: What’s New for 2014?


2014: Year of Interpretation

Be glad this wasn’t a new rules year for the NCAA, because there were some major changes for US Lacrosse, U-9 through varsity!

Let’s not waste time, there’s a lot to go over…

Ball Stamp

All games balls must have “Meets NOCSAE Standard” stamped on them along with the previously required NFHS stamps. 5 Balls must also be on all four side lines, equally spaced on the end and far sideline and 5 at the table.

Youth Gear Changes

The goalies are now required to wear arm pads. Also, all players are required to wear an athletic cup as well and rib pads are now recommended.

Youth 3 Yard Rule

All stick checks, body checks, legal holds, and legal pushes must be on a player in possession of the ball or within 3 yards of a loose ball or ball in flight.

This is a change from the 5 yards specified in RULE 4 SECTION 15, Checking  With Crosse; RULE 5 SECTION 3, Illegal Body Check, ARTICLE 1; RULE 6 SECTION 3, Holding, ARTICLE 3.a and d; and RULE 6 SECTION 9, Pushing.

“Horn” Be Gone

Substitution may only take place at the end of a period, after a goal is scored, during an injury time-out or equipment adjustment called by an official, after a time-serving penalty is called and during a team time-out. And of course on the fly!

No more horns when the ball goes out on the sideline. College implemented this rule and it significantly sped up the games and made for more exciting matches. I support this 100%!

Bigger Substitution Box

Another change passed down from the NCAA. The box is now 20 yards long instead of 10. The substitution theory changes a bit, but it de-clutters so much of the center of the field, that it’s a blessing for officials. Each team’s bench area starts ten yards from the midline, instead of the previous five yards.

Empty Wing(s) on Man Down Faceoff

Like college, if your team is “Man Down” you can no longer bring an attackmen or defender up to the midfield line for the faceoff. This removes the “hot” player when calling offsides.

If a team has one player in the box one wing is open, two players in the box calls for both wings to be open, and if three players are in the box they may bring a defensive player up for the faceoff, but they are required to stay on their half of the field.

Tape On the Head

Only illegal for faceoff men at the high school level.

Offsides Violations

Quick whistles are key for restarts. Officials are are also now able to “count forward” because the rule book has specified that offsides has only occurred if the offense has more than six players of if defense has more than seven, including players in the penalty box. Officials no longer need to turn around to make sure that three attackmen stayed back or four defenders.

Defenseless Player

This one is left up to the discretion of the official. Even though it’s a judgement call, I hope that the fact that these rules now exist, will eliminate these dangerous checks from the game.

A body-check that targets a player in a defenseless position. This includes but is not limited to: (i) body checking a player from his “blind side”; (ii) body checking a player who has his head down in an attempt to play a loose ball; and (iii) body checking a player whose head is turned away to receive a pass, even if that player turns toward the contact immediately before the body check.

PENALTY: Two- or three-minute non-releasable foul, at the official’s discretion. An excessively violent violation of this rule may result in an ejection.

Checks to the head/neck

The game is getting cleaner and I love it! Contact to the helmet can be unavoidable, and even can be legal at times, but really it had no place in the game of lacrosse. If games are played with the skill and finesse that is expected of boys lacrosse, these penalties will avoid themselves.

A player shall not initiate contact to an opponent’s head or neck with a cross-check, or with any part of his body (head, elbow, shoulder, etc.). Any follow through that contacts the head or neck shall also be considered a violation of this rule.

A player shall not initiate an excessive, violent, or uncontrolled slash to the head/neck.

A player, including an offensive player in possession of the ball, shall not block an opponent with the head
or initiate contact with the head (known as spearing).

PENALTY: Two- or three-minute non-releasable foul, at the official’s discretion. An excessively violent violation of this
rule may result in an ejection.

From removing the need for horns to defenseless players, there is a lot for players, coaches, fans, and officials to process and prepare for.

Take the time to watch US Lacrosse’s video for the 2014 changes for boys lacrosse, I hope it can possibly clear somethings up for you!

Points of Emphasis

Violent Collisions – Some body contact is permitted at all levels of boys’ youth lacrosse, with progressively more age-appropriate contact permitted as players become more physically mature and learn proper checking techniques. However, sports medicine research indicates that the severity of certain injuries may be reduced if a player can anticipate and prepare himself for an oncoming hit, and other sports medicine research indicates that peripheral vision may not be fully developed in many boys before approximately age fifteen. Therefore, there is no justification for deliberate and excessively violent collision by any player at any youth level, especially intentional player-to-player collisions with defenseless players (so-called “blind side” and “buddy-pass” checks), checks involving the head and/or neck, and excessive body-checks (“take-out checks”).

The 2014 NFHS Rules and US Lacrosse Boys Youth Rules more clearly define such violent collisions and in many cases increase the severity of the penalties that prohibit them. US Lacrosse urges officials to apply these rules and utilize the more severe penalty options, and reminds them that body-checks that might be acceptable in high school play may be excessive in youth lacrosse, and should be penalized accordingly. Coaches are encouraged to coach players to avoid delivering such checks, and to support the officials when they call such penalties. All participants must work together to reduce or eliminate such violent collision from the game.

Sportsmanship – Unsportsmanlike conduct by coaches and/or players and/or spectators degrades the experience of youth players and erodes the integrity and appeal of the sport. Therefore, unsportsmanlike conduct will not be tolerated. Obscenities need not be used in order for language to draw a penalty. Tone, intent, and body language can all contribute to unsportsmanlike conduct. Players, coaches, and spectators should exhibit the highest level of sportsmanship at all times. US Lacrosse expects officials to enforce the Unsportsmanlike Conduct rules without hesitation, and further expects coaches to promote good sportsmanship among players and anybody associated with the team, including spectators, and to support officials in maintaining an environment of civility and sportsmanship

US Lacrosse initiated the Sideline Manager and Sportsmanship Card program in an effort to invest the lacrosse community with responsibility for seeing that good sportsmanship is the rule, rather than the exception, in the sport of lacrosse. When used in conjunction with the rules, the Sportsmanship Card procedures serve as an effective deterrent to abusive behaviors. The program was created with the goal of establishing constraints that should:

  1. Eradicate the “unsportsmanlike behavior” that is creeping into sport
  2. Strengthen sportsmanship,
  3. Contribute to the retention of officials, and
  4. Honor the game.

What To Expect Next Week

Next week, we’ll be covering the new Defenseless Player rule. We hope to clear up any confusion about the new rule as early and as quickly as we can, to help make everyone’s life a little easier come game day.  So go ahead and ask away, we will answer any questions you have about this week’s topic before we begin next time!


  1. I do want to point out to all the youth players and those High School players working under NFHS rules that while quick restarts are the name of the game, especially with the absence of horns, it is not a rushed restart.

    For NFHS and below any restart requires: One player in possession of the ball, that player is in-bounds and stationary, and no player from either team within 5 yards of the player in possession. If one of those requirements is not true then the officials will likely hold the whistle to get the restart cleaned up so one team is not advantaged or the other disadvantaged.

    Keep in mind that the officials may delay the restart even if everything looks good because the officials may be out of position for where the ball is going to go. For example, a deep restart where the play was killed on the end line may have both officials sucked down especially if play along the end line was contested. The official blowing the play in may wait a beat for the rest of the crew to hustle near to their correct positions so the transition can be officiated properly. Granted, we don’t want the players to wait on us to get into position, but just know that that could be a reason for a slightly delayed restart.

  2. I see nothing here about a change regarding legal goals, which is something I just heard of in feedback from officials this week. Is there any merit to the idea that goals without a 90 degree angle and flat bottom are now illegal? If so, many non-traditional areas use Rage Cage or backyard goals for games and they probably need to start planning…

  3. Kevin,

    Rule 1, Section 3. ART. 2
    a. Flat-iron goal (recommended for use on artificial surface fields). Each vertical post shall be 6 feet long and shall be attached to a piece of flat-iron at the bottom. The two flat-irons each attached to a vertical post shall meet at a point 7 feet back from the center of the goal. The maximum thickness of the flat-iron shall be half an inch with no part of the flat iron extending in to the goal line. If a flat-iron goal is used on a grass field it shall be attached to the ground with ground anchors.

    B. Goes on to explain the accepted 90 degree angle goal and the obtuse angle goal. All three are accepted, they have their own regulations but are legal for play!

    I believe Rage Cages and the like would be legal as long as they meet those terms and are anchored.

  4. Thanks Mark. That’s exactly how I interpreted the rule, I just heard from an official this week who said that there was a rule change this year and so I wanted to see if there was any truth to that rumor.