You hear really strange rule interpretations when working as a traveling lacrosse official. I listen to the most incorrect explanations of what the current lacrosse rules are at every level I officiate and every region I do games in. In this post I cover what I consider the Top 10 Rule Myths in NFHS and NCAA Boys Lacrosse and I bust those myths using the 2013 rulebooks for each respective level.
Whichever player is closest to the end line or sideline when a shot goes out of bounds gets the ball.
NFHS Rule 4.6.3.c – “When a loose ball goes out of bounds as a result of a shot or deflected shot at the goal, it shall be awarded to the team that had an inbounds player’s body nearest to the ball when it became an out-of-bounds ball, at the point where it was declared out of bounds. […] In determining which player is nearest, the ball is considered out of bounds when it crosses the plane of the end line or sideline.”
NCAA Rule 4.6.b.3 – “When a loose ball goes out of bounds as a result of a shot or deflected shot at the goal, it shall be awarded to the team that had an inbounds player’s body nearest to the ball when it became an out-of-bounds ball, at the point where it was declared out of bounds.”
Busted! – For the purposes of the above rules, the stick is not considered part of the body. A team is awarded possession of the ball on a shot out of bounds when their inbounds player’s body is closest to the ball WHERE it went out WHEN it went out. If the ball goes out at X, and you are at one of the corner pylons, you do not get the ball just because you are closest to the end line.
The goalie has possession when he clamps down on top of the ball outside of the crease, which means his stick cannot be checked.
NFHS Rule 4.19.3 Situation B – “There is a loose ball in front of the crease. Goalkeeper B1 reaches out to pick up ball, and A1 checks B1’s crosse. RULING: Legal. Goalkeeper does not have possession of the ball.”
NCAA Rule 4.18.d, A.R. 67 – A loose ball is in front of the crease. Goalkeeper B1 reaches out to pick up the ball, and A1 checks B1’s crosse. RULING: Legal play. The goalkeeper does not have possession of the ball.”
Busted! – As long as the goalkeeper does not have possession his crosse is fair game to check as long as the part of the crosse that is checked is outside the crease.
If a goal is scored during a flag down slow whistle then the penalty is always wiped out.
NFHS Rule 7.9.2 Situation A – “A1 takes a shot from midfield. B2 illegally checks A2, and the ball enters the goal. RULING: Slow whistle, goal counts. B2’s violation, if technical, is wiped out; if personal foul, B2 serves penalty time. Faceoff.”
NCAA Rule 7.9 – “A player or substitute committing a personal foul always shall be suspended from the game for the designated penalty time, regardless of whether a goal is scored during the slow whistle. If a goal is scored after a slow whistle on a technical foul, no penalty is assessed; if a goal is not scored, the penalty is suspension from the game for 30 seconds for each foul.”
Busted! – Personal fouls are always served. Technical fouls are wiped out if the goal is scored during the flag down slow whistle. I will repeat – personal fouls are ALWAYS served.
The in-home serves all penalties called on the goalkeeper unless the goalkeeper is called for unsportsmanlike conduct. In that case the goalkeeper will serve the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
Busted! – There is no rule in either book stating that the goalkeeper does not serve penalty time on any penalty other than unsportsmanlike conduct. If the goalkeeper gets called for holding he sits for thirty seconds. If he gets called for an illegal body check he sits for 1, 2, or 3 minutes depending on the official’s judgment. There are youth rule provisions that allow a team’s in-home to serve all goalkeeper penalties except for unsportsmanlike conduct because many youth teams do not have backup goalies dressed and ready to go. That youth rule does not apply in NFHS or NCAA Boys Lacrosse games.
Teams can start a game man down.
NFHS Rule 2.1.1 – “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.”
NCAA Rule 2.7 – “The officials shall ensure that each team has 10 players, including those in the penalty area, at the beginning of each period of the game and before each restart after a goal.”
Busted! – Teams must start a game with ten players and a legally equipped goalkeeper. Both NFHS and NCAA Rule 2 have specifications allowing a team to compete man down due to injury or player expulsion, but neither book allows for a game to begin with either team not fielding ten players, and one of those players must be a legally equipped goalkeeper.
The faceoff midfielder gets one shake to get the ball out of the back of his stick. The faceoff midfielder can shake his stick as violently as he needs to get the ball out, but only until he reaches the restraining line. The faceoff midfielder gets two seconds to pop the ball out of the back of his stick.
NFHS Rule 4.7.1 – “If at any point the ball becomes stuck in the front or back of the crosse, there shall be an immediate whistle and the ball awarded to the opposing team.”
NCAA Rule 4.7.b – “If at any point the ball becomes stuck in the front or back of the crosse, there shall be an immediate whistle, and the ball shall be awarded to the opposing team.”
Busted! – There is way more confusion about the ball being stuck in the back of the faceoff player’s crosse than there should be. The ball can be in the back of the crosse and not be stuck. In that case the officials will signal and yell, “Possession,” because the midfielder can carry, cradle, pass, or shoot. The on field officials judge whether or not the ball is stuck in the back of the crosse and there is an immediate whistle once that is determined. Officials can usually tell when the faceoff midfielder makes a Matrix-style move and the ball does not respond to the forces of gravity. There is no one shake, two seconds of shaking, or any other form of shaking permitted.
If the ball hits two or more goal pipes then it is automatically a goal.
NFHS Rule 4.8.1 – “A goal is scored when a loose ball passes from the front, completely through the imaginary plane formed by the rear edges of the goal line, the goal posts and the crossbar of the goal, regardless of who supplied the impetus.”
NCAA Rule 4.8 – “A goal is scored when a loose ball passes from the front, completely through the imaginary plane formed by the rear edges of the goal line, the goal posts and the crossbar of the goal, regardless of who supplied the impetus.”
Busted! – Hitting two or more pipes means the entire ball did not fully cross the rear edges of the goal line. The only time a pipe shot is a goal is if the ball completely crosses the rear edge of the goal line, hits the angled bottom pipe inside of the cage that is flush with the ground, and then ricochets out of the front of the goal.
If the ball touches any part of the goal line, it is a goal.
NFHS Rule 4.8.1 – Same as Myth #4 rule reference.
NCAA Rule 4.8 – Same as Myth #4 rule reference.
Busted! – The lacrosse goal line and ball are not the same as a football goal line and ball. If the lacrosse ball comes to rest on top of the goal line it is NOT a goal, no matter what anyone says to the contrary.
The offensive player is warding if he lifts his arm up and over the defenseman’s check when the defender performs a lift check.
NFHS Rule 6.11.1 – “A player in possession of the ball shall not use his free hand or arm or any other part of his body to hold, push or control the direction of the movement of the crosse or body of the player applying the check.”
NCAA Rule 6.12 – “A player in possession of the ball may not use his free hand or arm, or any other part of his body, to hold, push or control the direction of the movement of the crosse or body of an opponent.”
Busted! – If the defender executes a good lift check and forces the offensive player to lift his free arm over the defender’s stick and turn away from the pressure then both players are playing good lacrosse! Unless the offensive player uses his free hand to hold, push or control the crosse or body of his opponent then there is no foul. Lifting an arm free is perfectly legal.
Players on the ground (A three-part myth!):
1) You can’t play lacrosse on the ground.
2) You can body check a player on the ground.
3) You can stick check a player on the ground.
NFHS Rule 5.3.3 – “Body-checking of an opponent who has any part of his body other than his feet on the ground” is an illegal body check.
NCAA Rule 5.6.d – “Initiating contact with an opponent who has any part of his body other than his feet on the ground” is an illegal body check.
1) Busted! – There is no rule anywhere in either book that prohibits a player from playing from the ground. You can pass, catch, and cradle from the ground for as long as you like. Just don’t try to cover up the ball with your body because you will likely be called for withholding the ball from play.
2) Busted! – You cannot body check a player who is on the ground. This would be an illegal body check for 1, 2 or 3 minutes depending on how the official judges the severity of the hit.
3) Confirmed! – You can stick check an opponent’s crosse and his hands holding his crosse with your stick while your opponent is on the ground. Just because a player is on the ground does not mean he cannot be checked. He can be stick checked all game long, but he cannot be body checked while on the ground.
ignorantia juris neminem excusat – Ignorance of the law excuses no one (do your part to grow the game by knowing the rules!)
Well those are my Top 10 NFHS and NCAA Boys Lacrosse Rule Myths. If you think I missed a myth that deserved inclusion into the Top 10 then comment below!