Grow the Game®

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on whatsapp

Chris Fox: Penalties for Everyone!

Green men body suit penalty box hockey toronto

Editor’s Note: Welcome Chris Fox back to LAS!  We’re really excited to have someone back on the site who can talk about box lacrosse with authority, but that also has experience with American college lacrosse.  And Chris has got it all, as well as some interesting opinion on a simple rule change the NLL should seriously consider.


For those of you fans who are new to box lacrosse, there are a few differences between the NLL and the leagues up here in Canada (WLA, MSL). In fact, most Canadian-box-traditionalists wouldn’t call the NLL box lacrosse at all. They would use that filthy word “indoor” to describe the pro league.  I on the other hand, hate the word “indoor” and “outdoor” for that matter.

The 30 Second Shot Clock – Short Handed

In the NLL, when a team is short handed the 30-second shot clock still runs. Meaning, once a short-handed team gains possession of the ball they have 30 seconds to gain a shot on goal regardless of being short-handed. If the team fails to take a shot on goal within the 30-seconds, possession is than awarded to the defending team.

This rule allows teams on the power play to sit back in their defensive end, tightly protecting their net and zone, and wait for the short-handed team to willingly turn the ball over.  This rule allows for 30-second spurts of very boring lacrosse.

In the Canadian leagues, when a team is short handed the 30-second shot clock does NOT run. Once the short-handed team gains possession of the ball and crosses half within 10 seconds of gaining possession, the shot clock does not run and they are not allowed back over to their defensive end of the floor. If the ball crosses back over to the defensive end, possession is awarded to the defending team.

This rule forces teams on the power play to attack and regain possession of the ball to capitalize on their power play. This rule forces excitement and action.

For years I was on the NLL train regarding this scenario, until recently. My logic previously was this: Why reward a penalized team by eliminating the shot clock. Keep the shot clock and force the penalized team to go to net. However, the defending teams would just sit back and wait for the short-handed teams to burn 30 seconds off the penalty and happily roll the ball into the corner, turn around, and defend the rest of the penalty in their own end. Again, boring lacrosse.

While watching hockey yesterday I changed my opinion. In hockey, penalized teams are allowed to ice the puck! Fans are excited when a short-handed team gains possession of the puck and chucks it down the ice!

The Canadian leagues have it right! Canadian lacrosse fans go nuts when a penalized team kills an entire penalty in their opponent’s zone. Players “rag” the ball in their opponent’s zone. Two or three players chasing and pounding away on one player “ragging” the ball as he runs out the penalty clock. This battle is as exciting as any goal or fight, a super human effort and physical sacrifice for ones team that fans respect and go nuts over.

Final Thoughts are pretty simple:  Hey NLL, turn off the shot clock for the short handed team!