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Five Lacrosse Rules Explained for Beginners

For those who are just starting out in organized lacrosse, learning the rules and how they apply can be quite the task. So, we’ve broken down five lacrosse rules that are a little more complicated or nuanced for beginners to help bridge the knowledge gap and get new players up to speed faster.

Five Lacrosse Rules Explained for Beginners

Warding Off

The Rule: Occurs when a player in possession of the ball uses their free hand or arm to hold, push, or control the direction of an opponent’s stick check.

The Explanation: As a ball carrier, you can’t use the arm that isn’t holding your stick to gain an advantage. You also can’t lower your shoulder to run through a player.


The Rule: Occurs when a team does not have at least four players on its defensive side of the midfield line or at least three players on its offensive side of the midfield line.

The Explanation: Each team needs a minimum of three players on the offensive end and four players on the defensive end. Usually, certain positions stay on their end (goalie, defense, attack), while midfielders roam back and forth. If you are a defender carrying the ball over the midfield line or attacker running back to play defense, make sure you yell “middie back” so that someone will take your place and keep the team onside.

The Crease

The Rule: An offensive player cannot touch or enter the circle around the goal. If a player is shooting and steps in the crease, the goal will not count.

The Explanation: As an offensive player, you are never allowed to enter the crease (at the youth levels). As a defender, you can enter the crease on the defensive end of the field as long as you don’t have the ball in your stick. No defensive player who gets the ball in the crease can leave the crease and then come back in.

Body Checking

The Rule: Occurs when any of the following actions takes place:

  • body checking an opponent who is not in possession of the ball or within five yards of a loose ball;
  • avoidable body check of an opponent after they have passed or shot the ball;
  • body checking an opponent from the rear or at or below the waist;
  • body checking an opponent above the shoulders. A body check must be below the shoulders and above the waist, and both hands of the player applying the body check must remain in contact with his crosse (another term for stick).

The Explanation: Keep your hands together, make sure the other player has the ball, and make sure contact is made between the waist and the shoulders and that you can see the front of their jersey when making contact. If the player has a knee on the ground, you can’t body check them until they are standing.

Interference/Moving Picks

The Rule: Occurs when a player interferes in any manner with the free movement of an opponent, except when that opponent has possession of the ball, the ball is in flight and within five yards of the player, or both players are within five yards of a loose ball.

The Explanation: To copy another popular sport, when you set a pick, you have to have your feet set, and you can’t be leaning into the person you are picking. Be careful to avoid using your arms to impede the defender as that can be interference as well.