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Approved rule changes for 2015 NCAA Mens lacrosse
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NCAA Approves 2015 Rule Changes: Faceoffs, Stalling and Shot Clocks!

Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan

Today NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel (PROP) approved multiple 2015 rule changes for the coming Men’s Lacrosse season. In my opinion the highlight of these approvals are the rules regarding stalling and the faceoff, but there are so many good ones.

I am going to go over the basics of the new rules and guidelines and also throw in my opinions as a college official from time to time as well.

Let’s waste no time, shall we…

Visible Shot Clocks
High Quality Artist's Redendering
High Quality Artist’s Rendering

Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan

For 2015, if the facilities allow for it, visible shot clocks may be used for timing 30-second stalls put in place by the officials. Beginning in 2016, all Division 1 programs will be required to have the visible shot clocks on display. The following season, in 2017, all Division II and III schools will also be required to have a working visible shot clock on display for games in which they are regraded as the home team.

The PROP is also in full support of the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Rules Committee’s recommendation to have two clocks, one at each end of the field. I think this is a no-brainer. For the game’s sake, 2 shot clocks should be required. Having the clocks behind the goals helps keep the officials attention on the action and lets players keep track of time easier because they majority of players are looking up and down the field at any given time.

They also have noted that in facilities not capable of displaying the shot clocks it will be the officials’ responsibility to track the stall by use of the game clock. It also states that officials will no longer use a 20-second timer and the hand count for stall procedures.

This might be a bit of a pain if we are required to use the scoreboard to track the timing as opposed to the belt timers that we are accustomed to wearing already. The biggest impact of this change is the 30-second clock will start and stop in sync with the game clock, which means officials will not have to take their eyes off play to monitor the clock, except as time is winding down. It will be interesting to see the mechanics that are implemented because of this!


Faceoff changes are also now set in stone, so let’s start adapting.

It is now a violation if a player picks up or carries the ball on the back of his stick. It is still legal to clamp the ball with the back of the stick, but upon clamping the ball must be moved, raked or directed immediately.

What you can take from this: See ya later Pinch n’ Pop! Also, no more worrying about if the ball is “stuck” or not with the back of the head being completely ruled out!

So long!
So long!

Photo Credit: Jim O’Connor

It has not yet been stated as to when the faceoff violation count comes in to play on the new rule. My guess that if the ball remains in the back of the head during or immediately after the initial actions of the faceoff then it would count as a faceoff violation. I couldn’t see violations occurring outside of the initial faceoff motions, or by wing players, would count toward the violation count but that’s my speculation.

It is now going to be clearly stated that it is illegal to use any body parts, including but not limited to the forearm, elbow or head, to initiate contact with either player’s stick, yours or your opponents. It’s obviously still illegal to kick or step on an opposing player’s stick.

Faceoff Mechanics

Very similar to Canadian box draws, the NCAA officials will have a new mechanic to work on for 2014. I actually like the idea so far, if done correctly, because neither player will “accidentally” touch the ball pre-whistle.

I do worry that officials will not get set before the whistle which will begin to bait the faceoff men a bit. The “rocking” of an official while getting ready to, or during, the blow of the whistle can cause players to anticipate the whistle or may draw them off with the motion in their immediate peripherals. If the official backs up and stops completely motionless before hitting the whistle, this mechanic should see some positive results.

1) The official will direct the players to come together with their sticks on the ground opposite each other by saying “Down.” Same rules about being up to, but not touching, the 4 inch center line will still be in effect.

2) The official will now place the ball on the ground equidistant between the widest parts of both player’s heads and say “Set.”

3) The official will step away to a safe and clear vantage point before blowing the whistle to start play.


Here’s another new rule that defenses are going to despise.

Only the team in possession, or entitled to possession, is allowed to call timeout when the ball is out of bounds. This stops defenses from coming up with better personnel and clearing schemes while the offense is trying to rapidly move the ball or trying to carry momentum.

Both teams still have full rights to call timeouts during all other dead ball situations.

Other Approvals

Stall Requirement

The NCAA States: “Goals/stall procedures are met on the release of the ball instead of the ball crossing the plane of the goal line.”

I’m not sure what to make of this vague ruling. If they are saying that shot-clock requirements will be met on the release of a shot, this puts a lot more responsibility on the officials to determine a shot and more stress on a defense as knocking down a shot will no longer help them to kill shot clock. I do not like where this one is heading.


In plays around the crease, if a player remains grounded and releases the ball before landing in the crease, the goal will count. Players diving in to the crease will still have any goals wiped off by rule.

Players leaving their feet must take off and land outside the crease
Players leaving their feet still must take off and land outside the crease

Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan

This is a solid change, I like to reward the guy that can successfully tiptoe outside the crease until the ball has crossed the goal line.

Over and Back

If/when a ball returns to the defensive half of the field after the offensive team has successfully cleared the ball, this will result in a turnover and quick restart instead of a ‘Timer On” situation. This violation does not come in to play on shots and deflections by the opposing team.

Defensive players may do what they can to keep the ball in the offensive half, but if a defender secures possesses within the defensive half, it is now a violation.

Uniform Colors

Maryland Terps Credit: Tommy GIlligan
Is this enough contrast? Doubt it…

Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan

By the spring of 2016, all uniform numbers must be in clear contrast of the color of the uniform. For example, white or light-colored uniforms must have dark numbers and vice versa, dark uniforms need light numbers.

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Let us know your immediate thoughts and reactions to the 2015-17 rule changes that were approved this afternoon by sounding off in the comment section below!