NFHS Rules

2017-rulebookThe NFHS boy’s lacrosse rules committee approved six rules changes for the 2017 season. The rules changes address defenders in the crease, mouthpieces, stalling in the last two minutes, faceoff tape, restarts after a faceoff violation and the use of goal anchors.  The committee also laid out the five points of emphasis for the spring season.  The changes are not radical, and most are further clarifications of last year’s changes.  There have been substantial changes in the Youth rules.  If you are working these contests it is imperative that you read and review all of the changes.  As always, practice preventative officiating, communicate with players, coaches and table personnel.

The US Lacrosse Youth Rulebook is now available for download to the public. The NFHS and Youth Interpretation videos, are being worked up for each age group and will be available as we get closer to convention.  We will share links to those videos with officials as it becomes available. As a reminder all US Lacrosse coach and official members will get a free printed version of this USL Youth rulebook in addition to their NFHS or NCAA rulebook (which ever they choose at membership renewal). The NCAA rulebooks are in the mail now and the NFHS rulebooks are being mailed out the last week of December.

The 2017 NFHS Boys Lacrosse Rules Book is now available on iTunes and Amazon.

For any rules question, please contact the GLOA Rules Interpreter Jeremy Redmon at

2017 Points of Emphasis

  • Coaches and Team Area
  • Defenseless Hits
  • Blindside Hits
  • Mouthpieces
  • Reminder of Crosse Change in 2018

The first POE is an attempt to address the issue of coaches entering the field during live and dead ball situations.  This has become a safety issues for players, coaches and officials. The next three POEs are a continuation of the committee’s attempts to eliminate violet play and reduce concussions.  It is imperative that officials remind coaches of the new crosse specifications that were announced in 2016 and go into effect next year.

2017 NFHS Rules Changes

The two most important rules changes address the presence of defenders in the crease attempting to block shots and the change in the penalty for failure to wear a mouthpiece from a personal to a technical foul.  It is clear from statements made by the committee that the reduction of the penalty for playing without or improperly wearing a mouthpiece from a minute NR penalty for use of illegal equipment to illegal procedure is an attempt to have the infraction called more often. The committee, building upon changes last year aimed at reducing the potential for violent contact in an already decided game has ruled that a team down by more than 4 goals in the last two does not need to keep the ball in the attack box. Clarifying last year’s changes, the committee is allowing the use of colored material, rather than only contrasting tape, for the shaft of a player taking a faceoff.

  1. Only Keeper in Crease

4-4-18: no defensive player, other than a properly equipped goalkeeper, can enter his own crease with the intent of blocking a shot or acting as a goalkeeper. If another defensive player enters the crease, officials will stop play as soon as they notice the situation; however, if a shot is already in flight when this is noticed, the shot will be allowed to come to its normal conclusion before the whistle blows to stop the play. Penalty: Conduct foul on the defensive player. A second violation by the player will be enforced as releasable unsportsmanlike conduct.

Note: the goal here is to prevent a defender from participating in the play as if he were a properly equipped goal keeper in the crease. It remains legal for defenders to block shots outside of the crease with their bodies and to run through the crease. The critical issue is whether the defender is participating as if he were a goalie. Officials should blow the play dead immediately, unless there is a shot already in flight.

  1. Mouthpiece

6-5-2: The failure of a player to wear the required mouthpiece (unless it comes out during play) is now be a technical foul (30-second penalty or change of possession) rather than a 1 minute non-releasable foul.

Note:  This is a POE and a rule change.  Remind coaches and players about the importance of wearing a mouthpiece properly and at all times during play. Expectation of the committee is that this foul will be called MORE often by officials. Do not just send player off as improperly equipped if you notice he CLEARLY does not have a mouthpiece (not if the mouthpiece came out during play. No fishhooking; the mouthpiece must be properly warn, and not cut down. There is no second warning, the first is the coach’s certification. For a loose ball illegal procedure- award possession.  With a ball in possession- 30 second technical.  Remember, it is not a foul if the mouthpiece came out during play, so officials must be certain the player did not have a mouthpiece when play began. Be sure to communicate with the coach what happened. We are need to make our expectations clear and to enforce the penalty early in the season.

  1. Stalling and Goal Differential

6-10- 3: Stalling rules now are in effect in the last two minutes only if the score differential is four goals or less.

Note: this goes hand in hand with Rule 7-8 k which also sought to minimize a team down in the last two minutes from punishing the leading team.  It states a second flag on the defensive team with under two minutes remaining in the game should result in a stoppage of play (ending the FDSW).

  1. Ground Anchors

1-3-2a: While ground anchors are not typically used on grass fields, they are now allowed.  This change does not require ground anchors.

  1. Faceoff Tape

4-3- 3:  Paint, a single wrap of tape, or other material of contrasting color to the head may now be used on the handle of the crosse for any player taking a faceoff.

Note: Failure to have contrasting tape or materials is a delay of game, but as only the faceoff man is required to have this, he may remain in the game and play defense.

  1. Restart on Faceoff

4-3- 1: In order to be consistent with Rule 4-4-2, a player will no longer be given a free clear on a violation during the faceoff.  The ball should be restarted “the spot where the ball was when play was suspended.”

Note: Players are not released from the restraining lines until the ball has been blown in.  And, the end of a faceoff ALWAYS results in either a 10-count or a 20—count.