2019 NFHS Rules & Mechanics Changes

These are the rules and mechanics changes that have been announced for 2019.  There will be more changes and this post will be updated as new memos and the 2019 Rule Book is released. I have revised this after the release of the 2019 NFHS Rules Interpretation video and the US Lacrosse Rules webinar with Walt Munze and Dave Seidman.


Rules Changes

These are summaries of the 2019 lacrosse rules changes. Please note that the corrections to the 2019 rule book are listed below.

Crosse and Pocket Construction

1-6-2: Measuring the length of the head at the front face of the head. It should be 10″.

1-7-1: The pocket/net must be completely attached to the head and the side walls, leaving no gaps large enough for a ball to pass through.   There cannot be a lip or a hook.

Note: This is not a change, but a clarification; a manufacturer claimed their stick met the requirements when measured from the back and that the pocket/sidewall completely connected and should never be able to ensnare a ball. This further aligns NFHS rules with NCAA rules and clarifies requirement for manufacturers.

Violations of either of these would be a 3 minute NR foul.

Goalie Equipment

1-9-1j: Beginning January 1, 2021, a goalkeeper chest protector designed for lacrosse that incorporates the NOCSAE ND200 at the time of manufacture shall be used by all goalkeepers.

Note: Consistent with helmet and ball requirements; increased effort to preventcommotio cordis.  Be sure to let all coaches know this is coming. We do not check these things, the coach confirms that all players are properly equipped during the certification.


4-5-9: A shot is considered a ball propelled toward the goal by an offensive player with the intent of scoring a goal. A shot can only be made when the ball is parallel to or above the goal line extended. Additionally, it can be either thrown from a crosse, kicked, or otherwise physically directed.

4-9-3: If any of the following occurs between the end of the period and the shot entering the goal, the goal will be disallowed:

  • a. The ball makes contact with any member of the attacking team or his equipment;
  • b. The ball is touched by a player of either team other than the defending goalkeeper after hitting the goalkeeper or his equipment, goal posts or crossbar.

Note: the definition of a shot now includes that it must be attempted from above GLE; that is the head of the crosse must be above GLE.  This is relevant to the requirements for ending a stall warning and determining how to award a ball out of bounds (i.e. a pass or a shot). A shot from below GLE that goes in the goal counts; but if it does not go in it is not considered a shot. On a shot in the air when the horn sounds, we now will only allow one deflection off the goalie or the goal.

Over and Back

4-14-3: If the ball does not touch the centerline or something over the centerline, no infraction has occurred. A defensive player may reach over the center line with his crosse and bat the ball to keep it in his team’s offensive half and thus prevent an over-and-back violation. However, he may NOT reach over the center line and bat the ball with his foot or any other part of his body excluding his gloved hand wrapped around his crosse. If he does so, it shall be a turnover.

Note: in previous years a player was allowed to bat the ball with his foot etc…no longer. A player can hold his foot over the line, but may not make contact. Remember, the gloved hand touching the crosse is considered to be part of the crosse and is therefore allowed to make contact over the line. In addition, it is not over-and-back until the ball touches the line or something on the other side of the field.

Checks Involving Head and Neck

5-4-4: A player shall not initiate a body check legally but slides up into or follows through to an opponent’s head or neck.

5-4-5: A player shall not body-check a player in a defenseless position. This includes but is not limited to: (a) body-checking a player from his “blind side;” (b) body-checking a player who has his head down in an attempt to play a loose ball; and (c) body-checking a player whose head is turned away to receive a pass, even if that player turns toward the contact immediately before the body check.


5-4-6: A player shall not initiate targeting, which is intentionally taking aim at the head/neck of an opponent for the purpose of making violent contact. This could include a check with the crown of the helmet (spearing) that targets the head or neck of an opponent.

5-4-7: A player shall not initiate targeting that intentionally takes aim at a player in a defenseless position.

PENALTY: Three-minute, non-releasable foul. An excessively violent violation of this rule may result in an ejection.

Note: There is no new language here, instead this rule has been combined into its own section. The new language allows an official to assess an automatic three minute NR foul and possible ejection for a foul they deem to be an intentional and violent act to the head or neck. Crews should stop and discuss these plays.

Coach Obstructing Play

5-10e: The penalty for obstructing players or officials by a coach who is illegally on in the field of play is now a 1-3 minute releasable USC.

Note: this rule is an escalation of the POE from last year highlighting the issue of coaches on the field during play. A coach on the line does not need to be flagged; we are looking for a coach interfering with play affecting either a player or an official should be flagged. You can still have a warning or a technical foul for illegal procedure. A coach running onto the field trying to get your attention for a timeout is not the problem. The rules committee wanted to add another tool in the toolkit for dealing with this issue other than a warning, conduct foul and Non Releasable USC. NOTE: Releasable USC fouls DO NOT count towards an automatic ejection for a second USC.

Flagrant Misconduct

5-12-1 PENALTY: Three-minute non-releasable penalty for a player, substitute or non-playing team member or a one-minute non-releasable penalty for a coach and ejection for the remainder of the game. The ejected coach shall be removed from the premises (bench and field area). The ejected player, substitute or non-playing team member shall be removed from the premises if there is authorized school personnel present to supervise the ejected student. If no authorized school personnel is available, the student shall be confined to the bench area. The sponsoring authority is responsible for notifying the appropriate school of the ejection.

Note: There is now a difference in how we penalize a player vs a coach when ejecting them.  This change allows for an official to penalizes a coach without severely penalizing the players.


6-3-2a: A player shall not use the portion of the handle that is between his hands to hold an opponent when his hands are more than shoulder-width apart.

6-3-3e: Holding is permitted if a player uses the portion of the handle that is between his hands, which are no more than shoulder-width apart, to hold an opponent on the torso with no more than equal pressure and no thrusting motion.

Note: This is an attempt to match the rules to how players are actually playing the game.  Equal pressure with hands less than shoulder width and moving with a player without extending or pushing an opponent is legal.

Crosse Exchange

6-5-2b(4): A player shall not exchange his crosse with that of a teammate during live play while the ball is in either crosse.

Note:  Do not disagree that it is illegal, but have never seen it happen.


6-11-2: A player in possession of the ball with both hands on his crosse shall not use his hand or arm to push the body of the player applying the check. NOTE: Illegal body checks (5-3), “spearing” (5-4-3) and unnecessary roughness (5-9-3 SITUATION E) shall be strictly enforced as personal fouls.

Note: Language clarifying the NFHS memo that came out last year mid-season. A ball carrier with two hands on the crosse may make any normal motion he would make and he is allowed to make contact with an opponent’s crosse and gain an advantage creating space to get off a shot or pass.  An offensive player is NOT allowed to make contact with the defender’s body and gain an advantage; that is at minimum a ward and potentially a personal foul. You can make contact with your opponents crosse if you have two hands on your stick, but not the body of the defender (stick good, body bad).


7.8.2: The ball may hit the ground during a FDSW and play will continue until:

  • Goal
  • Offense commits a foul
  • Out of bounds
  • Defense gains possession
  • Injury in scrimmage area or Time Out
  • End of period or loss of required equipment
  • Second defensive foul

7.8.3: Play continues after a shot hits the goal, keeper, or passes the goal line during a FDSW.

Note: This was not included in the first NFHS memo because rather than adding language NFHS deleted language. The second foul kills the play under NFHS rules unless an imminent scoring opportunity.  Play continues and a team may have multiple opportunities to score. A loose ball foul on the defense during a FDSW will kill the play and be TIME SERVING.  This now mirrors the NCAA rule with the exception that the second foul kills the FDSW.

2019 Rules Edits, Corrections and Clarifications

Clarification: 4-5 Art 9.    A shot can only be made when the ball is parallel to or above the goal line extended.   A shot that is taken from behind the goal line extended does not satisfy the criteria for ending a stalling situation as described in 6-10 Art 2,unless that shot results in a goal.

Remove Penalty in 5-3, page 59. Editorial error.

Remove Situations 5.4.1a, page 60 due to duplication.

Remove Situations 5.4.1b, page 60 due to duplication

Editorial Change: Situation 5.5b, page 61. Change situation to 6 inches. Editorial error with the old 6 ½ inch measurement.

Clarification: Situation 5.9.3b, page 64. Shall be a three-minute non-releasable if targeting a defenseless player.

Clarification: Situation 6.2.1e, page 68  A second flag should create an immediate whistle due to rule change.

Clarification: Situation 6.5.2a, page 73. Upon a second foul the penalty shall be a personal foul.

Clarification:Rule 6-10, Page 77. During the last two minutes a shot that hits the goalie or pipes does not remove the stall warning.

Ruling change: Situation 7.3b, page 84 The second penalty on team B results in the slow whistle being stopped by the official.

Mechanics Changes 

Running Left

This Spring GLOA will be using the “running left” mechanic.  This is a very simple change in two-man mechanics, the Faceoff Official covers the goal to his left (facing the bench) and the Wing Official covers the goal to his left (facing the far side). Everything else is the same.  This allows the FOO a clean release to his goal.

Note: This allows the Faceoff Official an easier release when the ball quickly moves to his goal or the far sideline, he no longer needs to sidestep the FOGOs in order to get to his position. EVERYTHING ELSE remains the same

See this explanation from last years US Lacrosse Convention.