US Lacrosse Announces Youth Rules Changes

US Lacrosse has announced the 2019 rule changes and points of emphasis for youth boys’ lacrosse. The rules are to be used for all levels of play 14U and younger.

“The US Lacrosse Men’s Game Rules Committee continues to strive for youth lacrosse rules that promote player safety, sportsmanship and allow players to learn the game in an environment suitable for younger players,” said David Seidman, chairman of the committee. “We need local leagues and tournaments to see the value in teaching the game the right way. The changes made this year were improvements to the overall rule set and to youth lacrosse.”

Significant rule changes and clarifications for 2019 include:

  • The creation of a new penalty for body checks that “target” a player. Targeting body checks are those in which a player takes aims with the intent to make violent contact to a player in a defenseless position, or aims his check towards the head or neck area. Penalties which fit this description will result in a 3-minute non-releasable penalty and ejection from the game.
  • A change to what constitutes a legal hold with the crosse, commonly known as “crosse check holding” by the defender. Under the new rule, holding with the portion of the crosse which is between your hands is now legal as long as your hands are no more than shoulder width apart and the pressure being applied by the defender is equal pressure to the pressure from the offensive player.
  • A clarification was issued to the warding off rule for offensive players. It is illegal for the offensive player, with two hands on the crosse, to push their opponent with their crosse to create separation. However, it is legal for a player with the ball and two hands on their crosse to contact the crosse of their opponent using their arm.
  • Language was updated for players releasing on a faceoff when using a small-sided game format. Under the new language, all players can release from their positions on the sound of the whistle and all players must play the ball until possession is gained on the faceoff. Failure to play the ball on a faceoff can result in a penalty.
  • Each coach is required to name a defender at the start of the game who will serve penalties for teams that dress only one goalie for a game in the event the goalie is charged with a penalty.

The points of emphasis for 2019 include:

  • Sportsmanship: Players, coaches and spectators should exhibit the highest levels of sportsmanship at all times. Violations of rules involving conduct or sportsmanship can result in time-serving penalties for violators. Communication with, and by officials, should be in a calm, professional and business-like manner.
  • Targeting: The creating of a “targeting” penalty aims to identify and remove the most dangerous body checks in the game with harsh penalties. The creating of new language should result in an easier identification of those fouls and a decrease in the number of dangerous checks.
  • Legal contact when holding the crosse: Holding with the portion of the crosse between a player’s hands, known as crosse check holding, has been a gray area for many years. By legalizing this form of contact, and setting strict guidelines for how this can be applied, should result in greater clarity within the rules of the game.
  • Experimental rules: In order to test rules proposals submitted to US Lacrosse, the Men’s Rules Subcommittee encourages leagues to try several experimental rules listed below.

Following are the experimental rules that the US Lacrosse Men’s Game Rules Subcommittee encourages leagues and tournaments to consider and provide feedback for the 2020 season.

  • All personal fouls are non-releasable
  • Extending play during the final two minutes of the game for the full duration of penalty time when the team that is ahead by one goal commits a time-serving penalty and the total penalty time is greater than the remaining game time.
  • Requiring one completed pass after a faceoff
  • Eliminating “get it in and keep it in” during the final two minutes of the game