Lacrosse Rules – Explained
Have a sense for the game but might not know some nuances of the NLL? This handy cheat sheet will explain the rules and give you some helpful sentences to sound smart in front of your friends
The Crease: The crease is the 9-foot radius circle around the goal. It belongs to the goalie and only the goalie. If you are shooting the ball, you AND your teammates cannot have your foot on or inside the crease or it won’t count. On diving goals, the ball needs to be in the net before you land. As a defenseman, an O guy in the crease is the green light to hit someone, protect your crease! Helpful sentence: “Wow, Wes Berg embarrassed his defenseman on that last play. I’m glad on his diving goal the ball was in the net before he landed in THE CREASE”
Physical Penalties: You’ll notice a LOT of pushing and shoving out there, how do we know what is illegal and what is good hard legal lacrosse? While it is the referee’s discretion on what is illegal and what isn’t, the guidelines stay the same and are broken down into 4 different levels of physicality
- No penalty: pushing, shoving, and cross checking where nobody falls down and it isn’t up in the helmet area. Lacrosse is a physical game, and nobody denies that. In layman’s terms, “Let the boys play!!”
- Change of possession: These are penalties where you don’t have to sit in time out (penalty box) but you can’t get away with it. You’ll see a crosscheck, but it will be in the back with the other player not looking. The referee will give the other team the ball and may give the player a talking to. Examples of these include: illegal picks, loose ball push, and faceoff violations.
- 2-minute minor: You have broken the rules so bad you need to go to time out for 2 minutes. The referee will give you a stern talking to. An accidental hit to the helmet when you are trying to check someone in the shoulder, knocking a player HARD to the ground when they aren’t looking, and grabbing a player’s jersey to stop them are all examples of 2 minute minor penalties
- 5-minute major: You are grounded and need to call your mother to apologize. You have egregiously broken the rules and likely endangered someone on the floor. Playing physical is one thing, but a 5-minute major means you got in a fight, hit someone hard in the head, or were acting recklessly on the floor. Teams would like to avoid these at all costs.
Shot Clock: When there is a change of possession, as soon as the ball is in a team’s stick they have 30 seconds to shoot the ball on the cage. If they fail to do that, they lose possession. 30 seconds is NOT a lot of time so you’ll often see teams try to get their offensive players on quickly to take advantage of a “full 30.” Helpful sentence: “San Diego is really doing well on offense, they are playing fast and taking advantage of a full shot clock almost every possession.”
- If the shot hits the goalie or a pipe, it resets the shot clock. For example- if Dobbie realizes the shot clock is at 3 seconds, he may shoot it at the goalie in hopes that San Diego gets the ball back with a “fresh 30” second shot clock.
- There is also an 8-second rule. When the goalie makes a save, the team has 8 seconds to get it across midfield. No stalling here!
- If there is a shot that misses the net and goalie completely, the ball live and any team can compete for it. However, if there is a shot that misses the goal/goalie and exits the field of play (goes over the boards, hits the safety net, etc.) possession is immediately given to the defense
Illegal Substitution: You cannot have more than 6 players on the floor at any given time, including your goalie. When you see an Illegal substitution penalty assessed to a team, it means someone got a little too excited to run out on the floor and didn’t wait for their teammate to get on the bench. Even for a brief moment, having 7 players on the floor will be a minor penalty served by an “in-home” player- someone who the coach decides will sit for these penalties. Helpful sentence: “Can’t run out too early and get an illegal substitution call, patience is a virtue. I am a philosopher”
Box lacrosse is similar to field lacrosse, but some of the terms the players use are different. Here is a helpful guide:
||Loose Ball or “Loosie”
|“Want to fight?”
||“You got loose mitts there bud?”