FIELD, GOALS, BALLS: Smaller rectangle field with saucers (or, ideally, cones) at midline and endline corners, and saucers spaced apart to form a circle to indicate a modified goal-crease area around each goal. Standard 6' x 6' goals with 4'x4' tarp hung in middle. Soft, regulation-sized balls of any color, with 3 or 4 extra balls spaced apart on the endlines during games.
GAME TIME 48-min. game; 12-min. rest period:
Option A: two 24-minute running-time halves (with 3-player rotational substitutions--Defense to Offense, Offense to Rest Break; Rest Break to Defense--approximately every 6 minutes), and a 12-minute half-time
Option B: four 12-minute running-time quarters (with 3-player rotational substitutions--Defense to Offense, Offense to Rest Break; Rest Break to Defense--every 6 minutes), 2-minute rest period after the 1st and 3rd quarters, and an 8-minute half-time.
Coaches should feel free to use either option, or to modify game times to account for weather conditions and numbers of players. Option A might be preferable when it is cold or rainy, and the kids want to keep moving. Option B might be preferable when it is hot or a team has fewer players than expected, and the kids need additional time to cool down and hydrate, and/or to rest. Coaches may also wish to lengthen games in the event of a late start or, for example, if all players attend and coaches need extra time to ensure enough or equitable playing time. Teams switch ends at half-time. Before the game starts, coaches should ask a team parent or assistant coach (who is to stay with team players on the sideline and serve as a "box coach") to be responsible for (1) keeping track of game and substitution-interval time, and (2) ensuring smooth substitutions.
PLAYERS: 6 v 6 with no goalies. Each team shall have the same 3 players on each side of the midline (i.e., there are no midfielders, and, thus, there is no "middie back" at this level). Coaches shall therefore explain to players that they are restricted to their side of the field, and that "offsides" will result in loss of possession or awarding of possession to the opposing team.
COACH: One coach per team is allowed on the field to instruct players on positional play, to officiate, and, as a last resort, to facilitate team passwork. Score is not kept.
GAME COMMENCEMENT; SCORING; RESTARTS AFTER A GOAL or WHISTLE: There are no faceoffs at this level. Team A starts the game with the ball at the midline (if desired, an ad hoc game of "Rock, Paper, Scissors" can serve as a "coin toss") and Team B has the first alternate possession; Team B starts the second half with possession. A goal is scored when a team shoots a ball into the opposing team's goal. Goal-crease restrictions apply at all times (meaning, an offensive player may not enter the goal-crease area around the goal during play). An "auto-goal" by the defense shall not be deemed a goal by the opposing team, and shall result in the ball being retained by the defense, with a restart outside its goal-crease area. Whenever a goal is scored, the team scored upon starts with the ball outside of its goal-crease area. On all restarts, the opposing player is required to stand back at least 5 yards from the player with the ball. Coaches should ensure that different players start with the ball and that players are properly spread out.
SIDELINE & ENDLINE OUT OF BOUNDS: In general, whenever a team runs, passes, or deflects the ball out of bounds (on something other than a shot), possession goes to the other team; at this level, this general rule also shall apply to a shot on goal, regardless of which player is closest to the ball when it goes out of bounds. Coaches have discretion to modify this rule to allow for equitable possession of the ball.
"3 PASSES BEFORE SHOOTING" & NO DEFENSIVE "DOUBLE-TEAMING": Coaches should encourage players to pass the ball at least 3 times before shooting on goal (with the exception of a "breakaway," when there is no one to pass to); a pass from the defense to the offense counts as a pass. Coaches should discourage any defensive "double-teaming" at this level.
STICKS: All sticks at this level shall be "mini" sticks with a maximum length of 42 inches. Regulation-sized sticks are prohibited at the 1-2 level in order to promote general safety and to ensure equitable playing conditions for all players.
EQUIPMENT & JEWELRY: Mouthguards are recommended but not required. Cleats are essential, and before the season starts, coaches should encourage parents to get cleats for their children. Coaches also should advise parents that lacrosse is played in rain, cold, and hot weather, and that players should dress accordingly, and have rain gear and cold-weather gear on hand, as potentially necessary. Finally, coaches should advise parents that, for safety reasons, jewelry (other than medical-alert or religious tags/medals, which are not considered jewelry) is not to be worn during play.
BODY CHECKING & STICK CHECKING PROHIBITED: Body checking and stick checking are strictly prohibited. Players should be encouraged to play defense using hustle, anticipation, and good footwork.
PENALTY ENFORCEMENT: Fouls are to be called by the on-field coaches, who are, in effect, the game officials. Fouls shall not result in official penalty time nor "man-down" situations. Emphasis shall be placed on: (1) ensuring player safety; (2) promoting an understanding of the rules of lacrosse and good sportsmanship among all players; and (3) establishing and maintaining fair and consistent rules enforcement. Whenever possible, without disrupting the flow of the game, coaches should briefly explain the nature of the foul called, so that all players understand the call, and, by extension, are reminded of the rules of the game. (US Lacrosse Best Practice: "Rules are written with the safety of all players being of the utmost importance. [Coaches] have the authority to penalize any foul, unsafe play, or unacceptable behavior. Youth lacrosse should be fun and safe for everyone."). First and foremost, a foul is an opportunity for a "teachable moment"; therefore, a foul need not result in loss of possession, where, for example, a player very likely had no idea that what s/he was doing was, in fact, a foul. In general, however, in accordance with the rules of the game, a foul will result in possession being awarded to the team that was fouled, particularly where the foul either (1) disadvantaged the team being fouled, or (2) resulted in an advantage being gained by the team that committed the foul. Coaches have authority to remove from the game any player who presents a danger to himself/herself or to others.
PLAYER DOWN; BALL MIRED IN MUD or GROUND-BALL TRAFFIC JAM: Coaches should stop play immediately if a player goes down and either (1) does not get up almost immediately, or (2) appears to be possibly injured in any way regardless of whether s/he is able to get back up. If the ball becomes mired in mud, or if there is a so-called "ground-ball traffic jam" (where it is clear that no one will be picking up the loose ball anytime soon), coaches should stop play and award possession according to the alternate-possession rule.
(Note: In large part, the above is based on US Lacrosse Youth Rules & Best Practices Guidebook, 2nd Ed.
US Lacrosse is the national governing body of lacrosse. SYL coaches are encouraged to go to www.uslacrosse.org
to review the Youth Rules & Best Practices Guidebooks.)