FIELD, GOALS, BALLS: Girls’ 3/4-size field with cones at the midline; smaller 4' x 4' goals preferred but can use standard 6’ x 6’ goals. Soft, regulation-sized balls of any color, with 3 or 4 extra balls spaced apart on the endlines during games.
STICKS: All sticks (a.k.a. “crosses”) at this level shall be "mini" sticks with a maximum length of 42 inches. In order to promote general safety and to ensure equitable playing conditions for all players, both men’s and women’s regulation-sized sticks are prohibited at the 1-2 level during games and practices.
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—approximately 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 players want to keep moving. Option B might be preferable when it is hot or a team has fewer players than expected, and the players need additional time to cool down and hydrate, and/or to rest. Coaches also may wish to lengthen games 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 keeping track of game and substitution-interval time, and ensuring smooth substitutions.
PLAYERS: Standard game format: 6 v 6 with no goalies (if teams have 10 or fewer players); 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"). Coaches shall therefore explain to all players that they are restricted to their side of the field and that "offsides" will result in loss of the ball (a.k.a. “possession”) or awarding of the ball (possession) to the opposing team. "Joker's Wild" game format: 7 v 7 (if teams have more than 10 players during regular season, and for end-of-season Jamboree) same as Standard format except that each team's 7th player is the designated "Joker" (midfielder) who can "run wild" on both sides of the field; only the designated Joker may run wild, as there is no "middie back" with this option either.
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 face-offs 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” (rule explained below); Team B starts the next half (or, if “Option B” is used, the next quarter) with possession. A goal is scored when a team shoots a ball into the opposing team's goal. 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 laterally outside its goal-crease area. Whenever a goal is scored, the team scored upon starts with the ball laterally outside its goal-crease area. On all restarts, all players (not just opposing players) are 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 and ready for the resumption of play.
TARP GOALIES & GOAL-CREASE AREA RESTRICTIONS: During games on 6' x 6' goals, if both coaches agree, 4’ x 4’ “tarp-goalies” may be attached to the goalposts and used as shot-blockers. No player—on offense or defense—may enter such player’s own goal-crease area when the opposing team has possession of the ball. If an offensive player enters the defensive team’s goal-crease area (and the defense does not already have possession), the defense shall be awarded possession. If the offense has possession in its offensive side of the field, and a defensive player enters such player’s own goal-crease area (ostensibly, as a de facto goalie), coaches shall stop play, the offense shall retain possession, and the defense shall be reminded that when the offense has possession of the ball, no defensive player may enter the goal-crease area for any reason. Defensive players are allowed to enter their own goal-crease area solely for the purpose of gaining possession of a loose ground ball: (1) that is rolling anywhere below the goal-line extended; (2) that is rolling away from the net above the goal-line extended; or (3) that has come completely to rest anywhere within the goal-crease area. Note that in (1) - (3), the loose ball is no longer a “shot,” and the purpose of the rule—in a game without goalies wearing protective goalie equipment—is to ensure that defensive players do not enter the goal-crease area—trying to block shots—as de facto goalies. A defensive player may enter the goal-crease area solely for the purpose of gaining possession of a loose ground ball as described in (1) - (3). If possession is gained by the defense inside its goal-crease area, the defense shall be required to clear the ball from its goal-crease area within 4 seconds, and, once possession is gained, coaches shall give an audible 4-second count as an active reminder of this rule. Failure to clear the ball from the goal-crease area within 4 seconds—either by running or passing the ball out of the goal-crease area—shall constitute a goal-crease violation, and shall result in loss of possession. All restarts following a goal-crease violation of any kind shall be at least 5 yards laterally from the goal-crease area, along the goal-line extended. Goal-crease restrictions apply at all times.
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, 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.
NO “COVERING” or “RAKING” GROUND BALLS: In girls' lacrosse (with the exception of a goalie in her goal-crease area), covering a loose ground ball is prohibited. In boys' lacrosse (with the exception of a goalie in his goal-crease area), raking a loose ground ball (to pick up the ball) is to be discouraged, because it is inefficient and typically renders a player vulnerable to an opponent’s body check. Therefore, the covering and raking of ground balls is prohibited at the 1-2 level, and shall result in possession being awarded to the opposing team. All players must be taught and instructed to scoop ground balls during games and practices.
3 PASSES BEFORE SHOOTING: Coaches should instruct all players that their team must pass the ball at least 3 times before they are permitted to shoot (or to go to goal), with the exception of a "breakaway," as explained in the “3 Passes Before Shooting Rule” (explained in detail below).
NO DEFENSIVE DOUBLE-TEAMING: Coaches should discourage any defensive "double-teaming" at this level.
BODY CHECKING & STICK CHECKING PROHIBITED: Body checking and stick checking are strictly prohibited at this level. Players should be instructed to play defense using hustle, anticipation, and good footwork.
3-SECOND COUNT – STALLING: To enhance the overall flow and quality of games, coaches have discretion to impose a 3-second count to prevent a player from stalling or otherwise withholding the ball from play. “Stalling” shall include any player in possession who is closely covered (or “marked”) by an opposing player (within a stick’s length of the player with the ball), but who is not moving the ball in an apparently purposeful way. As needed to get the game flowing, coaches shall inform the team in possession that a stalling count will commence if the ball is not moved in short order, either by a pass, or by the player with possession actively advancing the ball toward the opponent’s goal. Once a team is warned that a stalling count is imminent, if the ball is not moved almost immediately, the count shall commence and, thereafter, if the ball is not moved within 3 seconds, coaches shall stop play and award possession to the opposing team. It is hoped and expected that this rule, in particular, will need to be enforced only occasionally—early on in the season—and that it will function primarily as a positive deterrent during games. Coaches are therefore encouraged to use this rule (or something akin to it) during practices and scrimmages as well.
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 or "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. 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. 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." 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 caught in equipment or clothing), 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 (described below).
ALTERNATE-POSSESSION RULE: If Team A wins the pre-game coin toss (or, as applicable, game of “Rock, Paper, Scissors”), Team A starts the game with the ball (“possession”), and Team B gets the first “alternate possession”—meaning, for example, if the ball goes out of bounds, and the coaches cannot determine which team is entitled to possession, Team B (which has the first alternate possession) is awarded possession. Once Team B is awarded possession based on the alternate-possession rule, the beneficiary of the rule alternates, and Team A is entitled to the next alternate possession, and so on. Note that alternate possession does not change at the end of a time period (i.e., quarter or half), but remains the same until a team is awarded possession based on the alternate-possession rule itself.
EQUIPMENT & JEWELRY: Mouth guards are recommended but not required. Cleats are highly recommended, because a wet field is a slippery field if a player is wearing sneakers. Before the season starts, or as soon as possible thereafter, coaches should encourage parents to get cleats for their children. Many players have soccer cleats, and coaches may wish to inform parents that most soccer cleats work well for lacrosse. Coaches should be sure to advise parents that lacrosse is played in the rain and in cold 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.
SYL GRADE 1-2: “3 PASSES BEFORE SHOOTING RULE”
Shots may be taken only by players on their team's offensive side of the field.
3 Passes, not 3 Catches: Except in the case of a "breakaway," as defined below, a team may not shoot on goal until 3 passes are made. On a pass, the ball does not need to be caught to count as a "pass." The rule is "3 Passes Before Shooting," not "3 Catches Before Shooting." Coaches should, however, use their best judgment to determine when a bona fide "pass" has been attempted. A so-called "Gilman"—heaving the ball from one end of the field to the other without an intended receiver—unless miraculously caught, is not to be counted as a pass, and should be discouraged. Rather, players should be encouraged to make shorter, more accurate and, therefore, more catchable passes. On an ostensible pass, if the players involved in the passing are making eye contact and at least 2-3 yards apart, then the attempt (whether or not caught) will count as a "pass." Coaches should always consider the intent of the player passing the ball, not whether the ball is particularly well thrown. A "flip pass" on the run will count as a pass; however, a flip with almost no movement by the players involved—akin to a game of horizontal "Patty Cake"—will not count as a pass.
Audible Pass-count: As passes are made, coaches shall count the number of passes out loud ("That's 1 pass . . . that's 2 passes, you need 1 more," and so on), so that players on both teams know the pass-count and, especially, when 3 passes have been made ("That's 3 passes. You are free to go to goal"). After 3 passes have been made, coaches generally should refrain from actively telling players to "shoot" or to "go to the goal." Instead, coaches should simply state that the team is “free” to shoot (or to go to goal), and, thereafter, players are to be allowed to decide for themselves whether to shoot, to dodge and go to goal, or to continue passing. The intent of the rule is not to have teams pass only 3 times and then, regardless of where the ball is, or where one's teammates are, have the first eligible player with the ball always shoot or run to the goal to shoot. Rather, the rule is designed to ensure (1) several passes per team possession, (2) coordination and cooperation by each team's offensive and defensive players, and (3) purposeful off-ball movement by all players. There will be one or two players per team who are initially reluctant to shoot (or to go to goal), and coaches may actively encourage such players to shoot or to go to goal. However, such active encouragement should be the limited exception to the general guidelines.
Reset of the Pass-count: Once a team has met the 3-pass requirement, and moved the ball to its offensive side of the field, a new pass-count is not initiated as long as the ball remains in play on the team's offensive side of the field, even if the opposing defense gains possession. More specifically, the pass-count is "reset" (to zero) only when the defense clears the ball from its defensive side of the field to its offensive side of the field. Thus, the "clearing team" (the team with possession of the ball on its defensive side of the field) has great incentive to clear the ball efficiently, and, in turn, the "riding team" (the team without possession but with the ball still on its offensive side of the field) has equally-great incentive to ride efficiently, knowing that, if it does not allow the defense to clear, and it regains possession, it may shoot or go to goal immediately. The pass-count automatically resets to zero following the scoring of a goal and at the end of each period of play (i.e., quarter or half, depending upon the chosen game format).
“Breakaway”: Whenever a pass is caught in the air by an offensive player (on the offensive side of the field) with no other player of either team between such player and the opposing team's goal, such player may shoot or go to goal immediately, regardless of the pass-count. Provided all “breakaway” conditions are met, coaches should simply say "breakaway," to alert all players (on both teams) of the breakaway situation, which, over time, players will learn to recognize (and exclaim) on their own. Since a team’s “breakaway” satisfies the 3-pass requirement, a new pass-count is not initiated as long as the ball remains in play on the team's offensive side of the field. (See Scenario #11 below).
Foul: A violation of the “3 Passes Before Shooting Rule” will result in loss of possession, but will not result in the resetting of a team's pass-count.
Rule Enforcement Examples:
Note: In all of the following scenarios, unless otherwise stated, all shots are taken by players on their offensive side of the field, and there are no "breakaways.”
Scenario #1: Team A passes 3 times: once on its defensive side, once to clear the ball (resetting Team B's pass-count to zero), and once on its offensive side. Ruling: Team A may shoot or go to goal.
Scenario #2: Team A has passed 3 times and shoots on goal, there is a rebound, and Team A gets the ground ball. Ruling: Team A may shoot or go to goal. If Team B gets the ground ball, it still must clear the ball to its offensive side of the field in order to reset Team A's pass-count to zero.
Scenario #3: Team A has passed 3 times and shoots, the ball goes over the net and out of bounds, Team B possession. Team B passes three times on its defensive side of the field, but before Team B is able to clear the ball from its defensive side of the field, the ball becomes loose and: (a) rolls over the midline onto Team B's offensive side of the field; or (b) Team A player gets the ground ball before it rolls over the midline. Ruling: In (a), Team B has cleared the ball and Team A's pass-count automatically resets; in (b), because Team B has not cleared the ball, Team A's pass-count does not reset, and Team A can shoot or go to goal.
Scenario #4: Team B passes 3 times, shoots, and scores. Ruling: Goal counts, Team B's pass-count automatically resets, and Team A has possession outside its goal-crease area.
Scenario #5: In the final seconds of the first half, Team B passes 3 times and shoots, and the ball is loose when the period ends. Ruling: Team B's pass-count automatically resets at the end of the first half, regardless of which team is entitled to start the second half with possession.
Scenario #6: Team B starts the second half at top center (on its offensive side of the field). Team B passes twice, but after Team B's second pass, Team A picks off (intercepts) Team B's third pass attempt. Ruling: Team B's third pass attempt counts as a pass, and Team A must clear the ball in order to reset Team B's pass-count to zero; if Team B regains possession before Team A clears the ball, Team B may shoot or go to goal.
Scenario #7: After a Team B shot on goal, Team A gains possession on its defensive side of the field and Team A player "Gilmans" the ball, and the ball: (a) goes into Team B's goal; (b) crosses the midline and is caught by a Team A offensive player; or (c) crosses the midline, is not caught by a Team A player, but stays in play as a loose ball. Ruling: In (a) Team B's pass-count resets (because Team A has cleared the ball), but the goal does not count because all shots must be taken from a team's offensive side of the field, and Team B is awarded possession outside its goal-crease area. In (b), Team B's pass-count resets, Team A's miraculously-caught Gilman counts as a "pass," but Team A still needs 2 more passes before shooting or going to goal. In (c), Team B's pass-count resets but Team A's "Gilman" does not count as a pass, and Team A still needs 3 passes before shooting or going to goal.
Scenario #8: Team A starts period top center, passes 2 times and Team A player shoots and scores. Ruling: No goal, because Team A needed 1 more pass to go to goal (of which Team A is to be reminded); Team B is awarded possession outside its goal-crease area, but Team A's pass-count does not reset. Thus, if Team A regains possession before Team B clears the ball, Team A needs only 1 more pass before shooting or going to goal.
Scenario #9: Team A has passed only 2 times and Team A player shoots, and (a) ball goes out of bounds or (b) ball rebounds (off the tarp-goalie or goal-pipe) and stays inbounds. Ruling: In (a) Team B gets possession per regular game rules, Team A's pass-count does not reset, but Team A is reminded of the 3- pass rule and told that it has passed only 2 times. In (b), unless it appears that Team B will almost immediately gain possession of the loose ground ball (i.e., coaches readily see that a Team B player, with plenty of room and under no pressure, is going to scoop up the loose ball almost immediately), coaches shall: (1) stop play; (2) remind Team A of the 3-pass rule and explain that Team A needs 1 more pass; and (3) award possession to Team B outside its goal-crease area.
Scenario #10: Team A defensive player intercepts a Team B pass, then sees and passes to a Team A offensive player, and Team A offensive player catches the ball in the air with: (a) no other player of either team between such player and Team B's goal; or (b) either a defensive player or an offensive player between such player and Team B's goal. Ruling: In (a) Team A player has a "breakaway"; coaches will simply say “breakaway,” and Team A player is free to shoot or go to goal, regardless of the pass-count; in (b), Team A player does not have a "breakaway," and Team A still needs 2 more passes before shooting or going to goal.
Scenario #11: (with teams using the 7 v 7 “Joker’s Wild” Option): Team A defensive player scoops up a ground ball, then sees and passes to Team A’s “Joker,” who catches the ball in the air on Team A’s offensive side of the field, with no other player of either team between such player and Team B's goal; Team A Joker shoots and the ball rebounds off the tarp-goalie, stays in play, and is scooped up by a Team B defensive player. Ruling: Team A player had a "breakaway" and was “free” to shoot, regardless of the pass-count; Team B must clear the ball to reset Team A’s pass-count, and Team A is free to shoot (or to go to goal) if it regains possession before Team B clears the ball to its offensive side of the field.