Lacrosse Rules: What You Really Need to Know

Lacrosse is a game that was invented long ago by the American natives and has gradually evolved over the years. It’s a game where players make use of sticks and nets to directly launch the ball into a net. The game has few variations and so do the lacrosse rules which are in place to ensure the game is progressing and it safe and fair.

Generally, there are basic things that you may be in the know about lacrosse that can never skip your mind. Things like; passing, shooting the ball, using a lacrosse stick, and catching the ball. But this is not sufficient if you don’t know the rules of the game. Hope you enjoy going through some of the rules listed below.

Lacrosse basic rules

Like all other games, lacrosse has rules that are strictly followed. So, what are the rules of lacrosse? One of the basic rules is; the out-of-bounds rule which lays down the limits. It also dictates the awarding of possession when a ball goes out of bounds. Fouls also are among the rules and it dictates the penalty which ranges from three to five minutes. This all depends on the intensity of the foul.

Checking also qualifies in the list of the basic rules; wondering how it’s a rule? Fine, it’s about how the players use their sticks for instance in poking to dislodge the opponent’s ball.  It’s good to note that the checking rules vary depending on several things. Another basic rule is the use of sticks. This explains how you are not supposed to interfere with the opponent using your feet or hands.

Generally, each official category of lacrosse has specific equipment and lineup as per the sport’s guidelines. The game may look simple from afar, to an extent of imagining that all you have to do is wield a crosse. But you are wrong about that because there are rules that should be at your fingertips. Here’s more information on the rules.

Lacrosse checking rules

Lacrosse stick length rule
Lacrosse stick length rule

Lacrosse stick length rule

Catching, passing, and even shooting the ball is the major function of the crosse, another name for lacrosse stick. You will agree that the importance of the stick in lacrosse games is unmatched. An illegal stick cannot by any means be used in the game upon its discovery by the officials. Not only that, but it can also earn the player a penalty. The stick varies depending on gender, age, and the position of the player.

As per the NFHS and NCAA lacrosse stick rules the ref positions the stick to the ground. The ref does this in a perpendicular position to gauge if the ball will fall. This is repeated but in an opposite direction horizontally. If the ball dares to fall, it implies that you have an illegal lacrosse pocket. This will force you to update the lacrosse stringing. Check out more lacrosse stick rules and regulations.

The smaller field stick in men’s lacrosse especially college and high school is 40 to 42 inches long. In younger age groups, it’s usually limited to 52 inches. For female players, the length of the stick ranges between 35 to 43inches. The male goalkeepers tend to use a stick ranging between 40 and 72 inches in length. But on the other hand, the women goalkeepers use sticks that range from 35½ to 43 ¼ inches.

Lacrosse stick rules

Lacrosse Rules: What You Really Need to Know

Lacrosse pocket rules 

Lacrosse pockets are designed to be triangular in shape and can be made from rawhide, gut, or synthetic material. Some people may argue that this is outdated, but keep in mind that it’s still applicable. Sagging pockets are considered to be illegal, other than that they are generally not appealing. There’s a test amid the ball which some lacrosse pockets usually evade, but the ref tests somehow when in doubt.

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You may think that the ref doesn’t pay keen attention to the colors, but you could be wrong. As much as multiple colors are allowed, they could turn out to be illegal. Imagine if you paint on a black mesh a white circle, you may not know but it will raise some concerns. Wondering why? This will without a doubt trick the opponent because you will look like you have the ball. Don’t be surprised if you are told that it’s illegal.

Lacrosse shooting string rules

The key thing to remember when it comes to this is the hanging strings. They should not at any point exceed an average length of two inches from where there’s a tie-off. This leaves you with no options other than cutting off your strings after you’re done stringing the lacrosse stick. Woe unto you if you are a lazy borne because you definitely won’t be up to this task.

To keep up with the rules, you have to take note of your shooting strings. Ensure they are not lower than the recommended four inches from the tip of the lacrosse head.  You can make this a bit easier for you by sticking two shooters at the top of the head. This will cease to be an issue once you do that and you also won’t worry about flaunting the rules.

Rules for girls

It could be that you are new to this sport or probably not well versant with the rules of the game. But one sure thing is that you will have to learn a ton of the rules. Among the key rules is the Three-second rule. This allows offensive players to pass over the ball or change their cradle. All this is to be done in a span of three seconds, sounds a bit interesting huh!

Keeping off the goalie circle is also another rule which doesn’t entertain offensive players near the goalie circle. But defense players are allowed to reach the goalie center, wondering why? Easy, it’s simply to redirect or to block a shot. There are also the girl’s lacrosse stick rules which are followed keenly as part of rules to play lacrosse. Without a doubt, the girls’ lacrosse rules make the game more interesting.

rules for girls

The other rules are offensive charging which is similar to that of the basketball game. This is mostly about the position of the defensive and offensive player. Screen or pick is also another rule which dictates that you won’t give a ball to the player setting the screen. But they are at a certain point given the chance to change their direction. Bet that you may not want to miss seeing this going down in action, right?

Women’s rules

Playing a game is certainly not only good for your physical healthy but mental health too. With women’s around-the-clock unending activities, some of their rules ought to be accommodating. Doing away with the checking of the pregame stick is one sure way of doing this. But still, let it not skip your mind the officials may opt to check the stick at their discretion. If it happens so, don’t think their act is malicious.

It is acceptable in women’s lacrosse to kick the ball when getting it out of traffic. Apart from that, players are free to self-start in the event of foul play from the opposing players.  An interesting thing about this is that there’s free movement. The women do not have to wait for a whistle to be blown as it is in most sports.

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When it comes to timing, the women’s game is played in quarters, fifteen minutes each and not thirty minutes halves. You can resume the play after two minutes followed by teams switching directions after each quarter.  The good thing about this is that coaches do not ask for a check of their sticks during the team’s timeout.

Women’s lacrosse

Lacrosse Rules: What You Really Need to Know

Men’s lacrosse rules

Before going deeper into these rules, it will be good to know that men view respect as the name of the game. This is as per the NCAA. This was probably arrived at because respect has been in most instances identified as a crucial element in sportsmanship. One of the major rules that were introduced recently is the new lacrosse chest protector rules. It states that the goalkeeper must adorn it.

There is an existing rule about the ball and the specified colors. Next time you come across a pink, white, lime green, orange or yellow ball don’t question the colors. These are the colors used and the balls must satisfactorily meet the laid standards. The time factor has also been considered where the regulating time is 60 minutes. There are also agreed variations in the playing time.

Men’s lacrosse rules

Pregame procedures entail tossing a coin which is done by the referee. The winning team then has a choice when it comes to goals or the controls. The penalty for the agreed-upon personal fouls is suspension for a few minutes as per the judgment of officials.  Technical fouls are less serious compared to personal fouls. It attracts a penalty of suspension of the offending player for 30 seconds.

Lacrosse boys rules

Just like in the men’s rule, each player is supposed to be wearing protective equipment. This equipment must not be altered in any way to be different from how it was originally manufactured. It should be worn exactly how the manufacturer envisioned it to be put on. Don’t wear it the way you want probably to make it look fancy. No! There’s a reason unknown to you why the manufacturer wanted it that way.

The other rule states when the clock will be stopped. That is, during time out for the team, an injury, or just the official time-out. Perhaps you want to know what happens to a penalty running time.  Just know that the whistle will be blown for the play to resume. It will be worth noting that most of the existing rules have been revised in 2021 and some have been already adopted.

The Crease

This is one of the rules which bar the offensive player from entering the circle surrounding the goal. Certainly, the goal cannot count if the player steps in the crease during shooting. Defender enters the crease only when they don’t have a ball in their stick.  

Could it be that you are wondering what a defensive player that happens to get the ball in the crease does? Okay, the player can leave the crease but then can get in again. This is one of the rules that every beginner must be told. It does not only help them know what to do but guides them throughout their time in the game.

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Lacrosse box rules

It could be that when you hear about box lacrosse the first thing that crosses your mind is an enclosed scenario. Well, it is also known as indoor lacrosse; one of the characteristics is that it’s not played in the field. The team usually has six players; five runners and a goaltender. The lacrosse stick of a player must range between 39 and 47 inches in length. Traditional sticks made from wood are also allowed in.

The penalty inbox rules lasts a maximum of two minutes but not in the case of a major penalty. The big question is what triggers the penalties? The following are common causes of a minor penalty; tripping, illegal equipment, interference, roughing among other things. The causes of major penalties which last for five minutes are injuries resulting from violence and fights.

Lacrosse scoring rules

You have to get the ball in the goal for it to be termed as a score. Players from both sides position themselves as mid-fielders, attackers, goalies, and defense. As much as any player can score, a midfielder or attacker is usually in a good position to score. Now you know who is responsible for your performance in the field. You have to be keen on who occupies the two positions that can help you pull a major win.

Goals in lacrosse are worth one point except when it’s a major league that is usually worth two points. You might be surprised that there are scenarios where a point can be awarded to the opposing team. It’s a good thing that you are now aware of it. This happens when the ball enters the goal accidentally. This is one of the rules and the only thing that can help you when it comes to this is avoiding accidents.


Try to imagine a lacrosse game without the rules! One thing you are sure of is that it won’t amount to what it is currently. We bet that you also know that it’s not just a matter of having a ball and wielding your stick. But there are rules to be followed when playing the game. You now have no excuse for flaunting any of the lacrosse rules, just step up and give your best shot.


Can I play lacrosse without experience?

Yes, but the level of your ability is what will determine the team in which you will be placed.  Even a journey of a thousand miles begins with a simple step. So you will be placed in a team of players without experience just like you.

Is there a specific color for lacrosse sticks?

There’s no specific color for the lacrosse stick. You are at liberty to have any color you want. The only thing to remember is to avoid coloring the ball. Because painting the ball may sometimes be seen as a conspiracy to cheat.

Is it a must I wear protective gear when playing.

Yes, it’s good to keep safe when playing the game. In men’s and boy’s lacrosse, each player is supposed to be wearing protective devices. Note that girls’ lacrosse contact rules are strict compared to boys who require more protective gear.

Do the rules of the game prevent injuries?

The rules have been put in place as guidelines that should dictate how the game is played. Looking at the enforced penalties, it will be right to say the rules somehow mitigate imminent injuries.  It’s most likely that without the rules, the number of reported injuries would always be high.

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