Significant changes in the rules for Girls Lacrosse in High School are coming in 2020. The rules changes were recommended by the joint National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and US Lacrosse (USL) Girls’ Lacrosse Rules Committee, and subsequently approved by both the NFHS and USL boards of directors.
USL and NFHS both released advance summaries of all changes on 23 July 2019.
FREE MOVEMENT ON A WHISTLE OR STOPPAGE OF PLAY
The allowance for free movement by players on a whistle or stoppage of play is the most significant rule change for high school girls’ lacrosse in 2020, and one of 12 rules changes approved for high school girls’ lacrosse, effective January 1, 2020.
Free movement allows players to move freely around the playing field, instead of being required to hold their positions on stoppages. The primary intent of the rule change is to improve the pace of play, and allows for a less restrictive experience for the athletes.
The change to free movement impacts several areas of the NFHS/USL Rules Book. The change has an impact on rules 4.2.3, 4.3.3, 5.1.2, 5.1.3, 5.3.1, 6.3.1, and 10.1.
Rule 4-3-3 will change to allow players to be substituted for during a possession time-out, except for the player being awarded the ball and the offender.
ADMINISTRATION OF MAJOR FOULS AND OTHER STOPPAGES OF PLAY IN THE CRITICAL SCORING AREA
To limit potentially dangerous play in the critical scoring area and allow for consistent administration of the free position, a major foul between the 12 and the 8 will now be administered as a free position taken on the 12-meter fan closest to the spot of the foul. This is a change to rule 10.1.
However, when a stoppage in play causes the ball to become dead that was in the critical scoring area, rules 4.3.3, 5.1.3, 5.3.1 and 7.3 PENALTY now indicate play will resume on the closet dot.
[EDITOR"S NOTE: Initially, these two changes seem to be in conflict. However, rule 4.3.3 addresses time out; 5.1.3 addresses indirect free positions; 5.3.1 addresses major and minor foul penalty administration; 7.3 PENALTY addresses penalty administration for Goal Circle violations. Please watch for further clarifications.]
Self-starting when self-start is not an option is now considered a major foul in rule 10.1 under false starts.
CHECK TO THE NECK AND HEAD
Under major fouls in rule 10.1, a check to the neck is now included under check to the head with a mandatory card assessed.
In a change to Rule 9.1, the description of the minor foul, covering, is now described as covering a ground ball, instead of guarding. Additionally, preventing an opponent from playing the ball by covering the ball with the body now constitutes a minor foul. Previously, using a foot or crosse to guard a ground ball was a minor field foul.
Rule 5.4.4 has been amended to allow self-starts on boundary restarts. On boundary restarts, opponents must give the player in possession of the ball at least two meters — an additional meter from the previous requirement (Rule 6.3.1b).
A change to Rule 6.3.2 clarifies that a player’s body or crosse that is inbounds and nearest to the ball when it goes out of bounds on a shot on goal determines possession of the ball when play resumes.
NUMBER OF PLAYERS ON THE FIELD AT THE DRAW
Rule 5.2.2 was amended to allow any number, up to 12 players from each team, on the field prior to the start of each draw. Prior to the change, each team was required to have 12 players on the field unless a team could not do so legally.
There are changes to Rules 2.2.5 and 2.4.3 to amend crosse and stick requirements. A crosse now meets specifications if the ball moves freely in the front of the pocket, removing the requirement for the back of the pocket. During stick checks, game officials will ensure that the ball rolls out of the back of the pocket when placed in the upper third of the head at its widest point and the stick and head are tilted 90 degrees. This rule helps limit the on field check requirements for the back of the pocket to those issues only related to performance.
For eyewear, the SEI (Safety Equipment Institute) mark for certification must be on the equipment by January 1, 2025. Eyewear must still be SEI certified for the 2020 season (rule 2.7.2), but the requirement for a physical mark on the eyewear does not take effect until 2025. All approved eyewear is listed on the SEI website at www.seinet.org.
MODIFICATION OF EQUIPMENT
In a change to Rule 2.7.4, equipment cannot be modified from its original manufactured state and it must be worn in the manner the manufacturer intended.
Rule 2.8.4 now prohibits the use of video replay to review an official’s decision, consistent with other NFHS rules.