Coaches Corner - Boys

Updated Thursday June 16, 2016 by Paul Nielander.

Boys Lax Rule of The Week

The rules of boys lacrosse can be hard to sort out from the sidelines. As new players and their parents come to the field, having some basic understanding of the layout and rules can be very helpful. Over the years, our coaches have helped parents understand what was happening, in in particular, Coach Evan Hunter has been sharing his "rules of the week" with them. Evan has shared his way of explaining the rules with the broader WALA organization and were shared them in a series of posts. Thank you Evan. 


In lacrosse, substitutions can be made in three ways: After a goal, teams may freely substitute. On a dead ball, coaches may ask for a horn to make substitutions. At any time, substitutions may be made “on the fly” through the substitution box. The “box” extends 5 yards on either side of the centerline. Players may substitute from anywhere in the box, on either side of the centerline. Once the current player crosses the sideline, the new player may enter the field.


While running with the ball in his stick, the offensive player may not touch the ball with his hand or hold the ball in his stick with a thumb or other portion of this body (e.g. trapping the stick against the chest), as it unfairly prevents others from dislodging the ball from the crosse. Another violation that results in a turnover is warding. The offensive player may not use his free hand to block the opponent’s stick or push the defensive player out of the way (think a stiff-arm in football). Once the player moves to a one-handed cradle, the free hand must remain stationary. Moving the hand to “ward off” the defense in any way results in a turnover.


When clearing, the team with ball has 20 seconds to move the ball across midfield. Once the ball crosses the centerline, the team has an additional 10 seconds to get the ball into the offensive restraining box. Failure to meet either time deadline results in a turn over. For this reason, you will often see offensive players “get a touch” by running into the restraining box and then backing back out earning a fresh 10 seconds to move the ball into the box.

In the final 2 minutes of the game, the team with the lead must get the ball into the box and keep it in the box. Failure to do so results in a stalling violation and turns the ball over.

u9 and u11 age divisions do not enforce the time rules.


The crease is the 9’ radius circle surrounding the goal. Offensive players may not enter the crease at any time. If they do, it creates a turnover if the offense has possession of the ball, or the ball is currently not in possession by either team. If the defense has the ball, a crease violation results in a 30-second technical foul. Defensive players may enter the crease, but at no time can a defensive player (including the goalie) enter the crease while in possession of the ball. The goalie may bring the ball into the crease to pick it up, but cannot retreat to the crease with the ball in his stick. Once the goalie has possession of the ball in the crease, he has 4 seconds to move the ball out of the crease. Failure to do so results in a turnover. If an offensive player makes contact with the goalie while he is in the crease (including contact with his stick while he is throwing), it is goalie interference and results in a free clear for the goalie’s team.


Each player is allowed up to 4 personal fouls or 5 total minutes of penalty time in the game. If penalties exceed these thresholds, the player is ejected from the game (“fouls out” like in basketball). Players and coaches may be ejected directly for unsportsmanlike conduct or an excessively violent penalty.




One of the most common penalties in lacrosse, especially at the youth level is “slashing.” A slash is called when the defender makes uncontrolled or repeated contact with the offensive player’s body without making contact with the stick. Slashing is a one-minute penalty. A slash to the head can result in a 1-3 minute penalty. At the youth level, any one-handed check should be ruled a slash, even if the offending player does not make contact with his opponent.


Out of bounds in lacrosse is like that of most sports with one exception. In general, if the ball goes out of bounds (because of an errant pass, a loose ball, etc.) or the player carrying the ball steps out of bounds, the ball is awarded to the opposing team (just like soccer, basketball, etc.). The one exception to this rule is after a shot. If a missed shot goes out of bounds (whether across the endline or a sideline), the team of the player closest to the ball when it went out is awarded the ball. This remains true even if the shot is deflected. This rule encourages shooting from the offense. Is the ball when missed, the offense retains possession after a missed shot. Very often after a shot, you will see (and better see) our players running after the shot. The referee determines which player was closest to the ball when it went out and rewards that team the ball. Lacrosse rewards hustle.



Offside in lacrosse differs from other sports. In lacrosse, we have 10 players on the field – 3 attackmen (think forwards); 3 midfielders; 3 defenders; 1 goalie. In lacrosse, each team must have 3 players on the offensive end of the field and 4 players on the defensive end of the field at all times. Most often, this means that the attackmen do not cross the midfield line. Most of the time, the defense and the goalie constitute the 4 players permanently on the defensive end of the field. The midfielders play both ends of the field.

If an attackman crosses into the defensive half while all three midfielders are on the defensive half (making it 8 on the defensive side), his team is offside. The same would be true if a defenseman crosses the centerline when all three midfielders are on the offensive half. This would give 7 men on the offense half and thus be offside. Referees are trained to count forward, not worrying if there are two few players on the side opposite the ball (e.g. while on offense, defensive substitutions may leave the team with only two defenders, but not be offside).

Midfielders may offset an attackman or defender on their half of the field, allowing that player to run into the other side of the field. So if a defenseman has the ball, running up field, he may continue to do so as long as one middie remains in his place on the defensive half. This is called keeping a “middle-back”. This player will often raise their stick and yell “middle back” so that his teammates and the referee know that he is keeping the team from going “offside”.

The penalty for offside depends on which team commits the violation. If the offending team has the ball, or it is in a loss ball situation, it is a turnover. If the opposite team has the ball, then the offending team is given a 30-second technical foul, and one player must leave the field and enter the penalty box, leaving the offending team “man-down” for 30 seconds.



At the start of each quarter (with two exceptions) and after a goal, lacrosse begins with a face-off. During the face-off, the two players at the center try to move the ball and gain possession. There are several rules regarding the face off, including the players maintaining a “set” position prior to the whistle, not being allowed to kick the opposing players stick, and not withholding the ball from play. If a player traps the ball with the back side of his stick, he must pop the ball loose within his first step, or it is a violation (this is a recent change to the face-off rules and players can no longer carry the ball in the back of the stick after a face-off). Any of these violations results in awarding the ball to the other team.

During the face-off, the other players must line up in specific areas. The attack and defensemen must line up inside the restraining box (the large box that is painted around the goal. They must remain in that box until the referee calls “possession” meaning one team has picked up the ball for long enough to be considered having control. At that time, the attack and defensemen may come out of the restraining box and play anywhere in their half of the field in accordance with the offside rules.

The wing midfielders must line up on the lines painted at midfield near the sidelines. They may line up anywhere on that line – in the offensive or defensive half of the field. On the whistle, they may run in to pick up the ground ball and play lacrosse as possession is gained.

In our league, if one team has a 5 goal lead, the opposing coach may opt to skip the face off and receive possession in a free-clear situation.

Technical Fouls vs. Personal Fouls: In lacrosse, flagged penalties are of two varieties – technical fouls and personal fouls. When a foul is committed, the referee throws the flag and will make a “slow” whistle. This means that the whistle should not blow until the offense loses possession or a goal is scored. If the ball is dropped or an errant pass is made, the referee should stop play and issue the penalty.

Technical fouls are penalties of a less series nature. Technical fouls committed by the defenses while the offensive is in possession of the ball result in a 30-second penalty. These include: push with possession, defensive holding, offsides by the defense when the offense is in possession of the ball, interference, illegal substitution while the other team is in possession, delay of game. Technical fouls by the offense include moving picks, warding (using the free arm to push off or block a check when carrying the ball), withholding the ball, offsides, or illegal substitution. Technical fouls by the team with possession of the ball result in a turnover to the other team. Technical fouls in a loose ball situation result in the ball being awarded to the other team. If a goal is scored while a flag is down for a technical foul, the penalty is noted, but no time is served as the penalty is “waived off”.

Personal Fouls are penalties of a more series nature and are most often assessed a one-minute penalty. Referees may assign more time for violent checks, equipment violations, and unsportsmanlike conduct. They may also be deemed “non-releasable,” which means the offending player remains in the penalty box for the entire time, even if the other team scores. (Most penalties are released on a goal). Personal fouls include slashing, illegal body check, unnecessary roughness, tripping, cross-checking, or illegal equipment. If a goal is scored while a flag is down for a personal foul, time is served for the penalty and the offending team will start “man-down” on the ensuing face-off.


The BoysLax Field


The Boys Lax Positions


Instructional Videos

The Faceoff

The start to each game, at the quarters and after each goal.

The Face off Drill

Pass, Catch and Shoot

Stick Skills

Basic Cradle
Dodges of all kinds
More advanced stick skills

Defence & Ground Balls

Ground Balls
Short Stick Defence
Crease Man Slide
Coaches guide