Rule Updates

This page will be maintained by the Lead Clinician and the Chief Referee to provide officials with the latest updates from the lacrosse rule-making bodies and the lacrosse leagues.

2024 NCAA Men's Lacrosse Rulebook Changes (posted 11/13/2023).

Click here to watch the video by Tim Bohdan describing all of the changes made to the rulebook for the 2024 season:

2023-24 NCAA Men's Lacrosse Rulebook Changes (posted 10/16/2022)

Click here to view the following videos and documents prepared by Tim Bohdan:

2021 Rule change videos (posted 12/21/2020)

Click here to watch videos summarizing the 2021 lacrosse rules and points of emphasis for the men's and boys' games:

Changes to the youth rules (adopted by GHYLA and independent youth lacrosse clubs in Greater Houston for the 2020 season)


The Greater Houston Youth Lacrosse Association and other independent youth teams have all agreed to adopt the straight USA Lacrosse Boys' Youth Rules without waivers and abandon the use of NCAA rules w/waivers as were used during 2019 and prior years.   However, boys' youth lacrosse teams in Houston use academic grade level as a proxy for the age-based divisions in the USA Lacrosse Boys' Youth rulebook.   Thus what USA Lacrosse calls 14U, 12U, 10U, and 8U (for age-based playing levels) corresponds to what Houston youth teams call 8U, 6U, 4U, and 2U (for grade-based playing levels).   No other waivers have been imposed on the USA Lacrosse Youth Rules being used in Greater Houston.   A summary of the changes to the playing levels for 2020+ is as follows:

More detailed information is contained on the "Rulebooks" tab, which contains links to the TXLOA playing rules "cheat sheet" and the actual rulebooks used by the lacrosse teams.


Faceoffs and restarts for 4th grade and below youth games (email from Tim Bohdan to Houston youth leagues on 1/19/2020)

The GHYLA and independent youth league teams in Greater Houston have adopted the USA Lacrosse Boys' Youth Rules for the 2020 season, but they use grade level in lieu of age level for the playing levels.   Thus, the 4th and 3rd graders are called "4U" in Houston although they play by the USA Lacrosse 10U age division, and the 2nd and 1st graders are called "2U" in Houston although they play by the USA Lacrosse 8U age division.   The faceoffs and restarts are summarized as follows:

Restarts for a faceoff or for the initial possession to start a new period for the 4U playing level in Greater Houston for youth teams in 4th and 3rd grade (Note: the 4U games use the USA Lacrosse 10U age-based playing rules):

Restarts for the playing level in Greater Houston for youth teams in 2nd and 1st grade (Note: the 2U games use the USA Lacrosse 8U age-based playing rules):

Reduced size substitution area for high school games (adopted by THSLL on 9/28/2019)

The Texas High School Lacrosse League (THSLL) adopted the NCAA rule regarding the use of the reduced size substitution area.   This was adopted by NCAA for the 2019 season, but it had been waived by THSLL for the 2019 season.   Now THSLL has adopted it.   However, the THSLL rejected the adoption of the goal crease jump/dive rule and rejected the automatic mandatory 80-second shot clock, both of which the NCAA had adopted for the 2019 season.

The KSONE has not been certified by NOCSAE (consumer alert released by USA Lacrosse on 6/07/2019)

The KSONE lacrosse ball is not NOCSAE certified and should not be used. <Click here for more information>

Officials' Procedure for Handling a Possible Concussion or Other Serious Injury (email from Tom Jank, TXLOA Chief Referee, on 2/21/2019)

 An incident occurred recently during a high school game whereby a player was removed by the officials to be evaluated for a possible concussion, but the same player was returned to the game by that team’s head coach without the injured player being cleared by the trainer.   The trainer was informed of the possible concussion.   The coach then decided the player should go back without the trainer's approval, which upset the trainer. 

To prevent this situation from happening again, the following guidance is issued to all TXLOA officials: 

Remember, the officials are there for players' safety, not just to enforce the rules.

The String King "Composite Pro Faceoff" shaft is Legal (per NILOA Director's Call #1 on 2/07/2019)

The NCAA has ruled this handle is legal for play.   This would include the faceoff player.   The first pictures on the left shows the top portion of the shaft from two different angles.   The second picture shows the cross-section of the shaft during different phases of the faceoff clamping process.   Note that the cross-section of the handle is oblique, which is designed to give the player enhanced grip and torque for the faceoff player.   The third picture shows the entire length of the shaft.   The last two pictures show the front and side views and the three holes that are pre-drilled through the top of the shaft to secure the head from two different directions.   The Composite Pro Faceoff shaft is fully authorized for use and LEGAL in all NCAA, NFHS, and youth play.

Clarification of the 2018-2019 THSLL Rulebook regarding Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalties, Section 11 Penalties, Ejections, and Fouling Out for Players and/or Coaches

The language has been clarified in the 2018-2019 THSLL Rulebook for the application of ejections and fouling out.   These edits were approved via emails between Nancy Powers, Mike Ormsby, et al., on 2/07/2019.   USC = Unsportsmanlike Conduct.   Section 11 penalties are Unsportsmanlike Conduct, Targeting Head/Neck, and Unnecessary Roughness.   BOTTOM LINE: The four cumulative USCs rule applies to both players and coaches, and so does the two USCs rule within a game.   Also, fouling out is treated no differently than an ejection = automatic ejection from current game + penalty served by in-home + one-game suspension for the ejected player.

Excerpts from Appendix A of 2018-2019 THSLL Rulebook:



Section 11 penalties:

2019 THSLL Shot Clock Waiver (Email from Mike Ormsby, THSLL South, Division-2/3 Coordinator, 10/10/2018)

The THSLL considered which aspects of the shot-clock are being waived and which aspects are being retained.   Mike Ormsby wrote to Tom Jank and suggested that THSLL will keep the 30-second clear and the optional 20-second stalling shot-clock that gets imposed by the officials when they detect stalling by one team.   However, the full THSLL Rules Committee decided against using any of the 80-second shot clock rules.

FINAL DECISION: THSLL decided to waive all aspects of the 2019 NCAA Rules, and is instead playing by the 2018 NCAA Rules.   Thus, THSLL games will not use the 80-second automatic shot-clock and will instead use the old arbitrarily-applied 30-second shot clock that gets initiated by the consent of the officials.

2019 NCAA Shot Clock Rules and Mechanics (Memo from Tom Sutton, NILOA Director of Development, released on 10/3/2018)

This email essentially contains the notes of a Q&A session, where several open questions about the shot clock have been clarified and addressed.  The full memo/email is available at this link <CLICK HERE FOR MEMO #4>.



Faceoff violations and restarting play (mechanics change; released on 3/16/2018)

To assist us with a situation after a face-off violation, we will change who is going to blow the play back in.   Teams are now using a faceoff violation to attempt to gain an advantage by either switching players or substituting players from behind the defensive area lines (restraining lines).

Under Armour Command X Lacrosse Shaft is NOT legal (NCAA Rulebook Committee announcement on 3/02/2018)

It has come to the attention of the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Rules Committee that the Under Armour Command X Handle [i.e., the shaft] does not meet current NCAA rules specifications.   Specifically, the handle violates Rule 1-17: “The circumference of the crosse handle shall not be more than 3 ½ inches and the handle must be relatively straight.”   The circumference of the handle exceeds the allowable measurement and is therefore not allowed for use in NCAA competition, effective immediately.  It should be noted, however, that the Under Armour Command X head does meet NCAA specifications and this ruling does not impact the legality of the head.   Thank you and good luck the rest of the season.  -Willie Scroggs, Secretary-Rules Editor, NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Rules Committee

Clarification of the rules on "warding" (NCAA, US Lacrosse, and THSLL announcements, circa 3/01/2018)

2/22/2018 - Slide presentation from the NILOA & NDOS Directors' Call regarding the new (looser) interpretation for Warding, which makes the bull dodge legal if both hands remain on the crosse and the bull dodge contact is not a violation of any other infraction:

Note: The following video clip of a successful (and now considered completely legal) bull dodge is shown in this video clip, which lasts only 14 seconds might have to watch the video clip several times to completely understand the new "bull dodge is legal" interpretation, which is no longer considered a violation of warding unless the bull dodge also meets the threshold for other more severe penalties (e.g., spearing by initiating contact with one's own head, unnecessary roughness, illegal body check for targeting the head of the opponent, or unsportsmanlike conduct).

3/01/2018 - The NFHS posted the following memo to its website:

USA Lacrosse supports this new interpretation on warding, which makes a bull dodge potentially legal.   USA Lacrosse writes: "Please inform your officials about this clarification.   The last clip in this instructional video explains spearing: [at 4:30 in the clip, an explanation of defensive spearing, at 5:12 in the clip, an explanation of offensive spearing].  I am developing a video on warding with the Task Force.   When it is ready I will let you know."  Regards, Gordon Corsetti, Manager, Men’s Officials Development Program, USA Lacrosse

3/02/2018 - The THSLL Board of Directors voted to support the NCAA guidance on warding.   THSLL writes: "We will be putting out a notice to the THSLL coaches stating that so there is no confusion around calls.   Please let the LOA know the decision."   Regards, Ray Martin, THSLL Commissioner

3/05/2018 - Videos of bull dodges -   Note that for some of these bull dodges in the video clips, the attacker has both hands on the crosse (legal), but sometimes the attacker has only one hand on the crosse (illegal).   You can tell which is which.

Clarification of over-and-back (email from Jim Carboneau on 12/15/2017)

Question: When does over-and-back occur on a failed back-pass?   It is: (1) when the ball breaks the plane of the center line, or (2) when the ball is grounded on or across the center line?

Answer: When the ball is grounded on or across the center line.   A loose ball that breaks the plane of the center line is not over-and-back because the ball has not touched the ground (or anything else) on the defensive half of the field.

Explanation: All interior lines, except goal line, are hot.   If you touch them you are over.   If ball is in flight, technically it must be grounded, i.e., touched by someone or something on or inside line.   Since over-and-back is relatively new, there have been few situations that have been reviewed and interpreted.   I would presume that an attackman could reach over midline and catch an errant pass before it became grounded much as he could wave the ball he possesses over the midline without penalty.  -Jim

Two-person mechanics (changes for 2018; US Lacrosse video released on 10/9/2017)

Unified field size for boys' and girls' lacrosse (optional field size adopted by NFHS for 2018; NFHS announcement on 9/26/2017)

The NFHS approved the use of an optional, new unified field size (120 x 60 yds) that is 10 yards longer than the traditional boys’ lacrosse field size (110 x 60 yds).   Since most of our teams play on soccer/football fields, many of which have been permanently marked with a 110 x 60 yd outer boundary, it is likely those field markings will not be changed by the host organizations.   However, there is a possibility that you will officiate on a unified field that is 10 yards longer, especially if that field is used for girls’ lacrosse.   The unified field will have an extra 5 yards of space between each goal line and the top of each restraining box.   Thus, each restraining box will be increased by five yards with the extra room residing in the attack area in front of each goal.  <Press announcement>

Changes to the NCAA rules for "Faceoff Stick Positions" in 2017 (and adopted by NFHS for 2018)

The NCAA faceoff has changed.   The position of the faceoff sticks is now aligned as "TOP TO STOP" instead of being lined up evenly.   The length between the top of the crosse and the throat of a crosse is 10 inches (minimum).   The faceoff sticks must be lined up with Player A's top lined up with Player B's throat (i.e., the "ball stop" or just called the "stop" for short), and vice versa.   This looks very different from past years.   Talk to your faceoff players pre-game to review the new faceoff stick positioning.   Rule 4-3 ("Facing Off - Procedures") contains a diagram on page 30 of the NCAA rulebook.

Video examples of three common penalties with detailed explanations (by Gordon Corsetti of USA Lacrosse)

Each video lasts several minutes.  The videos utilize start/stop/rewind and slow motion to show the foul and give you advice on what to look for as an official.   Knowing how to anticipate when a foul is likely to occur will help you see the fouls as they occur.

"Anticipating Timeouts" (5/02/2017 TXLOA document adapted from NILOA memo called "Officiating the Timeout")

One of the strategic tools of a coach is the ability of the coach to call a timeout at just the right moment.   However, if officials are not paying attention, then the timeout will go unheeded and coaches will be frustrated and upset (rightly so).   The document gives advice to officials on when to anticipate situations where a timeout is likely and to use mechanics to enhance the officials' ability to see/hear the request for a timeout.

-Adapted from Tom Sutton, President of NILOA.

Duties of the Chief Bench Official (4/25/2017 rulebook supplement from the TXLOA Chief Referee)

The Chief Bench Official (CBO) is an officiating role used during high school playoffs in Texas.   The CBO is a fourth official who remains in the Scorer's Table Area to supervise the timers, scorekeepers, and other table staff.   The CBO also watches for certain infractions and communicates with the three on-field officials.   Since the CBO is not mentioned anywhere in the NCAA rulebook, the TXLOA has prepared its own set of rules and responsibilities for the CBO.

Bench Decorum and Trail Mechanics in a Three-Person Rotation (3/24/2017 memo from NILOA)

This memorandum provides guidance on how to better officiate and manage the Team Area, Coaches Box, and the Substitution Area.

Troubleshooting the Faceoff (3/09/2017 memo from NILOA)

This short video provides guidance on conducting fair faceoffs using the top-to-stop method and provides examples of faceoff-related infractions.

Quick Restarts (2/23/2017 memo from NILOA)

This short video provides guidance on how to conduct quick restarts that are controlled and fair, but not "pants on fire."   Although this video was published by NILOA, the collegiate officials' organization, the advice is applicable to all levels of lacrosse.

Contact of the Crosse to an Opponent's Head/Helmet (2/13/2017 memo from TXLOA Chief Referee)

Contact to the head/helmet by a defending player's crosse does not make the contact an automatic nonreleasable penalty.   The contact may just be a common slash, or it may be nothing more than a brush.   This depends on a number of factors.   First the level of play.  3rd and 4th grade?...  Yes, any contact with the head should be a penalty.   High school/College?...  Contact with the head must be judged by the severity of the contact.   Was the player just trying to check his stick, and he just barely touched the head? (this is a brush).   Did he swing wildly and almost take the player's head off? (this is 2-3 minutes nonreleasable).   Was it a tap on the face mask as the player crossed his stick in front of him but did not even change the player's momentum?  (this is a common releasable slash).

If we take penalty interpretations to the highest level every time, then what do we have to go up to if some thing more severe happens?   NOT EVERY contact to the head/helmet is a nonreleasable penalty.  -Tom Jank, Email to all TXLOA members dated 2/13/2017.

Changes to the NCAA rules and officiating mechanics

Recall that high schools in Texas play by the NCAA rulebook (with minor modifications by the THSLL).   The NCAA rule change videos are training tools that contain an overview of changes to the NCAA rules as it relates to how the officials are expected to officiate a game of lacrosse when using the NCAA rulebook.

2020 NCAA Rules - Placeholder.  Video is still to be added.

0:00 - Introduction

2019 NCAA Rules - Click here for the 2019 NCAA Men's Lacrosse Rules and Officiating Video.   This video is professionally prepared and lasts 22 minutes.

0:00 - Introduction

0:55 - Points of Emphasis

1:15 - Head Coach Pregame Meeting

1:25 - Team Conduct/Decorum Pregame and Postgame

2:30 - Substitution Box Procedures

3:00 - Faceoffs

3:30 - Major Rules Changes for 2019

3:37 - Listing of rules, descriptions, and rulebook page numbers for the major rule changes

3:46 - 80-second All Possession Shot Clock

6:18 - Advancing the Ball into the Offensive Half of the Field

8:06 - Plays Around the Crease

12:47 - Personal Fouls

14:38 - Lacrosse is still a contact sport

15:45 - Offensive Screening/Picks

17:38 - Fouls by the Defense

18:17 - Warding

19:58 - Faceoffs

22:00 - Thank-you

22:14 - END

2018 NCAA Rules - Click here for the 2018 NCAA Men's Lacrosse Rules and Officiating video.   This video is professionally prepared and lasts 25 minutes.

0:00 - Introduction

0:58 - Current Status

2:15 - Points of Emphasis

2:30 - Player safety

5:27 - Faceoffs

9:25 - Picks

12:27 - Shot clock

15:13 - Over and back

16:40 - Crease play

21:58 - Bench decorum

23:20 - Future considerations

25:17 - END

2017 NCAA Rules - Click here for the 2017 NCAA Men's Lacrosse Rules video.   This video is professionally prepared and lasts 36 minutes.

0:00 - Awards and miscellaneous speeches (skip this part)

35:30 - The 2017 NCAA Rules Interpretation video (this is the part you want to watch)

72:00 - The end of the video.

Rules Interpretations