Editor’s Note: Cole Sloan is the District Training Coordinator for District 9: UT, CO, NM, WY. Part of the US Lacrosse Mens Game Committee – Officials Subcommittee, ULA Mens Officials Council Chair and is a ULA Youth Referee Trainer. His certifications include: COC certified official and has completed Laredo Training Levels II and III. On top of that, he is ULA alumni, having played for the Judge Bulldogs in the early 2000s. Utah Lacrosse News is grateful for him taking the time to help us understand those pesky rules!
Here is my interpretation of some of the new NFHS rules – they are purely my opinion and not those of any governing body of lacrosse. I highlighted the important changes for players/coaches. If there are additional questions I am happy to discuss this further. This article was adapted from a press release by NFHS found here. Disclaimer: these interpretations are subject to change after the Rules Meetings at the USL National Convention in January. Some of the verbiage may change but the spirit of the rule changes will be integrated into the 2013 NFHS Rule Book.
Rule 5-4 which states that “a player shall not initiate an excessive, violent or uncontrolled slash to the head/neck.” In addition, the rule now prohibits an offensive player in possession of the ball from blocking an opponent with the head or initiating contact with the head.
I love this rule change, it definitely clarifies some of the confusion about checks to the head. I hadn’t seen this much but some players would move there head into the way of checks that otherwise would not have hit their helmet. Then there was the player who would bull dodge head first; clearly a penalty on the offensive player in my mind. However, there were inconsistencies amongst the officials concerning the application of the rules in those situations and this rule change clarifies how those plays should be called. By prohibiting an offensive player from gaining an advantage by putting himself in harm’s way the game is safer for all players (and makes flopping more difficult – an added bonus).
Rule 4-3-5 The official shall vary the cadence of sounding the whistle for each faceoff.
This is one of the rule changes that will help faceoffs remain an even proposition for both players. As the face off official it is easy to ‘get in a groove’ and not vary the cadence of “Down, Set, Whistle”. By emphasizing this change in cadence, officials will be reminded to keep the faceoff men guessing. I predict there will be some hiccups as this rule is integrated into the game, but in general it will be great to keep things fair at the faceoff X. Hopefully this and other rules will put the old adage “there are two types of faceoff guys: cheaters and losers” to rest.
Rule 4-3-6 [Face Off rule ] – It is illegal for a player to deliberately use his hand or fingers to play the ball. It is illegal for a player to grab an opponent’s crosse with the open hand or fingers. Rule 5-10-1 [UnSportsmanlike Conduct (USC) rule] – Deliberately use his hand or fingers to play the ball or grab an opponent’s crosse with the open hand or fingers
Note: Inadvertent touching of the ball when the hand is grasping the stick should not be called as an unsportsmanlike conduct foul.
This rule has been supposedly enforced in the past, but I think making it more clear will result in higher enforcement rates than we have seen in the past. Basically this rule says that trying to cheat on a faceoff will get an automatic USC penalty. Meaning if the faceoff guy is caught cheating twice in a game he will be ejected from that game (since 2 USC penalties in a game are an automatic ejection).
Rule 1-8: Any strings or leathers are limited to a hanging length of 2 inches.
This rule doesn’t mean a lot to me – it is just a ‘fix it’ ticket; meaning if a stick has strings greater than 2 inches the stick has to leave the game and cannot reenter the field until it gets the scissors. There is no ‘penalty’ other than you can’t play with the stick until it is fixed. This rule shouldn’t affect the game play at all; though some Lax Bros may not be happy about it.
Rule 7-13: Regarding inadvertent whistles, the team with possession or entitled to possession when the whistle was blown shall retain possession.
I love this rule because oftentimes a player can go down with an injury away from a loose ball (especially on some of these fields) then by rule, if you blew the whistle before anyone had possession it was an “AP (or Alternating Possession)” which is part of the coin toss in the beginning of the game. I would find myself waiting to blow the whistle while the player all by himself struggled to get the ball in his stick. Now I can say he was entitled to possession and appropriate coaching and medical personnel can enter the field sooner.
Rule 6-5-2 v: Another example of illegal procedure was approved: “When no player from the team awarded possession picks up the ball and moves to the position of the restart within five seconds of when the officials are ready to restart play.” (Note: This only applies to situations in which Rule 6-5-f does not apply.)
This addresses one of my biggest pet peeves about lacrosse today. A defenseman would chase a shot and gain possession by being the closest to the ball (where and when it when out of bounds). Then he would walk away from the ball while a player with better stick skills would trot over to pick it up. Now such a play will be called illegal procedure (delay of game). If your stick skills are that bad, you shouldn’t be on the field. Lacrosse has become way too specialized and luckily there will be rule changes in the coming years to remedy this illness that is plaguing the game today. I’ll hop down from my soapbox now. It is also worth noting that if a ball goes flying out of bounds on a sideline we do NOT expect you to be ready to play in 5 seconds. But if the ball is ready to be put in play and it takes longer than 5 seconds than it will be awarded to the opposite team.
Rule 1-9-2 e. A protective cup is recommended for all players.
Wearing a cup is NOT mandatory, officials should never ever do a ‘cup check’.
Let me give a quick plug for a fellow official who wrote a similar article for the proposed NCAA rule changes (no substitution horns, shot clock, etc). In my experience it takes a very short time for changes to the NCAA rules to show up in high school (usually 1-3 years). Here is the link
Below are the other pending changes to the NFHS rulebook for 2013 – I don’t think these will have a major impact on players and game play.
Rule 1-5: White balls shall be used unless both coaches agree prior to or during the game to use a yellow, orange or lime green ball.
Rule 1-6-2: If a ball stop is used, only one may be used, and the dimensions shall be a maximum of 2 inches in length, 1½ inches in width and ¼-inch in thickness.
Rules 1-2 and 6-5-2s: At the beginning of the game, the home team is required to provide a scorebook, a timing device, a table and a working horn.
Rule 2-5-2: The recommended uniform for officials now provides an option for black or white shorts. Also, all officials working the game are to be dressed the same.
Rule 4-15-2: The requirement for advancing the ball into the goal area is met when the ball touches anything within that area or a player in possession of the ball touches the line or is inside the goal area.
Rule 6-6-3b: A coach or player may leave the bench/coaches area to exchange a crosse with a player on the field in the opposite end of the field from that team’s bench during a live ball or dead ball. (Note: this is awkwardly worded so I will hold off on my interpretation(s) until the National Convention in January)
Rule 7-3 Exception: Deleted “live-ball” from the exception.
Rule 2-6-1: Clarified the rule regarding state association authority as follows: State associations may intercede in the event of unusual incidents that occur before, during or after the officials’ jurisdiction has ended or in the event that a contest is terminated prior to the conclusion of regulation play.
Thank you for taking the time to keep current with rule changes. If you found this helpful I am happy to continue to answer questions about rules and interpretations on Utah Lacrosse News. There are also many additional resources to learn the rules, video clips, instructional videos, etc. As always we are looking for motivated individuals to join the officiating corps and will have trainings in February (High School) and April (Youth) for those interested in dawning the stripes. There will also be shadow experiences available during the Winter League. Refereeing is a great part time job for former and current lacrosse players; and it looks great on college applications, etc. Contact me for more information or visit the ULA website under officials then training.