The Rules of the Game for Girls

The Game: Girls' lacrosse combines individual skills and team performance. Keeping possession is integral to the game, which allows for fastbreak opportunities as well as set offensive plays. A team gets positions by intercepting a pass, dislodging a ball from an opponent's stick, retrieving a ground ball, or blocking a pass or a shot. Like the boys game, the team with the most goals wins. Unlike the boys' game, girls' lacrosse sticks have tight, restricted pockets, and the defense may only use stick-to-stick contact. When the whistle is blown, players must stand in position where they are until play restarts. Also different are the field markings -- girls can move freely all over the field, and there are no sideline or endline boundaries.

The Field: The Field: Traditionally, the girls game has been played on a field of unlimited size -- with the goals placed 90 yards apart -- with "natural boundaries" as the only true limits to where a player could go with the ball. Beginning in 2006, however, girls lacrosse adopted hard boundaries and a more standard field configuration. Fields are 110-120 yards in length, and 60-70 yards wide. The goals are positioned 90 yards apart, with the goal line being no less than 10 yards away from the back of the field. Each goal crease is attached to an 8-meter arc, with a 12-meter fan extending beyond it. The arc and fan determine the "critical scoring area," and penalties committed inside the arc or fan generally are considered major fouls; a player is awarded what can amount to a penalty shot based on where they were in the fan when the foul occurred. The arcs are inside of restraining lines that typically are set 30 yards from each goal. No more than seven offensive players, or seven defensive players plus a goalie, can be in an area inside a restraining line. Every girls lacrosse field also includes a center circle, where two players are set up to draw the ball in order to start play. 

Equipment: Players are required to wear safety goggles, a mouthguard, and use a regulation crosse, or stick.

The Positions: A regulation team comprises 11 field players and a goalie. The nature of the game encourages all players to play both offense and defense. Field players are usually categorized as line attack (first home, second home, third home), line defense (point, coverpoint, third man), and midfielders (right and left attack wings, right and left defense wings, and center).

Length of Game: Girl's lacrosse is played in two halves, with the clock running continuously, stopping only after goals and for each whistle during the last two minutes of a half.

The Play: The center draw is done with both sticks in the air. The ball must go above head level for play to begin legally. If the ball goes out of bounds, the umpire whistles to stop play, and awards the ball to the player closest to it. All players move four meters from the boundary, and the player with the ball is given one meter of free space. If two opponents are the same distance from the ball, the umpire restarts with a throw.

Fouls: Fouls can be called for illegal use of the stick (slashing, swinging towards the head, cradling too close to the face), charging or other illegal use of the body, and illegal picks. Within the critical scoring area, fouls such as a defender not being within a stick's reach of an opponent, obstructing a player's shooting space, or taking a dangerous, or uncontrolled shot are also called. If the defense fouls in this area, the attack gets a free position which often leads to a shot on goal.



Arc -- Partial semicircle area painted in front of each goal circle at the distance of eight meters and bound by a straight line on the sides that is at a 45 degree angle to the goal line. Used to define three-second violations and in the administration of major fouls.

Attack -- Players on the offensive team.

Backdoor Cut -- A cut in which the attacking player cuts behind the defender toward the goal or ball.

Channel -- When a defender forces her opponent to veer in one direction and maintain that path.

Critical Scoring Area -- An area on the field, not marked by any lines, with approximate boundaries of 15 yards around and 10 years behind the goal circle. Used in the evaluation of shooting space.

Cut to the Ball -- An offensive maneuver in which an attack player without the ball runs toward the ball carrier in an attempt to gain a position in front of her defender that enables her to more easily receive a pass.

Decoy Cut -- A cut intended to move the defender out of a space, and not necessarily to receive a pass.

Drop Down -- A defender's move away from her player and toward the goal area to help defend a second player.

Fan -- A semicircular area painted on the field in front of each goal circle and bounded by a straight line from the goal extended. Used in the administration of major and minor fouls.

Goal Circle Crease -- Home of the goalkeeper, this circle with an eight-and-a-half foot radius is painted on the field around the goal cage.

Indirect Free Position -- The result of a minor foul in which the player awarded the ball may not shoot immediately. She must pass the ball to a teammate or wait to shoot until her stick has been checked by a defender.

Passing Lane -- The aerial space between the ball carrier and her teammate's stick through which a pass would travel if it were made.

Penalty Lane -- An imaginary path to goal defined by two parallel lines that extend from each side of the goal circle to four meters on either side of the fouled player. The umpire clears the lane in some situations when the defense fouls.

Shooting Space Violation -- Foul that occurs when a defender obstructs the free space to goal within the critical scoring area. Free space to goal is defined as an imaginary path from the ball to the outside of the goal circle.

Sphere - Imaginary seven-inch area surrounding a player's head. The ball carrier must keep her crosse and the ball outside of this seven-inch sphere, and the defender may not check into the sphere. She may check through it as long as the check is going away from the head.

Three-Second Violation -- A violation by a defender who is not marking an attack player but who remains in the eight-meter arc for three seconds.

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