2013 Men’s Lacrosse Rules Preseason Guidance

ncaalaxguyThis mailing from John Hind, chair, and Don Zimmerman, secretary-rules editor, of the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Rules Committee came out February 1, 2013 and is intended to clarify several points relating to the playing rules changes that were approved for the 2013 season.

[GNH: Please note that any printed copy of the NCAA Rules Book has been radically revised since publication.]

For your information and additional assistance, the 2013 Men’s Lacrosse Rules and Officiating Video is available for your review. Please visit the men’s lacrosse tab on the NCAA Playing Rules and Officiating website throughout the season for more information, updates and play situations.

I. Introduction.

The NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Rules Committee worked diligently to put forward a package of proposals to essentially accomplish one thing: return the game to its rightful home as the fastest game on two feet. Coaches, players and officials approaching the 2013 season must keep that as our guiding principle. It is understood by the committee that all participants have a role to play here and there will be some growing pains as our new rules are implemented. The bottom line is that the committee strongly feels the changes will improve the game and bring back the speed and skill we want to showcase.

II. Clarifications.

1) Crosse specifications.

a. Altering the stick. It has come to the committee’s attention that players involved in facing off are sawing the head of the crosse at the throat, which enables the player’s hand to be closer to the ball. This altering of the crosse is illegal by rule: “A crosse that has been altered in such a way as to give an advantage to an individual is illegal.” The penalty for violation of this rule is a three-minute non-releasable penalty. There is no warning to the player or team for this type of alteration.

b. Strings hanging longer than two inches.If detected, officials shall instruct players to cut the strings to the proper length. This provides players an opportunity to correct their sticks without penalty. If a player does not correct the issue, a one-minute non-releasable penalty shall be assessed for unsportsmanlike conduct.

c. Tape on the stick. As the rule states, no player (except for the goalkeeper) may have any tape touching the plastic of the crosse. Additionally, the committee is clarifying what the requirements faceoff players have for taping: From the throat of the crosse to six inches down the crosse, there must be a single-wrap of a contrasting color tape. The tape must contrast the glove and crosse. For example, a player that has a white crosse, silver stick and red gloves must use a contrasting tape color to all three pieces of equipment. For any non-faceoff players, these rules do not apply and traditional taping methods continue to be legal.

2) Stick Checks. The committee has made two clarifications to the stick check procedures:

a. Penalty clarification. In some early documentation, there was confusion on the penalty for a violation of the stick check procedure. The penalty for the ball not freely coming out of the crosse for the field tests is a three-minute, non-releasable foul.

b. Back of stick check. Based on coach and official’s feedback from fall practices, the committee believes that the check on the back of the stick is no longer necessary. Other changes that have been implemented have addressed the issues with stringing the stick and therefore the committee believes the check on the back of the stick is no longer needed. Further, this check could eliminate sticks from play that otherwise are legal. If the ball becomes lodged in the back of the stick during play and does not come out quickly (with one shake of the stick), it is considered withholding and a change of possession.

3) Restarting play – philosophy. The new rules for restarting play are intended to directly quicken the pace of play. The new rules call still call for the defender to give the team in possession space when restarting play. The restart mechanic is critical to the quickening of the game. Every effort should be made to properly communicate to coaches and officials the intentions of the various restarts along with the burdens on both the offensive and defensive players.

To clarify, it is not the proper officiating mechanic to think about disadvantaging the defender. Once the player in possession has established himself in the field of play, the whistle must be blown immediately. There is no wording in the rules on restarts regarding disadvantaging the defense. If the offensive player is on the move with the ball, the whistle should be blown immediately to initiate play.

a) Out of bounds restarts. The player that is awarded the ball must establish both possession of the ball and position in bounds with his feet. Once this has occurred, the whistle should be blown for restart. The player stepping on to the field should not be allowed a full free run from out of bounds; rather, the player must possess a ball and step in to the field of play to establish in bounds position. The player does not have to be at a complete stop, although he may be. The restart in most situations will be akin to a rolling stop when driving; analogous to slowing at a stop sign, and then accelerating through the intersection, a player should step in to the field and receive a whistle to accelerate back in to play.

b) Open field restarts. The defending player is required to provide a 5-yard cushion to the player in possession, or get out of the way. If the person picking up the ball is on a direct path to the goal, the burden is on the defender to gain the appropriate space (5-yards) or vacate his space in the offensive path up the field. On the other hand, if the ball carrier goes off path to intentionally draw contact, then the burden is not on the defender and play should continue. Offensive players who choose a path that takes them into a defending player forfeit the right to have a 5-yard buffer.

4) General questions about restarting play. Several questions have come up about the quick restart:

Question: What happens when the ball goes out of bounds near the substitution area?

Answer: The ball shall be restarted in the field of play, but at least five yards from the substitution area.

Question: Can officials delay the restart?

Answer: If the officials need to clarify a ruling with the crew, there is flexibility for the officials to delay the restart. This allowance should be rare and only when a clarification is needed that might impact play immediately (e.g., possession, crease call, etc.).

Question: On a play where the ball stays in bounds and there will be a quick restart, can a ball from off of the field of play be used for the restart?

Answer: No. Unless the ball clearly goes out of play (e.g., shot, out of bounds, etc.).

Question: Does a player need to come to a complete stop before starting play?

Answer: No. These situations were covered in the preseason video.

5) Stalling/Timer On situations. The new stalling procedure has also created several questions:

Question: Would a shot taken from behind the goal cage satisfy the timer on criteria?

Answer: Unless that shot results in a goal, the answer is no. A shot must be taken at or above the goal line extended to satisfy the criteria.

New Approved Ruling: A1 feeds the ball inside and the ball goes through towards the midline as the “Timer On” expires. This is a play-on situation. If Team A gains possession, it shall be an immediate whistle. Ball awarded to Team B at spot where whistle blew. If Team B gains possession, continue play.

New Approved Ruling: As game time is expiring, Team A has the lead and is in possession in offensive half of field. Player A1 throws the ball back to teammate A2 deep in defensive half of field. As the “Timer On” expires, A2 throws ball back down to offensive half of field. Mechanic:Immediate whistle to stop clock. Ball awarded to Team B at spot when whistle was sounded. This eliminates a significant advantage gained by Team A at a critical time in the game.

6) Slow whistle clarification. In some areas of the new rules book, the attack area was inadvertently In these situations, the slow whistle shall continue until:

1) The offending team gains possession;
2) The ball goes out of bounds; or
3) The offended team commits a violation.

7) Cross-check guidance. Several coaches and officials have requested clarification about the committee’s point of emphasis on cross-checking.

a) Any thrusting action with the crosse must be a penalty. This does not include a gloved hand.

b) Equal pressure is not a penalty by itself and is an important part of defensive technique.

c) For a penalty to be called in equal pressure situations it must be clear, flagrant and a distinct advantage must be gained by this action.

d) The penalty for this is a one-minute releasable penalty, unless it is in the head and neck area, which make it a one- to three-minute non-releasable penalty.

[GNH: I have altered this obvious typo from five to three minutes]

8) Clearing situation. In some cases, there has been confusion about transition situations and when the clearing aspect ends. Once a team gains possession anywhere on the field, that team has 30 seconds to gain the attack area. Once the team gains the attack area, if the ball returns to that team’s defensive end (with the exception of a deflection by the opposing team or a shot off of the goal pipe), the 30-second “Timer On” call shall occur. The only exception to this policy is if either team is man up or man down. The number of players involved in the transition play is irrelevant.

III. Conclusion.

The committee appreciates your attention to these clarifications and for your support of the new rules. Please continue to contact us with feedback and we will continue to refine things as needed. We plan to update the online rules book as soon as possible, but these new clarifications should be used immediately.


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