Basic Box Lacrosse Rules

Updated Thursday April 21, 2016 by NMLA.


Although Box Lacrosse looks similar to Hockey & is played in the same setting (arena, without ice of course) it really is more like Basketball – below are some guidelines to introduce new people to Lacrosse:

  • Unlike Hockey, the Game of Lacrosse involves a full TEAM offence & defence - there are NO Defensemen in Lacrosse!
  • The 5 players are referred to as Left Crease (like Left Wing in Hockey), Left Corner (like Left Defense), Right Crease (Right Wing), Right Corner (Right Defense) & Point (Centre).
  • Like Basketball, there is no offside or icing - this keeps the pace of the game moving very quickly! - there are rules, regulations & features that are unique to Lacrosse & most of these are used in City League - many other rules are the same as in Hockey – ignore any Hockey markings that may be on the arena floor like blue lines or the red line.
  • When one team offends & no penalty is called, the other team is awarded possession; i.e. if a player shoots or bounces the ball out of bounds the other team is given possession - a whistle signifies the stoppage & re-starting of play – there must be 2 whistles in each such sequence – the first whistle you hear stops the play & play ALWAYS re-starts with another whistle – these may occur very quickly in sequence.
  • There is almost always a face-off after a goal unless a penalty occurs during the stoppage in play after the goal - after a penalty, or when the ball strikes the goalie in the helmet area, there will be change of possession only, & not a face off.
  • In the Paperweight division, a defensive player may occupy a space to prevent an offensive player from entering. The defensive player may place their stick on an opponent, but they are not to push or check with their stick.
  • Checking from behind (CFB) is dealt with severely as it is one of the leading potential injury factors - checking is an important part of the game but CFB & violent checks into the boards are strictly enforced.
  • High Sticking (HS) is another area of confusion for parents - "Incidental" contact with the opposing player, including the helmet, by an opposing player's stick is not automatically a penalty! - it is a Referee's judgment call & Refs are instructed to ignore “Incidental” contact which is illegal contact that has no effect on the play – Lacrosse is a fast game & every effort is made to “let them play” & “keep the game moving” – Hockey today is dominated by Face Offs while Lacrosse has very few & is a fast “possession” game much more like Basketball WITHOUT all those annoying Time-Outs! – there are no team Time-Outs in City League Lacrosse & only one (1) in minor All-Star.
  • In Minor Lacrosse, unlike in the NLL, heavy slashing is NOT permitted - a player may NOT strike an opponent with that portion of the stick NOT held between the hands - only stick to stick contact is allowed - swinging the stick with one hand often leads to a penalty as a player must always be “in control” of his stick & is penalized if the Ref deems that he isn’t “in control”.
  • If a player ducks into an opposing player's legal Crosscheck, it is not a penalty unless it is from behind - proper Crosschecking in Lacrosse is both legal & a very important & proper method of checking.
  • Players, or Goalies out of their crease, will be penalized if they catch the ball in their hand - if they just contact it with the hand it is possession to the other team.
  • Face-Offs are taken with the open face of the stick facing your own net - the ball must come out of the 2' small face-off circle before any other players can cross the restraining lines - an offence against this does not cause another face-off as in Hockey (remember we minimize face-offs in Lacrosse), it results in possession to the other team.
  • A player with the ball cannot push off with his free hand or arm - if he does, possession is awarded to the other team – also you can check an offensive player, whether he has the ball or not - however, checking of an offensive player, who does not have the ball, is restricted to the area within the dotted lines at PeeWee & below, & if you are on the offensive team you cannot check back, you must take the checking without aggressively responding - any response or checking by a member of the team who has possession (within proximity of the ball) may result in loss of possession as minor interference, called a “moving pick” – interference away from the ball, that is not considered a “moving pick” is either ignored if it does not affect the play or is called an Interference Penalty – under no circumstances can it be deemed to be minor interference with a possession change.
  • The ball can be kicked but not directly into the net for a goal.
  • When a change of possession occurs, the player awarded possession must be given at least 9 feet of room by the defending player until the whistle signifies restarting of play - the player may pass or run with the ball when the whistle to restart play is signaled.
  • If 2 players are going after a loose ball they must play the ball & not check the other player until he has possession -  neither new players nor parents adapt to this rule very quickly! – the principle of “equal shoulder contact” is observed.
  • Another big difference between Hockey & Lacrosse involves the Goal Crease - if you go into the other team's crease with the ball, to shoot or cut thru it, you lose possession - if you encroach on the other team’s crease without the ball & do not affect the Goalie & do not affect the play then nothing is called - if you go thru the other team's crease to make a check or you interfere with the Goalie while he is in his crease, it results in a penalty - if you are pushed into the crease you are OK but you must make every effort to get out ASAP.
  • When defending your own net you can never pass the ball back to your own crease - your Goalie or player has 5 seconds to get the ball out of the crease after stopping & gaining control of it (at younger ages in C/L this rule is enforced leniently as the primary aspect of C/L is education not penalization – the Goalie must have both feet out to be considered out & once out, he or any other player, cannot go back in or through while in possession of the ball – any contact with the Goal Line is “IN” the crease - you can pass to the Goalie as much as you want if he is out of the crease - the Goalie in Lacrosse can function just like any other player - there is no centre red line for off-side purposes & a Goalie can go anywhere on the floor.

‚ÄčThese rules will be enforced with the idea of teaching the kids! – a Referee's judgment is an important factor & is guided by Board policy, Referee-in-Chief’s directions & Conveners' guidance - any violent hitting or infractions are intended to be strictly enforced.