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Six Rules Every Boys' Lacrosse Coach Should Know

Coaches and officials need to work together for the benefit of the players, and the buck stops with the head coach when addressing problem behavior.

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) boys’ lacrosse rulebook is 92 pages long — some of them containing language that would make an act of Congress comparably easier to understand.

Coaching lacrosse represents an equally significant undertaking. Coaches must plan practices, manage players and parents, prepare for games and, yes, know the rules. And that’s a non-inclusive list of duties.

Competency in the rules goes a long way towards properly teaching the sport and developing players, but in a split-second during the game when emotions often run high, it’s reasonably more on us to be the rules expert.

That said, coaches that have a firm grasp on these six NFHS rules will find themselves and their teams more successful on gameday.


By the Book
Rule 1.11.1: “The pregame equipment certification by the head coach shall act as the team warning. The head coach shall certify to the referee before the game that all players are properly equipped and that all mandatory equipment will be worn properly.”

The Skinny
When the referee certifies you at the start of the game, this confirms that you know your players’ equipment and crosses are legal. Take the time, or make the time, to inspect their crosses and equipment to avoid unnecessary penalties.


By the Book
Rule 4.4.2: “[After the whistle for a faceoff] all other players are confined to their areas until a player of either team has gained possession of the ball.”

The Skinny
Players may be inside or outside of the box as long as they stay under the restraining line. You can have a player in the alley ready to be an outlet for your faceoff player.


By the Book
Rule 7.9.1 & 2: “A player committing a personal foul shall be suspended from the game for the designated penalty time, regardless of whether a goal is scored [...] If a goal is scored after a slow whistle on a technical foul, no penalty is given; if a goal is not scored, the penalty is suspension from the game for 30 seconds.”

The Skinny
Flag down for a personal + goal scored = penalty is served, man-down faceoff.
Flag down for a technical + goal scored = penalty wiped off, all-even faceoff.


By the Book
Rule 4.22.1: “Play may be resumed immediately if a player of the team awarded the ball is in position outside the goal area, and the officials are in position to officiate the restart. (Article 3) No restart shall take place with any player within 5 yards of the ball carrier.”

The Skinny
Train your players to fulfill these three requirements in order to get a quick restart:
• Have the ball and be in bounds.
• Be stationary.
• Have no teammates within 5 yards.

If your ball handler and his teammates satisfy these requirements, then the official is able to restart play quickly.


By the Book
Rule 4.21.6: “Players may enter the field of play from the substitution area under the following conditions: (b) the player may not enter the substitution area until his substitution is imminent. (e) the substitute must always yield his position to any player exiting the field.”

The Skinny
The substitution box is the demilitarized zone. Players can enter and exit, but they cannot stay indefinitely. A clean substitution box leads to clean substitutions, and helps the officials be more accurate on offside calls.


By the Book
Rule 2.3.3: “Head coaches shall be in control of and responsible for the actions of all non-playing members of their squad, and any and all persons officially connected with the school.”

The Skinny
Coaches and officials need to work together for the benefit of the players, and the buck stops with the head coach when addressing problem behavior. If the officials ask you to silence an assistant coach or to calm a problem fan down, then you are duty-bound to assist in maintaining a positive atmosphere.

Know these six rules and you’re better prepared for a game than a coach that doesn’t.

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