Rules of women's lacrosse

Women’s lacrosse rules of play

Women's lacrosse differs from men’s lacrosse in a number of ways, the main one being the lack of physical contact in the women’s game, meaning far less protective gear is required. As a non-contact game, this encourages greater skill, flair and finesse. Here are some of the basic rules of women's lacrosse for you to get your head around…

The basics of women’s lacrosse

Rules of women's lacrosse
  • Women’s lacrosse is a non-contact game played by 12 players: a goalkeeper, five attackers (first home, second home, third home, and two attack wings) and six defenders (center, two defensive wings, point, cover point, third man, and goalie.)
  • The object of the game is to shoot the ball into the opponent’s goal, with the team scoring the most goals winning.
  • A game consists of two halves, each being 30 minutes long (this can be shortened for younger age groups).
  • The pockets must be strung in the traditional way (not using mesh) and the top of the ball must be above the sidewall when it’s in the pocket, making stick handling and shooting more difficult in the women’s game.

Starting and playing a game of women’s lacrosse

  • Women’s lacrosse begins with a draw, with the ball placed between two horizontally held crosses (sticks) in the draw circle in the middle of the field. At the sound of the whistle, the ball is flung into the air as the crosses are pulled up and away. A draw is used to start each half and after each goal.
  • Field players may pass, catch or run with the ball in their crosse.
  • A player may gain possession of the ball by dislodging it from an opponent’s crosse with a check. A check is a controlled tap with a stick on an opponent’s crosse in an attempt to knock the ball free.
  • All legal checks must be directed away from an imaginary 7-inch (approximately 18cm) sphere or ‘bubble’ around the head of the player to avoid potential injury.
  • Rough checks and contact to the body with the stick or body are not allowed. 
  • When a whistle blows, all players must stop where they are. The players can only move again when the umpire blows the whistle and play restarts.

  • When a ball is ruled out of play, the player closest to the ball is given possession. Loss of possession results if a player deliberately runs or throws the ball out of play.
  • No player is allowed to touch the ball with her hands except the goalkeeper when she is within the goal circle. No players, other than the goalie, may enter the circle around the goal cage if the goalie is present.
  • If a player commits a foul, the umpire blows the whistle and stops play. The player fouled retains possession, while the player who fouled her is moved several yards behind or to the side of the player she fouled.
  • When a foul occurs, the player who was fouled is allowed a free shot at the goal, with the defence pushed to the perimeter around the arc.
  • A restraining line 30yd (27.5m) in front of each goal prevents all players being able to chase the ball all over the field. Only seven players (not goalies) are allowed between this line and the offensive goal, meaning that four players (plus the goalie) must be outside the line at all times. If this is not the case then you can call for off-side.

If you are still with us at this point then you’re doing well. Clearly, there’s quite a lot to get your head round when it comes to the rules of women's lacrosse, so we won’t overdose you by explaining about all the possible fouls there are in the game. All you need to know is the penalty for a foul is a ‘free position.’ Play is stopped and the offended player is given possession of the ball.

For very serious foul, the offending players can be issued with a yellow card and be forced to leave the field for 3 minutes. Further violations by the same player lead to a red card and dismissal. Best of luck playing ladies.

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