Girls Lacrosse - An Overview

Girls lacrosse is a non-contact game played by 12 players: a goalkeeper, four defenders, four attackers, and three midfielders. Seven field players may cross the restraining line into the defense or attack ends of the field and four stay behind, not including the goalkeeper. The object of the game is to shoot the ball into the opponent's goal. The team scoring the most goals wins.

Girls and womens lacrosse begins with a draw, which is taken by the center position. The ball is placed between two horizontally held crosses (sticks), placed back-to-back, at the center of the field. At the sound of the whistle, the ball is flung into the air as the crosses are pulled up and away. The sticks must come up over the players' head. A draw is used to start each half and after each goal, and it takes place at the center of the field. Only five players from each team are permitted between restraining lines at the time of the draw. Once the signal for the draw occurs, the players behind each restraining line may cross over.

The collegiate game is 60 minutes long, with each half being 30 minutes. The high school girls game is 50 minutes long, with each half being 25 minutes. In both collegiate and high school play, teams are allowed two timeouts per game, only after a goal. The restraining line, a solid line 30 yards up field from each goal, extends across the width of the field. Solid/hard boundaries were added to the game in 2006. Total length can be from 110 to 140 yards, while total width can be from 60 to 70 yards. There must always be at least 10 yards of space between the goal line and the end line at each end of the field. There is a circle in the center of the field where the draw occurs. Two arcs are marked from the center of the goal line. The 8-meter arc with hash marks four meters away from each other bisect the arc. The 12-meter fan runs out from the goal line extended. Substitution area, used by both teams, is in front of the scorer's table and is indicated by two hash marks placed 5 yards on either side of the midfield line.

Seven attacking players only are allowed over the restraining line in their offensive end and only eight defenders are allowed over the line in their defensive end. The additional defender is the goalkeeper. Players may exchange places during play, but the player should have both feet over the line before the teammate enters.

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 controlled check (crosse to crosse contact) is an attempt to knock the ball free. No player may reach across an opponent's body to check the handle of a crosse when she is even with or behind that opponent. A player may not protect the ball in her crosse by cradling so close to her body or face so as to make a legal, safe check impossible for the opponent.

When a whistle blows, all players must stop in place. Rough checks, and contact to the body with the crosse or body, are not allowed, however, incidental body contact may occur. All legal checks must be directed away from the player with the ball and cannot come within a 7" sphere of the head. No player is allowed to touch the ball with her hands except the goalkeeper when she is within the goal circle. A change of possession may occur if a player gains a distinct advantage by playing the ball off her body.

Fouls are categorized as major or minor, and the penalty for fouls is a "free position." For major fouls, the offending player is placed four meters behind the player taking the free position. For a minor foul, the offending player is placed four meters off, in the direction from which she approached her opponent before committing the foul, and play is resumed.

When a minor foul is committed in the 12-meter fan, the player with the ball has an indirect free position, in which case the player must pass first or be checked by an opponent before the team may shoot.

A slow whistle occurs when the offense has entered the critical scoring area and is on a scoring play and the defense has committed a major foul. A flag is displayed in the air but no whistle is sounded so that the offense has an opportunity to score a goal. If the offense is capable of getting a shot off, the flag is withdrawn. A whistle is blown when a goal is scored or the scoring opportunity is over. An immediate whistle is blown when a major foul, obstruction or shooting space occurs, which jeopardizes the safety of a player.

The Youth Council of US Lacrosse has adopted rules for girls youth play. To get a complete copy of the rules for girls' lacrosse, please visit the US Lacrosse online store.







Center: The center's responsibility is to control the draw and play both defense and attack. She should have speed and endurance.

Midfielders: The midfielders (middies) are responsible for transitioning the ball from defense to attack and for slowing the opposing team’s transition. Middies should have speed and endurance and be ready to receive the ball from the defense and run or pass the ball.



First Home: The first home's responsibility is to score. Located in front of the goal, the first home must continually cut toward the goal for a shot, or cut away from the goal to make room for another player. She should have excellent stick work.

Second Home: The second home is considered the playmaker. She should be able to shoot well from every angle and distance from the goal.

Third Home: The third home's responsibility is to transition the ball from defense to attack. She should be able to feed the ball to other players and fill in wing areas.

Attack Wing: The attack wing is responsible for bringing the ball into the attack area. She plays like a middie but cannot play on the defensive end. She helps the middies transition the ball from defense to attack. Wings should have speed and endurance and be ready to receive the ball from the defense and run or pass to the attack. They may also be involved in the first line of defense.



Goalkeeper: The goalkeeper's leads the defense. Her primary responsibility is to protect the goal. She also directs the other defensive players and communicates the opponent’s movements to her team. She should have good stick work, courage, and confidence.

Point: The point's responsibility is to mark first home. She should be able to stick check and look to intercept passes.

Coverpoint: The coverpoint's responsibility is to mark second home. She should be able to receive clears, run fast and have good footwork.

Third Man: The third man's responsibility is to mark third home. She should be able to intercept passes, clear the ball, run fast and have good footwork.

Defense Wing: The defense wing is responsible for marking the attack wings. She plays like a middie but cannot play on the attack end. She helps the middies slow the opponent’s transition from defense to attack. Wings should have speed and endurance and be ready to be the first line of defense. They may also be involved in the transition to attack.


Glossary of Terms in the Game

An area between the two team benches used to hold players who have been served with penalties, and through which substitutions "on the fly" are permitted directly from the sideline onto the field.

A call given by the goalie to tell each defender to find his mark and call out her number.

Clearing or Transition:
Running or passing the ball from the defensive half of the field to the offensive half of the field.

A circle around the goal into which only defensive players (usually just the goalie) may enter. Defensive players may not take the ball into the crease.

Crosse (stick):
The equipment used to throw, catch and carry the ball.

A technique used to put the ball in play at the start of each half, or after a goal is scored. The players stand together in the middle of the field and the ball is placed between their crosses. On the whistle, the ball must be thrown above the heads of the players.

A transition scoring opportunity in which the offense has at least a one-player advantage.

Ground Ball:
A loose ball on the playing field.

Handle (shaft):
An aluminum, wooden or composite pole connected to the head of the crosse.

The plastic or wood part of the stick connected to the handle used to catch, throw and shoot.

Restraining Line:
The lines which define the field of play into three sections.

On-The-Fly Substitution:
A substitution made during play.

An offensive maneuver in which a stationary player attempts to block the path of a defender guarding another offensive player.

Slow Whistle:
If a player commits a foul and an offended player may be disadvantaged by the immediate suspension of play, the official shall display a yellow flag in her hand and withhold the whistle until such time as the situation of advantage, gained or lost, has been completed.

The strung part of the head of the stick which holds the ball.

The act of trying to prevent a team from clearing the ball from their defensive end to their offensive end of the field.

The term used by an official to notify a penalized player in the box that she may re-enter the game occurs at the conclusion at a time-serving penalty.

Unsettled Situation:
Any situation in which the defense is not positioned correctly, usually due to a loose ball or broken clear.