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Commonly Misunderstood Youth Lacrosse Rules

Misunderstood Youth Lacrosse Rules

As parents and kids learn the game of lacrosse together, there can be some confusion along the way. After you both figure out how to put on elbow pads correctly, learn to master four commonly misunderstood youth lacrosse rules that are a part of every game.

Master these 4 Key Youth Lacrosse Rules


In youth lacrosse, stick checking is an attempt to dislodge the ball from an opponent’s stick. This practice is legal, according to youth lacrosse rules. However, checking something other than an opponent’s stick is not.

Slashing is defined as: “swinging a crosse at an opponent’s crosse or body with deliberate viciousness or reckless abandon, regardless of whether the opponent’s crosse or body is struck,” according to the National Federation of State High School Associations’ rulebook.

For example, a check to the helmet is considered slashing. However, a stick check to an opponent’s gloved hand, when they are holding the ball, is legal.

The contact must be a “strike” or a “blow” to be considered a slash. Otherwise, it is referred to as a “brush,” which is not a penalty.

Slashing is a one- to three-minute penalty depending on severity and intent. Checks to the head or neck are a two- to three-minute, non-releasable foul.

Penalties for excessive hits to the head and neck, as well as penalties for hits to defenseless players and blindside hits, are points of emphasis in youth lacrosse rules this year.


Off-sides is a common youth lacrosse penalty, which results in a loss of possession.

A team is considered off-side when it has:

  • More than six players in its offensive half of the field (including players in the penalty box).
  • More than seven players in its defensive half of the field (including players in the penalty box).

Midfielders are not the only players who can cross the center line. For example, if a middie remains on the defensive side, then a defender can cross on to the offensive side. The same rule applies for attackmen.

A team is not off-side when:

  • A player is pushed over the line from behind.
  • A player reaches on-or-over the center line with his crosse.
  • A player runs out of bounds instead of going off-side.


Lacrosse is a physical sport but there are protections in place for player contact. While not commonly understood, youth lacrosse rules for holding are another way the game protects its players.

Youth lacrosse players may not:

  • Hold an opponent with their stick.
  • Step on an opponent’s crosse.
  • Hold an opponent with their free hand.
  • Hold an opponent’s stick using any part of their body.
  • Hold or pin an opponent’s crosse on the ground during a faceoff.

However, holding is permitted under these conditions:

  • If the opponent has possession of the ball or is within three yards of a loose ball, they may be held from the front or side.
  • An opponent who has the ball may be played with a hold check from the rear if the hold exerts no more than equal pressure on their opponent.
  • If a player has possession of the ball or is within three yards of a loose ball, an opponent may hold that player’s stick with his own.


Warding is commonly misunderstood to newbies, because it is specific to the game of lacrosse.

The official definition is: “A player in possession of the ball shall not use his free hand or arm or any other part of his body to hold, push or control the direction of the movement of the crosse or body of the player applying the check.”

For example, an offensive player who is holding their stick in one hand may not push the defender away with their other arm.

Whether you are on the field or in the stands, understanding these four important rules will help you better follow and enjoy the fastest game on two feet!

Last modified: June 16, 2022