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NFHS Boy's Penalties


Lacrosse has some of the most complicated rules in all sports.  So, before you go off and start chewing out an official, please read this section!  It is meant to give a general overview of typical penalties. 



Enforcement of lacrosse penalties may seem very confusing.  Sometimes the officials throw a flag, sometimes they raise their hand and appear to do nothing, and other times they take the ball away from one team and award it to another.  This is because adjudication of penalties depends on who has possession of the ball, who is entitled to possession of the ball, and what type of rule infraction was witnessed.

Lacrosse has two types of fouls: personal and technical.  It is not the same as in basketball though.  In lacrosse, technical fouls are less severe and generally do not involve a safety concern.  Personal fouls are more serious in nature and usually involve player safety issues.



In general, when you see a flag thrown by an official, someone is going to be sent to the penalty area for a period of time (30 seconds or 1-3 minutes).  This will cause the offending team to be “man down” and give the opposing team a “man up” (think power play in hockey).  Penalties are released when a goal is scored by the “man up” team unless the official has signaled that the penalty will be non-releasable.  In that case, the player will be required to serve the full penalty time, regardless of goals scored.


At times, an official may raise one hand and call out “PLAY ON”.  Usually this happens when the official has seen a technical foul and the ball is not in possession by either team.  The official will raise their hand and let play continue for a bit to see if the offended team can gain possession, if they do, the official will simply drop their hand without any further action.  If the offended team does not gain possession, or it appears they will not easily gain possession (i.e. scrum for the ball), they will blow their whistle and give the ball to the offended team.


 Personal Fouls (generally a 1-3 minute penalty)


Unsportsmanlike Conduct

 Any action by a player/coach which the official feels does not fall in line with the spirit of the game of lacrosse.  Such actions include, but are not limited to: entering into an argument with an official, using threatening or profane language, or taunting an opponent.




Unnecessary Roughness

 An excessively violent infraction of the rules.  For example: purposefully “blowing through” a legal screen set by an opposing player.





Illegal Body Check

The checking of an opponent: who is not in possession of the ball or within 5 yards of a loose ball, checking from the rear or below the waist, or initiating contact above the shoulders.






This is the most often penalty assessed in lacrosse.  Slashing is swinging a crosse at an opponent’s crosse or body with deliberate viciousness or reckless abandon.  What’s important to remember, is that even if the crosse swung “gets stick” (meaning stick-to-stick contact), it can still be a slash.  There is no such thing as an ‘as long as he gets stick, it’s not a slash’ rule.







Obstructing an opponent below the waist with the crosse, hands, arms, legs, or feet.





Illegal Crosse

Officials will conduct random “stick checks” during the game to ensure no player is gaining an unfair advantage with their stick.  Coaches can also call for a limited number of stick checks during the game.  Depending on the type of stick infraction, penalties range from a “fix-it ticket” (the player is sent off the field to make necessary adjustments) to a three minute non-releasable penalty.




 No player may check their opponent with the portion of their crosse that is between their hands.