Rule 4—Play of the Game
Pre-possession faceoff violations
Under NFHS rules and youth rules, if there is any non-time-serving foul by Team B prior before a faceoff begins (e.g., delay of game, moved early) or after the faceoff begins but prior to possession (e.g., wing-line violation, loose-ball push or hold, restraining line violation), Team A is awarded possession in its offensive end. At the U13 and higher level, a 10-second count starts with the whistle to restart play.
This is different from the college rule, where play is restarted where the ball was when play stopped.
Offside and advantage
In general, the principle of advantage/disadvantage does not apply to line calls. If a player steps on the crease circle, the sideline, the end line, or the midfield line, officials should not attempt to determine if an advantage has been gained:
SITUATION: B1 is clearing and being chased by A1. A1 tries to stop before going over midfield but steps on the midfield line and then stops. RULING: Flag down for offside.
There is confusion about this stemming from an incorrect press release about the NFHS rules changes for 2012. That press release said something about not being offside if no advantage is gained. But if you look at the actual rules and not the press release, you see that it talks specifically about a team not gaining an advantage by being offside due to players off the field of play due to subbing or stepping out of bounds (this was really a clarification and did not change the way things were already called).
For example, suppose Team A has 7 on its defensive end and 3 (A1, A2, and A3) on its offensive end. A1 subs out and A4 subs in. For a second, Team A had too few on its offensive end—technically offside based on fewer than 3 players in that end—but no advantage was gained, so there is no foul. Of course, if the substitution is delayed and an advantage is gained, it is now a sub infraction or, if deliberate, a releasable USC.
Possession carrying over from period to period
If there is an uneven penalty situation (e.g., the two teams have different numbers of players serving penalties) when the period ends and one team is in possession, that team will start the next period in possession unless there are fouls between periods. This holds whether the team in possession is man-up or man-down. Contrary to popular belief, this is true wherever the ball is on the field: it does not need to be in the attack area.
The ball starts at the same relative position on the field (the teams will most likely change ends except to start OT), but a ball in the attack area when play stopped moves laterally out of the attack area.
If the period ends with an even penalty situation or a flag down creating an even penalty situation, possession does not carry over (this is a 2010 NFHS rule change).
Possession at end of period in a running-time game
In a running-time game, if a team is due possession and the clock runs out during a dead ball, that's the same as the team ending the period with possession. This holds in all JV and lower-level games as well as in a varsity game with the 12-goal differential in effect. Thus, possession carries over if the penalty situation is uneven.
Crease violations when a goal is scored
There are three main possibilities:
- The ball goes into goal, then offensive player steps into the crease: goal is good.
- The offensive player steps into the crease, then ball goes into goal: no goal.
- The player deliberately leaves his feet by jumping or diving, then lands in the crease: no goal regardless of when the ball entered the goal. (There are some exceptions if the offensive player is contacted by the defense while in the air.)
Crease violation with clearing team in possession
If clearing team player B1 (not necessarily the goalie) has possession of the ball in the crease and there is a crease violation, it's a play-on. The play-on ends when the goalie runs or successfully passes the ball out of the crease. If he does neither, it's a free clear. This is not a time-serving penalty.
If clearing team player B1 (doesn't have to be the goalie) has possession of the ball outside the crease and there is a crease violation, it's a flag down technical foul. This is a time-serving penalty (unless a goal is scored on the play).
Non-goalie in the crease
The practice of having a defenseman stand in the goal when the goalie is caught out of the crease is strongly discouraged for safety reasons. However, there is currently no rule preventing this practice.
Shot out of bounds
If the ball goes out of bounds on a shot and the momentum of the initial shot is what carries the ball out of bounds, it is awarded to the team with an in-bounds player whose body is closest to the ball when it breaks the plane of the end line or sideline. The location of the stick has no bearing on this. It does not matter who touches the ball last—even if the touch occurs behind the goal—as long as they are not adding impetus to the ball. Only the officials determine whether it is a shot or a pass.
Too few men on the field
It is illegal to have too many or too few players on the field. See NFHS 4.22 Situation B, NFHS 6-5-2-f, NFHS 5-10-1-f, NFHS 4-24-2-d, and NFHS 6-5-2-j. In some cases, 4.11.3 Situation can come into play here.
NFHS Rule 4-9 details the situations in which a goal is disallowed. In general, if it is not covered in this section there must be an extraordinarily good reason for disallowing a goal.
In most cases, a foul must be recognized before the goal to disallow the goal. However, in some situations, a foul by the attacking team recognized after the goal will disallow the goal. These include:
- Too many men on the field (more than 10 total on field and serving penalties).
- Offside by the attacking team.
- A player from the attacking team releases early from a penalty.
- The crosse of the scoring player is determined to be illegal before the next live ball.
- The scoring player adjusts the strings after scoring a goal and before the official can request the crosse.
- The scoring player adjusts the crosse after the official asks for it.
- An attacking deliberately leaves his feet by jumping or diving and lands in the crease before or after the ball enters the goal.
Regular substitution in stop-time games
After a sideline horn, a goal, a timeout, or the reporting of a time-serving penalty, teams have 20 seconds to sub (timed by the officials’ belt timers) and can go through the table area or the coaches box. They need not wait for their teammates to leave the field first. If a team has too many or too few players on the field when the timer beeps, they are guilty of illegal procedure (change of possession or a 30-second penalty, depending on who is due possession). [See NFHS Situation 4.22-B]
A horn for regular substitution is allowed on any out-of-bounds ball on the sideline (e.g., shot, pass, player in possession steps out, loose ball is kicked out) but not on an end line out-of-bounds ball or a technical foul (e.g., playing from out of bounds). The determining factor is not “shot or pass” it’s “sideline or end line.”
Calling for a horn and not subbing any players
Contrary to popular belief, it is not an automatic technical foul to call for a horn and not sub any players.
Typically, if that happened once in a game the coach calling for the horn would be warned to only call for the horn if he intended to sub. If it happened repeatedly to slow down the game, it could be construed as delay of game or, in extreme cases, unsportsmanlike conduct.
Regular substitution in running-time games
After a goal, a timeout, or the reporting of a time-serving penalty, teams have 20 seconds to sub and can go through the table area or the coaches box. They need not wait for their teammates to leave the field first.
There are no sideline horns allowed in JV and lower-level games because of the running clock. Dead-ball subs in the situations not covered above must be done on the fly and through the sub area (one off, one on).
Playing on the ground
Although many players and coaches seem to believe that it is a penalty for a player to participate while on the ground, that is not a rule. It is, however, illegal to body check a player who has any body part on the ground other than his feet (stick checking the opponent is still legal if the opponent is on the ground).
Equipment inspections in varsity games
Officials should conduct four inspections per team per game. The player’s crosse and all of his protective equipment must be inspected. These are to be done at random dead-ball times, such as after a goal, during a timeout, or before a face-off.
When a violation is discovered, the officials should explain to the head coach what the violation is but should not demonstrate the measurement or test.
Equipment checks in JV, U15, U13, U11, and U9 games
By rule, the officials must check the protective equipment and crosse of at least one player per team per half. Because of the running clock in JV games, we do these checks in stopped-clock situations (between periods, during timeouts) so we do not use up game time (as opposed to varsity games where the clock is stopped when we check sticks after goals, before face-offs, and during timeouts).
In 7/8 and lower games, typically the officials will only check protective gear, pocket depth and rollout except as described in the Minnesota Youth Rules Variations document.
These checks are not optional. If the officials are not doing these checks, please inform the assigner.
Playing without a crosse
A field player playing without a crosse or with a broken crosse is an illegal procedure technical foul (may be possession or 30 seconds, depending on who had possession when the foul occurred). It may be a play-on or a flag down, depending on the situation, but the officials will stop play immediately if the broken crosse creates a dangerous situation.
If a goalie loses his crosse, the same rules apply, but play must be stopped immediately for a broken goalie crosse.
Loss of equipment
Under NFHS rules, if a player loses required equipment other than the crosse in a scrimmage area, we kill the play and give the ball back to the team that had it or award by AP if the ball was loose. This is not a technical foul under NCAA rules.
If a player intentionally loses equipment to, say, stop a fast break, we kill the play but assess a USC penalty.
This is not to be confused with not wearing required protective equipment (e.g., no shoulder pads, mouth guard is not all the way in the mouth and the officials didn’t see it come out as a result of the play), which is a 1:00 NR equipment penalty (but not an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty).
There is no goalie interference when the ball is loose and an offensive player checks the portion of the goalie’s crosse that is outside the crease. A clamped ball is not in possession, and if the goalie clamps a loose ball outside the crease his stick may still be checked outside the crease.
If there is an injured player, the officials will call an officials’ timeout. If the injury does not appear to be serious and the player is not in a scrimmage area, the officials may wait to stop play until an imminent scoring opportunity is completed or, if the ball is loose, for a team to gain possession before stopping play. However, officials should err on the side of stopping play sooner rather than later.
Once the officials stop play, they should call the trainer and/or head coach onto the field to attend to the player. Officials should no touch or try to treat the player themselves. They will let the trainer and/or coaches know they have as much time as they need to deal with the player. Officials should never rush an injured player off the field.
For varsity games, each team gets two timeouts per half and one per overtime period. They do not carry over from half to half or OT period to OT period. Timeouts taken between periods are charged to the preceding period.
Situation: Team A has possession and calls timeout. They run to the huddle and then, as soon as Team B is in the huddle, Team A runs back onto the field and tells the officials they are ready, hoping to catch Team B for a delay of game penalty. Ruling: Timeouts last for up to two minutes, but when the team calling the timeout is ready to play the other team must be summoned back to the field and will have 20 seconds to get back. In this situation, the proper mechanic is for the nearest official to go to Coach B, to make sure he understands that the timeout is over, to call the teams back to the field, and then to start the 20-second timer.
In almost every case, stepping on a field marking puts you into another area of the field. For example:
- Stepping on the attack-area line ends the 10-second count if you are outside the attack area. However, if you are inside the attack area and are warned for stalling, stepping on the line with possession puts you outside the attack area (creating a stalling violation).
- Stepping on the midfield line is enough to make a player offside, regardless of which end of the field he is coming from.
- Stepping on the sideline puts a player out of bounds, but a substitute stepping on the sideline puts him on the field.
The exception is the crease circle, which is always part of the crease area.
A wing-line violation during a face-off can be a (short) play-on under NFHS rules.
Pulling the goalie
SITUATION: Team A will be restarting with possession in its offensive end. (1) Team B places its goalie and two attackmen on the other end of the field and places 4 long-stick defenders and 3 short-stick defenders in its defensive end (2) Team B removes the goalie from the field and replaces him with a short-stick defender. RULING: (1) Legal play. (2) Illegal. Both teams must have a legally-equipped goalie on the field at all times (except momentarily if subbing on the fly). Team B must have a legally-equipped goalkeeper on the field within the required time frame or they will be assessed a delay-of-game technical foul.