Upper Midwest Lacrosse Officials Association

Upper Midwest Lacrosse Officials

Rule 4—Play of the Game


Ball in back of crosse

There is no rule prohibiting a player from carrying the ball in the back of his crosse, and doing so constitutes possession. However, if the ball is stuck, that is withholding the ball from play and results in a turnover if it occurs during a face-off or any other time during the game.

An official seeing the ball defy gravity at any point or seeing the ball stay in the stick when the player attempts to throw or shake the ball out is grounds for determining that the ball is "stuck." If the player makes a non-lacrosse move that looks like it is intended to dislodge a stuck ball (e.g., slamming the head of the stick into the ground, kicking the stick, hitting the stick with the free arm), this is taken as an admission that the ball was stuck.

On a faceoff, by rule the ball must be out of the back of the head within 1 step.


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.


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. 


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

A non-goalkeeper may not be in the crease for the purpose of blocking shots or acting like a goalkeeper. The first offense for a team is illegal procedure, and the second is a releasable USC foul.

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.


Goal disallowed

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

After a goal, a timeout, or the reporting of a time-serving penalty, teams have 20 seconds to sub (timed by the officials’ belt timers) in all games (running time or stop time) 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]


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 and lower-level 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, 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 14U 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 as it is 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 other than the mouthguard (e.g., no shoulder pads), which is a 1:00 NR equipment penalty (but not an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty). A mouthguard that is not properly worn (or missing) is a technical foul.


Goalie interference

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.


Injured players

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.


Trick timeout

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.


Wing-line violations

A wing-line violation during a face-off can be a (short) play-on under NFHS rules.