NFHS Updates Rules for 2023 High School Girls Lacrosse Season

August 2, 2022 / Athletic AdministrationCoachingLacrosse
The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) recently shared its rule changes to high school girls lacrosse for the 2023 season.

In total, seven changes were proposed and approved by the NFHS Board of Directors, including pace of play, and amendments regarding play in the critical scoring area and around the goal.

lacrosseBelow is an excerpt from the NFHS press release on the rule changes.

“The game of high school girls lacrosse has changed dramatically over the last few years,” said Lindsey Atkinson, NFHS director of sports/communications associate and liaison to the NFHS Girls Lacrosse Committee. “The additions of self-starts and free movement have created opportunities for the committee to align game administration rules with the increased pace of play.”

Two changes covering Rules 5-4-1, 5-4-5, 9-1 and 10-1 amend procedures to restarting play via self-start. When play is stopped for a foul outside the critical scoring area, the player fouled will now be allowed to take the free position and commence play within 4 meters – no longer within playing distance. For fouls by the attacking team in the critical scoring area, self-start is now an option for the defensive player awarded the free position unless the game clock is stopped.

Two other changes to Rule 5 modify how a draw is conducted and alternate possession is determined. The change to Rule 5-2-5d establishes that players may not step on or over the restraining lines after the official’s hand is in contact with the sticks at the draw until the restraining line is released regardless of number of players between the restraining lines. Rule 5-5-1f was amended to eliminate alternate possession for offsetting fouls when a card is issued for one of the fouls – applying a more appropriate penalty for a carded offense.

“The committee made it a priority to address rules that created an unfair advantage for either the offense or defense,” Atkinson said.

The goalkeeper may now carry the ball into the goal circle after it has been cleared (passed or carried out of the goal circle) and played (left the player’s crosse and touched by another player or crosse is checked crosse to crosse by an opposing player or play is stopped due to a foul by an opponent), according to an amended Rule 7-1-2c. This provides another option for the goalkeeper to return to the goal circle with the ball.

Continuing the focus on the area around the goal, the administration of a free position for a three-second violation has been amended in a change to Rule 10-1y PENALTIES. Now, if the ball is outside the critical scoring area and above the goal line extended when the defense is called for a three-second violation, the free position will be administered at the 12-meter fan instead of at the spot of the ball.

The final major rule change focused on the method of checking the pocket depth of the crosse by game officials. To ensure consistency, officials will ensure the top of the ball remains above the top of the wooden or plastic sidewall after the ball has been dropped into the front and back of the pocket on a horizontally held crosse. Previously, the rule instructed officials to apply pressure to the ball, before releasing it on both the front and back face of the pocket.

The lone major editorial change replaces references to “slow whistle” with the terms “held whistle” or “flag” for clarity.

A complete listing of the girls lacrosse rules changes will be available on the NFHS website at Click on “Activities & Sports” at the top of the home page and select “Lacrosse-Girls.”