2020 changes: 10 boys’ rules changes approved by its Rules Committee

by Doug Bailey

The National Federation of State High School Associations announced a set of 10 boys’ rules changes approved by its Rules Committee.   Among the changes coming to boys high school lacrosse in the 2020 season — 

1.  a play may be restarted when a defensive player is within five yards of the player in possession of the ball.

The 10 rules changes were approved by the NFHS Board of Directors at the Rules Committee meeting July 15-17 in Indianapolis.

The most significant change might be that of Rule 4-22-1. Under the new rule, officials “will no longer wait for defensive players to position themselves more than 5 yards from the player in possession of the ball when restarting play.”

Both offensive and defensive players are still prohibited from being within five yards, but with two exceptions for defensive players. Those players standing within five yards of the player in possession will not receive a delay-of-game technical foul if he allows “the player a direct path to the goal” and he doesn’t defend the player until the player is five yards away from the defending player.

“This change allows for rapid restarts to increase pace of play while making the game more engaging,” said Dr. James Weaver, NFHS director of performing arts and sports and liaison to the NFHS Boys Lacrosse Rules Committee. “Additionally, the change balances technique between offense and defense.

How will we react to this rule? 

       -On defense we get back right away no matter what, we will work quickly to defend a 'numbers disadvantage' at all                          times.  We stop the opponent's number advantage at all times!

       -On restarts our offensive concern is not how fast we can get going, but do we have the personnel in the positions we                     want.   Our offensive mindset is be ready to create EMO from a 6 v 6 perspective, or take advantage of a fast break if               we are in position.

Among other rules changes coming to boys lacrosse in 2020: 

  • Shoulder pads designed for lacrosse must meet NOCSAE ND200 beginning January 2022. This change follows the rule change from 2019 which requires goalie chest protectors designed for lacrosse that meet the NOCSAE ND200 standard by January of 2021.  (No worries here just yet.)

  • An illegal crosse no longer levies a tiered penalty.  All illegal crosse penalties are two-minute, non-releasable and can be fixed before returning to play.

  • Throwing your lacrosse stick referenced in Rules 5-10 and 6-5-2, is now an infraction in all cases.Throwing the crosse at a ball, player or other game personnel is considered unsportsmanlike conduct, which is met with a one- to three-minute non-releasable penalty and in all other cases falls under illegal procedure.  
  • Under the Chief Bench Official’s (CBO) responsibilities in Rule 2-7-2, the CBO is no longer responsible for penalizing a team with too few players on the field. However, delayed substitutions — when a player gains an advantage by delaying entry onto the field — still fall under the CBO’s duties.
  • The committee eliminated three definitions under “Play of the Ball Definitions” in Rule 4-5 – ball in flight, team possession and completed pass, which were deemed to no longer be needed.
  • Changes to Rules 6-1-1 and 6-2-1 focus on streamlining changes made to the slow-whistle technique in Rule 7-8-2 over the past two seasons.
  • Finally, Rule 4-24 clarifies that a time-out for a player with symptoms consistent with a concussion is an official’s time-out, not a team time-out.
  • A complete listing of the boys lacrosse rules changes will be available on the NFHS website at www.nfhs.org. Click on “Activities & Sports” at the top of the home page and select “Lacrosse-Boys.”