Lacrosse 101: Girls

UpdatedSaturday July 25, 2015 byPG Pride.

Girls’ lacrosse is a non-contact game played by 12 players: a goalkeeper, three attackers, five midfielders, and three defenders. Seven field players may cross the restraining line and four stay behind. Younger age groups may play 7-on-7 and play on a reduced-size field.

The object of the game is to shoot the ball into the opponent’s goal. The team scoring the most goals wins. Field players may pass, catch or run with the ball in their stick. Rough checks and contact to the body with the stick or body are not allowed. Fouls are categorized as major or minor, and the penalty for fouls is a "free position."


The figure shows the girls’ lacrosse field layout, including the restraining lines, goals (triangles), goal creases, 8 meter arcs, 12 meter fans, and center circle. A regulation field is approximately 110 x 60 yards, though many youth games are played on a smaller field.

For an explanation of terms, see the glossary page.

Play of the Game

Generally, a game is divided into two twenty-five minute halves, with a five minute break at halftime (may be different for younger teams). Each half begins at the center circle with a “draw” between two opposing players.

  • The ball is “dead” when the umpire blows the whistle and no player, except the goalkeeper within the goal circle, may move unless directed by the umpire, until the game has been restarted. The umpire directs any player who moves to return to her original position.
  • A team must not: (a) have more than 7 players on or over the restraining line in their offensive end; (b) have more than 8 players on or over the restraining line in their defensive end. Breaking this rule is referred to as “off-sides”.
  • Only one player, either the goalkeeper or the person deputizing for her, is allowed in the goal circle at any one time.The goalkeeper while within the goal circle must clear the ball within ten seconds after it has entered the goal circle.
  • Each team may substitute an unlimited number of players at any time during play (including overtime), after every goal and at halftime.
  • When the ball goes out of bounds, the umpire blows the whistle to stop play and the players must “stand”. Except in the case of a shot or deflected shot on goal, when a player in possession of the ball carries or propels the ball out of bounds or when a player is the last to touch a loose ball before the ball goes out of bounds, the opponents will be awarded the ball when play resumes.
  • Generally, leagues modify rules, including to require a minimum number of passes before a goal may be scored.
  • If a player commits a foul, the umpire blows the whistle and play stops.  The player fouled wins or retains the ball, while the player who fouled her is moved several yards behind or to the side of the player she fouled, resulting in a free position for that player. Fouls can be major or minor (see below).

Major Fouls

3-Seconds (within 8m Arc): Defense cannot stand within the 8m Arc for more than 3-seconds without closely guarding an Attack player (within one stick length).

Blocking: You must allow the player with the ball enough room to stop or change direction.

Charging: If Defense has already establish her position, the player with the ball cannot push or shoulder through her so there is bodily contact.

Dangerous Propelling, Shot, or Follow-Through: You cannot throw the ball, neither a shot nor a pass, in a way that is dangerous to another player, including the goalie.

Illegal Contact: Stick to body or body to stick

Rough or Dangerous Check: Slashing or a check to the head.

Shooting Space: Defense not closely guarding attack cannot stand between the goal and attack, if attack has the ball and is in position to score and looking to shoot.

Major Foul Penalties:

The player who committed the foul is placed 4m behind the fouled player. If the foul is committed within the 8m Arc a Direct Free Position is awarded

Minor Fouls

3-Second Rule (Defending the Ball): If on-ball Defense is in good position (both hands on stick, within one stick length of opponent), the Attack player has 3-seconds to defend the ball (for instance, take stick to other side of body out of checking range, adjust position so Defense is out of position, or pass the ball). This rule is for Youth divisions only.

Body Ball: You cannot use your body to change the direction of the ball (no kicking!)

Raking & Covering: You cannot use the stick to cover the ball on the ground. You cannot use the stick to pull the ball to you. You can use the stick to flick a ground ball to another player.

Warding Off: You cannot guard your stick with your arm.

Minor Foul Penalties

The player who committed the foul is placed 4m behind the fouled player. If the foul is committed within the 12m Fan, an Indirect Free Position is awarded..

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