Lane Errington | @lane_errington
Soft lacrosse, also known as P.E. lacrosse, is an additional non-contact version of the sport that is co-ed, uses special sticks and balls and requires no protective equipment. This version of the game is perfect for introducing children to the sport and for playing lacrosse in recreational and school physical education settings.
Here are seven basic rules for safe non-contact physical education lacrosse play:
- Use soft lacrosse sticks and soft lacrosse balls only.
- No stick-to-stick contact.
- No body-to-body or body-to-stick contact.
- Two hands on the stick at all times.
- Maintain control of your body at all times.
- No covering the ball with your stick.
- Respect your teammate and opponents at all times.
Optional additional rules for increased safety, interaction, and fun:
- No more than two players go after a groundball at one time.
- Three passes before shooting.
- Three second count for good defensive positioning. If the offensive player does not pass during the count, the defender gets the ball.
Additional common questions from soft lacrosse instructors include:
I’ve seen all different kinds of lacrosse sticks. What’s the difference? What should I use?
Physical education soft lacrosse sticks are gender-neutral. Standard lacrosse sticks are specific to either the men’s or women’s game, and due to fundamental differences in the two games, the sticks are very different in pocket depth and handling. Therefore, it is desirable to use the physical education soft lacrosse sticks in the co-ed classroom. When students go on to play competitive lacrosse, they begin to play with regular lacrosse sticks. For your classroom, we recommend the STX Ball or McWhipit brand sticks with all plastic molded heads (no mesh).
Do I need to have protective equipment for my PE class?
US Lacrosse recommends using soft lacrosse equipment for all physical education classes. Extensive research has determined that no additional protective gear needs to be worn by players using this equipment and following the rules for modified lacrosse play found in the Physical Education Lacrosse Curriculum. Teachers using standard men’s or women’s lacrosse sticks and standard lacrosse balls, even in a non-contact setting, must equip each player with approved eye protection and a mouth guard. As a bonus, soft lacrosse equipment is much less expensive than standard lacrosse equipment
Can the sticks be used without the little strap on the head?
Sometimes the small strap/guard attached to the head of the soft lacrosse sticks snaps or breaks. This piece is optional, and does not exist on standard lacrosse sticks. It is there to aid students when learning the game, but can be removed when they become more skilled. If the strap breaks, the stick is still fully functional, just play on. Or, replacement straps can usually be ordered from stick suppliers.
It seems like lacrosse has a lot of contact and stick hitting—how do I teach that in my classroom?
It is true that lacrosse allows for different degrees of safe and allowable contact depending on whether boys’ or girls’ lacrosse is being played. However, contact is secondary to the flow, defensive footwork, passing, catching, and skill of the game. Women’s lacrosse allows only "stick checking" which is safe, stick-to-stick contact for the purpose of dislodging the ball from the stick within safety guidelines. This is why women only need to wear eye protection (which guards the face from the rare occasion of ball contact) and a mouth guard.
The men’s game allows more liberty with limited stick-to-body contact also allowed, and body contact within the rules. The purpose of lacrosse in a physical education environment is to introduce players to the key skills of the game, tactics, and movement. They can fully enjoy the lacrosse experience in a non-contact environment. Contact should not be taught until students enter competitive lacrosse programs. In those lacrosse programs, contact as a final skill once all others have been mastered can be taught responsibly through the US Lacrosse coaching education program.
For specific rules of play for 3-on-3, 5-on-5 and 7-on-7 play in physical education classes, please refer to the Physical Education Curriculum.
Whether you're new to lacrosse or already familiar with "the fastest game on two feet," soft lacrosse is a great way to introduce the sport to your students and/or community. For additional information about PE lacrosse workshops and soft lacrosse, visit our grant application page.
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