Improving the pace of play and simplifying the application of penalties are among the changes approved for the US Lacrosse Boys’ Youth Rules, beginning in 2020. The new rulebook has been published for all levels of play, 14U and younger. 

Among the notable rule changes and clarifications for 2020 are:

● Illegal crosses no longer have different penalties. The penalties are all now two-minute, non-releasable in duration, and the crosse can be fixed before returning to play.

● At the 12U and 14U levels only, after a stoppage in play, the game can restart when the defensive player(s) are within 5 yards of the ball carrier. At the 10U and 8U levels and below, all players must remain 5 yards away from the ball carrier before restarting play, as they have in previous years. 

● At the 10U and 8U levels, there must be one attempted pass when starting a period or after a goal is scored. 

● Also, at the 10U and 8U levels, the process for penalties will be the same, with teams never being man-down or man-up. Players that commit a foul that would typically result in a time-serving penalty will be immediately substituted out of the game and remain in the penalty area for the duration for the foul they committed. 

“Instituting quick restarts at the 12U and 14U levels is designed to speed up the game by getting the ball back in play as soon as possible,” said Rick Lake, men’s lacrosse director at US Lacrosse. 

The efforts to enhance pace of play were made to support the athleticism and growing development of athletes, with specific emphasis on quick starts and stalling.

The new restart rule allows for play to resume while a defensive player is within 5 yards of the player in possession. In all cases, the opposing player is required to allow the ball carrier a path to the goal and may not play the ball carrier until a minimum distance of 5 yards has been achieved. 

Officials will also be asked to more closely monitor stalling efforts by offensive teams which are not attacking the goal. A number of indicators for officials have been noted, including, but are not limited to, the offensive team is keeping the ball outside of the goal area with no attempt to attack the goal; the offensive team is keeping the ball below goal line extended with no attempt to attack the goal; and situations when the attacking team has possession inside its goal area, an opponent is within five yards attempting to defend, and the team with possession is making no attempt to attack the goal. 

The new rulebook also highlights the equipment changes that will become effective in 2021. Effective January 1, 2021, all goalkeepers shall wear chest protectors designed for lacrosse that meets the NOCSAE ND200 lacrosse performance standard at the time of manufacture. Effective January 1, 2022, all field players shall also wear protection that meets the NOCSAE ND200 lacrosse standard at the time of manufacture. 

“Although the requirement dates are not until 2021 and 2022, US Lacrosse encourages parents, coaches, and players to wear equipment that meets the new NOCSAE ND200 standard as soon as possible,” Lake said.

Generally, rule changes at the 10U level and below are designed to ensure players are in a playing environment that enhances their opportunity to learn the game and focus on using fundamental lacrosse skills to compete. 

At the 12U level and above, the changes allow players to continue to hone their skills and compete at a fast pace and in a challenging game format. 

A free copy of the 2020 US Lacrosse youth rules is available online in PDF format at, or a printed version will be available for purchase later this fall from the US Lacrosse store.