Last month, US Lacrosse announced new rules for youth lacrosse that align with the principles of the Lacrosse Athlete Development Model (LADM). The LADM is designed to encourage skill development and grow overall participation by promoting a safe and fun playing environment through its coaching curriculum and the associated age-appropriate rule sets.

Listed below are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions we’ve received since the new rules were announced.

Why are there no goalies at the younger ages? How will we develop goalies?
The only ages with no goalie in the US Lacrosse youth rule sets are at 6U for boys and 6U and 8U for girls, and in all of those cases the goal size being used is only 3x3. There are provisions for boys at 8U and 10U to play without a goalie, but that’s done in part to provide an option to allow the game to be played if no goalie is available. Keep in mind that goaltenders, or any position, should not specialize on one position too early. It’s important for all players to try multiple positions to develop their overall skills, athletic ability, knowledge of the game and experiment to have fun.

Why is body checking not allowed in youth boys’ lacrosse?
Body checking is not allowed at 12U and below, but body contact is allowed beginning as young as 8U. The intent of the rule is to teach the stick and body contact  fundamentals of the sport in a progressive fashion. Secondarily, it reduces the opportunities for violent collisions, an important consideration as research shows that such collisions at young ages pre-dispose athletes to potential long-term injury to the brain. Studies have also shown that peripheral vision does not completely develop until children are approximately 12 years old, hindering their ability to protect themselves from body checks.

How will girls be ready for high school lacrosse if there is only modified checking allowed at the 14U level?
Checking entails the physical ability to maintain proper distance from an opponent while potentially running at full speed and concurrently using a stick in another motion. Postponing these complex multi-skill movements helps reduce the risk for injury, and helps reinforce fundamentals such as proper footwork and body positioning to develop more complete players. There are opportunities for coaches to introduce the skills necessary to develop full-checking skills in a practice setting without the pressure of doing so in game conditions to help prepare their players for the next level.

Why do the rules call for 1v1 defense in girls’ lacrosse?
At 10U and below, and outside of the critical scoring area in 12U, the rules call for 1v1 defense with no double-teaming allowed. This helps reinforce the need for individual defensive players to develop proper footwork and positioning while helping to eliminate dangerous situations with multiple players around the ball in a confined area.

Where can we get the smaller-sized goals?
There are numerous retailers that offer the 3x3 and 4x4 lacrosse goals, and you can also make them yourselves using PVC piping.

Are we going to need more officials?
Leagues that embrace the small-sided competition may have more teams, and thus more games. However, the rules have been simplified and field sizes reduced at the 6U, 8U, 10U  age segments. At these ages only one official would be needed per game.  At 12U and 14U, two officials are recommended as they have been in the past. Small-sided play provides a great opportunity to recruit and train new officials in a simpler or scaled down game.