The allowance for free movement by players on a whistle or stoppage of play has been approved for the US Lacrosse Girls’ Youth Rules, beginning in 2020, consistent with the change that was approved earlier for the high school girls’ lacrosse rules in 2020. 

US Lacrosse writes and publishes a stand-alone youth rule book for ages 14U and below. The rule sets in this book align with the principles of the Lacrosse Athlete Development Model (LADM), helping to ensure age-appropriate rules that allow athletes to progress and reach their maximum potential.

Free movement allows players to move around the playing field, instead of being required to hold their positions on stoppages. The primary intent of the rule change is to improve the pace of play and allow for a less restrictive experience for the athletes.

“Changing this rule in the youth game helps bring consistency across all levels of the girls’ and women’s game,” said Caitlin Kelley, women’s lacrosse director at US Lacrosse. “We’re pleased that the majority of the rules are aligned between high school and youth, while at the same time keeping some developmentally-appropriate differences, specifically on smaller field sizes for younger players and transitional checking at 12U and 14U.”

Other changes and adjustments for 2020 addressed minor rule clarifications, self-starts, checking penalties, and some equipment clarifications, and were also consistent with prior changes announced for girls’ high school rules in 2020.

To limit potentially dangerous play in the critical scoring area and allow for consistent administration of the free position, a major foul between the 12 and the 8 will now be administered as a free position taken on the 12-meter fan closest to the spot of the foul for the 12U and 14U rule sets.

Among the equipment-related rule adjustments and clarifications, the most significant change now specifies that during stick checks, game officials will ensure that the ball rolls out of the back of the pocket when placed in the upper third of the head at its widest point and the stick and head are tilted 90 degrees. This rule helps limit the on-field check requirements for the back of the pocket to those issues only related to performance. 

In general, the committee added language clarifying that all equipment cannot be modified from its original manufactured state. All equipment must be worn in the manner the manufacturer intended.

“The US Lacrosse Rules Committee did a great job of ensuring that the 2020 youth rules represent the balance of safety, growth of the game, and athlete experience,” Kelly said.

The 2020 rules will be published online in PDF format by mid-October and in book form later this fall.