US Lacrosse is excited to announce the new rules for the 2019 playing season for the high school women’s game, including self-starts and a cleared defensive zone for 8-meter free positions.

The joint NFHS/US Lacrosse rules subcommittee brought great thoughtfulness to the review and approval of the rules for the upcoming season. This was the first year for the joint NFHS and US Lacrosse rules committee, and the collaboration was a big part of developing these important changes. The chair of the committee, Kathy Westdorp, provided instrumental leadership to balance safety concerns, the specificities of the high school game alongside a larger understanding and commitment to the growth and evolution of the sport.

“I believe that these rules appropriately reflect US Lacrosse’s commitment to promote the growth of the women’s game and focused on ensuring a standardized and safe playing experience for youth and high school athletes. This is a great step for the future of our game,” Caitlin Kelley, US Lacrosse staff liaison to the rules committee, said. “In general, high school lacrosse rules are grounded in the principles of player experience and safety, the integrity of competition and balance between offense and defense, the alignment across levels of play and the preservation of the integrity of the game.”

The most significant change for the upcoming season is the introduction of self-starts for most play outside of the critical scoring area. In watching the implementation of self-starts and free movement at the collegiate level, the rules committee recognized that the game is evolving in ways that increase pace of play, and that decrease officials’ involvement in restarting play and the burden of monitoring players behind the play. The committee was mindful of implementing these changes in a way that allowed for both the appropriate education of high school officials on a national level and the excitement for the evolution of the game.

“The NFHS/US Lacrosse Girls’ Lacrosse Rules Committee viewed these changes as a necessary progression in improving the game — from both administrative and risk-minimization perspectives,” Lindsey Atkinson, NFHS director of sports/communications associate and NFHS staff liaison to the Girls Lacrosse Rules Committee, said.

Another significant change is the creation of a penalty zone in the critical scoring area, such that all players’ and sticks must be 8 meters away from the goal circle above goal-line extended and the area created by the extension of the 8-meter mark to the dots and across the dots. This zone was created to establish an area that must be cleared when a major foul by a defensive player occurs in the 8-meter arc for both safety and pace of play, by limiting the recurrence of shooting space calls.

Additionally, the rules committee passed a rule to establish the release of the ball from the stick as the definition for a shot. This change allows that a goal can be scored if the shot occurs before time expires rather than when the whole ball passes completely over the goal line. The complete list of rule changes will be posted on the NFHS website prior to the release of the rulebook.

US Lacrosse, through its officials and coaches education programs, will be focused throughout the fall and through its annual convention on providing instruction and support to its constituents to prepare for the 2019 season. In addition, the points of emphasis for the season are: obstruction of free space to goal—opportunity to shoot, a focus on rough and dangerous play, and empty stick checks to clarify incidental versus intentional stick contact.

A focus on penalizing rough and dangerous play is a priority to the rules committee because it disrupts the flow of play and places the player at risk for injury. This point of emphasis highlights that any check performed in a reckless, dangerous or intimidating manner around or into a player in playing distance from the opposing player must be called. Additionally, any other action with the stick which in the official’s opinion amounts to dangerous or intimidating play can be called.

“The growth of the women’s game continues at unprecedented pace at the high school level,” Kelley said. “We are grateful for our partnership with the NFHS and the leadership of the Girls Lacrosse Committee as they provide leadership and vision for the continued growth and evolution of the sport.”

Questions about the high school girls’ rule changes may be directed to Kelley via email.

Full List of High School Girls' Rules Changes

The NFHS has posted the complete list of changes to high school girls' lacrosse rules, complete with rule book citations and rationales.

View Rules Changes