Rules of Lacrosse

Structure of Play

These types of rules set the fundamental guidelines for the sport. The rules describe such items as the playing surface, markings, nets, player equipment and make-up of the teams. Also included are elements such as how goals are scored and rules pertaining to the crease.

Flow of Play

These types of rules set out how play is started and stopped and the basics of how the game is played. Included in the flow of play rules are the 30-second rule (getting a shot on net), the 10-second rule (advancing the ball into the attacking zone while playing short-handed) or the 5-second rule (time the goaltender can keep possession of the ball in the crease). These rules also cover out-of-bounds guidelines, face-offs, time-outs, and how to re-start play.


The third class of rules deals with undesirable behavior in the game. The rules set out the guidelines for acceptable play and what constitutes an infraction of the intent of the game. These rules generally stem from three types of behavior - interfering with the flow of play, attempting to gain an illegal advantage, and creating a risk of, or actual personal injury to an opponent.

Interfering with play includes such items as an illegal pick or pushing an opponent on a loose ball. Illegal advantage refers to such acts as too many men on the floor on a line change. The risk of injury is the broadest type which includes such acts as slashing, high sticking, or checking from behind.

There are three types of penalties which are given when a player commits an infraction of the rules.

1. Loss of Possession

The loss of possession means the ball must be turned over to the opponent. It is the penalty applied to violating the flow of play rules such as out-of-bounds, interference by an offensive player, or violation of any of the time rules (5, 10 and 30-second).

2. Penalty Shots

This is the most extreme penalty which is applied when a player, in committing an infraction, has taken away a clear scoring opportunity - for example tripping an opponent who has a breakaway, or a defensive player touching the ball with his hand in his own crease. For this type of penalty, the game is stopped and a player is given an uncontested shot on the goaltender.

3. Time-served Penalty

This type of penalty has the player who commits the infraction being removed from the game for a specific period of time. The amount of time ranges from two minutes to the remainder of the game. There are five types of time-served penalties:

a) Minor penalty - 2 minutes (which is released if the opponent scores one goal);

b) Major penalty - 5 minutes (which is released if the opponent scores two goals);

c) Misconduct - 10 minutes or for the remainder of the game;

d) Expulsion - immediate removal from the game;

e) Match - immediate removal from the game and carries a further suspension for games.

CLA Rules and Situation Handbook 2013

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