Broadening allowances for free movement and evolving penalty administration were the overarching changes supported by the high school girls’ lacrosse rules committee for the 2022 season. The changes have been approved by the board of directors for both the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and for USA Lacrosse.

While there are 19 rules changes passed this year, the majority of them are tweaks and minor adjustments as the game evolves in the free movement era,” said Caitlin Kelley, women’s game director at USA Lacrosse and liaison to the Girls’ Lacrosse Rules Committee. “The committee did a great job of looking through the details of the game and modifying substitution rules, equipment allowances, and penalty administration to allow for a better flow of the game.”

The allowances for substitutions were expanded to occur more fluidly throughout the game, including between overtime periods, during a re-draw, and during the administration of a player suspension/ejection.

Additionally, to reduce the potential for false starts during the last two minutes of each half, the game clock will no longer be stopped in every instance that the official blows the whistle to stop play (Rule 4-1-2). The clock will only stop during official time-outs or fouls committed in the critical scoring area. Exceptions still remain for a 10-goal lead scenario.

The official’s time out in Rule 4-2-2 has been expanded and now includes additional situations where an official’s time-out must be taken. Previously, officials stopped play in case of illness, accident or injury, for the issuance of a card, to check a crosse, and any time a draw had to be retaken. Now, stoppages will also occur in the event of an offside call, an inadvertent whistle, alternate possession, and for fouls in the critical scoring area during the last two minutes of play in each half and overtime.

The language in Rule 2 also had some modifications and changes, including a clarification in Rule 2-7-7, which permits participants to wear secured, non-abrasive head coverings for religious or cosmetic reasons without first obtaining state association approval. Also, Rule 2-7-3 allows face masks that are soft and non-abrasive, further clarifying the allowance for the masks that have been worn throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Other equipment rule modifications eliminated longstanding prohibitions on hair ties and other soft materials on wrists, and hair adornments that are securely fastened and not a safety hazard are now also allowed in hair.

The Rules Committee reviewed both the permissibility of headwear for religious and cosmetic reasons and securely fastened hair adornments that do not endanger other players and agreed that eliminating barriers to participation was important for the growth of the game,” said Lindsey Atkinson, NFHS director of sports/communications associate and liaison to the Girls’ Lacrosse Rules Committee.

Under Rule 2-6-1a, goalkeepers are no longer required to wear shin protectors. This equipment is still recommended for goalkeepers, but with no injury data and no safety standard in place, the committee opted to align with both the collegiate rule and the boys’ rules. Goalkeepers still have the option to wear shin protection with padding up to one inch in thickness. A change to Rule 2-6-1 also details a new equipment option for goalkeepers – the allowance to wear tinted eyeglasses under a non-rigid helmet eye shield.

The goalkeeper was also the focal point in two other rule changes. Within Rule 7-2-1, a goalkeeper only needs to keep one foot inside the goal circle in order to reach out her crosse and bring the ball back inside the goal circle. Previously, the goalkeeper could not execute this move with any part of her body grounded outside the goal circle.

Rule 10-1 PENALTIES was modified to change the penalty assessment of a false start penalty committed by the goalkeeper or her deputy in the goal circle. PENALTY 5 of the rule now states that the goalie or her deputy may remain in the goal circle for a free position and no defensive player is placed behind the player taking the free position.

It was also approved that Appendix B (Manufacturer’s Specifications) would be removed from the rule book, while still ensuring that all equipment related rules for on-field compliance would be included within Rule 2.

A complete listing of the girls’ lacrosse rules changes will be available on the NFHS website at Click on “Activities & Sports” at the top of the home page and select “Lacrosse-Girls.”

-USA Lacrosse