Lacrosse Rules & Penalty Calls

Holding and Interference

    Body checking is permitted in lacrosse only if the opponent has the ball or is within five yards of a loose ball. Any contact from the back or in the legs or head is a penalty. Holding is called when a player stops the movement of an opponent or an opponent's stick and interference is similar in that it is a call made when a player interferes with another player's ability to move around the field. Body checking is a personal foul.


    Each team must keep at least four of its 10 players, including the goalie, in the defensive half. Three offensive players must always remain in the opposite half of the field, while three players are free to move up and down the field as play requires. Offside is called when a team has the wrong number of players on either side of the midfield line. Offside is a technical foul.


    Screening of players is not allowed in lacrosse. A player who makes contact with an opponent to keep that opponent from guarding another player is guilty of illegal screening. Screening is a technical foul.


    Lacrosse is a game of constant motion, and stalling is a penalty. When a team intentionally holds the ball without effort to advance it, usually for the purpose of running the clock out, the referee will penalize it for stalling and award possession to the opposing team.

    When the goalkeeper gets the ball, he has four seconds to carry or pass the ball out of the goal crease (the area around the goal). Once a team takes over the ball in its defensive area--which extends 20 yards out from the goal--it has 20 seconds to move the ball past midfield, and once it crosses the center line it must move into the attacking area (20 yards out from the goal) in front of its opponents goal within 10 seconds. Stalling is a technical foul.

Illegal Crosse

    There are specific rules regarding the size of the player's crosse. The crosse is 40 to 42 inches long for attackers and midfielders and 52 to 72 inches for defenders. The head of the crosse has to be between 6 1/2 and 10 inches wide except for the crosses that the goalie uses, which is 10 to 12 inches wide. There is also a limit to the depth of the pocket where the ball is carried.

    A crosse that has been altered and does not meet these specifications will be taken out of play. The use of an illegal crosse is a personal foul.

Warding Off

    When in possession of the ball, with an opposing player attempting to check him using his stick, an offensive player is not allowed to use his free hand to push or hold the defender away. To do so is a penalty called warding off; this is a technical foul.

About the Author

Kurt Johnson began writing in 1995. He has a passion for sports and has spent more than 15 years as a coach. He is a sportswriter who has been published at Front Page Sports and in the "Sacramento Union." Johnson has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Brigham Young University.