USA Lacrosse Magazine
August 25, 2021
Continuing to broaden the allowances for free movement while still balancing the safety concerns specific to the youth game was the focus of new USA Lacrosse girls’ youth rules approved for the 2022 season. USA Lacrosse youth rules are intended to support the ongoing growth and evolution of the sport.
Developed by the USA Lacrosse Women’s Rules Committee, most of the youth changes align with the recent changes announced for girls’ high school rules which offered up more freedom for substitution and simplified some penalty administrations to improve the flow of self-start and free movement.
In addition, the committee made two important changes to the play of the game at the younger levels, focusing on 10U and below as well as small-sided play. In Rule 6.1, the committee removed the limitation on the number of players at 8U and 10U allowed to contest for a loose ground ball. The committee felt that no safety concerns or data supported the perpetuation of this rule and believed that player development was better served by aligning with the older rule sets.
Additionally, the committee voted to eliminate the restraining line for small-sided play at 10U and 12U, with the intention of allowing for more player involvement, an enlarged playing area, and potentially, more passing. This change aims to further support skill development and player enjoyment of the game.
An equipment modification was also approved at the 10U level, where the language of Rule 2.2 which allows use of legal sticks for either the boys’ or girls’ game was expanded to the 10U rule set. Pocket and stringing requirements for the girl’s game remain in force.
“This change will open up access and ease for emerging areas and for beginning players,” said Caitlin Kelley, USA Lacrosse staff liaison to the rules committee. “While maintaining the safety standards of girls’ lacrosse, we can ensure that grant recipients and clinic opportunities will have sticks available for all players, regardless of gender. Once a player starts at 12U and above, they can only use a crosse that meets the manufacturer’s specifications for the game they are playing.”
On the safety front, the rules committee did not align with the new high school rule making the use of shin protection for goalies as optional. Youth goalies are still required to wear shin guards.
“USA Lacrosse rules are grounded in the principles of player experience and safety, fair competition, the balance between offense and defense, alignment across all levels of play, and the preservation of the integrity of the game,” Kelley said. “I applaud the tireless work of the USA Lacrosse rules committee to balance these principles and to provide leadership for the growth of the game.”
The complete list of rule changes will be contained in the rule book which will be posted online this fall and available for purchase. USA Lacrosse, through its officials’ and coaches’ education programs, will be focused throughout the fall and during the 2022 National Convention to provide instruction and support to its constituents to prepare for the new season.