The rules of women's lacrosse can seem complicated and ever-changing. In the past several years that is true, the rules have progressed a lot, and they continue to change. The NCAA Panel recently approved rule changes for the 2021-22 season and some of these are big.
Let's just say women's lacrosse has come a long way from when there were no sidelines. The rule changes have made the game quicker and faster, these newly approved rules were intentionally made to make the game "more efficient."
In 2017, the added the 90 second shot clock to Division-I play. This sped up the game tremendously. The shot clock starts at the change of possession. So, if the goalie makes a save, right away clock goes to 90 seconds, team has to clear the ball, make it to their offensive side, and score in 90 seconds.
A rule change that was approved in this current panel is if the goalie makes a save, if there is a rebound, or the ball hits the post with less than 59 seconds on the clock, and the offense keeps possession the clock resets to 60 seconds. If it happens over 59 seconds no reset is necessary.
Why is this a great rule change? Picture this. You have played a solid set of defense and held the attack for almost 90 seconds. They take a shot with 3 seconds left on the shot clock and it rebounds off the goalie and they get the groundball. The old rulings, the clock goes back to 90 and you're back on defense. Now, you only have to hold them for 60 more seconds!
Another interesting new rule is that the game will be played in quarters. Traditionally women's lacrosse has been played in halves. This splits the game up to four 15-minute quarters instead of two 30 min halves. This gives each team two minutes of rest between each quarter and they switch direction each time.
It is standard for a women's lacrosse game to start with a stick check. You get in line, make sure your sticks are legal, that you have the right goggles, and mouth-guard. This rule is eliminated, no longer! The days of pre-game stick checks are over.
On the draw, it is common for there to be delays, when someone goes early, or the ball doesn't go high enough. In the past the ref would do a re-draw. The new rule states it will change to alternate possession and the player can self-start.
Self-start is another interesting rule change that happened in the past couple of years. Players used to have to stop on the whistle and couldn't move. Now, you can move on the whistle and players can self-start after the whistle. Another rule change that made the game faster.
There are a few more rules that were approved by the panel but these were the biggest ones with the biggest affect.
These rule changes are big and game changers (pun intended.) The game of women's lacrosse is getting faster and more intense. It will be exciting to watch how fall ball and the spring season turns out, and what coaches will capitalize on these new rules.