In an attempt to emphasize stickwork and passing in the game of college lacrosse, the NCAA is in the process of adopting rule changes that will bring back a more traditional, triangular, shape to the lacrosse stick. Current sticks will remain legal until the 2009 season begins.

A diagram of the new specification is available here. (.pdf, 79K)

Full release, via the NCAA:

In a press release issued last week, the NCAA announced that the Men??s Lacrosse Rules Committee redefined the specifications of the lacrosse stick, adjusted its timeout rules, and addressed several areas for emphasis at its annual meeting, August 7-10 in Bonita Springs, Florida. The committee??s recommendations must be approved by the Playing Rules Oversight Panel before the rules become official.

The committee received considerable input regarding the lacrosse stick in recent years and agreed that there is a need to return to a more traditional design that is triangular in shape.

??The committee has spent a considerable amount of time discussing this aspect of our game,? said Willie Scroggs, senior associate athletics director at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and chair of the committee. ??Our major concern is that the ball is not coming out of the stick as easily as it should. These specifications will reign in the sticks while still allowing manufacturers plenty of time to adjust.?

The free dislodgement of the ball is the main rationale for the change, due to the narrowing of the channel in the stick head. Additionally, a legally strung stick under current specifications sometimes allows a ball to become lodged in the back of the stick, which the committee believes should not be allowed.

Starting with the 2009 season, the lacrosse stick will have the following dimensions, in addition to the current specifications:

  • The measurement at the widest part of the crosse shall be a minimum of 6½ inches measured at the inside front of the crosse and a minimum of 6 inches on the back of the crosse;
  • The measurement up from the stop to the 5-inch mark may not be less than 4¼ inches at the front and back of the crosse;
  • The measurement up from the stop to the 3-inch mark may not be less than 3¼ inches at the front and back of the crosse; and
  • The measurement up from the stop to the 1¼-inch mark may not be less than 2¾ inches at the front and back of the crosse.
  • Additionally, the committee voted to eliminate the ball stop as a required part of the stick.

The national coordinator of officials also noted that game officials would be instructed to increase the number of stick checks during games to assist with this effort and random times. All sticks are subject to a check for legality.

The other major change the committee made was to alter the area in which a team may call a timeout. After hearing considerable feedback from coaches, timeouts will be granted when a team has possession of the ball and steps across the offensive restraining line. Previously, a team needed to be in their attack area with possession to be granted a timeout.

??This change makes this call easier to officiate and easier for teams to receive a timeout,? said Scroggs. ??The committee heard the message loud and clear that the timeout rules needed some adjustment.?

The committee voted to emphasize three areas this season for officials and teams to play particular attention to. They are:

Back check:
While rules are already established to adjudicate this rule, the committee feels back checks are not being called properly.

??The hands and arms have always been considered as part of the stick on an offensive player in possession of the ball, but the legs and back have never been,? Scroggs said. ??Defenders should not be allowed to punish offensive players by delivering checks to the back area and officials will be asked to address this with safety as the top priority.?

Often, a defending player attempts to check the crosse of an attacking player and misses, slashing an unprotected part of the attacking player??s body. The committee does not believe slashing is called frequently enough in these situations.

??The onus is on the defending player to ensure that checking the crosse does not become slashing to the body,? Scroggs said. ??This is one of our biggest concerns.?

Stalling procedures/Keep it in:
The committee believes use of these rules early in the game must be used to keep flow to the game, discourage stalling tactics, and improve the consistency of this call.

Stick checks:
As noted earlier, officials will be encouraged to conduct more stick checks during the game and at times when players do not expect a stick check to occur. The committee noted that some players are using pull-strings to deceive and gain unfair advantage by adjusting their pockets on the sticks from legal to illegal.

??This practice is a serious violation of the spirit and intent of the rules of the game and must be addressed by coaches and officials,? Scroggs said.

Sticks discovered with pull-strings will be declared illegal and will not be permitted to be used in game play, even if all other aspects of the stick meet the standard. This will be a one-minute penalty.

In other actions, the committee:

  • Clarified that only the head coach shall communicate or question officials; and
  • Discussed defensemen taking the position of goalkeeper and do not believe this is an issue in the game today. The committee is reemphasizing that coaches must not teach any tactic which puts defensemen in the position of the goalkeeper or encourages defensemen to block shots with their body.