Fouls and Penalties

Fouls and Penalties

There are two different surroundings around the goal on both sides of the field; the eight meter arc and the 12 meter fan. When committing a major foul inside either of these areas, the offense regains the ball and has a direct opportunity to goal. If outside the 8-meter arc, but inside the fan, a "lane" to goal is cleared of all other players and the person who committed the foul is relocated 4 meters behind the offender.

If inside the 8-meter-arc and a defensive foul occurs, all players that were previously inside the surrounding must take the most direct route out. The player who was fouled now moves to the nearest hash mark that is located around the edges of the arc and has a direct lane to goal. The defender who committed the foul is relocated on the 12-meter fan directly behind the shooter. If a player fouled another player not in the arc, the victim receives the ball and the player who fouled must back away at least 4 meters. All other players standing closer than 4 meters to the ball holder must also back away to give the girl room to move with the ball.

The shooting space rule in women's lacrosse is very important in keeping the players safe. It occurs when a defender moves into the offender's shooting lane to goal, at an angle that makes the defender at risk of being hit by the ball if the offender were to shoot.


Penalties for women's lacrosse are assessed with the following cards:

  • The green card, given to the team captain, is for a delay of game, a warning, or a player wearing jewelry.
  • The yellow card is for a first-time penalty and results in the player being removed from the field for three minutes. In the U.S.: any player receiving two yellows sits out the rest of the game but is allowed to play in the next game.
  • The red card is the result either of two yellow cards or a flagrant foul or extremely unsportsmanlike behavior, and causes the player to be ejected from the game. If the red card is for unsportsmanlike behavior, the player is also not permitted to play in the following game. U.S. rules differ in that a red card is not the result of two yellow cards and any player receiving a red card sits out the rest of that game and her team's next game.
  • Major Fouls

    Crosse in the Sphere

  • 1. Defense – A player may not reach into or through the sphere or hold her crosse around the throat of an opponent. She may not directly poke or wave the crosse near an opponent’s face.
  • 2. Offense – (Illegal cradle): hold, with or without cradling, the head of her crosse in front of her face or her teammate’s face, within the sphere or close to her body, or her teammate’s body, making a legal/safe check impossible.
  • Rough/Dangerous Check

    Roughly or recklessly check another player’s crosse.

    A player may not check toward the body or make a sweeping check from behind that contacts the opponent's body. No player’s crosse may hit or cause her opponent’s crosse to hit the opponent’s body.

    Check to the Head(MANDATORY CARD)

    No player's crosse may hit or cause her opponent's crosse to hit the opponent's head.


    Reckless and/or dangerous swing of the crosse at an opponent’s crosse or body. A slash will be called regardless of whether or not contact is made with an opponent’s crosse or body.

    Dangerous Propelling(MANDATORY CARD)

    Propel the ball with her crosse in a dangerous or uncontrolled manner at any time. NOTE: Any shot directed at or taken without regard to the positioning of a field player is dangerous propelling.

    Dangerous Follow-Through (MANDATORY CARD)

    Follow through with her crosse in a dangerous or uncontrolled manner at any time.

    Illegal Contact

    Initiate crosse to body, or body to crosse contact.


    Using the shaft of the crosse to hit, push or displace an opponent. This includes, but is not limited to, thrusting, jabbing, pushing or displacing any part of an opponent’s body.

    Illegal Use of the Crosse

    Using the crosse in a dangerous and/or intimidating manner, for example:

  • 1. lowering the head of the crosse below the shoulder and initiating crosse to body contact.
  • 2. any other action with the crosse which in the umpire’s opinion amounts to dangerous or intimidating play.
  • Three Seconds

    While defending within the 8-meter arc, remain in that area more than 3 seconds unless one is marking an opponent within a stick’s length. The 3-second rule is in effect when the team in possession of the ball crosses the ball over the restraining line into their attacking end of the field.

  • 1. The defense is not exempt from the 3-second rule by virtue of double teaming/multiple teaming a non-ball attack player in the arc. The 3-second count will continue against the original non-marking defense player within the arc, until there is again only one defender on the non-ball attacker.
  • 2. A defensive player, who is marking an unmarked opponent who is standing directly behind the goal circle is exempt from the 3-second rule, but is responsible to simultaneously abide by Rule 6-1k. A defensive player who is marking an unmarked opponent who is standing directly behind the goal circle cannot be penalized for the 3-second rule when drawn into a double or multiple team by the attacking non-ball players.
  • Obstruction of the Free Space to Goal(shooting space)

    With any part of her body guard the goal outside the goal circle so as to obstruct the free space to goal, between the ball and the goal circle, which denies the attack the opportunity to shoot safely and encourages shooting at a player.

  • 1. This positioning applies only if initiated by the defender and not if she is drawn into the free space to goal by an attacking player.
  • 2. This positioning applies to a defender not marking an attack player within a stick’s length.
  • NOTE: This call should be made only if the player with the ball is looking to shoot.
    If she is being double or triple teamed and she has no opportunity to shoot for goal, the call should not be made.

    NOTE: Defense players who are double or multiple teaming a player without the ball and are within a stick’s length are exempt from the obstruction of free space to goal. They must, however, continue to abide by the 3-second rule.

    Dangerous Shot

    Shoot dangerously or without control.

  • 1. A dangerous shot is judged on the basis of the combination of distance, force and placement.
  • 2. A shot should not be directed at the goalkeeper’s body, especially her head or neck. This would not apply if she moves into the path of the ball.
  • 3. A shot may be uncontrolled even if it misses the goal.
  • Forcing Through

    While in possession of the ball, try to force her crosse through an opposing crosse(s) in such a way as to cause her own crosse to contact her body.


    Push the opponent with the hand or body.

    Reach Across the Body

    Reach across an opponent to check the crosse when she is level with or behind her.


    Block her opponent by moving into her path without giving her a chance to stop or change direction.


    Charge, barge, shoulder, or back into an opponent.

    NOTE: Body to body contact may be called charging, blocking or no call (incidental contact). Crosse to crosse contact is either a legal or illegal check.

    Illegal Pick

    Set a moving or stationary pick out of the visual field of an opposing player which does not allow enough time or space to stop or change direction and contact occurs.


    A player may not hold her crosse in such a manner as to restrain or detain a player.


    Use the webbed area of her crosse to hook the bottom.

    Minor Field Fouls


    Guard a ground ball with her foot or crosse.

    Empty Stick Check

    Check or impede an opponent’s crosse when her crosse is not in contact with the ball. This applies only if the opponent could have received or gained possession of the ball.


    Guard the crosse with an arm. If one hand is removed from the crosse, the free hand may not be used to ward off an opponent, deliberately or otherwise, with or without contact. Elbows may not be used to protect the crosse.

    Hand Ball

    Touch the ball with her hand, except the goalkeeper or deputy within the goal circle.

    Squeeze the Head of the Crosse

    Use her hand or body to keep the ball in the crosse, i.e. squeezing the head of the crosse.

    Body Ball

    Allow any part of her body to deliberately impede, accelerate or change the direction of the ball. However, if the goalkeeper blatantly attempts to stop a shot on goal by playing the ball off her body while outside the goal circle, it shall be called a Major Foul.

    Illegal Use of Crosse

  • 1. throw her crosse in any circumstance.
  • 2. take part in the game if she is not holding her crosse.
  • Illegal Draw

    Draw illegally.

  • 1. either player draws too soon.
  • 2. no attempt is made to draw up.
  • 3. movement of the crosse is not up.
  • 4. player taking the draw moves after the umpire says “ready” and before the umpire’s whistle.
  • 5. ball does not go higher than the heads of the players taking the draw.
  • 6. step on/into the center circle or illegally cross the restraining line before the whistle.
  • Illegal Crosse

    Play with a crosse that does not meet specifications.

  • 1. score a goal with a crosse that does not meet the field crosse specifications.
  • 2. adjust the strings/thongs of her crosse after an official inspection of her crosse has been requested during the game. The crosse must be removed.
  • 3. request, for a second time, the inspection of any crosse meeting specifications.
  • Resumption of Play

    Failure to be ready to start play after a 2-minute team timeout or following half time.

    Improper Equipment

  • 1. take part in the game if she is wearing jewelry.
  • 2.failure to properly wear a mouthpiece.
  • 3.failure to properly wear eye protection.
  • 4.take part in the game if her uniform does not meet specifications.
  • Illegal Substitution

    substitute illegally.

    Delay of Game

    Intentionally delay the game.

  • 1.failure to stand when the whistle is blown to stop play (creeping)
  • 2.failure to move 4 meters away on a free position.
  • 3.any type of behavior which in the umpire’s opinion amounts to delay.
  • Play From Out of Bounds

    Take an active part in the game when her foot/feet are out of bounds.

    Illegal Re-entry

    Run out of bounds and re-enter to a more advantageous position.

    Illegal Timeout

    A team requesting more than two timeouts.

    Goal Circle Fouls

    A field player must not enter or have any part of her body or crosse on or in the goal circle at any time except in the following circumstances:

    a. She is deputizing for the goalkeeper.

    b. The shooter may follow through with her crosse over the goal circle, however, her feet must not touch the goal circle, and her shooting motion must be initiated from.

    c. The player(s) directly defending the shooter may reach into the goal circle with her crosse(s) to block the shot or check the shooter's crosse, however, the defender's feet must not touch the goal circle.

    A field player must not enter or remain in the goal circle illegally as a deputy.

    The goalkeeper or her deputy must NOT:

  • a.allow the ball to remain in the goal circle longer than 10 seconds.
  • b.when inside the goal circle, reach beyond the goal circle to play the ball in the air or on the ground with her hand.
  • c.when any part of her is grounded outside the goal circle, draw the ball into her goal circle.
  • d.step back into the goal circle when she has possession of the ball.
  • e.when outside the goal circle, throw any part of her equipment to her deputy.
  • f.clear the ball by throwing it with her hand.
  • Once a team gains possession of the ball in the goal circle and the ball is cleared, the team must not intentionally return the ball to their goal circle until the ball has been played by another player.

    Team Fouls/Offside

    A team must have five players behind the restraining line when the ball is in their offensive end, and must have four players behind the restraining line when the ball is in their defensive end.

    NOTE: Players may exchange places during play


  • a. excessively rough, dangerous, or unsportsmanlike play.
  • b. persistent or flagrant violation of the rules.
  • c. deliberately endangering the safety of an opposing player.
  • d. baiting or taunting which is intended or designed to embarrass, ridicule, or demean others.
  • e. excessive dissent or abusive language.
  • f. non-playing team member leaving their team bench area during the game.
  • g. coach leaving her coaching area.
  • the game before yellow card or green/red card penalty time has elapsed.
  • i. any type of behavior which in the umpire’s opinion amounts to misconduct.