Youth Lacrosse Rules for Kids

Lacrosse rules designated for youth differ from collegiate, professional and some high school rules. Youth rule modifications depend upon age divisions and are typically due to safety concerns as well as an emphasis on initial development of basic skills. In addition to age divisions, girls youth lacrosse also incorporates levels that represent a team’s experience, with rules enforced based on level designation.

Players

Boys lacrosse typically allows a maximum of 10 players, which includes the goalkeeper, on the field at any given time. However, according to US Lacrosse, the number of players can be “as few as 7 per side on the field if coaches agree.” Girls lacrosse typically fields a total of 12 players, including the goalkeeper. In lower levels of girls youth lacrosse, in addition to optional use of a goalkeeper, teams field seven players.

Playing Field

In general, lacrosse field dimensions are comparable to those of a soccer field. Based on US Lacrosse Boys’ Youth Lacrosse Rules, youth boys play on a field of about 110 yards by 60 yards. Based on the 2010 US Lacrosse Official Rules for Girls Youth Lacrosse, higher levels of youth girls teams play on a recommended field size of 120 yards by 70 yards, whereas the lowest level uses a field 70 yards by 25 yards. Field markings are specific to gender, age division and level of play.

Game Duration

Girls youth lacrosse games are split into two halves and vary in length depending upon level of play. The maximum game length for higher levels is 25 minutes running time for each half, and a maximum of 20 minutes running time per half is permitted for lower levels of play. According to US Lacrosse, boys youth lacrosse employs “four 10 minute stop-time quarters” for upper age divisions and “four 12-minute running-time quarters” for lower age divisions.

Contact

The differentiation between girls and boys lacrosse rules is attributed to the degree of contact allowed. Overall, girls youth lacrosse is considered a non-contact sport, consisting of rules that dictate minimal physical contact. In contrast, boys youth lacrosse is considered a contact sport, which allows both stick and bodily contact based on age division as outlined in the 2010 Rules and Regulations of Boys Youth Lacrosse of Washington.

Equipment

The degree of physical contact also dictates the types of protective equipment required in youth lacrosse. Regardless of age or level of play, all youth boys are required to wear protective gear in the form of a helmet, mouth guard, shoulder pads, gloves and arm guards. Youth girls are required to wear only a mouth guard and eye mask. A regulation lacrosse stick, also called a crosse, is necessary for participation in youth lacrosse as well, but boys’ and girls’ sticks are significantly different. Boys have two lengths of sticks: the short crosse, for offense, and the long crosse, for defense, both of which have deep mesh pockets. Girls use only one length of crosse, which is strung with a shallower pocket. Although lacrosse balls come in many colors, only yellow or bright orange are permitted for use in girls’ games, and only white are allowed for boys’ games.

Playing the Game

There are many rules that regulate youth lacrosse games. As stated by the Washington Schoolgirls Lacrosse Association “rough, dangerous or unsportsmanlike” conduct is not permitted in girls youth lacrosse, and the same is echoed by US Lacrosse for youth boys. In girls lacrosse, each game begins with the draw, whereas boys start with a face-off. Overall, there are numerous minor and major fouls that may occur in a game, details of which can be found in the US Lacrosse 2010 Official Rules for Girls and Women’s Lacrosse or the US Lacrosse Boys’ Youth Lacrosse Rules.

About this Author

Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Kristin Maricich grew up running, playing sports and enjoying the outdoors. She attended Western Washington University, achieving a B.S. in exercise and sport science: fitness and health specialist, and discovered a passion for lacrosse. As an ACSM HFS and member of the PCA, she currently volunteer coaches for Bellingham Girls Lacrosse, SV Flyers Lacrosse and Anacortes MS Cross-Country.