Substitution Procedures Highlight Boys' Lacrosse Rules Changes

Major changes in substitution procedures in high school boys' lacrosse will take effect with the 2014 season. For stoppages of play due to an out of bounds ball, a horn will no longer be sounded to allow time for substitution. Instead, players may substitute "on the fly" as they can during normal play.

This was one of 19 rules changes approved by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Boys Lacrosse Rules Committee at its July 16-18 meeting in Indianapolis. All rules changes were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

While substitution may occur during playing action, Rule 4-22 lists the various conditions under which substitution may occur. In addition, substitution may take place while play is suspended as follows: end of a period, scoring of a goal, injury time-out, equipment adjustment, after a time-serving penalty and during a team time-out.

A new article was added to Rule 7-2 to reduce congestion in the penalty area. A maximum of three players from the same team can be in the penalty area serving penalties at the same time. The penalty time of any additional players(s) shall not start until the penalty time of one of the three players in the penalty area expires.

Kent Summers, NFHS director of performing arts and sports and liaison to the Boys Lacrosse Rules Committee, said any additional penalized player(s) shall wait in the bench area immediately next to the scorer's table but not in the table area. A team shall not be required to play with fewer than seven on-field players solely because of players serving penalties. In addition, a player's penalty cannot be released by a goal until he is in the penalty area and the time on his penalty has started to elapse.

"The Boys Lacrosse Rules Committee believes this change should minimize risk for participants and clarify procedures for administration of penalties and substitution," Summers said.

In another change designed to minimize risk, the committee added a fifth example of an illegal body-check. Rule 5-3-5 will state that an illegal body-check is one that targets a player in a defenseless position. This includes but is not limited to: a) body-checking a player from his "blind side"; b) body-checking a player who has his head down in an attempt to play a loose ball; and c) body-checking a player whose head is turned away to receive a pass, even if that player turns toward the contact immediately before the body-check. A minimum of a two- or three-minute non releasable penalty is assessed for this violation.

"Intentional player-to-player collisions with players in a defenseless position are a concern, and this revision will reinforce the need to eliminate these collisions from the game," Summers said.

In Rule 5-4 Checks Involving the Head/Neck the penalty for a violation was strengthened by dropping the possibility of a one-minute penalty. Thus, a minimum two- or three-minute non releasable penalty will now be enforced for this violation. Summers said this increased penalty will reinforce the need to eliminate hits to the head/neck from the game.

Besides the substitution procedures changes, the committee altered three other rules in Rule 4 Play of the Game. In Rule 4-4-3, during the faceoff in all penalty situations, there now must be four players in the defensive area and three players in the offensive area. An exception is when a team has three players in the penalty area, a player may come out of his defensive area to take the faceoff but must remain onside.

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