Everyone that is familiar with the previous set of NCAA Women’s Lacrosse rules needs to spend some time relearning and adjusting. For the 2018 lacrosse season, The NCAA has added new rules and changed many existing ones in women’s lacrosse. Some of the changes are minor, however many of them are so different that they can affect your approach to the game. The capability to change strategies, the pace of the game, player’s abilities, and the growth of women’s lacrosse will all be impacted by these changes. The top 5 major changes to the game include free movement, a 90-second shot clock, changes to the draw, eliminating the dangerous shot foul, and new equipment options.
Free Movement: Women’s Lacrosse Rules Update
Possibly the biggest change for veteran players will be the allowing of free movement after the whistle. For all of our lacrosse careers freezing on the whistle was the norm, but not anymore. Now when referees blow the whistle for a foul, players on the field may continue moving. This will allow players to get into better positions for offensive and defensive opportunities quickly. A great inclusion to this rule is a 2-meter barrier around the player starting with the ball to prevent unfair play. Once that player steps, passes, or the ref blows their whistle defenders may enter the barrier.
The reason for this change is to speed up the pace of the game and reduce that lull of standing still. Including the new free movement rule in women’s lacrosse should add some more action and potentially higher scoring games. Abruptly stopping on the whistle will be a hard habit to break, but it’ll be worth it. Adjusting quickly will help you take advantage of moments when others forget early in the season and maybe get you some goals.
90 Second Shot Clock & Alternating Possession Rule Changes
The 90-second shot clock is now being added to NCAA Women’s lacrosse in Divisions II and III. After being implemented last year in Division I Women’s Lacrosse it has expanded to all Divisions. The consequence of breaking this new rule is a change in possession, which can destroy momentum. To sum this rule up, when a team has possession of the ball, they then have 90 seconds to get a shot on goal. If nothing is done in the given time, possession will be given to the other team. This restarts the 90 seconds for that team from the spot of the ball and now gives them an offense opportunity. Teams also won’t get another 90-seconds on an alternate possession call if they already have the ball.
Now stalling at the end of halves and games is a thing of the past and pace will increase at those points. Division I Women’s Lacrosse didn’t see a major pace increase and the other Divisions will likely see the same. This is because the average possession before a shot in NCAA Women’s Lacrosse is actually under 90 seconds. The clock won’t speed up regular play but instead prevent unfair lengthy possessions that drag games out.
*Shots now have “a timeless status”. If shot before the shot clock or game clock expires it can still score.
Draw Circle Possession & Stick Placement
The changes to the draw happening this year mainly address placement issues for more fairness. These two rule changes also are rules from the men’s game that are becoming part of the women’s game. The first change is that player’s sticks must now be parallel to the centerline when taking a draw. Besides being directly above the line, being parallel adds a level of equality for both players.
The other addition to the draw change has to do with players outside of the draw. All players behind the restraining line must remain there until possession has been achieved. The six players in the midfield during a draw are now completely responsible for the ball. They must now either gain possession or move the ball behind a restraining line where someone else can get it. Once possession is achieved all players are released and play resumes as normal.
These two changes mainly affect those within the draw, but those outside have to remember them. Releasing before possession is called results in the other team gaining possession. This could easily be forgotten by an eager player used to rushing the draw, so try a little patience. Remember, you can reach over as long as your not on or over the line. You can also move behind the line to set up a fast break or to get back on defense. This will trip up some players early in the season, so make sure it isn’t you.
Dangerous Shots Are No Longer A Foul
Long story short, the dangerous foul doesn’t exist anymore. They have eliminated it and put the pressure on the defense. Go ahead and shoot away.
Women’s Lacrosse Stick & Stringing Changes
Now stringing in NCAA Women’s Lacrosse has far more options. Mesh and other unconventional materials are now allowed to be used in women’s lacrosse sticks. Traditional stringing is going to remain very popular, but expect mesh to be common too. The new rules keep all sticks that were legal before legal now, and only affects materials. So if you are happy with your current setup you don’t need to change.
The main focus of the change was to allow more flexibility for players. They now have options for materials that are easier to maintain and string. These materials still need a depth that allows the ball to be seen above the sidewall on both sides of the pocket. This will be checked on the field, per usual before the game begins. Player’s sticks will also be checked for ball movement on both sides of the pocket as well. To conclude, shooting strings must still be attached to the sidewall and follow the previous specifications. These changes may be minor in the application, but expect to see some very different looking and throwing sticks this year.