Experimental Rules on Trial this Weekend in Lacrosse

Experimental Rules on Trial this Weekend in Lacrosse

The NCAA has annouced two men’s lacrosse scrimmages will be played this weekend with experimental rules that stakeholders hope will increase the pace of play.

On Saturday, UMBC will host Georgetown with the following experimental rules being implemented:

-Substitution will be allowed only on the horn when the ball goes out of bounds. This includes all boundary lines. Current rules allow substitutions on the fly and on any out-of-bounds stoppage.

-Teams will have 20 seconds to clear the defensive half and 10 seconds to reach the attack area after crossing the midline. Current rules require teams to gain the attack area within 30 seconds of gaining possession.

-If a team is given the stall warning, it has 30 seconds to put a shot on target (goal/save/rebound/pipe). Current rules require the team to keep the ball in the attack area during a stall warning.

-If the shot meets any of those criteria and the team on offense regains possession, the stall warning is off.

-If the shot does not meet those criterion and the 30 seconds expire, the ball is awarded to team on defense. No horn will be sounded.

-If during the stall warning, a shot is taken that misses the goal and goes out of bounds, the horn will be sounded, and the ball will be awarded to defensive team.

-If a team commits a violation during the faceoff, it is not allowed to bring an additional player up to the wing area. This creates a 3-on-2 advantage for the non-offending team. Current rules require only the violating team’s faceoff player to leave the field and the team may substitute immediately.

-If the offensive team commits a non-serving infraction and the ball is awarded to the defense in the attack area, the defensive team will be given the opportunity for a quick restart to promote a counterattack. Current rules require the ball to be restarted outside of the attack area.

On Sunday, North Carolina and Ohio State will scrimmage in Towson, Maryland, with an experimental shot clock being used.

Teams will have 60 seconds (first half) and 75 seconds (second half) to put a shot on goal (goal/save/rebound/pipe) after gaining possession. A shot that misses the goal will not count for this purpose.

Also in Sunday’s game, no substitutions will be allowed after a horn sounds.

“Our biggest concern is that the game has slowed down tremendously in the last 20 years,” said Sam Johnson, the deputy director of athletics at Army and chair of the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Rules Committee. “We think part of the cause is the substitutions on the fly. You see teams clear the ball out of the defensive zone, then they slow the ball down and you wait and wait. Teams take their time making substitutions. It has taken the speed out of the game.”

Both scrimmages will be filmed so that the rules committee can review whether any of the experimental rules should be implemented in the future. Depending on the results of the experimentation, the committee will incorporate ideas in its annual rules survey for membership consideration. The rules committee meets in early August and may consider changes for the 2012 and 2013 seasons.

Don Zimmerman, the coach at UMBC and the NCAA secretary-rules editor for men’s lacrosse, said the coaches involved in this weekend’s games agreed to play under the experimental rules to see if any are good for the game.

“I’ve talked to a lot of people and that includes players, fans and coaches,” Zimmerman said. “There was a recurring theme about how the game seems to have slowed down. There is a lot of dead time, and everyone would like to see measures taken and see lacrosse remain the fastest game on two feet.”

Some of the rules changes, particularly those in the UMBC-Georgetown game, could lead to players being more versatile and limit some of the specialization in the sport.

Some faceoff players are used only for that purpose. Johnson said coaches recruit prospects for that portion of the game, and many times faceoff players leave the field immediately after possession is gained.

“The experimental rules they will use in UMBC game will make that guy more of a universal player,” Johnson said. “Since no one can be replaced until a horn sounds, it means the face-off guy is stuck on the field. He has to be able to play, because he’s on the field until the ball goes out of bounds.”

But the main goal is to do what is best for the game.

“We are taking an open-minded approach to this,” Zimmerman said. “We will have our teams practice with these rules leading up to the scrimmage to get used to the rules. We want to see if the kids have fun playing under the new rules, because ultimately the game is theirs. The scrimmages are open to the public, and we can get some spectator feedback, also. It’s an opportunity to try some ideas and put them out on the field to see how they work.”
Back to blog


love the shot clock rule! the substitution rule on the other hand i hate! I’m an LSM and if substitutions are only alllowed on a horn when the ball is out of bounds, it almost eliminates my position. If you were still to run an LSM, the efficiency of the position would be greatly diminished. Another thing is that the ball doesn’t go out of bounds all that often at the college level. The rule would force players to stay on the field longer and be more tired and then lacrosse would turn into the pace of soccer. Substitution on the run is part of what makes lacrosse so great to play and i think to watch as well. The substitution on the run is an interesting and dynamic aspect of the game that is an essential part of the playing and viewing experience of the game.


There is no need to change college lacrosse. People always want it to be faster but they need to understand this is what the sport is and how it is played. The mll is faster but there are so many stupid plays made because the players have such a limited amount of time that they need to push to the goal. This is lacrosse and there is no need for change


I question if you have even actually watched college lacrosse or the playoffs this year, guy below me…. Comparing even the 08 ncca championship game to the last two years is significantly different. The Mll is far more high scoring, those stupid plays, well those guys are good enough to the point where they can in some or even many instances use them and be effective. I like the shot clock rule, but the fogo rule a bit harsh. The 30 second stall and 20 and 10 second box rule looks gooood too!

I just want a shot clock at that level and I’m happy!


You are correct between the past 3-4 years of college but that also has to do with the teams. this past year neither team in the championship was a run and gun team and that is the type of lacrosse they play. Other teams that are run and gun are more entertaining but that has to do with the type of coaching and players they have. I think forcing the teams to all play a more run and gun type style will change the recruiting process and will put some teams behind others because of their slower style of play

Corey Richards77

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.