Youth Rules: Girls' Field Correction and Other Nuggets
Now that it's been a couple weeks since the US Lacrosse Board of Directors officially passed age-appropriate, national playing rules for youth boys’ lacrosse and youth girls’ lacrosse, let’s run through some news and notes related to the project.
• First, a correction. The original press release inaccurately lumped the U9 and U11 age levels together in the paragraph outlining a required use of a modified field in girls’ lacrosse. Using a modified sized field is optional in U11 play, and we’ve corrected the release here.
• Chatter time. Between surveys, meetings, phone calls and emails, the opinions or current rules practices of more than 170,000 youth lacrosse constituents were considered by US Lacrosse throughout the project. The board’s vote doesn't end the feedback process. Check out Lacrosse Magazine's "Sideline Chatter" feature, where the topic is youth rules. You can send in a comment on that page or continue the rules-related thread on facebook.com/lacrossemagazine.
• Press coverage. Members of the media also are weighing in. Check out this column on laxallstars.com.
• Age vs. Grade. They’re not necessarily mutually exclusive. The new rules organize youth teams by age, not grade, and the cutoff date for determining that age was moved from Dec. 31 to Aug. 31. For example, all players on a U15 team must be 14 years old or younger on the Aug. 31 preceding the competition. Organizing by age limits the possibility for young people as many as four years apart competing on the field together. The Aug. 31 date allows most kids to continue playing with their classmates, and it’s also the date used by the Federation of International Lacrosse.
"Traditionally people view the end of summer as the close of a competitive year in lacrosse and the fall as the beginning of a new competitive year," said Brian Silcott, men's game director at US Lacrosse. "The Aug. 31 date matches well with this traditional standard."
• Exceptions are no longer the rules. One thing that became clear recently is that the new rules represent minimum standards. In other words, a given youth league may adopt the US Lacrosse rules but further modify them based on the development stage of the players in that league.
If you're like me, you may think that allowing modifications seems a bit contrary to the idea of national playing rules. The clarity arises, however, in the fact that those modifications, or exceptions, would not be the rules for a game pitting teams from different leagues.
Rick Sofield, head coach of the Stars Gold (Va.) U15 girls' team, relayed a story about how his team traveled north in 2011 to play a team in the Maryland Youth Lacrosse Association (MYLA) and dealt with discrepancies in the MYLA rules regarding player placement on a free possession following a score with a four-goal lead. In 2012, should MYLA or any youth league adjust rules for in-house or league games, those adjustments would not be in effect for a game against a team from out of state or not in the association. US Lacrosse rules would govern that non-league game.
For more info on US Lacrosse's youth game initiative, visit www.uslacrosse.org/youthrules2012.