August 29, 2011

Boys' Youth Rules Move to US Lacrosse Board

By Paul Krome | LaxMagazine.com | One for the Ages

Assuming the US Lacrosse Board of Directors adopts at its September meeting the youth boys' lacrosse rules as recommended by the US Lacrosse Men's Game Committee, the rules would govern play at all US Lacrosse events, including the fourth annual U15 National Championship in July.

©Scott McCall

BALTIMORE -- Nearly nine months of work to improve the playing experience in youth boys' lacrosse paid off Friday when the US Lacrosse Men's Game Committee voted unanimously to adopt age-appropriate, national playing rules. The vote sends the initiative to the US Lacrosse Board of Directors' meeting Sept. 10-11, and adoption by the board at that time would implement the rules for the 2012 season.

The youth rules emphasize the proper development of individual stick skills, team play, player safety and sportsmanship, and they will govern play at the U15, U13, U11 and U9 age levels.

"Eric Rudolph and Jack Couch did a fantastic job leading the development of these rules, and I think the unanimous approval from the Men's Game Committee is a statement on the quality of their work," said Brian Silcott, men's game director at US Lacrosse.

Rudolph, chair of the men's game rules subcommittee and a veteran official from Atlanta, Ga., and Couch, a member of the men's game youth subcommittee and longtime secretary in the US Lacrosse-affiliated Connecticut New York Lacrosse Youth Lacrosse Association (CONNY), worked with volunteers and staff to research, write, edit and re-write age-specific playing rules. The US Lacrosse Board of Directors in January directed leadership in the men's and women's games to proceed with the development of age-appropriate, national youth lacrosse rules and best practices. Included in the effort were surveys to youth leagues representing nearly 170,000 youth lacrosse players.

"The US Lacrosse Men's Game Committee is a tireless and selfless group of volunteers," said committee chair Bob Russell of Madison, Conn. "It's a cross section of the best of the best of our game. We had many spirited debates about the youth rules, and I believe for our first guidebook, we have a superior product. I'm so thrilled to call these people my friends for the sheer volume of data they digested and for the massive amount of time and service they have given back for the youth of our sport."

Russell refers to a new publication of US Lacrosse, production of which began in August with a video and photo shoot. The guidebook will be a benefit of membership for US Lacrosse coaches, officials and parents, and it is expected to be ready later this year.

The boys' youth rules include language governing play on the field, such as a reduction in the distance in which legal checks, holds and pushes may occur from 5 yards to 3 yards, and equipment, such as a requirement that goalies wear cups and the elimination of long crosses at the U9 level. Among other highlights include a removal of take-out checks and blind side hits and considerable penalty time for any check involving the head or neck.

"Many of the rules adjustments will help foster player development, and that's something we'll gladly incorporate into the US Lacrosse Coaching Education Program going forward," said Chris Snyder, manager of coaches education and training at US Lacrosse.

Off the field, one noteworthy section of the rules deals with team organization. Youth leagues will organize teams by age, with Aug. 31 as a cutoff date.

"Under the old way of fielding teams by grade, in some cases you could have kids as many as four years apart competing together," Silcott said. "That type of circumstance is greatly reduced when organizing by age, and doing so also aligns us with the rules of the Federation of International Lacrosse."

Lacrosse Magazine will continue to follow the progress of the rules passage online and in future print editions. A vote on youth girls' lacrosse rules by the US Lacrosse Women's Game Committee is scheduled for Monday evening. For more information on US Lacrosse's youth rules and best practices initiative, visit the project's homepage at uslacrosse.org.


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