September 7, 2011

USL Board to Vote on Youth Girls' Rules

by Brian Logue | LaxMagazine.com

BALTIMORE – The move towards age-appropriate national playing rules took another step forward last week when the US Lacrosse Women’s Game Committee voted to endorse youth rules for the girls’ game. The US Lacrosse Men’s Game Committee had voted to endorse rules the previous week.

Both sets of rules now go to a vote by the US Lacrosse Board of Directors, which is meeting in Baltimore this weekend. Adoption by the board would allow the rules to be implemented for the 2012 season.

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

At its January meeting, the US Lacrosse Board of Directors 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 was a survey of youth leagues representing nearly 170,000 youth lacrosse players to gauge rules and modifications that leagues were currently using.

In addition to its usual review of US Lacrosse rules for the women’s game at the high school age and above, the US Lacrosse Women’s Game Rules Subcommittee, led by chair Lissa Fickert, analyzed the returns from the various youth leagues, reached out to people throughout the sport, and incorporated advice from the US Lacrosse Sports Science and Safety Committee to develop the proposed youth rules.

“The committee, and Lissa, went above and beyond with this project,” said Melissa Coyne, women’s game director for US Lacrosse. “They really did a lot of work to make sure this was done on time and correctly.”

Among the specific rules proposed in the girls’ youth game:

  • Full checking will now be allowed at the U15 level as long as at least one of the two umpires assigned to the game has a Local rating, or higher. Modified checking (below the shoulder) will be allowed at the U13 level and no checking is allowed at the U9 and U11 levels.
  • The playing fields at the U9 and U11 age levels will be reduced in size. Fields will be rectangular in shape, 60-70 yards in length and 30-40 yards in width. A center circle and 8-meter arc will be added to the field to introduce the concept to younger players.
  • Elimination of the deputy at all levels of youth lacrosse. The consensus was that teams repeatedly utilizing a deputy did not help players properly develop. Goalies did not learn how to outlet the ball, and teams became too dependent on a talented player to clear the ball by carrying the ball the length of the field.

One of the biggest changes for some leagues for 2012 will be grouping teams by age instead of their grade in school. US Lacrosse member leagues and tournaments should field U15, U13, U11 and U9 teams based on the age of the player, with Aug. 31 the cutoff date. For example, all players on a U13 team must be 12 years old or younger on Aug. 31 of the preceding year.

“We can’t emphasize enough how different a 9-year-old is from an 11-year-old, how different an 11-year-old is from a 13-year-old, and so forth,” said Dr. Paige Perriello, a former NCAA Division I player, coach and umpire and current member of the US Lacrosse Sports Science and Safety Committee. “Knowing what youth can do at different levels with gross motor skills and mental capabilities and putting that expertise into practice is important.”

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.

- Paul Krome contributed to this story.


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