The NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Rules Committee this week recommended a proposal to allow free movement in the sport.

Committee members, who met Tuesday through Thursday in Indianapolis, want to improve the pace and flow of the game and believe a way to accomplish this goal is to allow players to continue moving after the official blows the whistle. Currently, players must stop on the whistle.

All rules changes must be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which is scheduled to discuss women’s lacrosse proposals July 20.

Under the proposal, players can keep moving while the player possessing the ball restarts play after a foul or violation. There will be a 2-meter nonengagement area around the player awarded possession of the ball.

Players are free to move outside the nonengagement area. For violations of the nonengagement area or delays clearing out of the nonengagement area, teams will receive one initial team warning and then subsequent violations and delays will result in a green card and immediate one-minute penalty. 

Upon a change of possession, if the defensive team commits three fouls before the offensive team crosses the restraining line into its attacking end, the defending team will be assessed a one-minute penalty.

All shooting-space fouls and three-second violations, as well as all other fouls committed in the 8-meter arc, will result in an 8-meter free position for the offensive team.

The committee has recommended a new setup for 8-meter free positions that will permit the defensive team to position players at the hashes adjacent to the 8-meter free position. Excluding the offending player who is positioned behind the 8-meter free position, players will be permitted to move freely outside the 8-meter arc; however, players will not be permitted in the playing area below the hanging hashes to the dots.

The committee believes this will alleviate the concerns of shooting space and dangerous slides from low to high during 8-meter free positions. 

For fouls that occur in the critical scoring area above goal line extended, possession will be awarded to the offense at the 12-meter arc, the offending player will go behind the offensive player, and there will be a nonengagement area.

For fouls that occur in the critical scoring area below goal line extended, possession will be awarded to the offense at the dot — located below the goal-line-extended area — the offending player will go behind the offensive player, and there will be a nonengagement area.

Committee members believe changes made the past two seasons, including self-starts and adding a 90-second possession clock, set the groundwork for their new proposals.

“This felt like a natural progression for the game to move toward,” said Jen Adams, rules committee chair and coach at Loyola (Maryland). “We are looking at this through the lens of we are moving to what a lot of other sports have. Instead of having a unique freeze-tag type of rule, we are going in a direction to increase the pace and flow of the game.”

Draws

The committee also recommended a change to how draws will be handled next season.

Each team will be allowed to have only three players enter the midfield area to gain possession of the ball on draws. The remaining players must remain behind the restraining line until possession is established.

The committee believes this will clean up this area of the game and help officials clearly identify fouls and possession on draws.

Also, the two players who initially compete in the draw could be required to position their sticks parallel to and above the center line.

Goal interpretations

The committee recommended that if an official’s whistle is blown at the same time or immediately after a player releases a shot, a ball entering the net should be counted as a goal.

Also, if a shot is released before the game clock expires and the ball crosses the goal line, it will count as a good goal. Currently, to be a good goal, the ball has to cross the goal line before time expires.

Yellow cards

On a team’s fourth yellow card, the offending player must serve a two-minute nonreleasable penalty. This would also be the penalty for each subsequent yellow card after the fourth yellow card is administered to a team.

Self-Starts

Players will be permitted to self-start in the final two minutes of each half and during overtime.  Players also will be permitted to self-start if the ball goes out of bounds on the end line or sideline.