2023 Points of Emphasis

Reposted from: https://www.nfhs.org/sports-resource-content/girls-lacrosse-points-of-emphasis-2023/

Dangerous Use of the Stick

The 2020-21 National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study confirmed the need for all lacrosse participants to take action to reduce risk of injury to student-athletes. Dangerous use of the lacrosse stick, including but not limited to actions such as the follow-through, slash, check to the head, and other risky activities warrants our utmost attention. Using the stick in this type of disruptive manner jeopardizes the safety of players on the field. Officials must immediately stop play and issue a card when this occurs. Coaches should consistently teach and reinforce safe play and legal stick use. Players can avoid this type of activity by always playing in a controlled manner, making safe checks, having their body and stick in a legal position when checking or defending an opponent and playing with discipline and in accordance with the rules. Understanding, teaching and playing lacrosse with the stick in a safe and legal manner will decrease injuries, improve game management, maintain the pace of play and uphold the integrity of the game of girls lacrosse.

Knowledge of the Rules

Officials, coaches and players must know and understand the rules of the game. Parents and spectators also benefit by knowing the rules. The NFHS Girls Lacrosse Rules Book defines the rules and requirements for girls lacrosse while promoting fair play and striving to minimize risk of injury for student-athletes. Knowledge of the rules by officials helps ensure proper rule enforcement and fair play, minimizes conflicts, and reduces risk of injuries. Knowing the rules allows coaches to teach their players how to properly play lacrosse and model good behavior. Knowing the rules as an athlete provides athletes with the ability to maximize performance on the field and compete in a safe manner. Knowing the rules as a parent or spectator allows parents and spectators to better understand the game, support the athletes, and encourage good sportsmanship. Learning the rules requires studying the rules book, discussing rule situations, reviewing rule changes, asking questions, and listening to others who are well informed about the rules. Knowledge of the rules is essential for the success of girls lacrosse. It also allows officials, coaches and players to be more successful; helps parents and spectators to enjoy the game; creates a positive atmosphere; and fosters safe play, sportsmanship and respect.


Good sporting behavior is one of the fundamental ingredients to the continued success and enjoyment of education-based high school sports and activities. In fact, in the 103-year history of organized high school sports in the United States, good sportsmanship has been one of the most important outcomes of high school activity programs.

NFHS playing rules are written to encourage sportsmanship. Participation in these programs should promote respect, integrity and sportsmanship. However, for these ideals to occur, everyone involved in these programs must be doing their part.

The NFHS is concerned that unsporting behavior in education-based athletics has increased across all sports. As a result, the NFHS has made sportsmanship the No. 1 Point of Emphasis for the 2022-23 school year.

Sportsmanship, or good sporting behavior, is about treating one another with respect and exhibiting appropriate behavior. It is about being fair, honest and caring. When these types of appropriate behavior occur, competitive play is more enjoyable for everyone.

Coaches set the tone at athletic contests with their display of sportsmanship. If these individuals act in a sportsmanlike manner, their behavior sets the tone for players, spectators and others. If coaches, however, are complaining constantly about the decision of contest officials, spectators are more likely to do the same.

There must be a collaborative, working relationship between contest officials and game administration to promote good sportsmanship and safely conduct the contest. Everyone has their roles to play in creating a positive, sportsmanlike atmosphere at contests.

Officials should focus on the actions of players, coaches and other bench/sideline personnel. A positive, open line of communication between officials and coaches ultimately results in a better contest for everyone involved.

Contest officials, however, should never engage with spectators who are exhibiting unsporting behavior. Once the contest begins, school administration is responsible for dealing with unruly spectators. A proactive approach by school administration includes monitoring the behavior of spectators and intervening as needed.

If spectators are using demeaning or profane language at officials – or at others in the stands – those individuals should be removed from the contest by school administration.

In recent years, a heightened level of unsportsmanlike behavior has been occurring by spectators at high school sporting events, and it must be stopped. The use of demeaning language, or hate speech, by students, parents and other fans must cease.

High school sports and other activities exist to lift people up, not demean or tear people down. The goal is to treat everyone fairly and treat each other with respect. Any speech or harassment that is insulting, demeaning or hurtful will not be tolerated.

High schools must establish a culture that values the worth of every single person – both players on the school’s team and players on the opposing team. There must be a no-tolerance policy regarding behavior that shows disrespect for another individual.

Good sports win with humility, lose with grace and do both with dignity. It takes the efforts of everyone every day to ensure that sportsmanship remains one of the top priorities in education-based activity programs.