2024 Points of Emphasis

Reposted from: https://www.nfhs.org/sports-resource-content/2024-girls-lacrosse-points-of-emphasis/

Stick to Body Contact

Legal and safe use of the crosse is essential for the minimization of risk to players. It is also critical for the preservation of girls lacrosse as a game which allows players to play with limited protective equipment. While rules writing and officiating play a part in maintaining the integrity of the sport, coaches also play a role. Coaches must teach proper and legal stick skills. Players must not initiate illegal stick-to-body contact by using the stick to hit, push or displace an opponent. Officials must recognize, call and penalize illegal stick-to-body contact as required by the rules. Actions where players use their stick to thrust or shove an opponent’s body in a defenseless position may cause physical harm and requires issuance of a card. 

Legal defensive stick positioning is a stick held vertically with the head of the stick above the 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock position. Coaches are encouraged to instruct players to slow or stop an opponent’s progress while remaining in a legal defensive position. Illegal stick-to-body contact occurs when a defender contacts an opponent’s body with a stick held in a horizontal position, regardless of who initiated contact. This is a major foul and should be called by officials. Failure to enforce this rule may encourage cross-checking resulting in unsafe play and increasing the potential for injuries.

The National High School Sports-Related Surveillance Injury Study confirmed that contact with the stick is the primary cause of injury in girls lacrosse. This can result from using the stick to push or hit an opponent, cross-checking or hitting an opponent in any part of the body. When these actions occur, officials must recognize the foul and assess a penalty. Proper coaching, appropriate play, and diligent officiating in regard to legal use of the stick will together minimize risk and maintain the integrity of girls lacrosse.

Dangerous Play in the 8-Meter Arc

There is high potential for dangerous play and injuries within the 8-meter arc. This can occur because of players’ proximity, the speed of players moving into and through the 8-meter arc, aggressive actions by attack players and defenders, and shots being taken. Players can play safely in this area by maintaining control of their stick and body, avoiding illegal stick-to-body contact, shooting safely, and not pushing opponents.

Officials must be in the proper position to effectively officiate play in the 8-meter arc. They must know and concentrate on their area of responsibility. Lead officials focus on the
ball carrier and their defender. Trail officials must be aware of play while focusing off-ball then following the action – shooter and defender immediately after a shot. Many fouls occur immediately before, during and after a shot. Officials must always be watchful for dangerous follow-throughs, dangerous propelling, and dangerous shots that heighten the risk of injury of defenders and goalkeepers.

Controlled and safe play in the 8-meter arc coupled with effective officiating can significantly decrease injuries while maintaining the pace of play and the integrity of the game.


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.