Major fouls are in place to protect the safety of players in the game and give guidelines as to whether play is dangerous or not.
There are three types of major fouls in women's lacrosse:
- Fouls involving the stick:
Players may not use their stick in a dangerous and/or intimidating manner, for example:
A defender may not make a sweeping check from behind that contacts the opponent's body; she may not swing her stick toward the body or head of her opponent nor may she hold her opponents' stick or body.
A defender may not directly poke or wave the crosse near an opponent's face.
A player with the ball may not hold the ball in her stick with her hand or cradle the ball in front of her face.
A player may not lower the head of the crosse below shoulder level and initiate crosse to body contact.
- Fouls involving the body:
A defender may not restrain or hold an opponent with her stick or body by blocking, detaining, or pushing.
A player in possession of the ball may not charge, or lean in with her shoulder or back into an opponent.
A defender may not reach around her opponent to check the stick.
- Fouls within the critical scoring area:
Three-second violation (only for a player defending her goal)
No defender may stand in the 8-meter arc for more than 3 seconds without being within a stick's length of the attacker she is marking.
Obstruction of shooting space
For an attacker with the ball who is in the critical scoring area or within the 8-meter arc, no defender may stand in the attacker's free space towards the goal. This foul is called "shooting space."
A defender may pass through this free space when:
the player with the ball is not looking to shoot
the ball is on the ground or if it is being passed in the air
she is within a stick's length of her opponent.
Dangerous play (by an attacker shooting on the goal)
The attacker assumes the responsibility to control her shot and her stick after releasing the ball. A shot may not be directed at a field player or the goalkeeper's body, especially her head or neck. This does not apply if a player moves into the path of the ball. Any shot taken without regard to the positioning of other players is dangerous.
Penalties for committing a major foul:
Outside of the 8-meter arc:
The opposing team gets a free position at the location of the foul. The person who committed the foul stands 4 meters behind the fouled player. The rest of the players on the field must move 4 meters away from the ball.
If the defense fouls within the 8-meter arc:
The offense gets a free position from the closest hash mark on the 8-meter arc.
The player who committed the foul goes 4 meters behind the fouled player.
All players (offense and defense) must clear out of the 8-meter arc.
If the offense fouls within the 8-meter arc:
The defense gets the ball on the 8-meter arc and the attacker who committed the foul must go 4 meters behind.
Minor fouls in girls' lacrosse are less severe and less disruptive of play. They include:
Empty stick checking - A player may not check her opponent's stick when the opponent does not have the ball in her pocket.
Covering or guarding a ground ball with the stick or body - A player may not cover the ball with the pocket of her stick, step on the ball or cover the ball with any other part of her body thereby obstructing the ball from other players.
Using one's hands or body to gain an advantage over one's opponent - A player may not "push off" her opponent with her hand or body to gain positional advantage.
Using an illegal stick or not wearing mouth guard - A player must play with a stick of legal length and pocket depth, and must wear a mouth guard in her mouth at all times on the field.
Jewelry - A player may not wear any jewelry at any time during a game. (Medical Alerts that cannot be removed may be taped down with athletic tape.)
Illegal substitution - A player may not enter the field before her teammate leaves the field, and must enter the field through the substitution box.
Delay of game - A player or team may not intentionally delay the game by either failing to stand when the whistle is blown, failing to move 4 meters away from a player on a free position, failing to wear a mouth guard, or behaving in any other way which in the umpire's opinion amounts to a delay.
Illegal draw - A player may be cited for an illegal draw if she draws too soon, does not move her stick up and away, moves before the whistle after the draw is set up, or if the ball does not go above the heads of the players taking the draw.
Intentionally putting the ball out of bounds - A player may not kick, run, pass or throw the ball intentionally out of bounds.
Body Ball - a player may not allow any part of her body to deliberatly impede, accelerate or change the direction of the ball. However, if the goalkeeper blatantly attempts to stop a shot on goal by plauing the ball off her bdy while outside the goal circle, it shall be called a major foul.
Penalties for committing a minor foul:
Outside of the 8-meter arc:
Umpire awards a free position and moves the fouling player 4 meters away in the direction from which the fouling player came.
Within the 12-meter fan:
Indirect free position on the nearest spot of the 12-meter fan. On an indirect call, the player with the ball may not shoot - the ball must be played by a teammate before a shot is taken.
Rules for play around the crease:
A field player (an attacker or defender) must not enter or have any part of her body or stick crossing the plane of the crease at any time, unless she is deputizing for the goalkeeper.
The goalkeeper or her deputy must not allow the ball to remain in the crease longer than 10 seconds, and may not re-enter the crease with the ball after leaving the crease with the ball unless the ball has been played by another player.
With both feet inside the crease, the goalie may reach with her stick outside the crease to reach the ball, but she may not cover the ball or draw it into her crease.
Penalties for committing a foul around the crease:
If the defense crosses the line or plane of the crease, she commits a minor foul, and the attacker gets an indirect free position at the 12-meter fan.
If the attacker crosses the line or plane of the crease, the goalie gets the ball and all of the players on the field must move 4 meters away from the crease.
A restraining line is located 30 yards from each goal area. A team is "off sides" if more than 8 defenders (including the goalie) or more than 7 attackers are over the line at any time. Players may exchange places during play, but a player should cross the restraining line fully before her teammate can enter. Players may reach over the restraining line with their stick to play the ball, as long as no part of their foot is over the line.