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  • OWFL Officiating

Why are there so many rule changes?

Ever wonder why it seems like the rules are different almost every year when you or your kid steps onto the field? Well, there is a reason for that: because some years, the rules genuinely have changed - completely!


Over the years, women's field lacrosse (WF) has implemented a ton of rule changes to make the game more fun for players and spectators, and to keep up with the increased athleticism, speed and skill of our athletes. For most of us, we’ve embraced these changes, but as officials we also recognize that changes year-over-year can be alienating for players and their parents who are trying to keep up!


Did you know?

  • Teams used to play 12 v 12.

  • Positions had specific names like "First Home", "Point", "Coverpoint" and

  • "Third Man".

  • Players used to have to stand still on every whistle.

  • Women's field was initially played with NO BOUNDARIES!

So yeah - our game has changed a lot!


In Ontario, the rules used at all OWFL levels and at Canadian Universities (OUA) come directly from World Lacrosse (WL) and the official rule book for WF. From there, the OWFL has incorporated modifications to these rules over the years on a trial or permanent basis to encourage development, particularly at the U9, U11 and U13 levels.


WF rules are distinct from men’s field and box lacrosse, made unique by the fact that our athletes aren’t required to wear a ton of equipment and have different sticks with shallow pockets.


It is also worth noting that USA youth, USA high school, NCAA, other countries, and Athlete’s Unlimited (Professional League) each has their own unique rule book and each make rule changes from year-to-year.


For a few years now, WL has had their eyes on a major set of goals: getting lacrosse back into the Olympics, consolidating the rules of men's field/box/WF and increasing the number of countries that play around the world. Combine all of that with a missed season due to the pandemic and the introduction of the Sixes game (more on that in a future post!) and WOW is our game in a totally different place than just a few years ago.

It can definitely be confusing!


WL is soon expected to launch their completely updated rule book for WF (which we really need and are excited about!). Ontario officials will finally have a clear and concise resource to help them learn and apply the rules of our game, but with that rule book will inevitably come some additional changes. We’ll look to outline all changes, any additional points of emphasis, and challenging rules through this series leading into the 2023 season.


Eventually, and we hope sooner rather than later, those of us keeping up with the changes do believe that we’ll get to the point where SIGNIFICANT changes are less common from year-to-year. We genuinely believe we’ve almost found the “PEAK”

of what women's field lacrosse can be and we see it happening here in Ontario.

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