Understanding Offside in Lacrosse

There is no doubt that lacrosse is an amazing sport. However, the game gets confusing when it comes to understanding the rules of offsides in lacrosse. I have had countless interactions with people, explaining how offsides work in lacrosse.  

In this article, I will break down the offsides in lacrosse and their complex rules in the simplest words.

What are Offsides in Lacrosse?

As stated by the official rules from the US Lacrosse body:

“A player is considered offsides when they cross the centerline before the ball or interfere with play from an offsides position.”

This rule has two clauses; crossing the centerline and interfering with play.

Crossing the Centerline

Offside in Lacrosse: Crossing Centerline
Offside in Lacrosse: Crossing Centerline (www.laxdrip.com)

If a player from one team crosses the centerline of the field before the ball does, they are considered offsides. In lacrosse, the field is divided into halves by the centerline, and players must wait for the ball to enter the opponent's half before crossing this line.

Interfering with Play

Offside in Lacrosse: interfering with play
Offside in Lacrosse: interfering with play (www.laxdrip.com)

Players can still be offside if they interfere with play from a position where they are not allowed. 

So which positions are they not allowed in? 

As stated on Westfield Bulldogs,

“When one team has more than 6 players on the offensive end of the field at any time and/or when one team has more than 7 players on the defensive end of the field at any time.”

  • If there are more than six offensive players when the ball crosses the midfield line, it is called offensive offside.
Offside In Lacrosse: offensive
Offside In Lacrosse: offensive (www.laxdrip.com)
  • If there are more than six defenders (including midfielders who crossed over) when the ball is in the offensive zone, it is called defensive offside.
Offside in Lacrosse : Defensive
Offside in Lacrosse : Defensive (www.laxdrip.com)

Read More: Rule of Lacrosse

Positions and Players Involved

All lacrosse teams have 10 players on the field at any given time and all of those players can be called for violating offsides. 

You might think, “How is this possible” since all lacrosse players have their dedicated positions? Well, the rules apply to all the players.

However, some positions are riskier than others for offside violations.

Let's break down the risk possibilities of offsides calling for each position. 

Player position Offsides rules Risk
Attackers Playing on the frontline field, attackers stay in the offensive zone. High
Midfielders Midfielders play in the center, managing double roles of offense and defense. They are free to get into either halves. Mid-High
Defenders Although defenders remain in the defensive zone. Midfielders playing defensive roles may join them within the zone player count of 6 players.  Low
Goalies Goalies are at the least risk of facing offsides. However, if they play the ball outside of the crease line, they're called offsides.  Lowest

Now that you know what are offsides in lacrosse and which positions have the highest risks, let’s compare the offsides in men’s lacrosse with offsides in women’s lacrosse.

Read More: Player Positions and Their Roles in Lacrosse

Offsides in Men's Lacrosse VS Offsides in Women's Lacrosse

Rules for offsides in lacrosse are similar for both men's and women's games. However, the following scenario differs in men's and women's lacrosse.

Offsides in Men’s lacrosse Offsides in women’s lacrosse
In men’s lacrosse, a player can be called offsides if they interfere with play from an offsides position, without even touching the ball.  In women's lacrosse, players can enter the opponent's side of the field without interfering with the ball.

Penalties for Offsides

Players who are found violating offsides face a penalty for a rule violation.

Offsides penalty as described by the US Lacrosse says that:

Penalty type Penalty Time Out  Penalty Case
Minor Penalty  Timeout for 30 seconds When a player gets an unfair advantage by violating offsides. 
Major Penalty Timeout for 60 seconds When a player purposefully disrupts gameplay to get an unfair advantage by violating offsides.

Note: If the game disruption is extremely severe due to a player's misconduct, he may be given a timeout penalty for 5 minutes straight (sometimes even sent off from the field).

When offsides are called, possession of the ball is awarded to the opposing team.

Common Misconceptions

The following are some of the most common misconceptions related to offsides in lacrosse. 

  • Players are only called offsides if they touch the ball.
  • Only attackmen and midfielders can be called offsides. 

However, none of the above misconceptions hold any grounds in reality. 

Impact on Gameplay

Offside rules impact both teams,

  • It prevents players from Cherry-picking. This means that players cannot camp near the opponent's goal. This ensures fair play. 
  • It encourages players to focus on the ball and make smart moves, rather than trying to beat the opponent's defenders.
  • It provides equal opportunities for all players to play fast breaks and counter-attacks. 
  • It helps to build strategizing tactics about good positioning, timing, and teamwork.

Comparison with Other Sports

Let's compare the Lacrosse's offsides rule with other popular sports.

Offside Rule Compaison
Offside Rule Compaison (www.laxdrip.com)

The comparison shows that offside rules may differ among different sports, however, offside is a common rule for almost all team sports. 

Strategies to Avoid Offsides

On that note, let's talk about some strategies to avoid offsides,

  • Teamwork and Communication
  • Player’s Position Awareness 
  • The Right Timing

Evolution of Offsides Rules

Ever since the offsides rule was introduced in lacrosse, it has undergone significant changes over the years.

In the early days of lacrosse, no offsides rule existed, and players could move freely around the field. Then in the late 19th century, offside rules were introduced limiting players from unfair advantage. 

Later on, lacrosse offside rules were modified to include the “advantage” rule, which allows the players to enter the opponent's side of the field without interfering with play.
Read More: When is the Lacrosse Season

People Also Ask

What are Lacrosse Offsides?

Lacrosse offside occurs when a player crosses the centerline before the ball or interferes with play from an offsides position, strictly defining player boundaries.

Is there Offside in Boy's Lacrosse?

Yes, boys' lacrosse has offside rules, similar to girls' lacrosse, where players must adhere to boundaries regarding ball position.

What is Offensive Offside in Lacrosse?

Offensive offsides happen when a team has more than six players on the offensive end or more than seven on the defensive end, aiming to prevent unfair advantages.

What is Defensive Offside in Lacrosse?

Defensive offsides occur when a team has more than six defenders in the offensive zone, aiming to maintain fair play and defensive integrity.

Now that you know all about the offsides in lacrosse, you won’t get confused anymore while playing or watching the game.

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Connor Stifel

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