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June 6, 2015 — When rules changes are not necessarily thought out

Earlier this week, the NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Rules Committee made some preliminary votes on potential rules changes. The changes are not yet final; they need a further vote by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which will make a final ruling by mid-July.

As we said yesterday, the imposition of a 90-second shot clock is the headline coming out of the Rules Committee. But there are a couple of other rules changes which, frankly, are only half-thought out.

One rule, borrowed from field hockey, allows lacrosse players to self-start after minor or major fouls outside of a 12-meter circle in front of or behind the goal cage.

Having witnessed hundreds of games over the last two decades, I have seen how difficult it is to get players positioned in the best of circumstances. I think a self-start is going to be a complete unless the unique “freeze tag” rule in women’s lacrosse is going to be abolished as it was in 1953 for the men.

Another rule will make stick checks mandatory for every goal-scoring play. This actually takes out a pretty valuable strategic tool. In a game, coaches are allowed to ask the umpiring crew to challenge a goal-scorer’s stick legality three times, or those challenges can be used against any field player during a timeout, before a draw, at halftime, or before the start of an overtime period.

Oh, and speaking of overtime, the Rules Committee made a major change to extra-time rules. If adopted, there will not be two halves of extra time totaling six minutes. Instead, the next goal wins the game. Teams would play as many three-minute overtime periods as necessary to determine a winner.

Of the major rules changes, this one makes the most sense taken together with the 90-second shot clock. But it will also put an increased premium on draw-control specialists as well as for coaches to pick the one most likely to win the game-critical center draw.

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