Rule 6, Section 11 – Warding Off (NFHS Boys Lacrosse Rule Book)
A player in possession of the ball shall not use his free hand or arm or any other part of his body to hold, push or control the direction of the movement of the crosse or body of the player applying the check. A player in possession of the ball may protect his crosse with his hand, arm or other part of his body when his opponent makes a play to check his crosse.
Warding is a confusing call for many fans watching the game. Often any time a player on the other team shakes his arm a, “he’s warding ref” comes from the stands. On the flip side their own player could maul the facemask of his defender with his free hand and it is all fair play to the fans. The main part of the rule to focus on is a player may not “hold, push or control the direction of the movement of the crosse or body of the player applying the check.” As long as a player does not prevent a defenseman from throwing a proper check there is no problem.
But, Mr. Official what about the Bull Dodge? Fantastic question. The Bull Dodge is exactly what it sounds like. The offensive player runs over the defensive player instead of dodging around him. That dodge does run counter to the wording above, “any other part of his body” to manipulate the defender. In fact if every official called the ward as written the Bull Dodge would be called every time.
Here is how I see it. If the offensive player cleanly runs through the defender I have no problem allowing him to do so. However, if that offensive player lifts his front arm or shoulder and moves the defender while doing a Bull Dodge I have to call that because he is actively pushing the defender away. Calling a Bull Dodge is quite the Catch-22. Don’t call it and every offensive player will run over every defender. Call it and everyone is calling for the official to let the boys play. This is one of those fouls where most officials strive for balance. They will allow some but not all wards. This is especially true as players advance into higher and higher levels of play.
I hope the video and the explanation helps everyone who was not clear on what a ward is. If you have any comments or questions please post them below.