In the past few games I noticed some confusion regarding proper substitution, which I hope to clear up here.
Lacrosse has two types of substitution, regular and special. Regular substitution always occurs during a dead-ball, and always requires the request for a Horn!. Special substitution may occur during any live-ball or dead-ball situation and no horn is required to sub. That is a hard-and-fast explanation, so lets dig into the basics.
- Regular Substitution
- Horn is required
- Horn may only be requested on a Sideline Out of Bounds
- Once the horn sounds, the officials place both hands in the air, signifying that free substitution is allowed
- After the officials acknowledge the horn, players from both teams may run onto and off of the field without going through the substitution box
- This is akin to football substitutions between plays when multiple players sub on and off the field at the same time
- Special Substitution
- On the Fly
- May occur at any time during the game (no request for a horn is necessary)
- Players must enter and exit through the substitution box. When one player leaves the field through the box, another player may enter in his place.
- This is very similar to hockey players subbing during play.
Special Substitution is the easy one to get the hang of, because there are no restrictions as to when on-the-fly subbing may take place. It is regular substitution that causes a lot of confusion because there are certain restrictions.
- Teams May Not Regular Substitute when:
- The ball goes out of bounds on the endline
- There has been a loose-ball foul (play-on), or an inadvertent whistle
- For example, official calls a loose-ball push and awards possession to one team. A coach may not request a horn during that dead-ball because the penalty was a loose-ball foul.
- There is a suspension of play because of equipment (unbuckled chin strap, mouthpiece out, cleat falls off, etc).
Those are the major restrictions on Regular Substitution in lacrosse. All of this information may be found in greater detail on page 42 of the NFHS Boys Lacrosse 2011 Rulebook.
There are few things more aggravating to an official than calling an endline out-of-bounds, then turning around and seeing one team running every available substitute onto the field. Remember coaches, to do a wholesale regular substitution you must request a horn first. If the officials acknowledge that a horn is allowed and put their hands in the air, then you may sub your players.
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