Lacrosse Illegal Screen Penalty

Lacrosse Illegal Screen Penalty

In lacrosse, defending against offensive players attempting to score a goal against your team is a key tactic. In the rules of lacrosse, defenders must be allowed to defend against offensive players without any active impediment from the offense. If an offensive player deliberately attempts to disrupt a defenseman’s block, they can be called for an illegal offensive screen.


In lacrosse, an illegal offensive screen occurs whenever any player on the offense runs into and makes contact with a defensive player with the intent of blocking that defenseman from guarding against the player with the ball. Offensive players typically engage in screens in order to clear a path for their player to reach the goal, but the rules of lacrosse explicitly prohibit a screen from being anything but stationary. If a defenseman is taking up a position to guard, and an offensive player proceeds to run into them and block them from approaching the player with the ball, the offensive player is guilty of an illegal screen.

According to the rules of NCAA Lacrosse, it is illegal for any offensive player to hold their stick outward in a rigid manner as a means of impeding a defenseman’s normal movement. Any contact between a defenseman and an offensive player who is not in possession of the ball must occur when the offensive player is stationary, and any movement on the part of the offensive player towards the defenseman is considered an illegal screen. Legal screening tactics require the offensive screener to remain vertical in a stance with the feet no wider than the shoulders. Screeners cannot move their shoulders or hips into the path of a defenseman as part of their screen, even if their legs remain stationary. Screens also cannot be made to cause contact and delay an opponent unless they occur within five yards of a loose ball. 


In NCAA and US Youth Lacrosse, illegal offensive screening is a technical foul. When the offense commits a technical foul, the ball is immediately turned over to the opposing team. Since illegal offensive screens can only occur when a team is on offense, the penalty for an illegal screen would be a technical foul resulting in an immediate turnover of the ball to the other team.

Referee Signal

Lacrosse Illegal Screen Penalty Referee Signal

The signal for illegal screening is the same in both NCAA and US Youth Lacrosse. To make the signal for an illegal offensive screen, the official will bend the elbow of their left arm and close their left fist so that it sits beside their chin. Then, making a fist with their right arm, the official will bend their elbow and make a punching motion into their raised left arm.


  • Player 1 holds a position downfield, placing his stick in front of him with the head of the crosse on the ground. Player 2, Player 1’s teammate who is in possession of the ball, cuts around Player 1 while being pursued by Player 3. Player 3 then falls over Player 1’s crosse, impeding him from pursuing Player 2. A technical foul is called against Player 1 for illegal offensive screening.
  • Player 1 is heading downfield with the ball towards his teammate, Player 2. Player 2 extends his stick in front of him with his arms, and Player 1 moves around him. This causes a pursuing defenseman, Player 3, to run into the extended crosse of Player 2, who uses the crosse to hold him back. Player 2 receives a technical foul for an illegal screen.
  • Player 1 observes his teammate, Player 3, being pursued by Player 2, a defenseman. Player 1 begins to move away from Player 2, but while doing so, he makes contact with Player 2 and impedes him from pursuing Player 3. Even though he was moving away, Player 1 receives a technical foul for an illegal screen, as he was moving when contact was made with Player 2.

Similar Penalties to Illegal Screen

  • Illegal Procedure
  • Illegal Touching of the Ball
  • Interference
  • Holding
  • Warding
  • Pushing


What is an illegal screen in lacrosse?

In lacrosse, an illegal screen occurs whenever an offensive player moves into or illegally blocks a defenseman from guarding another offensive player, typically the one in possession of the ball. An illegal screen can occur when the offensive player moves his shoulders or hips into a defenseman’s path from a stationary position or when an offensive player uses his stick to trip up or otherwise impede a defenseman from guarding or pursuing the ball-holder. An illegal screen is a technical foul in lacrosse.

What are the consequences of being called for an illegal screen in lacrosse?

As illegal screening is a technical foul in lacrosse, it can be punished either by a 30-second penalty or a turnover of the ball to the opposing team. However, as 30-second penalties are only given out for technical fouls committed by the defense, illegal screening usually results in a turnover of the ball, as illegal screens are committed by players when their team is in possession of the ball.

What is a screen in lacrosse?

In lacrosse, a screen is a maneuver made by the offensive team to block defensemen from pursuing or guarding the ball-holder so the ball-holder can create space to attempt a shot. Screening is a very technical process and must follow certain rules. Offensive players engaging in a screen must be totally stationary, in a vertical position, and must not stand with their feet any wider than their shoulders. A player may not use their stick to impede the opponent while setting a screen. Screeners are also prohibited from leaning their shoulders or hips into a defenseman’s path, even if their legs remain stationary in the process. Finally, a screen cannot be created with the intent of causing contact or delaying an opponent from reaching a destination unless there is a loose ball within five yards.