Lacrosse Interference Penalty
In lacrosse, the free movement of all players is an important part of gameplay, and rules exist to prohibit players from unnecessarily inhibiting another player’s freedom of movement along the field. Whenever a player on a lacrosse team deliberately impedes the movement of an opponent who is not in possession of the ball, that player can receive a penalty for interference.
In lacrosse, it is forbidden for any player to deliberately interfere with the free movement of another player unless that player is in possession of the ball. Interference can comprise almost any action, so long as it directly prevents another player from moving freely or pursuing the ball. Interference can include actions such as holding, cross-checking, pushing, and illegal screening. However, the rule against interference does not prohibit legal offensive screens, which do not involve interference because the screener must be stationary when the screen occurs or make no contact with the player they are screening.
Interference in lacrosse can occur in a variety of ways. The most obvious way is by any player deliberately blocking or holding back another player who is not in possession of the ball, thus preventing that player from providing aid to their teammates or pursuing a loose ball. Interference does not apply if the player being impeded is in possession of the ball, is within five yards of a ball currently in flight, or is within five yards of a loose ball. In these cases, since both players are either pursuing the ball or attempting to keep it, interference can occur as a form of legal defense without a penalty being called. However, an interference penalty is warranted whenever a player holds, cross-checks, or performs any other kind of restrictive action against another player who neither has possession of the ball nor is within five yards of it.
In NCAA and US Youth Lacrosse, interference is classified as a technical foul, which is a lesser form of penalty. When a technical foul for interference is called against an offensive player, the penalty is an immediate turnover of possession to the other team. When a technical foul for interference is called against a defensive player, the punishment is a 30-second suspension from the game for that player, which is a releasable penalty. This means that a player penalized for interference can return to the field before their 30-second penalty is finished if the other team scores a goal during their penalty time.
In both NCAA and US Youth Lacrosse, the signal for interference is the same. In order to signal interference, the referee will stand with his arms crossed over his chest in an X-shaped fashion, placing the palms of his hands on his shoulders.
- Player 1 of Team A tries to pass the ball to his teammate, Player 2, while cutting around the crease. However, before the ball leaves Player 1’s crosse, passing outside of 5 yards from Player 2, Player 3, a defender for Team B, checks Player 2’s crosse, preventing him from receiving the ball. A penalty for interference is called against Player 3, and he receives a 30-second technical foul.
- Team A is in possession of the ball and making a move towards the goal. While Team A attacks, Player 1, a defender for Team B, makes contact with Player 2 of Team A, who does not currently possess the ball and is not in the process of making a legal offensive screen. As a result, Player 1 receives a technical foul for interference and a 30-second penalty.
- Player 1 of Team A creates an offensive screen for his teammate, Player 2, who currently has possession of the ball. Player 1 runs toward Player 3 of Team B, who is pursuing Player 2, but he never causes contact with Player 3, instead merely screening him and remaining stationary as Player 3 cuts around him. Though Player 3 later calls for interference, it is determined that no foul took place because Player 1 performed a legal offensive screen against Player 3.
Similar Penalties to Interference
- Illegal Offensive Screening
- Illegal Procedure
What is interference in lacrosse?
In lacrosse, interference is a technical foul that occurs whenever a player deliberately impedes the free movement of another player who is not in possession of the ball or is further than five yards from a loose or flying ball. Interference can be committed by any player on a lacrosse team, including the goalkeeper. Any form of contact that impedes movement or reception of the ball by a player who is not currently in possession of the ball counts as interference, including checking, cross-checking, or holding. However, legal offensive screens and impeding a player who is within five yards of a loose or flying ball are not considered interference.
What are the consequences of being called for interference in lacrosse?
Interference in lacrosse is a technical foul and is thus a minor penalty. For technical fouls, if committed by an offensive player, the penalty is an immediate turnover of possession to the opposing team. If a defensive player commits a technical foul, they receive a 30-second suspension from the game. However, this is a releasable penalty, which means that the penalized player can return to the game partway through their penalty time if the other team scores a goal.
What are the types of interference in lacrosse?
There are a few different types of interference in lacrosse. Offensive interference occurs when an offensive player illegally impedes a defensive player from pursuing the ball or guarding the ball-holder through methods such as an illegal screen, hold, or cross-check. Defensive interference occurs when a defensive player impedes an offensive player from moving freely, performing a legal screen, or from receiving the ball in a legal pass. Goalkeepers can also be guilty of defensive interference. Finally, a third type of interference is called goalkeeper interference and consists of interference with a goalie; however, this is typically a separate penalty with its own unique rules.