This article will cover the substitution procedures in lacrosse. A substitution is when a player in the starting lineup is replaced by a teammate on the bench. Substitutions are an effective game tactic for several reasons. A well-timed substitution can allow a player to rest and recover before going back on the field, create an offensive or defensive advantage and increase specialization at certain positions, particularly in men's lacrosse. Lacrosse allows for unlimited substitutions during regulation play and overtime.
The substitution area in lacrosse is a 10-yard long rectangular-shaped area located at the midfield line on the team sideline. It is also called the substitution box or change area. The substitution area is located at midfield to prevent offensive or defensive players from being able to run straight into the attacking or defensive zones near the goal. The player coming off the field must be within ten yards of the sideline before their teammate is allowed to run on the field.
Lacrosse substitutions are often made on-the-fly, meaning they occur during the run of play. Substitutions can also be made during certain stoppages of play, such as after a goal, end of the period, an equipment change or a man-up situation. Substitutions are not permitted to directly replace a player who is serving a penalty in the penalty box. Substitutions are not allowed during a team timeout. To signal a bench player to be substituted, coaches will sometimes call "on the hop" to indicate a quick change. Substitution players on the bench must be ready and prepared to enter the game on short notice.
An illegal substitution results when a team has more than the maximum number of players on the field. It is considered a technical foul and the team in violation of the rules serves a two-minute penalty. In men's lacrosse, there is a maximum of ten players per team on the field. In women's lacrosse, there is a maximum of twelve players per team on the field. Finally, in indoor lacrosse, there is a maximum of six players per team on the field.
In men's lacrosse, coaches will often use strategic substitutions to create offensive or defensive mismatches. For example, a "fogo" substitution is when a face-off specialist is immediately substituted after the face-off. Fogo stands for "face-off, get off." It is common for one or more long-stick midfielders to be substituted for an attacker after the defense has gained possession and moved the ball into the attacking area.
Substitution tactics for indoor lacrosse are slightly different than field lacrosse. Because all five field players - known collectively as a line - play both offense and defense, the coach may call for a line change. In a line change, some or all of members of the current line are exchanged for teammates on the bench, passing through the change area. Players hop over the boards to enter the field of play after their teammate has exited the field.