Offsides rules are in place to balance the offensive and defensive strength of each team across the field. Offsides in lacrosse is a penalty that results from a team having too many players on the field in total or too many players across the restraining line in either their offensive or defensive half. All field players and coaches must have awareness and field vision to anticipate a developing offsides situation. Offsides most frequently occurs in transition, during a line change or during fast breaks. Unsettled situations put each team at risk of mistakenly moving into an offsides position. In this tutorial, we will cover the maximum number of field players allowed in each attack and defensive area; the restraining lines; and what type of penalty is assessed for offsides.
In men's field lacrosse, the offense is deemed offside if they have more than six attackers in their offensive half or more than seven defenders in their defensive half. This includes players in the penalty box. In women's lacrosse, the offense is deemed offside if they have greater than seven players in the offensive or defensive area.
Restraining lines are in place to help enforce the offsides rules. The restraining line in lacrosse is a line that runs parallel to the center line and end lines and divides the offensive and defensive area from the midfield area. The restraining lines are used in the flow of play as well as during the face-off. During a face-off, a team at full strength must keep three defensemen plus the goalkeeper in the defensive area behind the restraining line, three attackmen in the offensive area and one player in each wing area. Once the whistle blows, the players may release and move towards the face-off X to help win a loose ball or get open for the next pass.
When the official notices an offsides violation, it results in an immediate penalty assessment or a slow whistle if the defense is offsides while an immediate scoring chance is occurring. If a goal was scored while the offense was in violation of the offsides rules, the goal is disallowed. Offsides is a technical foul, and the offsides player must serve a 30-second releasable penalty. If offsides is called against the defense while the offense has the ball, the offense takes a free position restart. If the offense is offsides in their own attacking area, the defense gains control of the ball with a change of possession.