Lacrosse Over and Back Violation

Lacrosse Over and Back Violation

In lacrosse, an over and back violation occurs whenever the offensive team returns the ball back over the midline after it has been cleared. Once the offensive team crosses into the attack area, the shot clock begins, and the offensive team must either score a goal or keep the ball in the attack area until the shot clock runs out. If the offensive team is forced back over midfield or deliberately passes the ball back into the defensive zone, an over and back violation occurs. 


Definition

In order to score a goal in lacrosse, the offensive team currently in possession of the ball must clear the ball through the defensive zone and enter their offensive area, at which point they will attempt to bypass the defense and goalkeeper to make a shot for the goal. Like basketball, once an offensive team manages to enter the attack area with the lacrosse ball, an 80-second shot clock begins. Once this shot clock progresses below 60 seconds, the offensive team must either try for a goal or keep the ball in the attack area in an attempt to score until the shot clock runs out. If the offense does not do so, and the lacrosse ball somehow returns to the defensive zone over midfield, an over and back violation occurs.

The over and back violation is named so because, in order to incur it, the lacrosse ball must first go over the midline of the field, leaving the defensive zone for the attack area, and then somehow proceed back over the midline without changing possession and before the shot clock elapses. An over and back violation can occur in a few different ways in lacrosse games. Firstly, it can occur deliberately if an offensive player who is in the goal area with the ball passes the ball out of the attack area to another of their teammates in order to avoid the defense. This is a deliberate over and back violation. A violation can also occur if an offensive player in possession of the ball enters the attack area but is checked backward over midfield by the defense while still possessing the ball. 

In lacrosse, the ball can only return back over midfield after a valid offensive shot at the goal or a change of possession. Thus, a valid offensive shot that misses the goal and flies into the defensive zone does not incur an over and back violation. Additionally, there is no infraction if the ball does not touch or pass the midline before being pulled or batted back into the offensive zone by an offensive player (even one outside the offensive zone). Any defensive player may bat the ball with their stick to keep it in the offensive zone, but they will commit an infraction if they gain possession of it over the midline (their defensive zone). Over and back violations also do not occur if the ball leaves the offensive half of the field as a result of the defense.   

Result

In NCAA Lacrosse, an over and back violation by the offensive team incurs two punishments. The first is an immediate turnover of the ball to the defensive team. The second is a quick restart for the defensive team, meaning that one defensive player will receive the ball in bounds, starting from a stationary position, after which play resumes. These rules for the punishment of an over and back violation also stand in US Youth Lacrosse.   

Referee Signal

Lacrosse Over and Back Violation Referee Signal

There is no official signal for an over and back violation in lacrosse. As an over and back violation typically results in a turnover, the referee will usually make the signal for alternating possession, which involves bending the elbows and placing both palms over the stomach with the fingertips touching and then pointing to the side of the field for the team receiving possession with the appropriate arm. The referee may also make the signal for an illegal procedure by placing both arms crossed in front of their chest and rotating them around one another. This signal resembles a referee's signal for a false start in football.

Examples

  • Team B makes a defensive play and successfully deflects the ball back into Team A’s defensive zone. Team A regains possession and crosses back over the midfield line into their offensive half of the field, but one of their players passes the ball back into their defensive zone. An over and back violation is called, and Team B receives the ball.
  • Player 1 has the ball in his team’s offensive zone and attempts a pass to Player 2. Player 2 fails to receive the ball, which rolls toward the midline. Player 3, a teammate of Players 1 and 2, who is standing in the defensive zone, bats the ball with his crosse to prevent it from crossing the midline.  Player 2 retrieves the ball, which never touches or crosses the midfield line. The ball did not cross out of the offensive zone, so there is no over and back violation.
  • Player 1 of Team A has the ball in the offensive zone, with the shot clock being under 60 seconds. He makes a pass that is deflected by Player 2 of Team B, causing the ball to touch or cross the midfield line. Player 3 of Team A picks up the ball in the defensive zone. There is no over and back violation because the ball left the offensive zone as a result of a defensive player. However, if Player 3 reenters the offensive zone, the ball cannot return to the defensive zone without incurring an over and back violation.

Similar Violations to Over and Back

  • Crease Violation
  • Illegal Procedure
  • Illegal Touching of the Ball
  • Offside

FAQ

What is the over and back rule in lacrosse?

In lacrosse, the over and back rule forbids the offensive team from returning the ball over midfield to their defensive zone after crossing into the attack area. Once the ball is cleared and enters the restraining box, the ball must remain in the offensive zone until a goal is attempted or the defense wins possession. An over and back violation occurs if the offensive team deliberately passes the ball back across the midline or is pushed into their defensive zone.

What are the consequences of being called for an over and back violation in lacrosse?

The consequences for an over and back violation in lacrosse are twofold. First, the offensive team that committed the violation must immediately turn over possession of the ball to the defensive team. The defensive team also receives a quick restart, meaning that one of their players receives the ball in bounds from a stationary position and can resume play immediately. This can often catch the opposing team off-guard and provide a fastbreak opportunity.

What are the exceptions to the over and back rule?

There are a few exceptions to the over and back rule in lacrosse. There is no over and back violation called if the offense makes a valid shot at the goal, which hits the pipe and flies into the defensive zone. There is also no infraction committed if the defensive team deflects a pass by the offensive team while in the offensive zone, and the ball is knocked into the defensive zone. Additionally, if the ball is lost or passed by the offense and rolls towards the midline, but a player in the defensive zone reaches over the midline and bats the ball away from crossing the line, there is no violation. This is because the ball did not touch the midline.