Lacrosse Tripping Penalty

lacrosse illegal body check

Lacrosse is known for being a very physical contact sport, similar to sports like hockey and football. However, some forms of contact are forbidden in lacrosse due to the danger of injury. Tripping is one of those forms of contact and is disallowed in lacrosse. In lacrosse, tripping is a personal foul and is subject to harsher penalties than a technical foul.


In lacrosse, physical contact is an important part of gameplay, as players often have to make contact with one another in order to gain possession of the ball or score goals. However, certain forms of physical contact are forbidden and can be met with personal fouls. Tripping is a personal foul that is defined as a player using any part of their body or stick to trip another player. Tripping must occur below the waist and involves any obstruction to an opponent with the stick, arms, hands, legs, or feet. This action can be primary, occurring when the tripping player is on their feet, or secondary, when the tripping player is not on their feet but presents an obstacle to the player being tripped.

Certain actions in lacrosse do not constitute a tripping foul, even if a player does trip. For example, if a player legally checks another player’s stick, and in the process of that check, the checked player trips over their own stick, there is no foul for tripping. Similarly, if two players are pursuing a loose ball and one player attempts to scoop up the ground ball with their stick, there is no foul for tripping if the other player accidentally trips over the out-thrust stick. 


In NCAA and US Youth Lacrosse, tripping is considered a personal foul. Personal fouls are more severe than technical fouls. For deliberate tripping, a player is suspended from the game for one, two, or three minutes, depending on how severe the official judges the tripping to be. Personal fouls are also non-releasable penalties, meaning that the fouling player must serve the full time in the penalty box even if the other team scores a goal while they are in the middle of their punishment. As a result of the personal foul, the non-offending team also automatically receives the ball.

Referee Signal

Lacrosse Tripping Penalty Referee Signal

In both NCAA and US Youth Lacrosse, the signal for tripping is the same. The signal involves the referee standing with their knees slightly bent into a half-crouching position. The referee then takes their right hand, lowers it by their side with the fingers behind the right knee, and makes a swinging motion back-and-forth, striking the inside of the knee to imitate someone being struck in the legs.


  • Player 1 is in possession of the ball and heading towards the opposing team’s goal. Player 2, of the opposing team, goes in for a check, and while using his shoulders to contact Player 1, also places his stick in front of Player 1’s legs, causing Player 1 to trip and fall to the ground, losing the ball. The whistle is blown, and Player 2 receives a one, two, or three-minute non-releasable penalty for tripping.
  • Player 1, while defending Player 2, deliberately sticks his leg out in front of Player 2’s forward progress, causing Player 2 to stumble and fall. Player 1 receives a three-minute non-releasable penalty for deliberate and intentional tripping.
  • During play, Player 1 uses his own stick to check the stick of Player 2, who has the ball. The check succeeds, but the two sticks are lowered in the process and Player 2 trips over his own stick. Player 1 is not called for tripping, as there was no positive attempt to trip during the play.

Similar Penalties to Tripping

  • Slashing
  • Unnecessary Roughness
  • Holding
  • Pushing
  • Warding


What is tripping in lacrosse?

In lacrosse, tripping is a personal foul, a form of physical contact that is against the rules of the game. Tripping occurs whenever a player deliberately obstructs another player below the waist with any part of their stick or body, causing them to trip and fall. Tripping must be a positive primary or secondary action, either occurring while the tripping player is either on or off their feet. Tripping is not called, however, when a player trips over their own stick as a result of a check, if a player trips over another player’s stationary body in an attempt to dodge, or if a player trips over another player’s stick when that player is going for a loose ball.

What are the consequences of being called for tripping in lacrosse?

In most lacrosse leagues, tripping is a personal foul and is punishable by a one, two, or three-minute penalty. This punishment depends upon the discretion of the referee, who examines how severe and intentional the tripping was. Since tripping is a personal foul, the penalty imposed is non-releasable, meaning that the player must serve the full penalty time and cannot reenter the field if the other team scores a goal while they are being penalized. Additionally, every personal foul, including tripping, results in the other team receiving the ball.

Is tripping a personal or technical foul in lacrosse?

In lacrosse, tripping is a personal foul rather than a technical foul. Technical fouls are lesser penalties in lacrosse and normally result in a 30-second suspension from the game or forfeiture of the ball if committed by the offensive team. Technical fouls are also usually releasable penalties, meaning that the penalized player can return to the field before their time has elapsed if the other team happens to score a goal during their penalty. Personal fouls, however, are more severe and usually carry penalties of one to three minutes. Personal fouls are also non-releasable, meaning that the penalized player cannot return to the field until their full time in the penalty box is completed, even if the opposing team scores a goal.