3X lacrosse | Official Rules
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OFFICIAL RULES

Download a pdf of the 3X Lacrosse Official Rule Book

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Rule 1: The Game, Field and Equipment

Section 1 The Game:

3x® (three-by) is a “gentleman’s game” played by two teams of 3 players each, in your backyard, or on a pitch covered by grass, synthetic turf, smooth wood, smooth concrete, smooth asphalt, sand, or any other suitable surface agreeable to by each team participating.  The game is played with a tennis ball that players can pass, throw, or bat into the goal with a crosse.

Section 2 The Field:

A 3x pitch consists of a 3x® Lacrosse goal and a Checkpoint approximately 33-feet directly in front of the goal measured from goal line extended.  There should be space behind the goal before an obstruction hinders playing from behind the goal (approximately eight feet or more is ideal).  There are no set outer field dimensions for 3x.  The game can easily be played in a small tight space such as a racquetball court or on a large open space such as a meadow, or any size pitch in between. The only real restriction on pitch size shall be that participating teams agree it is suitable.

NOTE:  3x is played similar to half-court basketball.  On a change of possession, the new offensive team must “clear” (carry or pass) the ball to the Checkpoint directly in front of the goal.

NOTE:  If a Checkpoint is not specifically discussed and affirmatively agreed upon prior to the start of a game, and no prior course of dealing between the competing teams has established an approximation where the Checkpoint should be, then a default Checkpoint measured 33-feet (or at any obstruction that is closer than 33-feet) directly in front of the goal shall be the location to which the teams must clear the ball.

NOTE:  If games are being played right next to one another–in a gym for instance–then the participants or a coach may want to set out-of-bounds boundaries to keep players from running into other games.

SITUATION:  During play the ball goes into an adjacent 3x game and (a) a player on Team A runs into the adjacent game and interferes with play there, or (b) a player from Team A is closest to the ball when the ball enters the pitch of the adjacent game/play but does not enter the adjoining pitch nor interfere with play there.  RULING:  In (a) the ball shall be awarded to Team B at the Checkpoint.  In (b) the ball is awarded to Team A at the Checkpoint.

Section 3 Goal:

The goal shall be an official 3x® Lacrosse goal, which forms a goal mouth that is 3 feet wide and 3 feet high (inside measurements).

Section 4 Crosse Dimensions:

All players use a short crosse as defined in the NCAA/NFHS Rule Books published by US Lacrosse, which shall be an overall fixed length of approximately 40 to 42 inches.  Circumference of the crosse and dimensions of the head are only limited in that a goalkeeper’s/oversize head of any sort may not be used, and toy/mini lacrosse sticks should not be used.

NOTE:  The point of this rule is to ensure the players are developing their stick skills and not bad habits playing with toys.

Section 5 The Ball:

The ball shall be a tennis ball or a soft lacrosse ball.

Section 6 Player Equipment:

Players are advised to wear the following equipment: Boys should wear a lacrosse helmet with a protective facemask and gloves; Girls should wear either eye protection and a mouth guard or a lacrosse helmet with a protective facemask as well as gloves.

NOTE:  These two items are mandatory for minors participating in a 3x Lacrosse Federation sanctioned event.  Younger players may be required to wear arm pads as well.  Players over the age of 18 may participate in the event without the recommended equipment at their own risk, but are strongly recommended to wear safety sport glasses and a mouth guard at the very least.

Rule 2: Game Personnel

Section 1 Number and Designation of Players:

3 players shall constitute a full team. On defense, one player may play Goalkeeper.

NOTE:  The goalkeeper may use their hand to gain possession of the ball within a reasonable distance from the goal.

NOTE:  If the goalkeeper leaves the net to backup a shot on goal and gets into a battle for a ground ball more than seven feet (7’) behind the goal, then the goalie may not use their hand to gain possession of the ball.  Violation of this rule results in a turnover of possession.

Section 2 Game Officials:

Penalties are typically “call your own foul.”  The following are situations, but not by limitation, where officials may be appropriate:

  • Highly competitive contests where the participants do not know each other;
  • Youth tournaments or organized play days where participants are under the age of 18; or
  • Any other tournament in which the organizers deem referees to be necessary and appropriate.

NOTE:  The point of the game is to have fun, get better, compete, and win or lose fairly, as the case may be.  Being a good sport and sportsmanship are key elements to a successful 3x game and are the foundation of the game of 3x.

Rule 3: Game Duration

Section 1 Typical Game Duration:

Games are won by the first team to score 5 goals.

Section 2 Tournament Game Duration:

Games can be played first to a set score or for a set amount of time as established by the tournament officials, usually seven (7) to ten (10) minutes, if time and scheduling is of the essence.

NOTE:  If a timed game ends in a tie and a winner must be determined, then the winner is determined by a sudden victory overtime period where the next goal wins the game, or a shootout if time is of the essence.  If the game is to be determined by a shootout, then the shootout shall be conducted as follows:

  • Each team shall choose a player to have a one-on-one with the goalie from the other team for each Round.
  • In a Round, one player from each team gets a chance to take their shot, regardless of whether the initial shooter scores or not.
  • Each shooter gets 4-seconds to shoot or the shot doesn’t count.  The time limit is measured by a player on the opposite team or an official counting to four by counting “One-thousand-one. One-thousand-two. One-thousand-three. One-thousand-four” out loud.  If the shot has not been taken by the count of “four” then the shot is disqualified and does not count.  If the shot is taken before the count of four, but the ball does not enter the goal until after the count of four, then the goal counts so long as the ball enters the goal on the impetus of the initial shot only.
  • If both or neither player from each team scores, then a different player from each team is chosen to take the next one-on-one with the goalie from the other team under the same process.
  • Shooters must change for each new Round of the shootout until all players from that team have had their turn. After that, the same player can go until a player from one team scores and the player from the other team does not.
  • Goalies can change or remain the same from one Round to the next as the team sees fit.
  • The above process continues on until a player from one team scores and the player from the opposing team does not score in that respective Round.

Rule 4: Play of Game

Section 1 Minimum Attitude Requirements and Attitude Adjustment:

Rule#1: Mandatory, without exception, hands down, for all 3x participants; one’s attitude must meet or exceed that of 3x Federation expectations prior to any game play.  Should it be determined at any time a player’s attitude needs adjusting a timeout may be called to which there are no minimum number of, or time limits for, and the player in question must adjust their attitude.   Those players not meeting minimum attitude requirements may be substituted for, asked to sit out, or expelled from game play until their attitude meets minimum requirements.  What constitutes a good attitude should be made public prior to the playing of any game, however, the attitude requirements may change throughout game play.

ART. 1 . . . Who determines attitude minimum requirements:

  • Those running the 3x Tournament; or
  • Majority of those players in attendance, however, those running a 3x Tournament, if it is a 3x Tournament, have final say.

ART. 2 . . . Who may call for an attitude adjustment:

  • Any assigned 3x referee;
  • Those running the 3x Tournament;
  • The Peanut Gallery of which must comprise of a minimum of 2 individuals;
  • Any team in attendance plus a minimum of 2 peanut gallery attendees;
  • Any single person on the attitude offender’s team; or
  • The accused, or to be accused, attitude offender.

Section 2 Selecting Teams:

In pick-up/backyard play teams are chosen by piling the six sticks together and mixing them randomly into teams of three with one’s eyes closed.

Section 3 Facing Off:

Play of the game shall be started on the count of three with a standing faceoff between two players from opposite teams.  Anyone spectating or participating in the game—other than those facing off—may make the count to three.  The other players may be positioned pretty much anywhere they like, but they cannot take body on the ensuing ground ball.

NOTE:  There is only one face off during a game.

NOTE:  After a goal is scored in typical pick-up/backyard play where there are other players waiting to play in the next game, games are played “King’s Court” or make it take it, with the team that scores retaining possession of the ball, and starting up play again at the checkpoint.

NOTE:  After a goal is scored in typical tournament and youth play, games are played “Suckers’ Serve” or losers out, with the ball changing possession to the team just scored upon and starting up play again at the checkpoint.

NOTE:  A hybrid of the King’s Court and Sucker’s Serve is the “Warrior’s Way” with a change of possession/Sucker’s Serve after each goal up until a team scores its third goal, and then switching to make it take it/King’s Court after each goal for the remainder of the game for that team.  When a game is being played Warrior’s Way, only a team that has scored at least three goals has earned the right retain possession after a goal.  One or both teams can earn King’s Court privileges in any given game.

Section 4 Pitch Boundaries:

There is no out of bounds, just like the original game the Native Americans played.

NOTE: When playing in an enclosed space (e.g. fenced in backyard, tennis court, box lacrosse court, etc.) the participating teams can decide if they want to chase the ball out of the enclosed pitch for possession if the ball leaves such playing area, or if the team that touched the ball last before it went out of bounds becomes defensive team.

SITUATION: When playing in an enclosed space (e.g. fenced in backyard, tennis court, box lacrosse court, etc.) A1 takes a shot and the ball deflects (a) off the goalkeeper (b) off the goal pipe (or touches nothing) and goes out of bounds. In (a) A1’s team retains possession.  In (b) the ball is awarded to Team B.

SITUATION: When playing in an enclosed space (e.g. fenced in backyard, tennis court, box lacrosse court, etc.) and A1 throws the ball out of bounds then the ball is awarded to Team B.  If A1 throws the ball and it is deflected off of a Team B player/stick then A1 retains possession of the ball.

NOTE: If the game is being played on a tennis court, under no circumstances can a player jump the tennis court net to go after a loose ball.  Players must have one foot on the ground at all times when crossing over the net.  The penalty for jumping the net is instant loss of ball to the other team and possible instant loss of teeth.  This rule shall remain in effect whether play is currently underway or temporarily suspended.  The offending player’s team shall surrender possession at the next restart of the game.

Section 5 Goal Scored:

ART. 1 . . . A goal is scored when a loose ball passes from the front, completely through the imaginary plane formed by the rear edges of the goal line, the goal posts and the crossbar of the goal, regardless of who supplied the impetus.

SITUATION: The goalkeeper intentionally moves the goal so that a shot or a dunk that would have entered the goal misses instead. RULING: Goal counts.

ART. 2 . . . Shots cannot be “too hard.” Determination of whether a shot is “too hard” or not should be agreed up

on between the participants in a particular game. If an agreement cannot be reached, then any player can request for an objective referee to come and officiate the game. See Rule 5~Section 1 Officiating the Game.

ART. 3 . . . An offensive player’s stick may not touch the goalkeeper while trying to score.

NOTE: If the Goalkeeper is the one that initiates contact, for example checking the shooter’s stick on a dunk or a drive then such incidental contact is allowed.

NOTE: This allowed incidental contact does not include if the Goalkeeper is directly protecting the goal mouth on a dunk but not attempting to check the shooter’s stick and the shooter’s momentum results in hitting the Goalkeeper.

ART. 4 . . . An offensive player may not “crash into” nor box the goalie out of his space. This will be goalie interference and results in no goal, if a goal was scored on the play, and a change of possession.

ART. 5 . . . An offensive player’s stick MAY NOT smash the goal frame while trying to score. Smashing it in is not allowed. This is akin to when a shot is “too hard” and the players in a particular game should make and agree upon the determination.  Dunking “too hard” is like a crease violation in regular field lacrosse and results in a change of possession, and no goal, if a goal was scored on the play.

ART. 6 . . . An offensive player may not follow through on a shot and hit a defending opponent with their stick. The only exception is if the defender is rushing in on the offensive player and the offensive player’s stick was in the space first. Both offensive and defensive players should control their sticks at all times.

NOTE: Should teams disagree on the legitimacy of a goal to a point where a decision can’t be made by the teams themselves, a ruling official, or “the peanut gallery,” then the goal will not stand and the team that shot on goal will keep and start possession from the Checkpoint.

Section 6 Body Checking:

ART. 1 . . . Body checking at any time is illegal.

ART. 2 . . . No “Bull Dodging.” A player may not force or back their way into position in front of the goal to take a shot using brute force and pushing defenders out of the way. A violation of this rule results in a turnover.

Section 7 Boxing Out:

A player may “box out” an opponent to gain favorable positioning on a loose ball, so long as the boxing out does not rise to the level of a body check.

Section 8 Checking With Crosse:

ART. 1 . . . Slap, poke and wrap checks are allowed only when the ball carrier is driving to the front of the goal to take a shot, but cannot be “too hard” and must be under control and not hit the opponent’s hands.

NOTE:  Determination of whether a check is “too hard” or not should be agreed upon between the participants in a particular game.

SITUATION:  A1 is carrying the ball (a) on the perimeter of the pitch looking to make a pass; (b) in an attempt to dodge to the front of the goal to set up positioning for a shot; and B1 checks A1’s crosse with a poke, slap, or wrap check.  RULING: In (a) the check is illegal and A1’s team retains possession of the ball.  In (b) the check is legal.

NOTE:  Situation (b) is also known as the “Driver’s Dilemma” because if they get checked on their hand while driving hard to the goal, that is not a foul and they make that decision at their own peril.  The point of this position is that 3x is a game of ball movement.  Played properly, there should be no call for stick checks, and if the situation arises, it is likely because the ball carrier forced the situation by choosing to drive.

NOTE:  The fact that a player is very fast and aggressive does not give them the right to chase ball carriers around and throw stick checks.  Stick checks are typically only allowed in the prime scoring area, which is loosely defined as directly behind the goal (for dunkers) and in a funnel shape radiating from the front of the goal to about 20 feet away from the goal.

SITUATION:  Team A is passing the ball quickly and A1 catches the ball in front of the goal and before he can take a shot B1 collapses on him and throws a stick check. RULING: This check is likely legal if A1 is standing in prime shooting position long enough for an opponent to recover and get a stick check.  Playing the fastest game in two hands will often require that shots be taken with a quick stick.  Any stick checks in this situation must be clean and not hit the shooter’s bare hand.

ART. 4 . . . Any checks must be AWAY from the ball carrier’s body and head (not toward).

ART. 3 . . . Wrap checks and cross checks are not allowed.

NOTE:  After a battle for a ground ball, the losing competitor(s) may not commence to wrap, poke, or slap check the ball carrier on the perimeter.

NOTE:  If an offensive player is dodging directly in front of the goal and backing in for a shot, a defensive player may throw a wrap check in this situation only, or may push the offensive player out of the shooting area by using a cross check.  Keep in mind that good ball movement should replace the need to dodge and dodging is strongly discouraged in 3x.

ART. 4 . . . On ground balls players are only allowed to play the ball.  NO STICK CHECKS. NO BODY CHECKS. You may box out an opponent to gain position on a ground ball.

NOTE:  The only exception to this rule is when a player lightly lifts an opponent’s stick with a quick tap so that the opponent misses the ball on a scoop through.

NOTE:  An opposing player may try to “fish” a loose ball out if an opponent is having difficulty picking up a ball, but may not throw stick checks under the guise of fishing the ball out.  Incidental stick contact is allowed.

Section 9 Goalie Privileges/Limitations:

ART. 1 . . . The goalkeeper may stop or block the ball in any manner with the crosse or body.  They may block the ball, bat the ball away, or catch the ball with their hand.

NOTE:  The goalkeeper may use their hand to gain possession of the ball within a reasonable distance from the goal.

NOTE:  If the goalkeeper leaves the net to backup a shot on goal and gets into a battle for a ground ball more than seven feet behind the goal, then the goalie may not use their hand to gain possession of the ball.  Violation of this rule results in a turnover of possession.

ART. 2 . . . The goalie may NOT kneel or sit down while in goal. The goalie may go to his knees or tush briefly when a shot is taken by an opponent.

NOTE:  If a goalie makes a save and it is determined the goalie was in violation of this rule, then possession returns to the offensive team.

ART. 3 . . . No part of the goalkeeper’s body can be over the goal line.

NOTE:  The goalkeeper can go to their knees briefly but cannot have their feet over the goal line or sit back in the goal.  Good goalie position is in front of the goal line with the goalies head not covering any part of the goal.

NOTE:  After years of controversial Tremper goaltending play this rule was made firm circa the turn of the millennium in 2000 at the 8th annual Hal Tremper Classic.

ART. 4 . . . The goalkeeper may not intentionally move the goal so that a shot or dunk that would have entered the goal misses instead. RULING: Goal counts.

Section 10 Ball Control:

A player may not hit an opponent in the head or face with a pass or a shot.

NOTE:  This rule is only applicable if a game is being played by participants who are not wearing helmets (not recommended).

NOTE:  If a goalkeeper gets hit by a shot in the face or head and is crouched down in the goal with any part of his head below the top crossbar, then this does not result in a turnover.  This is considered assumption of risk.  This is not the case if the shot is too hard.

Section 11 Clearing the Ball:

On any turnover/change of possession, the defensive team must clear the ball to the Checkpoint before becoming the offensive team.

NOTE:  If a Checkpoint is not specifically discussed and affirmatively agreed upon prior to the start of a game, and no prior course of dealing between the competing teams has established, an approximation where the checkpoint should be, then a default checkpoint measured 33-feet (or at any obstruction that is closer than 33-feet) directly in front of the goal shall be the position to which the teams must clear the ball.

NOTE:  If a change of possession occurs with the Checkpoint between the ball and the goal, then the new offensive team is deemed to have “cleared” the ball and can go straight to the goal for a scoring opportunity.

NOTE:  It is insufficient that the ball went a long way away laterally or behind the goal, the ball must still be “cleared” to the designated and agreed upon Checkpoint directly in front of the goal.

Rule 5: Fouls, Enforcement and Penalties

Section 1 Officiating the Game:

Penalties are “call your own foul,” but don’t be ticky-tack.

NOTE:  If a game participant calls a foul, then that determination shall be respected.  If there is a disagreement as to what constitutes this foul or if players on a team persist in committing fouls despite being repeatedly called for those infractions, then an objective referee should be requested to call the remainder of the game.

NOTE: A referee will be assigned by tournament officials or “the peanut gallery” as the case may be and their rulings for the remainder of the game will be final and binding.  If the single referee’s calls do not seem to be fair, then any player on either team may request for a committee of three referees to come and officiate the game.  The referee committee should be selected in as neutral a process as possible.  One possible process would be for each team to choose one referee, and then those two referees agreeing upon the selection of the third referee.  Committee decisions shall be made on a majority basis.  This committee’s rulings for the remainder of the game will be final and binding. You may also want to consider going back to kindergarten and growing up!

NOTE: If objective referee(s) is/are unavailable, then it is advised that play should be adjusted to be less aggressive and less confrontational.

NOTE:  Referees are likely to be present at tournament play.  Especially at:

  • Highly competitive contests where the participants do not know each other;
  • Youth tournaments play days where participants are under the age of 18; or
  • Any other tournament in which the organizers deem referees to be necessary and appropriate.

NOTE:  The point of the game is to have fun, get better, compete, and win or lose fairly, as the case may be.  Being a good sport and sportsmanship are key elements to a successful 3x game and are the foundation of the game of 3x.

Section 2 ZERO TOLERANCE:

The will be ZERO TOLERANCE for fighting, threatening, or bullying anyone while playing 3x. The offender’s team will forfeit their game. Instigators shall be treated more severely. Repeat offenders shall be suspended and/or expelled from the 3x Federation.

Section 3 Penalty Enforcement:

ART. 1 . . . Most penalties result in a change of possession, disallowed goal, both or some other penalty assessment that the teams agree or the referee(s) determines is fair under the circumstances.

ART. 2 . . . Unsportsmanlike and unnecessary roughness penalties may result in a forfeit by the offending player’s team.

Section 4 Game Integrity:

All players are to uphold the integrity of the game and have respect for it and all other fellow players.