Straight Shooters: Lindsey Biles on high school rules for girls

"Straight Shooters" answers your youth lacrosse questions with the help of US Lacrosse experts. This week's "Straight Shooter" is Lindsey Biles. Biles was an All-American and Tewaaraton Trophy finalist during her career at Princeton University. She graduated in 2005 ranked second among the Tigers' all-time leading scorers with 175 goals and 221 points. Biles, who helped lead Princeton to consecutive NCAA Division I championships in 2002-03, was also a member of the 2006-07 U.S. Women's Elite Team.

Q: Can you clarify a couple rules for me within girls' high school rules?

1. What is a safe check (within the sphere)? So I assume an offensive player cannot control a cradle within the sphere?

2. Once an attacker commits (makes a play within 8 meters), do all defenders need to be marked up on her in order not to get a 3-second call? I realize that when a non-ball attacker is within 8 meters, only one defender can maintain a mark up, correct? Thanks in advance, these items are a little gray within the rulebook.
-- John M. Hoard, Coppell, Texas

A: In response to your two questions:

1. A safe check is typically one that is executed in a direction away from the body with a quick "down-up" release. If a player puts too much force in the downward motion to contact her opponent's stick, but does not release in an upward motion quickly enough, she will be called for holding or slashing. A good check is made with control and quick wrists. The rule book states that a check may be executed toward the opponent's body so long as it is done in a controlled manner and no part of the stick or ball comes in contact with the opponent or enters the 7-inch sphere around her head, thereby putting the player's safety at risk.

The rules get a little tricky to interpret checking and the 7-inch sphere around an opponent's head. Typically, checking a player's stick in a direction toward that player's head or sphere is considered dangerous and hence, illegal. Likewise, checking a stick that is being cradled close to the player's head is considered dangerous, because of the high probability of the stick or the ball deflecting into the player's head.

For this reason -- and you are absolutely correct about this -- it is illegal for a player to cradle the ball within the 7-inch sphere around her head because it gives her an unfair advantage. Her defender cannot legally get a clean check off without injuring her.

If your opponent is cradling adjacent to her head but outside of the sphere, checking her stick head is fair game, so long as you execute it away from her head.

The rules also state that a player may reach into or through the sphere to execute a safe check. I think that this is a bit harder to do and a bit harder to interpret, but a situation that comes to mind is when a defender is running after or pursuing an opponent who is cradling in front of her shoulder. The defender can reach forward over her opponent's shoulder and through the outer edge of the sphere to check the head of her opponent's stick as long as its executed legally -- away from her body (and the 7-inch sphere) and without coming into contact with her shoulder.

Other situations would apply, but I would be careful -- executing this legally is tough and you run the risk of getting called for a foul.

2. Yes, only one defender can mark a player off-ball. Any other defenders attempting to mark the same player for more than 3 seconds would be in violation of the 3-second rule. Defenders attempting to double-team an off-ball player would be subject to the same. A defender cannot be within the 8 meter without a mark for more than 3 seconds -- a mark being defined as an attacker within a stick's length.

If a player with the ball makes a play within the 8 meter, either to goal or otherwise, two or more defenders can double team that player without getting called for the 3-second violation so long as they are marked up on that player.

Adherence to the "stick's length" rule when double-teaming is not strictly enforced if the intent to double-team is clear. All other players not attempting to double are still subject to the 3-second rule with respect to their off-ball marks.

During a general collapse within the 8-meter (for example, when the defense collapses as a unit into the 8-meter in response to a feed into the middle by the opposing team), again, 3 seconds generally does not come into play, provided that when the scoring play is over, defenders quickly find a mark.

"Straight Shooters" runs on baltimoresun.com and laxmagazine.com. E-mail your lacrosse questions to sports@baltsun.com and include a phone number for e-mail verification. US Lacrosse, headquartered in Baltimore, is the national governing body of men's and women's lacrosse. Learn more about playing, coaching and officiating lacrosse at www.uslacrosse.org.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun