Message from the Board
Well, it’s hard to believe, but the 2018 lacrosse season is just around the corner. We expect to open registration on December 1 and start practices in early February (or possibly in January if we can get indoor time). More about registration in a later e-mail . . . . The purpose of this e-mail is to inform our NAYLAX families about some significant rule changes adopted by US Lacrosse and the Western Pennsylvania Youth Lacrosse Association (WPYLA), the governing body of lacrosse in Western Pennsylvania.
As a preliminary matter, the age classifications have new names. So, U7 is now referred to as 6U; U9 is now 8U; U11 is now 10U; U13 is now 12U; and U15 is now 14U. In addition, players will be placed on teams based on their GRADE YEAR rather than birth date. This was a very late change WPYLA made and we will adhere to as as will the rest of the teams in our league.
Therefore, 8/7 grade will play as 14U, 6/5 12U, 4/3 as 10U, 2/1 as 8U and Kindergarteners as 6U. Our roster suggests this increases the age differential by 2-3 months over age-based teams. This may not be true for all teams and we could face teams with players that have a greater range of ages.
The more significant rule changes by team are as follows:
6U (former U7, players who are five years old or younger (but not younger than three years old) on August 31 of the year preceding completion): In the past, these kids generally played six on six on a shortened field, sometimes with a goalie, wearing regulation equipment and using a regulation stick and ball. Under US Lacrosse’s and WPYLA’s new rules for 6U:
- The teams will play three on three with no goalie on a shortened field
- It is recommended that players use fiddle sticks instead of regulation sticks
- The players will use a softer-than-regulation ball; and
- The only lacrosse protective equipment that players will be permitted to wear are mouth guards, lacrosse gloves, which are optional, and protective glasses (as are used in girls' lacrosse), which are also optional
8U (formerly U9, players who are seven years old or younger on August 31 of the year preceding competition): In the past, U9 played ten on ten on a regulation-sized field, with a regulation ball. Under the new US Lacrosse and WPYLA rules for 8U:
- The teams will play four on four (three players and a goalie on each side) on a shortened field; and
- The players will wear full equipment and use regulation sticks; but play with a softer-than-regulation ball.
10U (formerly U11, players who are nine years old or younger on August 31 of the year preceding competition): In the past, U11 teams played 10 on 10 on a full field. Under the new US Lacrosse and WPYLA rules for U11:
- The teams will play seven on seven (with one of the players on each team being a goalie) on a shortened field (the field will run the width of a regulation size laceosse field);
- Only the two players on the ball will be involved in the face-off (the players on the wings will not be able to release until one of the players on the ball gets possession);
- There will be no off-sides. In other words, all players are permitted to go both sides of the midline; and
- Each team may have two long poles up to 54" in length.
Because a number of 10U players will have been playing regulation lacrosse for a number of years, we may permit those players who were nine on August 31, 2017 to try out for the 12U team. On the registration form, parents of players who fall into this group will have the option of checking a box to let us know that they want their child to be considered for movement up to 12U. Whether any player is in fact, moved up will depend on a number of factors, including whether, in the opinion of our coaches, the player has the skills to compete at the 12U level and whether we are able to move players up without creating a situation where we have too many 12U players. We will consider this issue again once registration is complete.
12U (formerly U13, players who are 11 years old or younger on August 31 of the year preceding competition): The 12U team is the least affected of all the teams by the rule changes. As in the past, they will play 10 on 10 on a full field. The principal change is that in the past, each of a team’s two players on the wings could release as soon as the face-off began; now, only one of each team’s wings can release.
14U (formerly U15, players who are generally 13 years or younger on August 31 of the year preceding competition): The 14U teams will play lacrosse as they have in the past, with 10 on 10 on a full lacrosse field. The significant change here, of which parents of 14U players should be aware, is that 15 year olds who are in 8th grade and, therefore, not eligible to play on any high school team yet will be permitted to play on the 14U team. Consequently, our 14U team will have a three year age span (13, 14 and 15 year olds) rather than the typical two year age span. The reason that US Lacrosse and WPYLA agreed to this is because, if they did not, we would have some kids (typically those whose parents held them back a year before entering kindergarten) who would age out of our program, but be one grade short of playing on a high school team. As a result, those kids would have to miss a year of organized lacrosse.
US Lacrosse believes that these rules changes, which have similarities to changes made in some other sports, will result in better development of players and will make the sport safer, particularly at the younger levels. Candidly, as a Board, we are fine with some of the rule changes and not happy about others. However, as a member of WPYLA, we are bound by the new rules and are working to make the transition to them as smooth as possible. If there are further significant revisions, we will let you know.
In any event, we are excited about the upcoming 2018 season. The 2017 season was our best to date, with our kids at all ages playing at much higher skill levels than in the past. As a result of the evolution of our program and other WPYLA programs, Western Pennsylvania youth lacrosse is getting stronger. Some of the travel teams coming out of this area are making great showings and winning tournaments in other regions, including hotbeds of lacrosse such as Baltimore. We have a terrific group of coaches lined up for 2018, all of whom have years of lacrosse experience. We are actively working on trying to lease turf time in February and March so as to get our kids off blacktop and onto fields much earlier. And we are looking forward to sharing a great 2018 lacrosse season with all of you.
Happy holidays to all of you from all of us.
The NAYLAX Board