What is Slashing in Lacrosse: A Comprehensive Guide

lacrosse player performing a slashing penalty

In the fast-paced world of lacrosse, players showcase various offensive and defensive tactics to gain an advantage over their opponents. One such maneuver is slashing, a violation that frequently occurs during gameplay. Understanding the implications and consequences of slashing can help players and spectators alike to appreciate the nuances and rules of this thrilling sport.

Slashing in lacrosse is a penalty perpetrated by a player who strikes an opponent with their stick using excessive force, or targeting areas other than the gloves or stick. Generally, slashing occurs when a player attempts to dispossess an opponent from the ball or disrupt their game strategy. It is crucial for lacrosse players to grasp the distinction between a legal poke or slap check and an illegal slash in order to avoid penalties.

When a player commits slashing, it results in a penalty, which typically includes a suspension from the game for a short duration. This puts the offending player’s team at a disadvantage, as they are forced to play with one less team member during the penalty time. Awareness of the slashing rules plays an essential role in maintaining fair play and ensuring the safety of athletes on the lacrosse field, as lacrosse is a sport where serious injuries can occur.

Understanding Slashing

Slashing Definition

Slashing in lacrosse is a type of physical contact that involves using one’s stick to hit an opponent’s body. This act is against the rules of the sport and is considered a personal foul.

Physical Contact

Physical contact is a common element in many sports, including lacrosse. However, players must adhere to the game’s rules and regulations to ensure fair play and maintain a sense of sportsmanship. Slashing is a specific type of physical contact that involves using the stick like a weapon, which can lead to injuries to the opponent.

Illegal vs Legal Checks

In the sport of lacrosse, there are both legal and illegal checks. Legal checks include body checks and stick checks that follow specific rules:

  • Body checks: Players can only perform a body check on an opponent who has possession of the ball, within five yards of a loose ball or when both players are within five yards of a ball in flight.

  • Stick checks: Players can use their sticks to try and dislodge the ball from an opponent’s stick but cannot make contact with the other player’s body in the process.

On the other hand, slashing is an illegal check. Some examples of slashing include:

  • Swinging the stick at an opponent’s head or neck area

  • Striking an opponent with the stick’s butt end or handle

  • Hitting an opponent with the stick while not attempting to play the ball

When a player commits slashing, they will receive a penalty, which typically results in a brief expulsion from the game, allowing the opposing team to have a man-up advantage.

Types of Slashing

Personal Foul

In lacrosse, a personal foul is a more severe infraction than a technical foul, often resulting in a time-serving penalty. Slashing falls under the category of personal fouls when the contacted player is struck in a way that is deemed dangerous or reckless.

Personal fouls for slashing can lead to penalties, typically ranging from one to three minutes, depending on the severity of the infraction and what the referee calls. During this time, the offending player must serve the penalty in the designated penalty area, leaving their team to play short-handed.

Technical Foul

A technical foul in lacrosse is a less severe infraction, and slashing can also be considered a technical foul under certain circumstances. Technical slashing fouls typically involve a player making illegal contact with their opponent’s stick, body, or gloves using their stick.

A technical slashing foul can result in a 30-second penalty if the opposing team has possession of the ball when the foul occurs. If the team committing the foul has possession during the infraction, the opposing team is awarded possession of the ball without a time-serving penalty.

It is crucial to differentiate between personal and technical slashing fouls in lacrosse, as the consequences of each vary significantly.

Slashing Penalties

Penalty Duration

In lacrosse, slashing penalties typically result in a player serving time in the penalty box. The duration of the penalty depends on the severity of the slash:

  • Minor slash: 30 seconds

  • Major slash: 1 minute

  • Flagrant slash: Possible ejection from the game

Severity Consequences

The consequences of slashing penalties in lacrosse vary based on the severity, as previously mentioned.

Here is a more detailed breakdown:

  • Severity consequence of minor slash- player serves a 30-second penalty, allowing the opposing team a man advantage. This is commonly where the opposing team scores, similar to a power play in hockey.

  • Major slash- player serves a 1-minute penalty, also allowing the opposing team a man advantage

  • Flagrant slash- player faces possible ejection from the game. An example of this would be a vicious swing from the offender’s stick, which makes contact with a player’s head.

It is essential to understand that slashing penalties can stack up, meaning that a player can serve multiple penalties consecutively if the offense keeps happening during a match. Moreover, repeated offenses may also result in unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.

In addition to penalizing the player responsible for slashing, holding penalties can also be given to other players trying to gain an advantage by using their hands or arms to restrain an opponent illegally.

Slashing Rules and Regulations

Youth and High School

In the youth level as well as high school lacrosse, slashing occurs when a player swings their stick at an opponent in a dangerous or reckless manner, making contact with any part of their body other than their stick or gloved hand on the stick. A lacrosse slashing penalty generally results in a one- to three-minute suspension, depending on the severity of the infraction.

  • No intentional body-to-body contact is allowed in youth lacrosse.

  • High school players may use controlled contact, but excessive force is penalized.


Collegiate lacrosse has similar slashing rules to high school play, with the addition of stricter enforcement regarding targeting the head, neck, or back. The general guidelines for slashing penalties in collegiate lacrosse are as follows:

  • One- to three-minute suspensions for slashing, based on severity.

  • Stricter penalties for targeting the head, neck, or back.

Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse

Slashing rules differ slightly between men’s and women’s lacrosse. In men’s lacrosse, incidental contact with an opponent’s crosse or gloved hand on the crosse is generally permitted. However, in women’s lacrosse, any contact with an opponent’s body, crosse, or gloved hand on the stick is considered a violation.

How to Avoid Slashing

Proper Stick Control

One of the most critical aspects in avoiding slashing in lacrosse is the player’s ability to maintain proper stick control. Defenders should always hold their lacrosse stick firmly by gripping the shaft with both hands, and not attempt to make a one handed check. This will help to prevent any unintentional contact with an opponent during a check.

When attempting to knock the ball away from the opposing player, defenders should focus on targeting the opponent’s lacrosse stick rather than their body. Keeping the lacrosse stick parallel to the ground can help minimize the risk of slashing, as it ensures that the check is focused on the ball carrier’s stick and not their body.

Additionally, practicing good body positioning can aid in avoiding potential slashing situations. Defenders should strive to keep a safe distance from their opponent, ensuring that their lacrosse stick is not too close to the other player’s body during an attempted check.

Legal Body Checks

In order to avoid slashing, it is important for players to understand the difference between legal and illegal body checks. A legal check refers to a controlled and intentional use of the defender’s body on an opponent in order to disrupt their play.

When executing a legal body check, defenders should adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Keep their hands together, gripping the shaft of their lacrosse stick.

  • Aim to make contact with the opponent’s torso, avoiding contact with the head, neck, or back.

  • Maintain control of their body, ensuring that they do not lead with their head, elbows, or lacrosse stick when making a check.

By mastering proper stick control and executing legal body checks, players can significantly reduce their risk of committing a lacrosse slashing penalty and therefore serving extra time in the penalty box.


Slashing is a major penalty against the lacrosse rules, and can have serious consequences if committed during a game. Understanding the rules of slashing is essential for players at all levels of the game, as it helps to ensure player safety and maintain fair play. Players should strive to control their lacrosse stick properly and execute legal body checks in order to avoid potential

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