You Need To Know About Lacrosse Warding Penalty

Players often ask about warding and whether they can use arms to defend themselves. In addition to causing some confusion, it caused some discussion around the rules.

Players and coaches may misremember the exact clause because NCAA and NFHS rules change frequently. So let’s take a look at what you need to know about the lacrosse warding penalty once and for all to clear up any confusion.

Defining warding is the first step. Players who possess the ball can be penalized for warding when they hold, move or block an opponent’s stick with a free hand or arm.

The rulebook clearly defines warding, but in actual games, the decision depends entirely on the officials and the situation. The officials and players often disagree on warding, which is why it is a controversial topic. 

Related: Top 10 Richest Lacrosse players

Here is some information on what warding is and how you can maintain possession legally and effectively to avoid being called foul.

Lacrosse warding overview

The word warding didn’t exist to me before I started playing lacrosse. Lacrosse is a community that is filled with innate terms and phrases. A player is penalized for warding when he or she removes a hand from the lacrosse stick to push, hold, or block a defender.

There is a rule in the NFHS rulebook that prohibits a player in possession of the ball from using his free hand or arm… Pushing or controlling the direction of the movement of a crosse or body. Players in possession of the ball can protect their crosses with their hands… arms or other parts of their bodies when their opponents check their crosses.”

According to NFHS… this rule was amended in 2019 to require players with both hands on their sticks not to use their hands or arms to push the player applying the check. SITUATION C: A1 moves B1 away from himself by directing her (a) crosse or (b) body away from himself with both hands. Legal play (a). (b) warding off; award the ball to Team B.”

As long as they held both hands on their stick. players could move or control one another as long as they were in possession of the ball. Despite having both hands on the stick, contact with another player’s body is still considered a ward. but not in contact with the opponent’s stick.

When warding isn’t necessary

In some cases, officials allow the use of free arms due to subjectivity involved when determining what constitutes a ward. The player who has the ball can defend their stick with their free arm or hand if the defender anticipates a check from them.

However, a warding will be given once the free arm starts pushing or blocking the other player.

Further, stiff arms are a very common way to defend in lacrosse by extending free arms. The use of stiff arms in lacrosse is not allowed, thereby causing some confusion. we will discuss this in the next section.

Warding with stiff arms is a common practice

As a player stiff arms an opponent. He is pushing or pulling the opponent out of the way with his free arm. The penalty for stiff arm almost always applies regardless of the situation. Since it is such an obvious form of warding. 

A lacrosse player cannot extend his arms conspicuously… shove or hold his opponent with his free hand… or intentionally touch their body. A yellow flag is thrown to the field or the whistle is blown if a player enacts anything that falls into the above categories. As a result, laxers rarely attempt to stiff arm at an advanced level of lacrosse. 

Most beginners ,. Particularly those who have recently transitioned from another contact sport like football, make this mistake by stiffening up their arms. Due to the focus on strength and power in sports like football, stiff arms are legal. In lacrosse, body collisions are never prioritized above other factors. 

As a result, lacrosse encourages agility, speed, and flexibility. Footwork and stick skills are more important than physical contact for the best players. Thus, lacrosse generally discourages stiff arms and warding.

How else can ball possession be maintained?

How can players carry the ball safely and surely under opposing pressure if they cannot use the stiff arm to maintain possession? Here’s what we’ll discover.

A one-handed cradle

It is common to see professional players doing this. Their one-handed cradling technique separates the ball from the defender when they enter the offensive area. Defendants are kept at bay by their bodies.

Best lacrosse players can cradle with both hands, not just their dominant hand. Therefore, players have an even greater advantage regardless of where they attack the goal.

Keep your free arm stationary and close to your body to avoid being called for warding. Learn how to do one handed cradling as soon as possible if you are a beginner. Now is the time to begin using this technique because it will serve you well in the future. 


As much space as possible should be created between you and the defender in order to maintain possession. In addition to dodging, lacrosse players often use other methods. If you have possession of the ball and your feet are faster than your defender. Then dodging is an effective way to create separation and change directions. 

The idea is that the ball is always being jarred loose by physical contact between the defender and your stick. You will not give him a chance to come close to you. if you are faster on your feet and stronger than him. 

Here are the top 5 dodges you should learn from this video


You need to know that lacrosse does not allow warding. In addition, stiff arm is a common way of warding. In order to develop the right techniques and avoid bad habits. You must learn the correct rules early in your career.

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