Can the Ball Make the Game Safer?

By Brian Logue

lacrosse balls

An often-overlooked piece of equipment related to safety is the actual lacrosse ball. Original research in 2005 by Trey Crisco, a member of the US Lacrosse Sports Science and Safety Committee, led to the development of a NOCSAE ball standard. In 2014, the NOCSAE standard became required for all games using NCAA/NFHS/USL rules.

Now, the ball could be getting even safer.

NOCSAE measures how much pressure it takes to compress the ball to 25 percent of its diameter. Current NOCSAE regulations that became effective in April 2015 allow for a range between 110 and 210 pounds of pressure. A new proposal that could be voted on as soon as November 2016 would limit that range from 115 to 150 pounds.

“It has the same weight and the same bounce, but the balls built to the new NOCSAE standard have up to a 40-percent reduction in the transfer of energy forces,” said Bruce Griffin, director of health and safety for US Lacrosse.

A polyurethane ball produced by Guardian already meets the new standard and hit the market last fall. Guardian’s “Pearl” ball costs more than a traditional rubber ball, but the new material helps prevent it from becoming a “greaser” with a hard, slick outer surface.

US Lacrosse is currently testing the new balls with high schools to see if players notice any difference.

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