In September of 2012, the NCAA announced plans to update and change a number of lacrosse regulations, all of which go into effect at the start of the 2013 season. For some, this might be old news, but I’ve found that many parents and players are still unaware of, or confused by the changes.
So here’s what you need to know;
1. Shooting strings can no longer extend more than 4″ from the top of the crosse.
Basically, this rule attempts to prevent really low shooters, and makes any V or U shooting strings illegal, restricting players to two basic two cross shooting strings. This ruling may seem frustrating, since most players are used to stringing their lacrosse heads with a V or U shooting string, but the NCAA’s aim was to prevent unfair pocket hold, and not directly outlaw V stringing.
2. Only one sidewall string is allowed on each side of the head.
This rule keeps additional strings off the sidewalls, reducing excess hold on the ball.
3. All lacrosse sticks are subject to a reverse pocket test.
When any pocket is stick-checked, in addition to tipping the crosse forward and backward, referees must also ensure that the ball can come out of any pocket, when placed in the back of the pocket, and pushed in to create a reverse pocket.
Refs will hold the lacrosse shaft parallel to the ground, face down, and then push the pocket through to create a reverse of the pocket. With the ball in the deepest part of the reverse pocket, the ball must come out when turned 180 degrees.
4. Any lacrosse stick deemed illegal during a game cannot be used again in the game.
If any lacrosse stick fails a random stick check, the team gets a 1 minute foul, and the stick is kept at the scorer’s table until the game is over. This is different than previous rulings, which allowed a player to fix his pocket, to meet regulations, and then return the stick to play.
5. All of these rules currently only apply to NCAA men’s lacrosse, or any high school league, club, or team that follows NCAA rules.
It’s important to note though, that while the new rules may not directly apply to all high school lacrosse players, many clubs and colleges across the country are now encouraging younger players to re-string their heads to meet these NCAA rules, to prepare them for upper levels of play.
In all, these new lacrosse rules make it easier, or at least more reasonable, to knock the ball out of the pocket, with the aim of maintaining fair play, retaining the merit of the game, and keeping players safe.
The NCAA and other officials noticed that attackers and middies were continuously running through traffic without ever losing the ball, despite significant pressure from the defense. It quickly became obvious that ball handling lacrosse skills were not solely to blame for this, and that some modern stringing methods were basically making it nearly impossible to dislodge the ball from the pocket.
What these new 2013 NCAA lacrosse rules attempt to accomplish is a game that focuses more on moving the ball than moving with the ball, while at the same time, trying to prevent escalation as defenders learn to check harder to get the ball out of deep pockets.
As with most rule changes in sports, there are people on both sides of the argument. Some players and coaches find the changes erroneous and arbitrary, and believe they will do little besides slow down the game and confuse players and parents. Others see this as a step forward to making the game fairer, and faster with more ball movement.
However, there are still others who have almost no opinion at all, and have simply changed and moved on, understanding that rules change and players adapt. Most believe, that at some point, master stringers and kids will find news ways of stringing their heads within the new rules, to develop the same solid hold they could get from low shooters and multiple side wall strings. For them, it’s only a matter of time.
But how about you? What do you think of these new lacrosse rules, and what do they do for the game as whole?
||By Brandon Porter.
Brandon is a product specialist at Sports Unlimited.