Millions of kids across the country play lacrosse. However, did you know that there are important new rules that you should know about lacrosse shoulder pads? As a result, parents will need to invest in new lacrosse equipment.
Lacrosse Shoulder Pad Rules
The rules will stay the same for college and professional lacrosse players. However, youth and high school lacrosse shoulder pad rules are changing. It’s important for youth players and parents to understand what rules have changed.
You must also understand why they’ve changed. This kind of information can help you to explore your options.
There are differences in the designs of new shoulder pads. For example, STX lacrosse shoulder pads now have a large pad over the heart area. Meanwhile, Maverick lacrosse shoulder pads have a hard plastic plate over the chest.
When the Changes Start
It’s important to know when the new regulations will go into effect. The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) establishes these regulations.
The new standard, NOCSAE ND200, ensures the effectiveness of safety equipment for lacrosse and other sports. These requirements go into effect starting January 1, 2022.
Some parents worry about this looming date. They express concern that there will not be enough new lacrosse equipment for the start of the 2022 season.
Fortunately, manufacturers have prepared for the change. They don’t forecast equipment shortages or delays that will affect the playing season.
Why NOCSAE Regulations Matter
The NOCSAE ND200 standard is the first performance standard established for chest protection. Sport equipment manufacturers must now comply with the guidelines of ND200.
Likewise, players can’t enter the field without ND200-certified equipment. These new rules reduce the risk of commotio cordis injuries. A commotio cordis injury occurs after a powerful blow to the heart area.
Already, the new NOCSAE ND200 lacrosse shoulder pads rule has gone into effect for lacrosse goalies as of January 1, 2021. Goalie shoulder pads must already meet this new performance standard. Eventually, the rules will affect many players, including:
• USA lacrosse youth
• NFHS youth
• NCAA players
The shoulder pads standards are mandatory for these groups.
Protecting Kids at Play
A Reuters report reveals that younger male lacrosse players are more likely to face injuries during game play. This group sustains more concussions compared to high school or even college players. The report cites a study during which researchers conducted during a period of three years.
During the study, researchers discovered that youth lacrosse players experienced 10.3 injuries for every 1,000 minutes of athletic exposure (AE). These injuries were compared to 5.3 injuries per 1,000 AEs for high school players and 4.7 AEs for college players.
Stay Proactive About Safety
The Reuters report goes on to emphasize how important it is for parents to remain vigilant about lacrosse injuries. It compels parents to teach children about equipment safety from an early age. Parents should also make sure that children know to get checked by a physician after an injury.
Also, it’s no longer acceptable to drop children off at a game and go home. Parents should remain on-site to ensure the health and safety of their children who play lacrosse.
Part of this responsibility includes leagues having appropriate prevention strategies in place. These prevention strategies might include the presence of medical personnel during games as well as emergency action plans in the event of an injury.
Preparing for the New Regulation
Part of game safety includes ensuring that young players wear NOCSAE ND200-compliant safety gear. This precaution is especially important for boys, who historically experience more injuries.
Youth players must wear shoulder pads or protectors. These protectors must meet the new standards.
Manufacturers have already begun to produce and distribute this line of new NOCSAE lacrosse shoulder pads. Players of all ages should start investing in this new equipment as soon as possible. NOCSAE recommends against waiting until the 2022 deadline to upgrade lacrosse equipment for youth.
Changes Are Already Underway
As mentioned earlier, the new NOCSAE ND200 rule went into effect for goalies in 2021. The rule applies to goalie chest protectors for both youth, high school, college, and professional players. All of these players must wear equipment that meets the new performance standard.
This equipment might vary in product design. Each manufacturer will use its own proprietary methods to meet the standard. What’s important, however, is that their equipment meets the standard, no matter how it’s constructed.
Why the Change?
A critical ruling took place in the fall of 2019. The ruling by the US Lacrosse Board of Directors resulted in considerable changes in equipment design.
The board now views heart protection for players as critically important. They now see commotio cordis as a serious threat to athletes.
Lacrosse players must follow these rules, whether boys or girls. Due to the board’s decision, only certified legal lacrosse shoulder pads are now allowed for lacrosse play.
Answering the Call for Safety
Everyone’s gearing up for the coming changes in January 2022. There will be a massive demand for new equipment that’s certified to protect against commotio cordis.
Game officials will not allow athletes to enter the field without certified equipment. The equipment must have an official SEI certification mark.
Lacrosse Companies such as Maverick, STX, and Warrior are working to meet anticipated demand. They’ve all produced shoulder pads and chest protection that meets the new standard. More importantly, this new line of equipment all contains an official SEI certification mark.
The Dangers of Commotio Cordis
Commotio cordis can prove life-threatening. The danger of this injury was illustrated on April 6 during a game between the Dons and McDonogh.
On that day, a freshman player, Peter Laake, took a shot to the chest. On-site medical personnel saved his life that day. They did so with an automated external defibrillator (AED).
Medical personnel immediately diagnosed Laake with a commotio cordis injury. The shot to his chest disrupted his heart rhythm and triggered an acute cardiac arrest.
A Life-Saving Intervention
Medical personnel jumped into action quickly. They treated him with an available on-site AED device.
The device diagnosed his condition automatically. It then treated the condition using defibrillation. Fortunately, the AED device enabled Laake’s heart to reestablish an effective rhythm.
After on-field treatment, medical personnel escorted Laake to a local Baltimore hospital. There, he recovered and then went home over the weekend.
Purpose of NOCSAE ND200
This incident highlights the importance of protecting the heart area of lacrosse players. The new NOCSAE ND200 rule provides protection for the cardiac silhouette. The organization tests lacrosse gear using lab equipment called the NOCSAE Thoracic Surrogate.
During testing, researchers impact the surrogate in the cardiac region. Manufacturers choose the impact element based on the intended use of the equipment, such as whether it’s for lacrosse or baseball.
The idea is to mimic a potential impact during gameplay in a given sport. The ball used as a projectile must match standards for official gameplay.
Researchers position the surrogate to take a direct impact from the chosen element. The test simulates a direct hit to the chest.
How the NOCSAE Tests Lacrosse Shoulder Pads
NOCSAE researchers perform two kinds of tests on all equipment—a 30 mile- and 50 mph test.
The 30 mph test measures equipment performance with an impact of up to 90 pounds of force. They then assess peak performance with an impact of up to 112 pounds of force.
As you can imagine, the 50 mile-per-hour lacrosse equipment test is more rigorous. Researchers start their assessment with an impact of up to 180 pounds of force. For a peak performance, 50 mph test, however, they’ll subject equipment to a maximum of 225 pounds in force.
After passing SEI certification, manufacturers must permanently and legibly mark their equipment with an officially approved seal. To remain in compliance, manufacturers must also provide equipment buyers with important information about how to care for their gear.
Furthermore, they must make sure to clearly state that further information is available for equipment wearers. They may include this information on the packaging, in an insert, or on a removable tag.
Stay Informed About Lacrosse Safety
We hope that our update about the new NOCSAE ND200 standard has provided you with everything you need to know about the new rules. At the Stringers Society, we work to ensure that all lacrosse players have high-quality information about the sport. It’s our mission to help players elevate their skills—and stay safe on the field.
Please feel free to visit our Lacrosse Equipment section to learn more about current game gear.