There’s been plenty of discussion about women’s headgear in lacrosse in recent years, and while US Lacrosse has been listening, the national governing body has also advocated that research-based data must be incorporated in the development of any proposed equipment.
As such, US Lacrosse has been an active partner with two organizations that oversee standards for equipment in the United States: NOCSAE and ASTM International.
NOCSAE, which stands for National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment, typically sponsors its own research for use in standard development, including a new lacrosse ball standard to be enforced beginning Jan.1, 2014. ASTM, formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials, is a more broad-based organization that relies on a collaborative process for developing standards.
Which brings us to Jacksonville, Fla., site of this week’s three-day biannual ASTM meeting.
Since 2011, US Lacrosse has been a collaborating partner in ASTM’s efforts to develop a unique standard for women’s lacrosse headgear. An ASTM subgroup comprised of equipment manufacturers, product testing laboratories, researchers and other lacrosse stakeholders has been working on developing language for a proposed standard that would be forwarded to a larger ASTM committee on sports equipment for balloting approval.
Ann Carpenetti, managing director for games administration at US Lacrosse, serves as co-chair of the ASTM’s Committee F08.53 – the women’s lacrosse headgear task group.
“We are hopeful that members of the task group will be able to report on some meaningful testing of the performance aspects of the draft at this meeting,” said Carpenetti, who will be joined in Jacksonville by US Lacrosse’s Bruce Griffin, director of health and sport safety, and Melissa Coyne, women’s game director. “In order to move this draft standard to ballot, we still need to be able to answer some of the outstanding questions related to performance and testing.
“We know that folks are eager to see what types of products could be designed from this standard, but ASTM advisors tell us that while it’s important to develop a product that consumers want to wear – the performance standard or the protective benefits must be defined and proven first.”
Carpenetti notes that the determination of a timeline for balloting of the standard could be established by the task group during this week’s meeting in Jacksonville, but will be dependent on reaching consensus.
The standard must be approved before manufacturers can move forward in product development.
Current game rules allow for use of “soft” headgear, but without a comprehensive standard, products in the marketplace may not offer the best protection for consumers.
US Lacrosse’s position regarding headgear has been that the approved standard should yield a product that will increase player safety, that wearing the product will not hurt other players who choose not to wear it, and that the design will recognize and preserve the unique aspects and culture of the women’s game.
“What we are looking for is a piece of equipment that can serve as an intervention for head impact,” Carpenetti said. “We don’t want to make changes to our rules until we have a standard based on research. We need to do our due diligence.”
As of Jan. 1, 2014, all lacrosse balls used for any level of play must meet NOCSAE standards and include the words "Meets NOCSAE Standard." Rulebooks have been adjusted to include this new ball requirement. For more details, visit uslacrosse.org/2014BallStandard.
Photo Credit: Risley Photography