Last fall, US Lacrosse approved rule changes requiring that boys’ and girls’ goalies wear chest protectors that meet the NOCSAE performance standard ND200. Language to that effect was added to the 2019 US Lacrosse rulebooks, as well as the 2019 NFHS/USL Girls’ High School Rulebook. Implementation of the rule, however, was delayed until 2021 in order to allow for product development by equipment manufacturers.  

Evidently, that delay was not needed.

In time for the 2019 season, Warrior Sports has rolled out a goalie chest protector, the Nemesis Pro Chest Pad 19, that meets the new standard and is tested to reduce the likelihood of commotio cordis. The new product is an upgrade of Warrior’s traditional Nemesis protector, and now includes a foam chest plate with inserts that provide enhanced impact absorption at both high and low speeds.

The new Nemesis 19 has been certified by the independent Safety Equipment Institute (SEI) and is available for purchase in adult sizes. Warrior intends to have smaller sizes, suitable for younger players, certified by mid-year.

“In regards to product design, we wanted to keep it in the same family,” said Rick Janisse, product engineer at Warrior Sports. “The biggest change was to the sternum area and the pads.”

Janisse notes that the certified chest protector will cost about 10-percent more than the non-certified Nemesis, which is still available until inventory is exhausted.

STX is also expected to have certified chest protection products, still unnamed, on the market later this year. The company will initially offer goalie chest protection at three price points, including a youth product. At the same time, STX could be the first manufacturer to release certified chest protection for field players, although it has not yet disclosed specific design information. 

“This has been a multi-year process and we’ve done a lot of work with different laboratories,” said Patrick Gowan, director of product management at STX. “It’s been an interesting challenge.”

The NOCSAE performance standard ND200 was formally approved in 2017 after being developed based on significant research and testing by Dr. Mark Link, a board-certified cardiac electrophysiologist and worldwide authority on commotio cordis. Warrior Sports closely monitored the ongoing NOCSAE discussions and the standard development process. 

“We wanted to get our product out quickly because we knew that consumers wanted to start buying it,” Janisse said. “We tried different foams and thicknesses of foams to see what results we would get in our testing. We went three rounds to get a passing result.”

Commotio cordis is a type of sudden cardiac arrest caused by a blunt, but often relatively mild, blow to the area of the chest directly over the heart occurring during a precise moment of the heart's cycle.  Lacrosse goalies and baseball catchers have traditionally been most vulnerable to this rare but potentially catastrophic phenomenon.

“Mandating the use of chest protection that meets the performance standard will make lacrosse safer,” said Link, who also serves as a member of the US Lacrosse Sports Science and Safety Committee.

Beginning in January 2021, US Lacrosse boys’ and girls’ youth field lacrosse rules will require goalies to use chest protectors that meet the NOCSAE performance standard. In addition, beginning in 2022, all field players in boys’ lacrosse must wear protection for commotio cordis that also meets the same NOCSAE performance standard. That equipment intervention is currently focused on a redesign of the boys’ shoulder pads or the addition of a new piece of body padding to cover the cardiac silhouette.
 

Protecting the Heart

Get more information about commotio cordis and player safety initiatives by US Lacrosse.

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