Editor’s Note: Today, Muamer Razic interviews True Temper Lacrosse, the guys behind the Flex Tech shaft technology that a number of brands are now using. We’re always interested to hear more about the backend of technology, and how ideas come to fruition. Plus these shafts are becoming increasingly popular, so it’s good to know what you’re working with!
Where did the idea for the FLEX Tech shafts come from?
When we started True Temper Lacrosse, our mission was to create performance driven product. Most importantly, we wanted to bring to market product which we could provide demonstrable results from. FLEX TECHNOLOGY was one of our first concepts because of expertise in the golf and hockey industries. We have developed various flex technologies in these products for decades now and each has brought a new era of performance driven product. Taking the biomechanics of shooting in lacrosse, it was a relatively easy transfer of technology for us.
What was testing like for this product?
Our testing of this product included our standard protocol of: lab testing, player performance testing, and field testing. From the onset, we knew if we were to bring a new era of technology to the market that we could in no way sacrifice the consumer’s standard of durability. We wanted to surpass that, and we’re happy to say that we have. After our lab testing came the most fun and revealing portion, player performance testing. We had over 100 players from across the country attend our performance testing with our engineering team. As well, there were multiple NCAA teams that STX and us combined resources to test with.
There is a lot that goes into this performance testing, but the key is a blind study with the entire FLEX line and 2 premium alloy handles all painted to look and feel the exact same, no difference in weight. Players were asked to go through 2 separate phases with all 5 handles, using the same head on each: 1) fastest shot – recorded with high speed camera; and 2) subjective testing – recorded through scaled subjective feedback. The most revealing stat that we got across our testing was that 80% of players chose one of the FLEX handles across the 100+ players studied.
How many different material combinations did you guys go through?
Throughout the development of this technology, we went thru 18 iterations of design, prototyping, and testing before we landed on the design that’s in the market now. As mentioned earlier, our standards for durability, weight, and demonstrable performance were at an incredibly high threshold.
Is shaft technology the next big advance in the sport?
We certainly agree that shaft technology is the next big thing in lacrosse. If you go back over the past 10 years or so, any lacrosse player will see the fantastic advances the industry has made in heads, helmets, protective, etc… The one item that has been overlooked to some degree is the shaft. I’m a lacrosse player like the rest of us, and I’ll be the first to admit that all I’ve ever wanted was stronger/lighter. But I also know that’s because no company has ever put the research or investment into truly understanding the performance characteristics of a lacrosse handle, and made the resources available to make these improvements come to market. Get ready, because we have a lot of demonstrable improvements coming to the market…
Where can TTL go from here?
FLEX TECHNOLOGY is only the beginning. We already have many advancements from this under testing now… We haven’t forgotten about the ladies, dpoles, or goalies either!
How can the technology improve without the costs spiraling out of control?
When you have the resources, materials, and experience that we do; we’re able to achieve much more at a relative cost. That’s never to say that advancements in technology will not come at a higher cost, however we remain cognizant of the cost vs. performance demand in the market.
Do you think there will be more of a set standard for shafts in the future?
Yes, we do think there will be more of a standard. Personally, I think it’s closer than most would realize or admit. I’d go as far to say that we have more than enough data on every shaft in the market over the past few years to easily create a standard.
Is the FLEX Tech going to be popular?
It’s easy for any manufacturer to jump out and say that their new product is going to be popular. But I am happy to say that both True Temper and STX are overwhelmingly confident in the long term popularity for FLEX TECHNOLOGY. Along with STX, we have exhausted all resources qualifying the durability of these handles, the quantitative performance increases, and the subjective player feedback from the top players in the game.
Will other companies jump into the idea?
When you consider similar sporting good products (golf/hockey) having taken advantage of FLEX performance, I would fully expect other companies attempting to capitalize off the successes of FLEX TECHNOLOGY.
Does it have any drawbacks?
As I said above, TTS and STX pulled out all of the stops to research and develop a product that brought increased performance. Our goal from the beginning was that we would not want a player to sacrifice any aspect of his game or the handle in order to achieve the performance we were after. Through our exhaustive testing, I’m happy to say nothing is sacrificed.
Thanks to Ryan and the guys over at True Temper for giving us some more info on FLEX Tech!