The college lacrosse world is still trying to adjust to the new rules, and the NCAA has already gone and changed them! I highlight two of the changes below. One is an older change that I recently realized could pose a problem, while the other change went down on FRIDAY, the day before High Point played Delaware.
While these are not major changes, both of them are definitely notable, and will impact play on some level. I’ve highlighted the big two stick and equipment issues below, and then I link to where you can find the rest of the Rules Update from the NCAA…
Change #1 – Butt Ends
Originally, we didn’t hear a peep about butt ends from the Rules Committee. But if you were paying attention to the new Rules Video, you learned that lacrosse shafts can not exceed 3.5″ in circumference. If they do, they are now illegal. This means that a little tape on the stick won’t be a problem, but any sort of donut of tape, or butt end, will be a BIG problem.
Here is the IMMEDIATE and obvious problem with this rule… Players use end caps on their sticks, right? End Caps go outside the shaft. The circumference of a lacrosse shaft is usually just under 3.5″ without a butt end or any tape. So…
Does this rule make ANY butt ends that go outside the shaft illegal? Is there a butt end that doesn’t go outside the shaft, at least at some level?
That seems like an oversight when even a small rubber end cap makes a shaft too thick. I reread the rules though, and didn’t see this specifically addressed. Another issue of circumference is how will shafts that have concave faces get addressed? An old Brine Power Grip shaft already has a true outer circumference of over 3.5″ around if you measure along the raised edges. Is that shaft illegal now? I’m being nitpicky on this second question, but from the read in the books, it doesn’t seem like this rule was fully thought out.
I’m interested to hear if there are any further explanations. They might even be out there already.
A great test for shaft circumference is to cut a piece of string 3.5″ long and then wrap it around your butt end. If you can touch the ends of the string together, it’s legal. If not, it’s illegal. The only shaft pictured above that is legal for 2013 college play is on the far right, and the only way I could make that happen was by removing the end cap altogether. This rule either needs to be changed, or clarified, because right now it seems to be literally creating an impossible scenario, where butt end caps are illegal.
A 4″ limit on butt end/donut/shaft circumferences makes much more sense, allows for small end caps or a tiny donut, and could very well be the next point the Rules Committee clarifies. Or not. I could certainly use some clarification here, that much is for sure.
Change #2 – Back Test Is Now GONE
I do not believe that this is not a good move, and I’ll come right out and say that. The new back test forced players to create pockets where the ball could be dislodged more easily, and got away from super whip-y and hold-heavy pockets. By allowing the back test to go the way of the Dodo, the committee has given up their biggest stick change victory, and they did so without a single game being played.
Shooting strings are a finishing touch, and reinforced the rule, but the meat of the new pocket regulations was the back test. And because of this, losing the test is, in my opinion, a huge mistake, and we’ll see more deep bags because of it. This trackback seems to go against everything the Committee wanted to accomplish, and it makes little to no sense, at least to me.
According to the memo, the Committee based this change off of coaches’ comments from the fall, and deemed the back test unnecessary. However, I still think this one is a huge mistake, and by removing the back test, players can once again string their sticks so that the mesh sits on the inside of the rails, which effectively makes the pocket, and stick, more narrow. This also allows for more tightly channelled pockets.
It gives stringer’s more options to create “black hole” pockets, and I for one, can’t believe they let this go so quickly, when the test was not onerous at all. Also, if it wasn’t a hindrance, but it forced wider pockets on players, how was it deemed not necessary? I’m hoping to hear an explanation, because right now, this one definitely has me scratching my head.
The NCAA also clarified a couple of other points in their memo, and I found the most interesting point to be that players can not saw off the bottom of their stick’s throats. Evidently FoGos were doing it to get their hands closer to the plastic? Ridiculous that this rule even had to be stated, but I guess guys will try to get any advantage they can!
We have a call into John Hind, the Chair of the Men’s Rule Committee, and will update the post once we hear back from him with more info, and hopefully even more in-depth explanations on these new changes!