A Solution to the Stick Dilemma

2013 Legal Heads

With new rules being put in place to regulate the length of shooters, how far down they can be placed, and whether or not to do a back test, I think it’s time we take a look at the bigger issue – the stick itself. Take the 2010 stick rules into account, and this is clearly a huge issue, but one that isn’t often discussed.

Earlier this week, Spike Malangone put forth a thought-provoking argument about what the new rules are doing to the game. You may agree with him all the way, on some of it, or maybe not at all, but you can’t dismiss the fact there is something askew with today’s rules.

While I don’t agree with everything Spike argued, he brought up some great points about putting too much judgment on the ref’s shoulders. As the introduction points out, I think the problem goes deeper than the shooters, shot clocks, or even width of the box, and it’s about time we readdress the dimensions of the sticks.

Just to make it clear, I love the new rules in regards to the box, no horns, and speeding up the play itself with quick restarts. All of those really do help to speed the game up and address the issues of safety. I was actually reading yesterday that, according to CollegeCrosse.com, goals are up 1.21 per game, shots are up 6.53 per game, and penalties are up 1.02 per game.

Old School STX

After restringing an old school stick I was given, it got me thinking, why have sticks gotten so pinched? Jim Brown, Jimmy Lewis, and even Kyle Harrison played with wider heads and still tore it up on the field. Even in the super wide stick I strung up, it still had a nice pocket in it. To help with accuracy, I threw in two U’s and it shot great – I actually nailed the first shot I took with it and about had a heart attack. (I’m still not sure why I was so surprised by that.)

Kyle Harrison
Photo from Lax.com

Today it is just the opposite, most kids start out with super pinched heads and learn to play with something that only aids in helping them develop bad habits. They spend upwards of 16 years with pinched heads, then are required to switch to a wider head for four years once they get to college, only to be allowed to go back once they graduate. Someone please explain to me the thought process here.

I couldn’t tell you exactly when sticks started getting super pinched, but I do know that every stick I played with starting out was already too pinched for my own good. In 2010, the heads were addressed and it was required that 2010 legal heads be widened out at the throat, but were allowed to be a little more pinched up top. A good start for sure, but again, it was only required for college play.

2010 Stick Regulations
Image from MadLax.com

As hindsight is always 20/20, it’s easy for me to sit here and say they should’ve just widened the heads even more in 2010. I went through multiple Super Powers because, despite the new requirements, they still pinched far beyond legality during play. This leads me to my main point though – widening heads.

My 2014 Universal Head Proposals for Youth through NCAA levels of play.

2014 Stick Regulations

Width of Heads

Why not require all heads to be 3.25, 3.5, or even 3.75 inches across through the throat? A lacrosse ball is required to be 62.7 mm to 64.7 mm in diameter, this is roughly 2.5 inches. Adding a quarter of an inch on either side of the ball is definitely not enough for a well placed check to knock the ball out. This is especially true when you consider how deep sidewalls and pockets are, and how most heads naturally pinch through ground balls, checks and face-off play.

As a player, I can tell you right now that people schemed up ways to get passed the 4″ rule within a week or two of the rule passing. The lead in photo is a great example, just look how channeled that mesh is.

While I would never consider myself a face-off expert, I took a lot of face-offs during college and definitely held my own at the x. My biggest frustration though, was having my stick pinch to the point where the ball would get stuck and I’d get called for an illegal stick. Widen the stick out a little more and you won’t even have to worry about the ‘back test’.

Widening heads could do wonders for the proper development of fundamentals, it would make catching easier for young kids and show them they shouldn’t be dodging through four guys. I think it would also lead to less penalty minutes and more ball movement. Defenders wouldn’t have to worry about checking harder and could focus on the well-timed poke checks to knock the ball out. Offenses in turn, would be forced to make smarter decisions, and move the ball quicker.

2010 Legal Heads

The above heads are all 2010 legal for play (or were in some cases). I am currently playing with an Easton Stealth Core which is pretty wide up through the throat and I actually prefer it over other pinched heads I have the option of playing with. You can see in these pictures how little wiggle room there is in some heads with the pinch.

At the end of the day, the biggest factor in making this change is going to come down to whether or not the stick manufacturers are willing to ‘buy-in’ to the new requirements. Considering the amount of money a lot of them could potentially lose in not being able to sell their old heads, I could see a lot of backlash in making this happen – and if that is the case, and the narrow heads are holding back the game, then that is pretty sad.

Rule Alignment

No matter if the rules change or not, the youth and NFHS need to align more with the NCAA rules. As you read previously, it blows my mind that we allow our youth and high school players to grow up with a false sense of security with their pinched heads.

It would make learning how to catch the ball a ton easier and would teach kids that you can’t dodge through an entire defense just because your older brother strung you up a sick pocket with a lot of hold. I look at many of the kids on the high school team I coach and see the same thing. The heads are all pinched, so of course they are going to take advantage of it.

To make sure I just wasn’t up here sitting on my soapbox (which I probably am), I reached out to a local referee and a coach, who have both been around the game as players, coaches, and refs since the late 80’s. I asked each of them the following two questions (easiest interview ever) and they both offered me great viewpoints on the new rules and how the game has changed.

1.) From your perspective, do you think the 4″ rule on sticks was the best move to make? 

2.) Big picture, should the NFHS and youth levels consider adopting these new rules as well?

I think it is very important to consider both because one is from the referee’s side, and the other the coach’s side.

From the Ref’s perspective:

In my opinion the ability to customize your pocket is one of the most unique aspects of lacrosse that is virtually non-existent in every other sport. I personally don’t believe that it will have any major impact as players will just find new ways to manipulate the pocket. Honestly this seems to me to be more of a situation where the head measurements need to change in order to actually have a real impact on the game.

As far as the bigger picture, I really think all the organizations should get together and come up with a complete specification and adopt it for a set number of years instead of the constant changing back and forth so kids don’t have to constantly relearn their game.

Furthermore, I personally believe that the head and stringing technologies have made it increasing more difficult to create a loose ball situation, which is why we have seen much more violent play over the years. As defenses have realized that they can’t possibly take the ball away with simple checks, it has forced them to switch to a more passive containment defense which has also contributed to the slowing down of the game.

Additionally, the defense players now are well aware that the only guaranteed way to make sure a shooter can’t somehow dodge through them (with one handed cradling shenanigans a la Mark Matthews) is to put the player on the ground leading to much more violent and risky body checks (like the horrid hit on Billy Bitter a few years ago). These days at the higher levels you literally have to flat back a short stick in order to get the ball loose as best illustrated in last year’s Syracuse vs Albany game where a d-pole was just hammering on one of the Thompson kid’s gloves to zero avail. (EN: see below video)

From the Coach’s perspective:

In the late 90’s to early 00’s Brine came out with the first offset head (Edge) and that was the next revolution in head technology. By this time 90% of pockets were mesh and you were starting to see multiple shooting strings and the U and V shooting string formations. STX came out with the Proton (my brother Aaron was the designer of this head!) and due to patent issues called it the “forward cant.” These were the heads that REALLY began to change the way lacrosse is played today. The head design made it nearly impossible for a player to self eject the ball and seemed to naturally funnel the ball into the sweet part of the pocket. Warrior started in the late 90’s and became the 3rd manufacturer in the lacrosse head market and started pushing the envelope for the stick widths. I think Warrior started the pinched head craze that we enjoy today.

Do I think that the shooting string changes and the head width requirements will have a significant impact on the college game? No. I think it will eliminate some of the crazy stick fakes and cause players to work harder on some shooting techniques. I think that the shooting strings will cause the pockets to become less channeled and potentially allow for more dislodging of the ball.

Yes, I think it would be easier to regulate this with a wider head than measuring the shooting strings. In my opinion shooting strings are easier to move/change than head width, which makes the official’s job more difficult. Kinda like the deep pocket. It could be deep one minute and be legal the next. Shooting strings can slide down, especially with the resurgence of the traditional pocket.

Do I think that the shooting strings and the head width have hurt the overall passing skills of lacrosse players in the past 20 years? Yes. I think that passes today require stick head to move further 10-2 versus 11-1 with the old style pockets. This is what they mean by passes come out “slower” than they did in the old days. It takes longer to basically load the stick.

Am I in favor of a wider lacrosse head? Yes. I think it makes the game more exciting when defenses are able to create more turnovers. I think that you are seeing a resurgence of the “old rules in an effort to make lacrosse more marketable for television. Lacrosse doesn’t want the soccer image of 90 minutes of action and a 2-1 final score. Americans like scoring. Scoring sells. If you look at NCAA trends the scoring is down dramatically. I used to tell people lacrosse would typically have 20-30 goals scored between both teams. Today that number is close to 15-20.

The truth is today’s athletes are bigger, stronger, faster on average than the old stick era. If a player can really play-the head and pocket can be overcome or adjusted to. Does it make it easier to play with-yes. Tiger Woods could be 90% of the worlds golfers with 1980 Wilson clubs in his hand-the equipment helps equalize players-it doesn’t make the player. In my opinion.”

I’d like you to take away a couple main points away from both of these: the safety aspect from the ref’s perspective, and the adaptation aspect (last paragraph) from the coach’s perspective.

From a safety aspect, having more checks actually work would mean defenders wouldn’t be forced to check harder and more aggressively to get the ball out. They still could sure, but you could really see the whole surgeon vs. butcher mindset come into play more.

From an adaptation aspect, people will adapt. You saw it in 2010, this year, and any other year there are rule changes. People find ways to get around the rules when the items in question are able to be manipulated. People would probably complain about the width of heads if this were to ever happen, but I think they would be just as inclined to adapt and change the way they play.

I’ll leave you with highlight video, it has a solid mix of newer and older lacrosse, but watch for two main things, 1) how quickly the ball moves in the older shots and 2) how the defense gets more aggressive and check focused in the newer shots. I’d like to say this can be attributed to the sticks.

Announcers may say passing is crisper and shooting more precise, but I think a lot of those things are more a factor of the actual game play rules than themselves. Either way you look at it, I think it’s about time we focus on the root problem here – the sticks.


  1. if anything the Thompson example shows great skill and ability. look at his stick, the depth of that pocket is comparable to a girls stick, yet he is able to keep the ball away from the Syracuse defender. your failing to consider that lacrosse has become more competitive, and that players at D-1 schools are actually good enough to the point where it is almost impossible to strip them of possession. keep the stick as it is now. i’m tired of the old wave of lacrosse guys complaining about how lacrosse is so much different from when they played and that it needs to be changed because of that. the NCAA stick dimensions, as they are now, should not be widened.

    • Well, I’m 24 and wouldn’t exactly consider myself in the “old wave of lacrosse”. I feel like a record right now, read the full post. I never once said they should go back to old rules. I think the new gameplay rules are fantastic for speeding the game up, but if you want to cause more turnovers on sticks checks and make ball retention a little harder, widening the sticks would definitely help in that.

      People are better, that goes without saying, but you can’t sit here and tell me putting a little more space in the channel of the stick wouldn’t cause a few more turnovers due to people’s greediness on a dodge.

      • But why would you want even MORE turnovers? The Hopkins-Princeton game tonight was a perfect example of up and down lacrosse. Plenty of turnovers due to stick checks which led to fast breaks and occasional goals. This isn’t soccer where possession changes every couple of seconds. Don’t fix something that isn’t broken. The changes are evident this season and perhaps watch some college games this year before coming up with a new idea to reduce team possession to practically zero.

        • Brian, I write and work around lacrosse for a living. Don’t you think I would have considered all of this before I spent several hours on a post about a way to fix the issues with heads from the youth levels up?

          Why are you AFRAID of more turnovers? If people use their great fundamentals, turnovers won’t happen. A lot of those turnovers were because of sloppy play and yes, the occasional stick check.

  2. I’ve seen plenty of balls dislodged this season with current stick tech because offenses were pressing to score within the time allotted.  I don’t think reinstatement of the previous stringing rules would have prevented even one such turnover.

    The underlying premise that stick tech has slowed down the game is flawed.  Teams don’t take the air out of the ball by moving the ball in tight quarters and putting the ball holder in a position where they are subject to stick checks which could dislodge it at any time; instead, they get big and create space.  You could do that with goalie sticks if there was no rules to stop it.
    In recent years, advocates of changing the rules have sought to “restore” game to a state more palatable to the purists.  But that’s not the state that made this game skyrocket in popularity over the last 10 and 20 years.  You can’t disassociate the rise in popularity of this game from the changes in stick check that have allowed more creative individual offense.

    Ultimately, I guess we could do everything in our power to roll this game back to 1985 and see if the popularity suddenly skyrockets.  But I’ve not been presented with a single bit of evidence that doing so would be a good thing.

    • How much of the post did you actually read? I never once said they should go back to old rules. I think the new gameplay rules are fantastic for speeding the game up, but if you want to cause more turnovers on sticks checks and make ball retention a little harder, widening the sticks would definitely help in that.

  3. Hey if you gonna be changing the width of the heads again. I just hope someone gives me money to have to buy new heads again. I already use universal heads and I like that but I am not rich and can’t keep going out and buying new heads. I found something I like (Clutch x) and I would like to stick with it until it breaks not unit its outlawed again for no reason.

  4. I believe making the head wide would do little to nothing for changing the ball retention. I am a current Highschool player playing with a Super power. I’ve seen kids using heads like the Excalibur and have more hold and whip then my pinched head. If you change the stringing then you take away the uniqueness of the stick. As is right now. You look at most *Not all* College sticks and they all look the same. It’s a large bag. Stringers have a very broad view on how to string any head, anyway they want. No matter what you change they will find a way to get the results they want. I notice that the video of the highlights had Mikey Powell. If you look at his stick there is little to no channel at all. He has perfected the control of his stick with his wrist movements and has a stick with no whip and makes up for the lack of hold with his wrist. That is not the stick. That is the skill he has developed over all his years of playing. Also the part where the player fakes the shot between his legs. That can be done with very good movement and flicking of the wrist, It doesn’t require a U in the stick of a really pinched head. 

    As well as defense. Defense with wider heads, and less of a channel will cause them to throw rain bow passes. A defender needs to be able to make just as fast passes as a short stick does. A short stick can make a fast pass with out a huge wind up. But the long pole being as long as it is. Needs the ball to stay in it a little longer so he can get some power on it. 

    Just the view from a high school player soon to play in NCAA rules. I agree with the stringing rule set this year. I’ve notice a more evenly matched games, The Thompson player from Albany have a amazing power cradle that could have been stopped if the defender toke a step forward to hit the top hand instead of the bottom. 

  5. “Announcers may say passing is crisper and shooting more precise, but I think a lot of those things are more a factor of the actual game play rules than themselves. Either way you look at it, I think it’s about time we focus on the root problem here – the sticks.”
    Thats because it is. In the goals video, the majority of the goals were shovel shots, between the legs, around the worlds etc. Only a select few were in the corner/along the pipe, and in my opinion would be considered great shot placement. Then you look at the modern era, where you have Rabil and M Powell pinning corners and sticking shelfs. I think a lot of it has to do with improved goalie play over the years as well. I look at these old timers and see poor footwork and stance, dropping of the stick, and generally inefficient and wild movements. That alone gave up more goals than shot placement alone.

  6. “From a safety aspect, having more checks actually work would mean defenders wouldn’t be forced to check harder and more aggressively to get the ball out”  … aaaaand cue the Ric Beardsley  Syracuse in early 90s highlight tape. 1993 SU LAX HIGHLIGHT

    Haha I joke, but great read. I loved the refs perspective on the unique nature of creating YOUR pocket to be truly custom for YOUR game. Also liked the Coach’s 10-2 vs 11-1 throw swing analogy. Good stuff.

  7. No. Stop messing with the game. The game has progressed to a stronger, more physical form of play. In the few games we have seen so far in 2013, the stick rule changes are already evident. Stray passes, balls popping out on dodges, and more well-placed checks forcing dislodgment of the ball are all examples of this. After what seemed like ridiculous changes to the game, we are at a perfect balance in our game. No one wants to watch a team hold possession for 5 minutes with 1 shot but, then again, NO ONE wants to see a relay race up and down the field with each possession lasting less than 5 seconds. We are at a perfect point in the progression of modern lacrosse and there’s no need for nonsense changes like widening the head to ridiculous proportions. Embrace the modern, aggressive game full of big hits, fast shots, and incredible defense.

  8. i completely agree that heads need to be wider. i actually swtiched to a wider head for college this year and am using an evo 3x as opposed to the last two years i used a nike ceo which would pinch and become illegal halfway through a season. personally i like a wider head and if you know how to correctly string a stick you can get the same pocket with the same amount of hold in any stick. the only thing you mentioned i was not completely sold on is the cuse albany reference. you can see in the video that lyle thompsons stick has a very shallow pocket at the bottom of his stick and it doesnt appear to have too much hold. along with that i believe the cuse defender only made contact with thompsons stick twice during the sequence with only one of them actually being a good stick check. i was actually at that game and sitting right in that corner and was very surprised a flag wasnt thrown for the lack of making contact with the stick. other than that i think heads should be universally wider from youth all the way to college at least if not the pros as well. 

  9. This argument is awful. Player safety is in no
    way correlated to the amount of turnovers caused by stick dimensions. Injuries
    are caused when the ball is either dislodged from the stick and is loose,
    causing slashes, cross checks and pushes, or a ball being passed to a team mate
    and and the opposing team gets to line up the receiver for a hit. The point of
    “From a safety aspect, having more checks actually work
    would mean defenders wouldn’t be forced to check harder and more aggressively
    to get the ball out. They still could sure, but you could really see the whole
    surgeon vs. butcher mindset come into play more” is irrelevant as well.
    Sure, dislodging the ball should be able to be accomplished, but how many
    coaches judge a defender on their ability to throw takeaway checks? Coaches
    look for fundamental defenders when recruiting.
    A fundamental defender doesn’t get beat one on one very often, and
    when a defender doesn’t get beat, there’s no need to slide to the offense.
     When theres no need to slide to an offensive player, the game slows


    So, what’s the solution? A shot
    clock. Look at the MLL and the NLL. The MLL has no shooting string regulations
    and NFHS style stick dimension rules. Rarely does a team score less than 13 or
    so goals in the MLL or NLL. The players are allowed to customize and string
    their pocket how they want and to how they play.  Some like whip and hold,
    others can’t stand it. It’s all personal preference. Next, look at the
    NLL, where there are no stick regulations. No maximum pocket depth, no pinch
    minimum, nothing.  Players are again allowed to use whatever works best
    for them. 


    Yet, with minimum stick
    regulations, the game is still fast paced and high scoring. The commonality? A
    shot clock. And yes, I’m well aware that both leagues have the best players in
    the world, but looking purely at what is trying to be accomplished, those
    leagues have figured it out.


    Those in charge of the committee
    making these rules are taking stabs in the dark and hoping their changes do
    something to the game, trying to make it “how it was back then”. To
    prove my point, Have a read from this article: 




    The committee had no idea that
    measuring 3.5 inches would essentially allow 2 shooting strings, thus just
    taking a stab in the dark and seeing what happens. Changing head dimensions is
    absolutely insane from an economic standpoint as well, and carrying the rules
    though to youth lacrosse means that everyone will have to buy a new stick.
    Everyone. And manufacturers will have to pass their costs onto consumers as
    well, thus increasing the already expensive price of lacrosse equipment.
     This will also slow growth of the youth who are just starting because not
    everyone’s parents are going to want to spend even more money than they already
    do to have their children start playing this great sport.


    The simple fact is, athletes are
    bigger, faster, stronger, more determined and just all around better lacrosse
    players with better stick skills than 20 years ago. Just face it.  I
    string for players at Virginia, Army, and Hobart, along with a bunch of top
    tier DIII schools and can tell you that whatever you do to the stick widths, I
    will find a way around it. 

    • Just a tip for future reference, you don’t need to hit ‘return’ so many times between paragraphs.

      Comparing this to NLL and MLL is a bad comparison, you said it yourself – they are professionals who have mastered the fundamentals of the game. Another point you also made for me is that great fundamentals stop the need for any of this. So why not support the learning of great fundamentals, by teaching kids from a young age that you have to play the right way? Super pinched heads don’t help kids trying to learn the proper way to play the game.

      I don’t think you read through the full article. I have no problem with pockets, I have two U’s in my current head (Easton Stealth Core) and love stringing sticks. I also string a ton of sticks each year for kids around the Valley.

      “As a player, I can tell you right now that people schemed up ways to get passed the 4″ rule within a week or two of the rule passing. The lead in photo is a great example, just look how channeled that mesh is.”

      That was straight from the post. Yes, you could string a sweet pocket in a wider head, but it the retention caused by the pinch of the head would also be less of a factor in a wider head.

  10. How do pinched heads hinder the fundamentals of a beginning player? I don’t understand, and I play on a top 20 d1 team. I’m a fan of the no horns on the sidelines, lengthening of the box and others, but the stringing rules, c’mon man. One of the great things about lacrosse is the ability to make your pocket, your own.


    • Pinched heads hinder the fundamentals of beginning players because they help make up for poor fundamentals. A wider head would be easier to catch with, would teach the kid that he can’t and shouldn’t dodge through a bunch of defenders until he gets better at cradling and would prepare him for better lacrosse down the road.

      I never once said I was against big hits, not sure where you pulled that from. Am I against illegal hits? Yes, you can’t sit there and tell me it isn’t an issue when the NFL is making major strides to penalize those hits in question, as well as the NCAA. If anything, that supports my argument that kids MIGHT have a false sense of security because they know they are able to hold on to the ball through a lot of contact.

      People LOVE Alabama football and they have great defense. Why not showcase great defense a little more instead of allowing the offense to hold on to the ball forever? The shot clocks are other rules are definitely helping, but I still think this would be the icing on the cake. 

      I definitely thought out my argument.

  11.     I don’t think it matters because i use a proton U one of the widest heads out there today, to the same dimensions of the head Kyle Harrison used. I have no problem with stringing that head to hold the ball just as well as my friends who use head like the cobra and the proton power. So it doesn’t come down to the dimensions of the head but the pocket its self. Also as some of your evidence you used the video of the Syracuse defender throwing slap checks. As any reasonably good defender will tell you the slap check is very ineffective and often a wasted motion. If you look at the offensive players stick you’ll see it barely moves, more a testament to player strength than any head dimensions.
        Also the whole butcher vs. surgeon idea you brought up is so wrong, checks have not become harder because of the head but because of the skill and strength of the players in the game today. Before defenders didn’t check as hard because the attacker could not hold his hands steady enough to protect the ball. Let alone we bring padding into the equation which makes it so much easier to with stand the hard checks defenders throw today as opposed to in the past.

    • I see your point, but having good hold in your stick can only make-up for so many mistakes. Props to you for using a wider head, I have one myself because it forces me to use better fundamentals. I don’t think you can argue that outside of the pocket itself, the sidewalls DO help with ball retention, so a more pinched head is going to have more hold.

      Agree to disagree on the butcher/surgeon thing I guess, go back and watch the Loyola vs. Team USA game. Team USA checked so much harder than Loyola and received a bunch of penalties because of it. Obviously the skill and strength of players comes into play, but I feel that really ties in to the whole reason of why they are checking harder – those players at the elite levels can hold the ball through some sticky situations so defenders are trying to get the ball out by any means necessary. They can do this because of not only their skill, but their equipment. 

      No matter how great someone can string a pocket, just think of the simple make-up of a pocket on a pinched head vs. one on a wider head. The mesh is more spread out on the wider one and is able to taller, if you will, on the more pinched one.

  12. I think there’s a relatively easy way to solve this issue.  If you get rid of the X6 heads all together, you would achieve some of the things you posted.  X6 heads become so pinched over time.  Alot of middies/attackmen use these heads.  I really dont agree with widening the heads for a couple reasons.  Yes, Kyle Harrison used a wide head, but he had a tight U channeling that ball, so dislodging the ball from his stick was just as hard.  Also, if the NCAA wanted to widen the heads, it would cause all the companies to lose money, because they would have X and NHFS head just sitting around in the warehouse and stores because they’re rendered useless and illegal.  I’ve watched a few games this year, and overall, I’m pretty pleased with the new stick regulations.  We are definitely seeing more turnovers, ground ball oppurtunities and defensemen are dislodging the ball more often.  But again, if you get rid of the X6 heads, I think we could see even more of these things.  But overall, I say the committee reached the goals they wanted to achieve.

    • @twitter-394413469:disqus That was actually what got me thinking about this. There are definitely a bunch of heads out there that pinch way too easily – the X6, Super Powers, any of those ones that have a natural pinch even right out of the factory.

      I addressed the money issue in the post, I understand it, but think it’s kind of sad that manufacturers have such a big say in this. Don’t make a head if it is going to pinch and become illegal that easiliy.

      You see the tight U channeling now though too with the new rules. K18 is a great example, because he has great fundamentals, is obviously an elite athlete and he is such a smart player. I loved watching him play in college and he was VERY smart with his dodges and what he did with the ball. 

    • what x6 heads have you used? I find a majority of them to be really stiff and pinch significantly less than the universal specs. I’ve had a surgeon10, evo x6, clutch x6, blueprint x6, professor, elite10, and even an emperor x6. the only one that pinched was the emperor bc of the noz technology. I find that they actually beef up the sidewalls on these; couple that with the more straight sidewalls through the regulations and you have heads that resist pinching. Its the reason that I prefer these to the universal specs. Super powers, ceos, clutch x, evo x, evo 3x, legacies, etc that I have used all pinched within two weeks. I don’t use these x6 spec heads for the pinch or for the channel, I use them for the stiffness and durablility.

  13. I really think this is a bad argument. First off the video is a highlight tape, you can’t use highlights as a survey of the entire spectrum of lacrosse from that time period. Second thing I don’t agree with is that pinched heads allow for bad fundamentals. Some of the best fundamentals, as far as stick skills go, come from the guys north of the border. Those hoodlums up there that pinch their sticks to look like tooth picks with unregulated deep pockets. The best stick skills in the college game today come from these guys and this leads to really exciting play with fantastic finishes. 
    Side note: I really like the mark matthews pocket infatuation that took over last year. At the high school I used to assist at many of the players got me to string that pocket in their sticks and the passing skills sky rocketed.
    Lastly the game has changed, many players from all over cover a huge range of skill bases. The game is adjusting to this with a few hiccups but overall I think that it is handling this period of change pretty well. But just like every other sport out, technology changes everything. whether its from the weight lifting programs, the stick tech, or advances in padding the game will never be that same as it was back in the day. THIS SHOULD BE EMBRACED NOT REJECTED. Its the reason that Lacrosse has captured the nation by storm, individuality mixed with the team aspect. I thoroughly enjoy watching old lacrosse and play with trads that I string myself as a throwback to the old days. However those days are behind us, I don’t want to get into an argument over whether the older players are better or not bc its like the classic basketball argument of current star players vs jordan.
    The younger generation all over has only seen lacrosse as it is today and have started their love with this brand of lacrosse. Again I am not arguing against the old brand I am just stating that the new brand is the one that has generated ridiculous growth for the sport. Calling for it to return to the old style is just not good for the sport.
    To end I will say that I like the new head regulations. I think the stringing regulations are taking a little bit of the individuality out of the sport but are resulting in more trads so I can handle it. But the game has changed and we must adapt, the key to the future isn’t in the past. 

    • @yahoo-6PNCMNLSE463PEBMCVSRLRPKPY:disqus I don’t think I ever once said we should go back to the “old way of lacrosse”, I simply used the fact that older generations of players performed exceedingly well with wider heads, even if the mesh was channeled.

      I also don’t feel like you can argue that a wider head is easier to catch passes with than a more pinched head, there is simply more surface area available to catch the ball. Also, just looking at the make-up of a pocket, if the sidewalls are farther apart, the mesh will be stretched more from sidewall to sidewall, even with a great channel – as compared to a pinched head where it is able to have a much greater depth.

      I will agree with you on the Mark Matthews point, that’s all lacrosse needed was a player with very little whip in his stick playing at the top level. Mark also has GREAT fundamentals and is a wizard with his stick. I think crappy pockets are more due to kids just not knowing how to string up a stick or playing with a factory one. I end up restringing a ton of sticks each year because kids I coach have way too much whip in their stick or just can’t quite get it. I think the pocket factors into the stick just as much as the head itself.

  14. There seems to be some confusion on how the game used to be played these days. I played in the late 70’s early 80’s on LI with old stick tech-  then, other than some wall ball, didn’t play any pickup or organized lacrosse again until almost 3 decades later when my son started playing.  The game was great then and is great now.  Guys may be bigger stronger faster on average due to lifting, nutrition, supplementation, and heavy parental funding of year round athletic dreams (whose dreams is another issue) along with parents’ funding jr.’s college ride. Believe it or not, in HS, we still had guys well over 6 feet and 220 pounds, guys running sub 5.0 40’s and guys regularly running sub 5:30 miles back in the stone age. An incredible amount of great LI HS lacrosse players didn’t play in college though – it wasn’t a real scholarship play like other sports and many of the “bigger stronger faster” guys back then (pre-Reagan money supply growth) became cops, firemen, electricians, etc. after HS (assuming they didn’t get a full ride for another sport that they couldn’t pass up). 

    3 major things stuck out to me after 3 decades – 
    1. The huge change in stick tech meant that you could do amazing things carrying the ball without having to really cradle and the better retention of the ball allowed for a multitude of new ways to juke the D.  It also opened up new, creative methods for cranking back on your shot before release (greater shot velocity from new angles).  I still have a couple old SL2’s strung up – they are no longer a functioning lacrosse product – I would never seriously play with one at one of our pickup games today and I would never want to go back to that old non-offset triangle.  I think the modern heads I have strung up for myself and my son are a great evolutionary improvement in the game.  Let them be – as long as you add the shot clock (necessary today – not necessary back then).  
    2. I had no idea what happened to hitting hard with the shoulder. It seemed old school body checking (running each other over with your shoulder to the front or side of your opponent above waist and below neck) was replaced by slashing and high cross checks.  Today’s players wore shoulder pads now but they didn’t seem to want to use them.  Driving through your opponent with your shoulder used to be a fundamental part of a lacrosse game.  Please don’t claim that body checking has been minimized because today’s O men are too hard to lineup – that’s BS – it has been minimized deliberately for safety and a softer checking game has not hurt the expansion of the game. 
    Multiple stick checks (poke, slap, etc.) were always present (even if the D doesn’t dislodge the ball, they help mess with the O’s set up rhythm).  Nasty slashes were usually only a result of rage after losing your composure (and your coach would not be impressed).  High hits and the regular use of a hard cross check would historically be considered a pussy move – used by guy’s who were unable to hit like a real field lacrosse player.
    3. I had no idea when or why the (televised college) game got rid of midfielders and replaced them with 3 additional attack men painstakingly subbed on the O side and 3 additional D men subbed on the D side.
    There were a bunch of other changes involved over that span of time but the stick tech, lack of legal body checking (almost all previously legal body checking seemed to send the D to the box today), and excessive substitutions stood out.  The new college rules are great so far – halfway to a needed shot clock (90 seconds automatic is my preference) and subbing seems to be under better control allowing for more back and forth midfield play.  This addresses the stick tech and pace of play issues.  I’m still waiting to see if this game evolves back to more hard body checking (my preference – let the bigger stronger faster guys mix it up like we “smaller, weaker, slower” guys used to (and yes we sent each other to the hospital some times), or if body checking will be further removed from the field game. The pro field game may just be able to become a full time, well paid profession within the next 3 decades (the growth and TV/Internet coverage are in place).  Minimizing body checking will help the game grow by providing a safe sport for all (including the anti-football set)  but the development of lacrosse as a major spectator sport will most likely need to continue including the old school physicality (as the MLL and NLL do today). It should be interesting to see which wins out.

    • @MrEdNCC:disqus “Please don’t claim that body checking has been minimized because today’s O men are too hard to lineup – that’s BS – it has been minimized deliberately for safety and a softer checking game has not hurt the expansion of the game.”
      I’m not sure if I ever did claim that… 

      I do agree with you on the shot clock thing, even if the NCAA just adopted a VISIBLE 90 or 120 sec shot clock, things would speed up for sure.

      Thanks for taking the time to write up your thoughts, much appreciated!

  15. I agree with most of the proposed changes in this article.  A slight widening of the stick dimensions wouldn’t have a huge impact on the game, but it could be enough to cause some change in how individuals play the game.  It took me a few days to restring my stick for the new rules, to ensure that it met the requirements and handled to my liking, but its still nothing like my old HS stick I have around from ’09.  I’m not as old as some of the commentators on here (college player) but even I’ve noticed the way the game has changed since I was young. 

    I grew up watching the Princeton, Syracuse, and Virginia teams of the late 90s and early 00s, and being taught an older style taught by my coaches who played in the 70s.  Around that time hard mesh and offset pockets were the new thing.  The focus was on good fundamentals, using both hands, quick ball movement to exploit/create opportunities, and fast breaks.  I don’t know when or where this changed but the game has slowed, traditional stick protection is irrelevant and gone (as seen in the Thompson video), and everyone can wind up and rip a shot but few can throw a pass on a straight line.  The father of a friend of mine who just entered the college game told me how surprised he was that at the D1 level so many players still appeared to lack the basic skills, and how often turnovers were caused by errant passes.  We should expect so much better at our sports highest level (MLL/NLL aside)  I feel that it can be argued that pocket styles and heads have influenced this change.

    Today’s great players are just like the great players of the past:  They have all the skills – even with today’s sticks, the intelligence, the athleticism, and the creativity.  But what concerns me is the average player, and the average game.  I have ’89 and ’90 championship games on DVD, and they are incredibly fun to watch.  I don’t see us going back to that, but I want to see the continued growth of the game, and whenever I hear someone new to the sport say, “…this is boring…” as they watch a game on tv or in person, it hurts me inside.  Partially because I know how great the game can be to play and watch (like this weekend’s ND v. UNC, or Syracuse v. UVA), but also because I partially agree that some games – even amongst D1 teams – I can’t stand to watch because the stagnant tactics, ugly stick-work, and low scores.  If we can’t maintain ourselves as the Fastest Game on Two Feet then growth will slow, and television networks will continue to drop games (or lack variety:  I’m looking at you ESPN).  We need a cultural change more than anything else, and if it takes some technical rule changes to push us in the right direction, then I’m for it.

  16. I totally agree with you. Pinched heads are totally overrated for shooting anyway. I own over ten heads and you know which one shoots best? An STX Proton U that was given to me by a D-pole who didn’t want it. I strung it up with an attack-friendly pocket for fun and it rips. I can’t find another stick that shoots as well. And, it’s great for ground balls. Look at what guys in the late ’80s and early ’90s could do with Laser Hi-Walls.

  17. I think it is a moot point. People will adjust. And I am kind of insulted too. I think that the skills of the people playing the game these days are out of this world. I don’t think it matters what stick you hand Rob Pannell, Paul Rabil, or Lyle Thompson, they’re simply not losing the ball on a simple poke check. I welcome the wide heads, but I, and anybody else worth their salt as a stringer, will be able to string in a channel regardless, and the ball will still hold the way it holds. When they changed the rules this year, I moved to a monster mesh with 1 shooter, and I can still dodge through 4 people, same with my traditional piece. I know everyone from the old age wants the golden era to come back, but has anybody ever considered that the people playing this game might actually like it the way it is? I love seeing the ridiculous things people can do with the ball in a stick and how they can handle it through traffic and shoot 120 mph, plus the speed of the game is not going down… athletes are as fast as ever, at the highest levels the ball swings so very hard and fast (and I coach it that way too) today’s passes are yesterday’s shots. I know the ball takes longer to come out of the stick, but the ball is also moving much faster once it has been released. Less quick release, but much more velocity on it after load. In high school I played with an original excalibur on a solid hickory shaft with leathers (and another with mesh on a brine long crosse) and honestly, I am happy the stick tech has come so far. We will all have to adjust as the rules continue to change, but don’t think for 2 seconds that anybody is going to settle for the ball being able to freely leave their stick. Changing the stick isn’t going to stop us from stringing in channels, using traditional pockets, basically making it so the ball doesn’t come out. As long as the freedom of customization is left in the stick, many people will find ways to make the ball stay in, no matter how wide the head is. I have several goalie heads that I can dodge with just as well as an attack stick (and I make it a personal point to make all of my goalie heads throw and handle like an attack stick, my goalie heads can do “one handed shenanigans a la mark matthews.”) and that’s even with the old eclipses I live and die by.