College NCAA

Butt Ends, Shafts, And Tape: 2013 Rules Update

2013 Lacrosse Pocket - Denver

Earlier this week I brought up a couple of issues with the new rules that I saw as problematic. Today, I was able to speak with John Hind, the Chair of the Men’s Rules Committee, and he cleared the issues up for me quickly, concisely, and in a very friendly tone. It was a great conversation, and I learned a ton in only 15 minutes.

Let’s take a look at the rules one by one…

It’s ALL legal…

1) 3.5″ Shaft Circumference

This rule is OUT. Players can once again use butt ends, donuts, tape snakes or whatever they want. The only restriction is that the tape on the stick can NOT touch the plastic of the head, unless the player in question is a goalie. They are exempt from the tape rules. There must be a gap between the head and the tape for all other players. Simple, easy, and effective. Well, unless you are a face off guy…

2) Face Off Sticks

Players that take face offs must put contrasting colored tape on their shaft. There can be no tape build up six inches down the shaft from the plastic head. The tape must be comprised of a single layer. The reasoning here is that thicker tape for face off players could allow them to increase leverage. The contrasting tape helps refs identify players that are “handling” the ball (with their hands), and helps to show when a player’s hand is touching the plastic. Basically, if you can’t see the contrasting colored tape, it’s a violation.

3) Back Test Is Gone

The Committee decided that the shooting string rule, and the single sidewall rule were enough to create a wider set of pockets. The concern here was that face off guys, or anyone who had a slightly bent stick from play, could fail the back test too easily, even if their stick was usually legal. The Committee did not want to senselessly penalize players, so the back test was retracted.


I still like the Back Test Rule, and wish that the NCAA were keeping it, as I think it was the most extreme answer to the perceived problem. However, the Committee took a realistic approach to this issue, and is taking coaches’ concerns into account. If players start to create pockets where the ball doesn’t fall out again, I could see the Committee taking another look at the rule down the road, as being able to dislodge the ball freely correlates strongly to issues of player safety, which is a major concern of the Committee.

As many have said before, and many will probably say going forward, this is not a one-time solution, and it probably isn’t the end of rule changes altogether. The Committee will continue to look at the game, pace of play, and player safety, and new rules could emerge in the future. The true bright spot here is how willing the Committee is to vet its own decisions, and how willing they are to discuss it. That bodes well for the future of our game.

If there is an issue YOU are still struggling with, let us know in the comments and we’ll do our best to answer it for you

About the author

Connor Wilson

Connor is the Publisher of He lives in Brooklyn with his better half, continues to play and coach both box and field lacrosse in NYC as much as possible, and covers the great game that is lacrosse full-time. He spends his spare time stringing sticks and watching Futurama.


  • You did a great job reaching out Connor!  However, there are a few of questions left unanswered.  

    1. What if a a FOGO uses a White shaft? 
    2. DOES HE KNOW THAT THERE ARE NOW TEXTURED SHAFTS? The amount of tape for grip is a ludicrous call. 
    3. Why does a person have to use a single sidewall string for mesh?  Traditional pockets have more than one.  Also, (for mesh) what if you string down the sidewall and come back up with the same single strand of string (alliteration)?  Is that still considered one string or now two?

    Again, great job! Just want to open it up for more discussion.  

    • Good questions!
      1) as long as the tape is of a contrasting color, I don’t think this will be an issue. 6″ of red tape on a white shaft should do the job.
      2) I believe this rule was made so that FoGos didn’t have donuts near the top of the stick, to try to get more power. That’s why it is a single layer of tape. I don’t know if this was happening a lot. That’s what you’re referring to right?

      3) The belief is that it will reduce pockets that pass the tests, but where the ball won’t actually come out during play. I liked this rule as it codified the basics for a legally strung stick, but I also liked the back test, so what the heck do I know? haha.

      • Thanks for responding.  Yea, I don’t know.  As you can see, I’m pretty upset with all of the rule changes.  Now that the back of the stick rule is gone (and, if I were a FOGO), I’ll use the thickest string I can find and use it for sidewalls.

        • In the end, I really do believe the product on the field will actually be better… but change is hard to swallow. I get it, just trying to keep a REALLY open mind to new ideas. With the back test gone, you will definitely see guys use thicker sidewall again and create tighter channel pockets. You would, I would, and so will a lot of college guys. Oh well.

          • My understanding is that for anyone taking faceoffs the shaft, head, and 6″ of tape on the top of the shaft all have to be different colors. So, somebody with a white shaft would need a colored head and different colored tape. 

            Create quite a headache at our first game.

  • Please please please! change the shooting string rule to 5″ instead of 4″ I’m not the best stringer so the 4″ rule kills all of my creativity for a personalized pocket that works for me

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