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Should Cutting The Palms Out Of Your Lacrosse Gloves Be Legal?

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Who needs palms in their gloves? Not the MLL!

To cut the palms out of your lacrosse gloves or not?  THAT is the question.  For youth, high school and college players, the answer is an obvious and resounding, “NO”, but for post-collegiate players and pros, it’s a valid question.  But the point I’ll be pressing in this post is that it might be time to look at this rule again, and see if it’s really still needed.  The great debate focuses on cutting your palms out.  Let’s get weird.

The first question some will ask (probably those who have never played with their palms cut out) is, “why on Earth would I ever do that?”.  And unless you’ve experienced the sensation of palmless lacrosse, it’s a fair question.  So we’ll go through a brief history of time.  Or the People’s History Of The Lacrosse Glove Palm.  You see, years ago the palms of lax mittens were made of leather, and nothing else.  Some were soft, and wore through quickly.  Others were rock hard, and wore in over time.  And still others were the Goldilocks equivalent, in that they were soft and tough.  But somewhere down the line, the palms always got ruined.  Maybe it was mud, or rain, maybe it was just wear and tear.  But eventually, the palms became unplayable, so we would simply cut most of them out.

You would cut a big old hole around the palm of your hand (in the palm of your glove, not your actual hand. duh.) and then probably tape up the fingers a bit to make sure your delicate extremities would still be protected, and the glove would stay in place.  The thin old school leather gave a great feel to stickhandling, but nothing compared to the feeling like you didn’t have gloves on.  And cutting the palms out got you that much closer.  When I was in college, MOST gloves still had leather palms and one of our attackmen used to cut them out and then sew practice pinnie mesh in there instead. It was all about getting as close to the stick as possible.

Even back then (by rule) you still had to have palms in your gloves, but the worn leather was pretty close to a “hand on stick” feel.  I’ve heard that the reason for mandatory palms is two-fold: 1) it was done to protect players.  No one wanted to see a finger slip out of a glove and get shattered between colliding pieces of metal. 2) it was done so that players couldn’t slip their fingers out and thumb the ball.

Both of these were great reasons back in the day, but when I look at the game today, I just don’t know that it applies as much.

When synthetic palms came out, people started wearing through the palms of their gloves less quickly.  The feel wasn’t quite the same as leather, but the longer lasting material proved to be the future of the sport.  As this was happening, glove design technology and research was improving as well, and the result was tighter gloves, that fit closer to the hand, that also lasted longer.  All of them were good equipment evolutions for the sport.

But now that gloves are so tight to the hand, the risk of a finger slipping out, even with cut out palms, has rapidly diminshed.  It feels like you’re wearing a batter’s glove with some of the newer models, and I can happily say that whenever I try on a new pair of gloves, they never feel like they will slip off of my hands.  The gloves are tight on the wrist, and don’t go anywhere.

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24SevenLax cuts the palms out!

Also, the smaller profile of the glove makes it harder to cheat, and harder to hide sneaky fingers.  They also offer less of a “wall of foam” protection, like the old L-33 and L-35 used to do, so players would feel much less safe poking a finger out to pinch the ball in their sticks.

Almost all the guys in the MLL cut out the palms of their gloves.  The same is true in the NLL.  When you go to post-collegiate events, a lot of those guys are playing with palmless gloves as well.  Their fingers are still protected, and these guys are playing VERY phyiscal lacrosse, yet we see no injuries resulting from this practice.  It makes me think lower levels of the game could use to allow this as well.  The most imortant piece of equipment is a lacrosse player’s stick, so being able to connect with that stick more intimately is the key here.  It would simply make the game a little easier to play, and would allow that much more skill and stickhandling to be showcased.

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Who needs palms in their gloves? Not the MLL!

Photo courtesy LaxPower.com

I’m a fan of leather palms in general, and I’d love to see them make a comeback, but the fact stands that leather is simply expensive.  And it still wears out faster than synthetic materials do, especially in the context of lacrosse glove palms.  So in order to keep costs down, but keep elevating the level of play and skill, I would propose that in 2013, college players are allowed to cut their palms out.  If it works at that level, high school lax could be brought under the umbrella by 2015, and youth could make the move whenever they felt like doing it, if at all.

There would have to be a lot of regulation I’m sure, but as long as none of the palm material from the fingers or thumb were cut out, I think it would be ok.  Heck, the NCAA could even specify a size hole that can be cut and then the manufacturers could offer palms with diagrams showing maximum allowable cut lines.  I don’t know the specifics of it, but it’s definitely doable.  Now the only question is, does anyone else care enough to make it an issue?

About the author

Profile photo of Connor Wilson

Connor Wilson

Connor is the Publisher of LacrosseAllStars.com. 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.

18 Comments

  • I love cutting the palms out of my gloves, just like 24SevenLax did so the your fingers and thumb will never slip out. After years of wearing gloves with palms and having the palms get shredded no matter what, it’s nice to take all those gloves, cut the palms out completely and be able to use them all again.

  • Although gloves would become slightly cheaper, and longer lasting, I think that in the NCAA, it’ll add more to the problem many people see as offensive players being able to hold the ball in ridiculous circumstances. A lot of people believe sticks now a days give players too much control, so if you add no palms I believe that it gives even more control and feel to the stick, making it even harder to knock the ball out

  • I’ve certainly thought about it. Might have to do it to one of my older pairs, maybe my Silos. Is there any rule as to how/where to cut the palms?

  • It should stay illegal, the premise of any sport is to get better at playing. By making it easier to stickhandle, you takeaway some of the skill from lacrosse. Keep the palms and practice more. Cutting out the palms just shows how lazy people are getting to make everything easier. I definitely agree I like palmless better because it’s easier but that’s not the point of a sports. It’s supposed to be challenging that’s how you learn how to get better.

  • Only 50% of 24SevenLax cuts their palms out. I’ve got one pair of King IIs that I scored on ebay for what I consider a price that I could stomach and I don’t want to spring for another pair of gloves because I’ve accelerated the process of the stitching coming undone. Besides, once you’ve played with some crusty L35s, these new gloves feel like surgical gloves on your hands. I don’t really see the need to cut the palms out now-a-days.

    Ron Miller made a good point in his facebook comment. Allowing the palms to be cut out just increases the burden on officials to make sure that #1 players are in compliance with the parameters of the allowable area to be cut for advantage’s sake and #2 players are properly protected. It’s much easier and less of a concern for parents, coaches, and officials to say that cutting the palms out is illegal. In general, altering safety equipment isn’t a good idea.

    I didn’t think that people were keeping gloves long enough to wear through the palms these days anyway? All this being said, one of my teammates managed to get his pinky snapped in OC with his fingers and palms securely inside a pair of Brine gloves.

  • The most frustrating thing in the world: Referees who made me tape the nickel sized hole on the thumb of my glove in college… I guess they didn’t appreciate my attachment to my freshman year pair.

    One more talking point should be gloves that are manufactured to be palmless. Gait produced a glove without palms that was actually high school legal because they were made that way, and not mutilated by a player. Gait even printed NFHS legal on the palm. They were hideous, so no one bought them, but the idea might be resurrected in the future. I wouldn’t trust the average high school freshman to correctly cut his gloves…

  • I grew up playing in the sweet sweet L-35 era and there was one very big illegal advantage made harder to detect with gloves with your fingers cut out – holding your opponent.  This includes grabbing at the straps of their pads through the uniform.

  •  As an official,I think it should stay illegal,at least on the collegiate and lower levels, with palmless gloves its way too easy to flick the ball on a face off.   I agree with you that the chances of getting injured is slim but with the game on the line and you just NEED to win that face off,players will definitely trade safety for the edge. I also think it would be too hard to officiate the size of the cut out during the game,unless they were premade by the manufacturer and any alterations at all was considered a unsportsmanlike penalty.

  • There’s no way they’d approve this. They are trying to make heads wider so the ball comes out easier. They aren’t about to pass a rule that makes stick handling better.

    I like where your heads at though, Connor! I’m with you.

  • I don’t want to be too vulgar so i’ll try to keep it vauge. Cutting the palms out of your gloves is like not wearing a raincoat during playtime. It feels a lot better without the raincoat and once you get used to it it’s hard to go back to wearing one. I started cutting the palms out of my gloves after college and haven’t looked back. I think the trick with the modern gloves is just removing a lot of mesh in the palms as the mesh offers no grip anyway.

    The above is not meant to be a comment on what one should do; only on what one may want to do. @el__niino always recommends wearing a raincoat.

  • To piggy back on what Stefan said I totally agree with keeping palms in gloves. With the way sticks are today, the takeaway defender is all but a thing in the past and the good ole precision poke check to dislodge a ball is rarely seen. The point is fellas is that gloves are smaller, lighter, have better feel, and offer more protection than they ever have. The caliber of great stick skills and athletes keeps getting younger and younger. Sure I like palm-less for a better feel, that’s a no brainer, but at this point aren’t we being a little greedy in favor of the offensive game? Just sayin’ dudes… Cheers!

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