Welcome to the 2016 US Lacrosse Women’s Rules!
This may come as no surprise, but the rules surrounding women’s lacrosse pockets have changed again. I am sure that to some of you, this may be the equivalent of me announcing that the ocean is really salty, or that Christmas will be held in December this year. However, some of you may end up needing a whole new pocket, and since that is literally my business, let me lay out the specifics for you.
Here at Stylin Strings Lacrosse, we have learned that rule changes such as this all boil down from the rules committee, to the education given to your local referee organization, and finally to the individual referee that is officiating each game. Every rule change goes through this process of multiple interpretations and understandings, which eventually coagulate into one universally accepted understanding.
Rule changes can be as dry as California so please bear with me as I try to make this all as easy as possible, while giving you the best interpretation my experience can offer.
Please note that the existing rules are more in-depth than what we are discussing here. We intend to discuss new rules and regulations. The text in blue will represent the language provided by the US Lacrosse Women’s Game Committee. Our interpretation is represented in red.
2016 US Lacrosse Women’s Rules
Section 8: Each attachment to the sidewall shall be no more than 1.5 inches from its adjacent attachment when measured in a straight line from hole to hole.
This can be interpreted as saying that each sidewall string hitch must be no more than 1.5 inches from the one you have just tied. The intent here is to limit the hold a stringer can add to the stick through creating suspension. If a sidewall hole is skipped and a “hanging sidewall” is enacted, the pocket will have more “give” as pressure is applied from either catching the ball or power cradling (which generates pressure in the form of g-force)
Section 20: The pockets of all field crosses shall be strung with four or five longitudinal leather and/or synthetic thongs. Mesh pockets are not allowed. Longitudinal leather or synthetic thongs and/or other second material shall be 0.3 cm to 1.0 cm wide. Each thong must be made of one material (leather, synthetic leather or nylon cord) and run the full length of the head.
The material requirements are nothing new, and really they are not all that restrictive. The term “Synthetic” leaves the door open for a lot of innovation. The statement of needing to “run the full length of the head” is one to pay attention to. Many manufacturers will need to change their stock pockets. The tie off methods of punching a hole in a leather and tying it off with cross lace through the bottom string may, or may not, be considered an infraction of this rule.
If you read the wording, one may conclude that as long as the longitudinal thong is the length of the head, even though it may not appear so when the pocket is fully extended (in later rules you will read about the minimum length measurements that will likely negate this point in most instances.), it may be considered legal. I believe that if the runner is undoubtedly longer than the full length of the head then a string tie off would work fine, but then what is really the purpose of a string tie off at that point? We will have to wait and see what interpretation ends up becoming the norm, but to be safe, make sure your thongs extend fully through the stick, and avoid string based tie off methods.
I admittedly have no idea what this rule is intending to solve. My best guess is that someone had some experimental thong that drastically fell short of running the full length of the head. Maybe someone made something no one else saw that blew the lid off of pocket making! Probably not.
Thongs must nominally be the same width along their full length. Thongs must be attached to the head through holes in the scoop and at the ball stop. A second material may be used to allow attachment to the scoop and the ball stop of each thong to the head. However, this second material may not be more than .5 inches from the scoop and no more than 1.5 inches from the ball stop.
Going back to our prior point, we can see that there is still an opportunity to use string tie off methods. Make sure that when doing so, your runners “run the full length of the head. Pay attention to the measurements (.5 from the top, and 1.5 from bottom) as this will probably be an easy point for the referees to detect and enforce. Also, the distance afforded here could be good for creative innovation.
This following point is aside from the rules. As a stringer, I want to make a point that if your runner must run the full length of the head, then just tie the runner through the bottom holes. It is stronger, safer, and leaves you with more adjustment capabilities. Also, you get all of these benefits with less work. A Stylin’ Strings Lacrosse rule of thumb is to never cut a leather when you do not have to.
The thongs at the ball stop must extend 5.1 cm beyond the ball stop.
This is going to be an issue for many stock pockets coming from manufacturers. We string everything with full length durable Stylin’ Strings approved leathers. Manufacturers heads tend to use shortened leathers. If you have a head that was not strung by a professional stringing company, restrung by yourself via a kit (not a kit from a manufacturer), or had your pocket restrung from a well educated independent stringer, then you may be in a little trouble here. It is my understanding (which is subject to change as the interpretations solidify within the community) that the string tie offs will not count towards the 5.1 cm minimum.
STX pockets such as the runway should be fine in regards to this rule. Their use of synthetic thongs leaves for excess string. I personally do not support this methodology from a stringer’s standpoint, however it is good to go in regards to this particular rule. Manufacturer pockets that may be infraction of this rule are Debeer, Under Armour, and some Brine heads (but not many). PLEASE KEEP IN MIND THAT THESE MANUFACTURERS ARE NOT LIABLE. When these pockets were strung, the rules were different. They made their pockets with a keen understanding of the rules and regulations of their time. Do not feel cheated.
Thongs must not be bunched along the width of the head (top to bottom) and may not be more than 1.5 inches apart as measured from the inside of adjacent thongs, regardless of the material.
Lets talk Center Channels. Centers are the topic most people are concerned with these days. It makes for most of the utility a pocket offers. Most of us expected some straightforward changes to the rules regarding center channels, and instead we got this very reasonable regulation. The channel cannot be more than 1.5 inches from thong inside to thong inside. This goes for all channels, and not just the center. I do not see any manufacturer strung pocket being illegal on account of this particular rule.
The statement of the thongs not being “bunched along the width of the head” is one that we are still trying to figure out. I am not sure we have ever bunched anything, nor have I ever seen anything that could be determined to have been “bunched”. So for this little tidbit, we will have to wait. If we get a follow up we will clarify as to what this means.
The loose ends of the thongs may not be woven back up through the pocket or the sidewall of the crosse. The loose ends of the thongs must remain below the ball stop.
This means, first and foremost, no wrap around end methods. Put the leathers or synthetic thongs through the bottom string holes directly and you should be good to go. Also, if you have been weaving your leathers back through your pocket for some reason, knock that off.Any additional strings used for attachment of the pocket to the head of the crosse may not be tied behind the pocket above the ball stop.
This is where some of the rules get contradictory. Can we have string tie offs or not? The best approach I can suggest is to not use this method, but if you are a devout follower of punching a hole into the leathers and stringing them through the bottom holes, then you may want to string yourself a back up that does not utilize such stringing techniques. The final understanding of these rules will come out in the wash, but for right now prepare yourself. Many stock pockets are strung this way.
Additional strings not directly required for attachment of the pocket to the head of the crosse are not
If it is not needed, you cannot have it. It is cut and dry. No extra pieces of string, no aesthetic add-ons such as beads, ribbons, or the like. If it’s not part of the pocket it has to go. If you have something that is unconventional strung into your pocket, you may want to start having your coach rehearse his or her speech to the ref as to why it is “directly required”, or ditch it.
Section 23: The nominal diameter of the shooting/throw string (hereinafter “shooting string”) nylon cord and sidewall nylon cord shall be 0.3 cm maximum. The nominal diameter of pocket nylon must be less than 0.3 cm.
Your average women’s shooter is within this size range. I took the liberty of measuring all the ones we have in our stringing studio (which spans 4 manufacturers) and they all were within regulation. I did this to ensure that the standard string, regardless of who is making it, is probably within regulation. If you are using something larger, it will have to go, but I assure you that it will not be hard to find a replacement.
Section 25: Any shooting string must be directly attached to both sidewalls in the upper third of the head, or, the top shooting string must be directly attached to both sidewalls in the upper third of the head and the bottom shooting string may be an inverted “U” in shape and must be directly attached to both sidewalls in the upper two-thirds of the head, as measured from the top outside edge of the scoop (Diagram 15).
This is a long standing rule. If you have any questions as to the legal areas of the shooters, please review the old rule book. The spacing language is not new, but the language of where the shooter must be attached is, “attached to both sidewalls” will most likely mean that the string MUST go through the plastic sidewall.
Many stringers use an independent sidewall string (which I highly suggest) and it should be noted that the rules committee and the local referees would most likely be using the term sidewall to reference the plastic holed sidewalls and not the independent sidewall string.
So there are the main changes for this year. It is important for me to send you off with the reminder that women’s pocket rules are extensive. If you have never thumbed through the US Lacrosse rule book then you really should not be stringing sticks for women players. The penalties for illegal sticks are terribly harsh and referees are trained to be scrupulous.
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