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SISU Guard: Reshaping Lacrosse, Communication and Player Safety

Author’s note: Today I’m excited to bring you an interview with Rita Shelley, director of marketing at SISU Guard. The engineers at SISU Guard, proud partner of LaxAllStars, are on a mission to reshape the way we think about mouth protection, and today we’re going to find out why. 

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Think you know a lot about concussion safety? It’s likely that you don’t know as much as you think you do, or what’s worse, the information you have could be outdated. Do me a favor and take this quiz just so you can gauge your level of personal knowledge when it comes to concussion safety.

Over the past 6 months we have been working closely with the team at SISU Guard to better understand the correlation between mouth guards and injuries to the head. As seen in our video series Lax Out Loud, SISU mouth guards help supercharge a lacrosse player’s on-field communication. But the company’s interest in product advancement goes much, much deeper than that – the team at SISU Guard has dedicated itself to informing the lacrosse community about concussions, tooth injury and so much more through our partnership.

Today I’m excited to chat with Rita Shelley, Director of Marketing at SISU and mouth guard expert, about the ways that SISU can help grow the game and shape the way we view communication in lacrosse!

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Q&A with Rita Shelley, SISU Guard

Who is SISU Guard and what does “SISU” mean?

SISU is a game changing mouth guard, that is 50% thinner and 30% stronger (Aero Guard) than conventional mouth guards.

SISU is a Finnish word that doesn’t have a direct English translation. Determination, strength, resilience are all behind the idea of SISU.

When you don’t have any energy left, SISU is what you have left to fight for you.

What inspired the creation of a new style of mouth protection?

Lacrosse pro Drew Snider SISU
MLL star Drew Snider rocking a SISU mouth guard

SISU was invented by ears, nose and throat (ENT) doctor, Jan Akervall, who used mouth guards to protect his patient’s teeth during endoscopes. After using countless mouth guards that didn’t fit or protect, he was inspired to create a mouth guard that offered the best protection for patients.

After he created a mouth guard for his patients, he and Sassa Akervall, the CEO of SISU, found that their kids also needed
mouth guards for sports. After hearing great feedback from their children and their teammates, they knew that they had to take this unique product to the market.

How long has SISU served the lacrosse industry?

We made a strong push to enter the lacrosse market last year as it was a “love at first sight” relationship.

The lacrosse market has long needed a more streamlined mouth guard that allowed for better communication and SISU brought a product that is not only more comfortable but also offers better protection.

We started with regional tournaments and local retailers, but now that we are in the 2015 lacrosse season we are delighted to see that we are establishing strong relationships on a grander scale.

We recently partnered up with Universal Lacrosse among others which will help us establish a stronger retail presence in the hot bed of lacrosse on the East Coast. We are also in the final stages of contract negotiations with some of the most influential leagues in the lacrosse community to become their official mouth guard.

It is our hope that these partnerships will help us secure stronger ties to the lacrosse community and allow SISU to become the go-to mouth guard for all lacrosse athletes.

How does it help to improve my performance on the lacrosse field?

In team sports communication is crucial. Goalies have to communicate with players. Defenders run better plays when they can give each other a heads up.

Since you can speak naturally with a SISU Guard in, it allows for better on-field communication. You can talk and yell to your teammates with no problems. It will also allow you to hydrate and breathe with no hassle. Prior to wearing SISU, players had no concept of what it’s like to breath naturally on the field.

Improved breathing allows for better endurance and energy conservation faster more impactful performance. Such a simple thing as improved breathing is a huge benefit that SISU offers to lacrosse players and we’ve heard a lot of good feedback from laxers already

What has SISU learned about lacrosse that may have changed the way the business thinks/operates/treats the sporting industry?

We learned to play huge, as STX puts it. In meeting the lacrosse community, we received such a warm welcome and there was such an obvious fit for our business goals and our products, that we didn’t take any intermittent steps that we normally would have when entering a sport.

The path to success was so clear that we immediately went to the big leagues and national affiliations. Working with US Lacrosse became both a rewarding partnership and a fantastic launching platform for our products. For us that was a very aggressive push, and in many cases the investment was outside of our usual comfort zone.

That said, we have not regretted any decisions that we have made in this industry. We continue to make investments into the lacrosse community as they have been well rewarded every step of the way. For example, when we went to Lax Con, it was encouraging to see the amount of attention we received from players, parent and coaches, as well as officials and other prominent organizations.

Why buy more than a $1 mouth guard if I just chew them up anyway?

Whenever we meet with coaches and we mention to them that SISU creates a custom fit that allows the guard to stay in the mouth the entire game. The coaches love hearing this because with SISU, the player can’t chew on their guard during the game.

In order to chew on it they would have to physically remove it from wear it comfortably fits their mouth. An overlooked safety concern is keeping the guard stays in the mouth and completely covering the teeth for the entire game. In reality, we see players wearing their mouth guard on the side of their mouth like a fishhook. When it’s hanging out on the side of your mouth acting like a chew toy, it’s not actually protecting anything!

The reality is that a $1 mouth guard is not protecting your child. Safety is not something you should ever shortcut and at SISU we strive to offer you the best protection that is well worth the investment. We want to offer you the best protection at the best price.

Here are some additional reasons to invest in a SISU mouth guard:

  • Stays in place during wear
  • Nearly impossible to start chewing
  • Custom fit every time
  • Extremely thin
  • Strongest on the market
  • Can easily talk, breathe and drink
  • Completely remoldable for a perfect fit
  • Highest dental warranty on the market, up to $35,000 in coverage
  • Learn more about the SISU Advantage

What activities is the SISU Guard good for?

Mouth guards are recommended for all sports that have high risk for impact. Some of our biggest customer groups are involved in: Roller derby, hockey, baseball, softball, MMA, lacrosse, field hockey and even Quidditch!

For high intensity sports that need more protection such as football, MMA or rugby, we offer the Max Guard which is .8mm thicker than the traditional Aero Guard and is 30% thinner and 50% stronger than the conventional mouth guard.

Can I expect to be more impervious to concussions with the SISU Guard?

Absolutely not. Bottom line is that there is no scientific evidence proving that helmets or mouth guards protect against concussions. We try to dispel this belief as much as possible.

The purpose of mouth guards is to protect your teeth from dental injury. Bottom line.

What is protected by wearing a guard, specifically one from SISU?

As mentioned above, SISU mouth guards only protect you from dental injury. SISU’s patented Diffusix™ technology allows SISU guard to protect the players teeth up to 30% better than any other conventional guard.

Our uniquely designed perforations oscillate on impact and deflect the force through the surface of the guard, then trap it in the scientifically designed crumple zones. This way, the impact travels through the surface of the guard and not through the players teeth.

Where can I find a SISU Guard to try it for myself?

SISU is available online and through our numerous retail partners. You can find a retailer near you through our store locator.

Additionally, SISU is available on and we also offer a lot of team sales. If you have a group that is interest in purchasing SISU for all of the entire team, we offer a 15% off discount rate of 15 guards or more. For more information just contact us directly!

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[mks_icon icon=”fa-bullhorn” color=”#d32129″ type=”fa”] members get 10% off mouth guards at! Join now to receive the coupon code on our Member Benefits page!