Reviewing Impact Mouthguards

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The ability to connect with good people making amazing products through our interconnected world continues to amaze me. My post “Maintain Your Mouth Guards” generated a solid number of views to the AYL blog. One of those views was Jeff Lyle with Impact Mouthguards at, and he reached out to me after reading the article to discuss having Impact Mouthguards provide a discount to AYL members for their custom guards. Since they’re a local company based in Alpharetta I met up with Jeff and Frank Rabinovitch so they could show me the manufacturing process and what customization options they had available.

In order to get a handle on how they create custom mouthguards and give a review of the final product I went through a full fitting, and I’ve got pictures of the process at the end of this post. To demonstrate a proper fitting Impact put together this excellent instructional video:

The process isn’t too bad. I’d say sitting with a mouth full of special puddy is only mildly uncomfortable, and the result is an incredibly comfortable mouthguard. Once the impression of my teeth was cleared by Jeff I asked for a yellow mouthguard with AYL printed on the front. They also have several flavored options and I went with fruit punch (more on that later!). After getting fitted and putting together the discount for AYL members I went home and waited on the special delivery of my custom fitted and custom designed mouthguard.

About a week after my fitting I received my new mouthguard and decided to give it a test run by actually going out for a run. I suited up in my usual gear and picked a two mile route in my neighborhood with a ton of hills to simulate the hard running a player does in a game. I ran hard, did a few roll dodges, swung my head from side to side, breathed with my mouth open and closed, and tried to manuever my body in as many ways as possible to dislodge this mouthguard. It didn’t move.

I tried to make the mouthguard move, but it was so perfectly fitted to my teeth it wasn’t going anywhere. After two minutes of running I forgot it was there and was able to breath normally during the entire run. The pleasant and not overpowering flavor of fruit punch was present when I clenched my teeth into the guard. When I got fitted I asked Jeff how long the flavoring lasted, expecting an answer of two or three weeks. He said that because the flavor is sealed into the mouthguard it will stay lightly flavored for the life of the guard. I freaking love science!

After my run I recorded a short video to demonstrate how easy it was for me to talk with it in my mouth, and that it was comfortable for me to drink water with the mouthguard in my mouth:

Being comfortable, easy to talk around, and easy to drink around makes this the ideal mouthguard for any player in a contact sport. I spent a lot of time in youth games reminding players to put their mouthguards in, or stopping play to get a mouthguard back into a player’s mouth. I’ve seen players with half the mouthguard hanging out because one half is chewed beyond recognition. The reason for this is because most mouthguards are uncomfortable and come out easily. Even the boil-and-bite mouthguards require the player to bite down to keep them in place. The Impact Mouthguard practically sucked itself to the top of my teeth. I had to wiggle it a few times before it dislodged it’s grip on my teeth.

I really want our players to protect their teeth, and $49 for a custom fitted mouthguard is a great deal. Especially with the $5 AYL discount when purchasing a custom mouthguard from Impact here: Use the discount code AYL to knock five bucks off the total price no matter what customization options you select. If you’re curious about how the entire process works check out this link to learn more:

We are going to set up a time before fall ball gets going for the Impact team to come out and do custom fittings at our fields, but until then I recommend checking out their site and getting a custom fitted mouthguard with the AYL design or with your own custom look!

Getting Fitted


The final result:




Featured Image Credit –


Go Get Some Rest

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To any U9-U17 player who reads my posts I have one message for you as the spring season comes to a close this weekend: Go get some rest. Take a break. Chill out. Slow down. Put your feet up. Take a breather.

Rest has become increasingly taboo in our culture. It’s as if slowing down for a moment means we are wasting time that we could be putting towards some useful pursuit, but rest is critical for sustained performance over time. This is the last week of the high school playoffs in Georgia. From May 19th to May 30th I am not officiating. I’ve already officiated 86 games this season according to my exported schedule. My body and my mind need a break, and I assure you that if I need two weeks off at 26 years old that every youth player across the country could probably use a break too. They might not need as long of a break as I do, or they might need a longer one. The important thing is that youth players should do something other than structured practices and games for a little while once the season wraps up.

During my break I’m going to continue my HeadSpace meditation sessions and new Yoga practice, both of which have helped me immensely this season stay relaxed and calm. The kids might want to go to the pool, have sleep overs, or run around in the yard pretending to be pirate-ninjas. The point is there is a time and a place for rest, especially after great labors. And finishing a full lacrosse season as a player, parent, coach, or official is a sustained labor. Treat yourself to a rest, whatever it is you need to recharge. I promise you, lacrosse is still going to be here when you get back, but you’ll be in a better frame of mind to enjoy it.

For those of you who may be interested in HeadSpace check out this excellent Ted Talk by Andy Puddicombe:


More Games! More Games! More Games!

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With the end of the regular season almost upon us everyone’s attention is turning towards summer travel ball. I have several trips in the works to officiate different summer tournaments because it is a great way for me to stay in touch with many of my officiating friends in different states. I was also fortunate to be selected to officiate the festival games in Denver that are going on alongside the 2014 World Lacrosse Championships, which I’ll be heading out to in July and I’ve been geeking out about that since I got the assignments. In my officiating travels I’ve noticed a strange mindset creeping into youth lacrosse: it seems that games have taken on a greater importance than practice.

I want to be clear on what I think the relationship between practice and games should be:

Practice > Games

Games < Practice

I hear over and over again the need for more and more game experience for youth players. It’s as if playing more games accelerates skill development. It doesn’t, and a personal lesson from my high school algebra class demonstrates this.

A math test and a lacrosse game are surprisingly similar. Math tests require a student to demonstrate proficiency in a particular area of math after learning it in class and solving problems while studying. Lacrosse games require a player to demonstrate skill in their particular position after learning it at practice and working repetitions in their free time. Math tests are rarely passed without consistent study, and lacrosse games are rarely won without regular practice.

I imagine I would get many ludicrous looks if I suggested the best way to get better at math would be to take more and more tests at the expense of more and more study. Tests and studying are not the same. Tests are designed to prove that you know the material you practiced on your own time. They are not designed to teach you new information. When I was in high school I performed very poorly in algebra. I did not study much and the tests reflected my lack of preparation. After getting suitably chastised by my teacher and parents I found a way to pass by spending hours working as many problems as I could so that solving for “x”  was burned into my brain. If I just took the tests without studying I would have had a lot of “test experience,” and a failing grade in the class. But I learned to study and the test just became confirmation of information I already knew.

Games have become more important than they should be at the youth level. Youth lacrosse is meant to light a fire so a player has fun playing the game and so they understand the importance of carving out time to practice. High school and college coaches do not care if a player was in 200 games over the course of their youth playing days. They want to know if a player logs 200 hours of wall ball each off season because anyone can get up to play a game. Getting up to practice is much harder.