It Is Not The Stick Or The Ball

I’ve noticed a curious thing in my high school games of late. A player takes a shot and the ball goes out of bounds on the end line. His teammate is closest to the ball where and when it goes out and is awarded possession for the next restart. Instead of quickly grabbing an available ball on the end line for a quick restart to attack the goal, the player picks up and drops one ball. Then picks up and drops another. By the time he finds a ball he is happy with the defense has re-set themselves and the quick restart advantage is lost.

The advantage is lost because the offensive player didn’t want to play with a slick ball, or, to use the lacrosse term, a “greaser”. I’m seeing more and more players shoot the ball fifteen or twenty yards above the cage and look at the head of their stick as if blaming the string job or complain to me that the ball was too slick. Let me be perfectly clear:

NFHS Rule 1.5.1 – The ball shall be white, yellow, orange or lime green and meet the current NOCSAE lacrosse ball standard. White balls shall be used unless both coaches agree prior to or during the game to use a yellow, orange or lime green ball.

I am a lacrosse official. I care about what the rules tell me, and the rules and NOCSAE standards tell me that there is no requirement for the lacrosse ball to be “grippy”.

This is a curious evolution of the player mindset. My father and his teammates played with older lacrosse sticks that did not have a lot of research and development money put into them, but the ball was still round and about the same size. When I started playing in the mid 1990’s, the stick shafts and heads were still in the infancy of development, but the ball was still about the same. As I continued playing more and more crazy lacrosse sticks came out. One shaft was wrapped in Kevlar. One head had a patented “floating sidewall”. Money was getting poured into better materials and better structural designs of lacrosse sticks as lacrosse became more popular.

This is where the curious mindset is coming from. Many players are spending $80 on a brand new lacrosse head and $30 for someone to string it up. When you spend $110 on a stick you expect it to do what you want. I played with a hand-me down stick when I started off. If my pass went awry I might have been justified in looking at my stick with a perplexed look, but as soon as I did that the opposing team would pick off the next pass and be on a fast break towards me and I would be out of position because I was staring at my stick.

The money going into lacrosse technology has removed the stick as the primary culprit in bad passes. Now, if the pass is poor it must be a slick ball that caused it. No way the $110 stick could be at fault, and there is certainly nothing wrong with a player’s passing skills. Nope, got to be the ball’s fault.

Let me be perfectly clear again:

It is not the stick or the ball. Your passes and shots are poor because of your poor skills.

Here is the good news about having poor skills. Practicing to improve your skills is free.

There are brick and cinderblock walls all over the place for a drastically price-reduced, completely free wall ball session. There are players on your team would would likely run out their front doors to go have a catch with you for absolutely zero dollars down.

The best part about this free practice opportunity is that every time you practice you invest in your lacrosse skills bank for future games!

Remember that you are not a professional tennis player who gets to choose which ball feels the best. If you get awarded the ball on a shot, pick up the closest one and step onto the field. Because if you keep screwing around to find the perfect ball I am going to bang you for a Delay of Game and turn it over to the defense for wasting everybody’s time.

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About Lou Corsetti

Gordon is a born lacrosse official who played for ten years before realizing he'd much rather ref the game than play it. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia and officiates youth, high school, and collegiate men's lacrosse games all over the southeast. His passion is educating and training officials, coaches, players, parents and all other fans on the rules of lacrosse, it's history, and how best to develop lacrosse in new areas.

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