NCAA supports new dimensions for lacrosse sticks

Changes would encourage better passing

September 08, 2006|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,Sun reporter

If the NCAA proceeds with proposed rule changes setting new guidelines for lacrosse sticks, you might see fewer flashy moves in traffic and more ground balls, but possibly also better passing.

Citing concerns that the ball no longer dislodges often enough from a player's stick upon contact, the sport's rules committee has recommended that lacrosse sticks return to a design that is bigger, more triangular, and more traditional in shape.

The recommendations - which must be approved by the Playing Rules Oversight Panel before they become official, and would not be enforced until 2009 - were made public yesterday after being recommended last month.

"Our major concern is that the ball is not coming out of the stick as easily as it should," said Willie Scroggs, senior associate athletics director at North Carolina, who is chairman of the rules committee. "These specifications will reign in the sticks while still allowing manufacturers plenty of time to adjust."

The rules committee felt that the narrowing of the channel in the stick head, which has occurred over time, made the changes necessary. Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said most coaches have been in favor of the changes for years.

"Aesthetically people may not like it, they may feel like the sticks don't look as cool, but I think part of the game has been lost," Pietramala said. "Passing is not the same as it used to be. You see a lot more turnovers. People can really let it rip [when they shoot] but who are the great feeders now? "

Offensive moves - especially the kind where an offensive player takes multiple stick checks and still holds onto the ball - had become too common in the eyes of the rules committee.

"There is no question things are different [than when I played]," said Pietramala, who was a three-time All-America defender at Johns Hopkins from 1986 to 1989. "I fool around with our kids sometimes at practice, and it's nearly impossible to take the ball away. I think the change is going to bring passing back, and make it more crisp and accurate. The way it is now, you see more hacking and stick swinging than you do pure checking."

Pending approval from the Playing Rules Oversight Panel, the lacrosse stick will need to adhere to the following guidelines starting in 2009:

The measurement at the widest part of the crosse shall be a minimum of 6 1/2 inches measured at the inside front of the crosse and a minimum of 6 inches on the back of the crosse.

The measurement up from the stop to the 5-inch mark may not be less than 4 1/4 inches at the front and back of the crosse.

The measurement up from the stop to the 3-inch mark may not be less than 3 1/4 inches at the front and back of the crosse.

The measurement up from the stop to the 1 1/4 -inch mark may not be less than 2 3/4 inches at the front and back of the crosse.

For the 2006 season, the rules committee voted to encourage officials to make more frequent stick checks, especially at times when players do not expect them.

kevin.vanvalkenburg@baltsun.com

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