Do you know a lacrosse ball is made of? What about what’s inside it? Lacrosse balls are heavy which tells you that it isn’t hollow inside. But what kind of material is often used for official lacrosse games? If you’re pondering these questions, then you’re in the right place. Read on to learn everything there is to know about lacrosse balls.
History of Lacrosse Ball Materials
Lacrosse existed for a very long time before it had official game standards. So can you guess what materials were used for the ball? The oldest lacrosse balls were made from buckskin, wood, or rock. Yes, they even used rocks. Older lacrosse games way back in 1636 used materials directly coming from nature so that they had a sense of connection with nature or the earth. Some used feathers, grass, or sand.
However, at the start of the 1860s, lacrosse balls were standardized by Dr. William George Beers. Beers was the first person who wrote the rules of the game, though he wasn’t the one who invented it. Nonetheless, these written rules and standards became the start of official lacrosse games.
What is a Lacrosse Ball Made Of?
So what is the modern lacrosse ball made of? There’s not one material that all lacrosse balls should be made of. In fact, the certification standards only state that the lacrosse ball should be made of “solid, elastomeric material”. This means that your ball can be made of latex rubber, vinyl, silicone, or polyurethane.
From all these materials, the most popular being used across the country are latex rubber, vulcanized rubber, and cross-linked polyurethane. If you will notice, rubber is a common material. This is because rubber, when processed, can be easily mixed with other additives that make it stronger and more durable. Think about the rubber that is used in footwear because the material used is almost the same.
What’s Inside a Lacrosse Ball?
Why is a lacrosse ball heavy? Is it made of cement? A lot of people think that it is, but it isn’t. Sure, it did use cement at some point but it doesn’t anymore especially when the new standards for lacrosse balls were set by the NCAA. Today, most lacrosse balls are made of rubber and they are also made of the same material throughout. So when you cut a lacrosse ball in half, what you’ll get is a ball full of rubber.
If you’re using a polyurethane lacrosse ball, you’ll find that it will also have polyurethane inside it. Polyurethane is another great material perfect for lacrosse balls because it doesn’t get too greasy. It’s the same material used in household plastic products.
Early in 2000, the NCAA released revised guidelines on the specifications of lacrosse balls. If at first, it had to be 62.7-64.7 mm in diameter, today, it only needs to be 7 ¾ – 8 inches in circumference. There’s not a lot of difference, but you still have to follow this if you want to play officially.
Other than that, the NCAA, together with the US Lacrosse and the NFHS, require that every lacrosse ball have a stamp of the NOCSAE approval. If the ball doesn’t have it, it wouldn’t be allowed by the official. Of course, this only applies to official games.
What if you’re just playing with friends? The good news is that you don’t have to abide by the NCAA standards if you don’t plan on playing on it. If it’s just for fun, why go through all the inconvenience, right? The only caveat is that you and your team won’t get used to professional standards.
What Is the Best Material for a Lacrosse Ball?
Rubber and polyurethane are the most common materials for a lacrosse ball but are they the best? Here are a few things you need to know about the best materials in the market.
First, vulcanized rubber is used in professional lacrosse games. Why? The process involved in vulcanizing the rubber ensures that the material doesn’t get damaged even after stress. Of course, it’s not going to be indestructible for the whole time, but at least, it lasts a while.
The process of creating a vulcanized rubber involves putting sulfur under a lot of pressure. It’s also heated in temperatures as high as 350 degrees Fahrenheit. The high temperature helps in “melting” the rubber making it easy to mold. Once it’s melted, the rubber is placed in a mold where it hardens.
It’s important to use durable material. If you can, buy a lacrosse ball that is NOCSAE approved. NOCSAE is a non-profit organization that gives standards on the specifications of any sports equipment. In fact, NOCSAE-approved lacrosse balls are a must in professional games. If your ball is not approved by the organization, the official won’t allow it. To prove that it passed the NOCSAE standards, the organization will stamp their approval on the ball itself.
Second, there’s a reason why polyurethane is next to vulcanized rubber in popularity – it’s durable. Again, durability is important. And it’s not only because you don’t want to keep buying a new lacrosse ball. That’s part of it but the more important reason is that using a weaker ball will affect your game.
In lacrosse, durability is everything because it determines the bounce, weight, and size of the ball. If the ball easily gets crushed, then expect that the bounce won’t be as good. It also won’t even pass the NOCSAE standards. If it gets deformed, it’s also hard to balance in the pocket.
So what do you get from all of these important notes? Use only NOCSAE-approved lacrosse balls.
On the other hand, if you only plan to play for fun, NOCSAE standards are not required. The same goes for approvals from the NCAA, NFHS, and the US Lacrosse organizations.
Lacrosse is a great game, but it is highly dependent on the quality of your lacrosse ball. Getting an approved material will help you train better.