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Universal Lacrosse Blog

  • BCA East Coast Dyes Mesh

    Think Pink

    Every October the lacrosse community honors those affected by breast cancer in a great way. Many manufactures release special versions of products and donate a portion of the proceeds to various breast cancer research foundations to help continue the fight.

    This year the guys over at East Coast Dyes Mesh have come up with an awesome new color way of their popular 15mm Striker Mesh, known as the 2014 ECD BCA Mesh.

    This very special piece of mesh features a three color fade going from pink to white to grey with the black striker stripes stretching the length of the mesh. Like always the striker comes with the awesome waterproofing wax coating that’s standard for every piece of ECD mesh.

    What I think the best part about this new mesh is that East Coast Dyes is going to be taking 50% of the profits and donate it to the Susan G Komen Foundation. The Susan G Komen Foundation is the world’s largest and most widely known breast cancer organization. Since it’s inception in 1982 this organization has spent over 1 billion dollars in research, education, and advocacy of breast cancer in the US and more than 50 other countries.

    Not only would you get a great product from ECD, but also you’d be aiding in the important fight against something that has affected so many people.

  • Correct Helmet Positioning

    Are you wearing our helmet correctly?

    It is the age old question of "Is my son wearing his helmet correctly? It doesn't look like all the other kids on the field." Well, that's probably because the helmet was not sized appropriately and is definitely not safe! There are a few simple key points to keep in mind when sizing your players helmet on his head so it doesn't look like it's doing a 'wheelie' when he's running down the field.

    First, make sure that he can get it on without struggle. Some towns give out older helmets for newbies (but they are certified) and the person giving out the helmet doesn't know the proper fitting. No helmet should hurt a player when coming and off. Yes, it will take some practice getting used to it but it should not be painful.  Helmets come in different sizes, based on the circumference of the players head from XXS to Large for youth helmets. (Example: Cascade CPV).

    cascade_cpv_lacrosse_helmet_3

    Second, once the helmet is on, the player should be looking through the correct bars on the face mask. This is crucial! Every player should be looking through the top two 'squares' in the face mask to ensure that the chin piece is low enough to protect the throat area. Some people may thing that the middle 'squares' are the correct ones, but it exposes way too much of the throat.

    INCORRECT                                                        CORRECT

    IMG_1180     IMG_0173

    The third step is to adjust the chin strap. This can take either 3 minutes or 45 minutes depending on how many patients everyone has. It is easiest to unsnap all 4 snaps and have the player hold the chin piece on their chin where it is comfortable. While they hold it still with 2 hands, this is where the patients comes in, the other person (player, parent, coach) slides the snaps down so that they are adjusted. A general rule that I have always followed is to do the two two snaps first and then the bottom.

    Although this sounds extremely easy to accomplish, there are so many beginners who head out on the field for their first game with their helmet doing a 'wheelie' while sprinting down field and it is not safe. As a company, Universal Lacrosse always adjusts the snaps on new players before they leave the store. Our staff is very knowledgeable about helmets and can always answer tons of questions about sizing, when to move into a larger helmet and when an old helmet may not be safe anymore.

  • Differences between the STX Crux 100, 300 and 500

    Do you know the differences between these sticks?

    STX has come out this year with new names for their sticks-mainly using different numbers to tell them apart. The higher the number, the more advanced the stick is with different stringing, weight, shaft and runway pockets.

    CRUX 100

    This is a beginner level girls stick that is very lightweight. It comes in some fun, crazy colors such as: electric, grape, punch, white and lizard.  The Crux 100 is strung with a precision pocket, similar to a men's pita pocket where there are two leathers but no rubber runway down the middle. The scoop on the top is wider than other Crux heads which makes it easier for beginners to scoop up those annoying ground balls.

    crux1001_

    CRUX 300

    The Crux 300 is the most commonly used stick in the Crux family. It is for both intermediate and advanced players because it has a Runway Pocket (which flex out and hug the ball for better control and feel) along with a more curved scoop up top. This stick is primarily used by attack players because the ball sits up higher in the head called the "sweet spot". When the ball sits up higher, it comes out quicker for those quick stick shots or passes which attack players love right in front of the crease.

    w_heads_crux300_front_black_3

    CRUX 500

    Quickly becoming the most popular new stick of the year, the Crux 500 is blowing players away with the new Launch Pocket Technology.  This new runner system helps to increase ball control and the chevrons flex out to hug the ball for ultimate feel. The runner is wider at the top of the head because when the ball sits in the "sweet spot" there is much more rubber on rubber grip. This pocket shape is specifically engineered to maintain its shape and keep the stick legal over an extended period of use. The scoop is not as curved as with the Crux 300 which does allow for easer ground ball pick-up.

    stx_womens_heads_crux500_3q_graphitetaxi_5

    It can be very confusing and overwhelming when looking at the new numbering system STX has decided to use to differentiate their sticks but once you know the main differences between them all, you are pretty much a pro!

  • Goalie Shaft Shapes

    Did you know that goalie shafts come in different shapes?

    It may not seem all that important to a field player, but once a goalie knows about the different shapes, it can change their game forever.

    There are a few different manufacturers that make goalie shafts: STX, Brine, Warrior, East Coast Dyes Epoch and Gait.  Just like attack and defense shafts, goalie shafts mainly come the standard octagon shape-Warrior Krypto Pro Diamond,  Brine F15, ECD Carbon, Epoch Dragonfly, STX Shield 7075 and STX Shield SC.

    epoch15_df_gen5_c40_2015_main_  shaft-concave-octagon-1_15_1_4

    The goalie shafts that have the irregular shapes are the Gait Ice and STX Outlet. The Gait Ice has a concave shape which allows the goal to keep a better grip on the stick while in position. It is also extremely lightweight! The STX Outlet is different from everyone else; the back of the shaft is smooth and meant to sit in the crux of your hand between your thumb and pointer finger (think teardrop shape).  There are two grooves on the sides of the shaft that you can feel with your pointer finger and thumb-which is weird at first-but it's made that way so that the face of the head is always facing out. Most goalies tap the side bars on a consistent basis, to make sure their angles are correct and hugging the post. While doing this however, the shaft can twist in your hands and the front of the head-the widest part-is no longer facing out. These little side grooves help you feel that the stick is in the correct position without looking down.

    teardrop

     

    There is never a right or wrong shaft for goalies, it is always personal preference and once a goalie knows what works for him/her, that's what they will generally stick with for a few years.

  • Different Types of Arm Protection

    Are you wearing the right one?

    There are mainly 3 different types of arm protection in men's lacrosse: arm guard, arm pad and elbow sleeve. I always think players should wear what they feel the most comfortable and confident in, but some players wear what is specifically designed by the manufacturers for their position.

    Arm Guards

    Arm guards are designed for the attack man. They are longer in length to help protect above the elbow and below too. Arm Guards have a hard cap over the elbow to help protect the player-who is usually driving towards the goal-when they stick out their elbow from those super hard checks from their defense man. Don't be fooled! Arm guards are not like what they used to be back in the old days! They are much more flexible than they look and generally have grip on the inside to help the stay in place while shooting.

    stxcell2agpic

    Arm Pads

    Arm pads are generally worn by middies. They still cover the elbow well, but don't have the hard elbow cap. They are very flexible and just a bit shorter in length compared to the arm guard. If you are looking for something that doesn't come up super high and hit your bicep pad, these are for you!

    warriornation11ap

     

    Elbow Sleeves

    If you are a very brave attack man, you can wear these; but generally, these are for defense. Since they get to do all the hitting, they seldom wear big arm pads but the rules say they have to wear something-so these are it! With a very sleek design, these will stay snug on your arm and have a small pad around your elbow.

    brine13_ldaplop_main_1

     

    These are just some general guidelines on different arm protection for different positions. As long as you wear something that is comfortable and helps protect against some nasty checks. Bruises always make for good stories, but broken bones are never fun.

  • Different Levels Of Women's Heads

    Do you know the differences?

    When looking at a wall of women's lacrosse sticks, it can be very difficult to see the differences between each one and just say "they all look exactly alike!" I can assure you that during preseason, I get that from almost every beginner player and/or parent on a daily basis. Once I start to break things down for them, they start to understand why different levels of players (beginner, intermediate and expert) play with different shaped heads.

    Beginner

    Typically, beginners want to use a light weight stick and one that is very flat on the top scoop. I think we can all agree that learning to pick up ground balls can be frustrating in general, but as a beginner, you want to have a flat, pancake spatula looking scoop, which will make it much easier to get under the ball. All sticks, no matter what level, start off not broken in and can all give off the appearance of looking very flat. However once you pick up the stick and look at the scoop, you can usually tell if it is a beginner stick or not.

    db-flutter-complete-stick-1

    Intermediate

    To me, intermediate players have played lacrosse for a year or two but only during the spring season. They have either grown and their stick is too short for them or they want a head that has a bit more shape to it so it stays in better while cradling. These players I usually ask what position they are mainly playing-attack, midfield or defense. I usually try to direct the midfielders and defense players towards sticks that still have a flatter scoop because they are still constantly picking up ground balls. Attack players can get away with a more narrow throat in their stick because it helps direct the ball to come out of the stick straight; allowing more accurate shots.

    brine-cadencelacrosse-head-1

    Advanced

    These players have a stick in their hands year round and usually know exactly which stick they want because they have borrowed their friends sticks to play with. Sometimes advanced players will actually keep their current stick (because it's lucky or extra special) and simply get it restrung with a different runway/pocket.

    stxcrux

     

    Even though to the untrained eye women's lacrosse sticks can look very similar and just look different because they are different colors, they do vary quite a bit. Even though it's always important to have a great looking stick, making sure you have one that meets your skill set is even more important.

  • The Importance of End Caps

    Which style do you prefer?

     

    Every stick needs one.  We wouldn’t be able to play without them.  Butt-ends, also known as end caps, are necessary to play lacrosse mainly for safety reasons.  Without them, the sharp metal end of the lacrosse stick would be exposed, posing a harmful threat to other players.  But besides safety, butt-ends are great to help you keep your hands on you stick and to even get some extra power on shots.

    There are different varieties of butt-ends from many different manufacturers: STX, Brine, Warrior, Maverik, Under Armor, and Gait.  Most of them take on the same shape, the standard end cap that a lot of sticks come with, while others are more unique.  The Gait Cork end cap is special because instead of sitting over the shaft it locks in from the inside.  It also features a ring-like molding along the bottom;  it gives your hands something to push against when you’re shooting so you can get a little more torque!

    gaitendcork

    Under Armour also has a similar product but with more a flared out molding. It also locks from the inside when you tighten the screw. The rubber molding covers the bottom of the shaft from the outside.

    endcap

    Back in my playing days, we didn’t have sophisticated end-caps like this.  I was always stuck ripping and wrapping tape around my shaft so I could get the ring-like butt-end.  Only problem with this is that it took awhile and it was very annoying.  Also, once you put that tape ring on you’d have to take it ALL off if you want to adjust it.  It made me never want to re-tape my stick, which is actually very important.

    ByOPxz4CUAEf9sp.jpg-large

    But now, we’re in luck!  Maverik just released their new Adjustable Butt-End, or ABE for short.  Currently only available on their new 2015 shafts, the ABE features a movable plastic ring that tightens with a mini screw! You can slide this ring anywhere you want to so you can get the most out of your stick.

    Ring type butt-ends aren’t for everyone and that’s all right.  Everyone’s different.  But if you’re like me and want a little something for some extra power, the ring butt-ends are probably your best bet.

  • Lacrosse Goalie Gear for Beginners

    Beginner Goalies

    One of the first things that a head coach worries about at their first coach’s meeting, usually  months before the regular season starts, is ‘who is our goalie going to be?’ Especially at the youth level, filling this position can be extremely hard. However, there are a few very brave players out there who end up loving the position of goalie! Once the season is over, usually players want to continue at camps to improve their skills but once the regular season is over, recreation town teams collect all the equipment. This is when it can get tricky and expensive if you don’t know what you are looking for, so here are a few tips:

    #1-Right Helmet Fit

    With all of the different helmet models today, it can confusing as to which helmet to get. If you are a youth player, start off trying on the Cascade CPV. This helmet comes in sizes and is adjustable. If the largest size of this helmet is too small, then move up to the one size fits all helmets: Cascade CPX-R, Cascade Pro-7 or the Cascade R. All of the Cascade helmets can be ordered in team colors if you can wait about a week for it to arrive. (Don't forget the throat guard!)

    cascade-r-lacrosse-helmet-matte-gray-chrome-side    blackthroatguard

    #2-Chest Protector

    Again, there are a lot of different models of these by different manufacturer. Some of the more popular ones are: STX Cell II, STX Women’s Sultra, Maverik Rome NXT, Brine Eraser II, and the Warrior Lockdown. The best thing to do is to try one one, get into your goalie position and move around to see if the pads are flexible enough to your liking or you may prefer a hard, stiff sternum protector. All chest protectors have a hard piece in front of your heart, but some come with an extra bubble (that is removable) to add extra protection.

    sultrapic

    #3-Goalie Pants

    Odds are that most boys do not want to wear goalie pants whereas girls will. Boys see this as not being tough enough and they love showing off their bruises. However, when you start to move up in grades, the shots start being much faster-average 8th grade boy can shoot around 65-70 mph. Not all goalie pants are huge, bulky pads like everyone seems to think. Some goalie pants have thinner pads and are more breathable than others.

    brine-ventalator-goalie-pants

    #4-Shin Guards

    This is all about player preference! If a player has been wearing them for years, they are most likely not going to be afraid of the ball and will step to it when the shots are being fired. If a goalie gets hit really hard in the shin, it can be extremely painful and really deter the player from being aggressive in the goal in the future. I think that having a confident goalie, wearing all the pads, is better to have on my team than someone who is scared to get hit because they want to “look cool and tough” by not wearing all the padding.

    stx-contour-lacrosse-goalie-shin-guards

     

    Having your own equipment allows you to play in the off season so you can always be on top of your game. There is nothing better than walking into preseason with the confidence that you haven't lost any of your skills and are ready for whatever comes your way!

  • Rain vs. Mesh

    Can You Beat the Storm?
    East Coast Dyes May Have Your Answer!

    Mother Nature can be a cruel, mischievous lady. One minute you’re enjoying perfect lacrosse sunshine then BOOM, torrential rain to ruin your game. Nothing is worse than having to play a big game in bad weather. Your gear gets soaked and smelly, and worst of all your stick turns into a gigantic bag. We have a few good stick maintenance tricks that will help you keep your stick in order.

    From my experience in high school, college, and after, one of the easiest ways to take care of your gear is to stuff everything with paper towels or newspaper. It’s a pain to do when you are on the way home and your soaking wet but its worth it. Just throw it in there and let everything sit over night. Make sure its OUT OF YOUR GEAR BAG. The biggest mistake you can make with your wet stuff is to leave it in a closed bag for an extended period of time. If you do that you not only lock in the wet, but the funky smell as well.

    Other ways to fight the weather is to use lax products that are made to resist the rain. East Coast Dyes Mesh is one of the best in water resistant mesh on the market now. It not only has a quick break in time, but it’s wax coating keeps the water from absorbing into the mesh making it sag and bag. When your pocket increases in depth it will throw differently and that can change your shot accurate.

    myzA4lYBiLSimgb4hirSAvg

    ECD has also released a product called Pocket Polish that allows you to add the same wax they provide on their mesh to ANY kind of pocket. It doesn’t matter what kind of custom stringing you using, whether it’s already East Coast or any other kind of mesh, the Pocket Polish works for everything. It can also replace any of the waxy coating that may have worn off over time on your ECM.

    ecd_pocket_polish_main

    Whether you use any of the waterproof products out there or don’t its up to you to keep your gear in line. Trust me blaming the weather on a sub-par performance is one of the last things your coach is going to want to hear. When it rains, it pours. And when it pours, we still LAX!

  • FOGO

    Face-Offs are Changing.  Can You Keep Up?

     

    Face-offs are a HUGE part of our game.  Always have been.  Always will be.  It seems like every couple years the NCAA Rules Committee tries to mix it up.

    This time the biggest uproar with rule changes are at the X. What has been proposed, and now officially passed, makes it so a player can no longer carry the ball in the back of their stick.  By doing so the Rules Committee is trying to make face-offs more balanced.  It’s going to make it more of a battle for the ground ball instead of who has the fastest hands on the draw kind of competition.  Fast hands are still going to be extremely important to win but it’s just that those fast hands are going to need to figure out other ways to get the job done.  I think that there are going to be some fierce wrestling matches without the finesse inspired “plunger” move. This might also produce a larger breed of FOGO’s and eliminate that smaller, quick on their feet technical face off player.

    To me that’s one of the greatest aspects of the sport that I love. Adaptation.  When you think of the Lacrosse Greats like the Gaits, the Powells, the Thompsons etc., you need to remember that they were and still are great, not because of how good of an athlete they were but because of what they could do.

    That’s what lacrosse comes down to.  Seeing how the bits and pieces are working together and then taking the results to make the right play.  You have to adapt to survive.  It’s true in both lax and life. For those faceoff players who have become masters of their craft it is back to the drawing board. I anticipate a lot of collegiate faceoff guys that were in the top 25 will drop out this year because of their lack of ability to evolve. I would also place a bet on the bigger more physical faceoff guys excelling up through the rankings.

    So we won’t be seeing any crazy backward-stick goals this season.  So what?  We still got one of the Thompson brothers up at Albany to provide all the craziness we will ever need.  The game of lacrosse is about change.  Nothing ever goes right, and it’s up to you guys to take what they have and make the best of it.  When life gives you lemons right?

    I think the custom stringing specifically for the Faceoff player is going to be even more important moving forward. We are taking a close look at the FOGO pocket over the next few weeks. I will let you know what we come up with.

     

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