What is a Lacrosse Ball Made of? A Complete Guide



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There are many pieces of equipment necessary to play lacrosse including cleats, gloves, helmets, sticks, and pads, but arguable the most important item is the lacrosse ball. 

The lacrosse ball has gone through many changes over the course of history. The game was first said to have been played by Native Americans in the 1600s as noted by Jean de Brebeuf, a French Jesuit missionary. Throughout history, Lacrosse balls have been made out of a range of different materials. However, the modern Lacrosse ball is made out of solid rubber.

Different brands and companies make their Lacrosse balls slightly differently and utilize a variety of rubber formulas. Despite any differences that may exist between brands, every lacrosse ball that is used on the field has to be a certified lacrosse ball. 

What Were Lacrosse Balls Historically Made of?

Throughout the history of lacrosse, lacrosse balls have been made out of a variety of different materials, depending on the era as well as each individual manufacturer. The first Lacrosse balls were made out of buckskin, deerskin balls filled with hair, feathers, grass, and sand, or smoothened rocks or carved wood. 

The first lacrosse balls maintained a connection with nature through the naturally occurring materials that they were made out of. Later, in the 1860s, when Dr. William George Beers solidified the rules of lacrosse, the balls became more uniform. 

What Are Modern Lacrosse Balls Made of?

Modern-day lacrosse balls have to be made according to lacrosse regulations, as each ball that is used on the field must be certified. Lacrosse balls are now made out of solid rubber or elastomeric material that accords with the certification standards. 

Different lacrosse ball manufacturers and brands use different types of elastomeric materials such as silicone, polyurethane, rubber, and variations of vinyl. However, most typical modern lacrosse balls are all made out of solid rubber that is vulcanized. 

Vulcanized rubber is stronger than other materials. This type of rubber is vulcanized by mixing natural rubber with a variety of other additives. This is a very common process and it is often also used in the manufacturing of footwear. Natural rubber is largely unstable so it is combined with other additives in the manufacturing process to stabilize it. 

Many manufacturers that produce professional lacrosse balls choose to use vulcanized rubber. This process makes use of a chemical process where sulfur and pressure is used to catalyze the materials. This process works just as well with both natural as well as synthetic rubber materials. The vulcanization method heats the chemical and rubber mixture to a temperature of between 280 and 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

The rubber mixture is then put into a mold where it is compressed as it hardens. This process helps to improve the physical qualities of the rubber and makes it more durable and stronger. It also helps to prevent the rubber from becoming misshapen or deformed over time. However, even vulcanized rubber can be deformed when it is exposed to high levels of pressure or stress, but it will take a lot more stress than normal, non-vulcanized rubber. 

The method is the result of scientific research and has produced a lacrosse ball that is strong, long-lasting, and durable. 

Rubber vs Polyurethane Lacrosse Balls

Rubber and polyurethane lacrosse balls meet the standards of the NOCSAE when they are manufactured. However, according to studies, polyurethane balls have been shown to last longer after years of use on the field. Rubber lacrosse balls, however, become hardened and degraded after exposure to rain, heat, and sun within even just a few weeks of being used. 

Rubber lacrosse balls

Most of the lacrosse balls that are used today have been manufactured by one of two or three companies in China and Taiwan. All of these companies utilize the same rubber formula and manufacturing processes for a number of brands. They all make use of latex rubber that is made by mixing natural rubber with a variety of oils, additive, and fillers. It is a similar method that is used in making car tires as well as footwear. 

Polyurethane Lacrosse balls

NX and Pearl X lacrosse balls are produced in the United States and are made with a form of crosslinked polyurethane. This formula does not contain any fillers, oils, or substances that are prohibited by Prop 65 and because of this they never become too hard or grease. The chemists at Guardian Sports wanted to create a ball formula that enabled the lacrosse ball to remain in spec and didn’t grease. 

Polyurethane is a similar material that is used in making many normal household products as well as farming tools. 

Why Are Lacrosse Balls Certified?

It is vital that all lacrosse balls used on the field meet the NOCSAE standards for regulation reasons as well as safety concerns. Lacrosse balls that do not meet the NOCSAE regulations can consist of poor compression ratios that can mean that they are too hard or tough and can result in injuries to the player, even when they are wearing high helmets and safety equipment. 

Today, there are two versions of lacrosse balls that are certified and are used every day. In the United States, certified balls are usually made of latex rubber, and in other countries are made of crosslinked polyurethane.

According to the official lacrosse regulations, lacrosse balls should be made out of a solid, elastomeric material such as silicone, latex rubber, polyurethane, latex rubber, and vinyl. 

What Are Lacrosse Ball Variations?

Lacrosse balls can come in white, yellow, green, or orange depending on the age, level, and gender of the lacrosse players. There are a few differences in gameplay depending on the color of the ball. 

Younger players that are under six or eight years of age will have to use a soft lacrosse ball. This can either be an actual soft lacrosse ball, a tennis ball, or another soft athletic ball that is of similar diameter and size to a lacrosse ball. 

As soon as a player reaches the under ten age group in both women’s and men’s lacrosse, they will play with a rubber ball. This ball has to meet the rules and regulations as stated by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment or NOCSAE. These rules define how the ball is constructed and out of what material it is made. 

Regulation lacrosse balls should be made of rubber and should weigh between 5 and 5.25 ounces and should measure between 7.75 and 8 inches in circumference or about the same size as a tennis ball. All balls that are used in official lacrosse games must show a label that reads “Meets NOCSAE Standards.”

The color of the ball will vary depending on whether the game being played is women’s or men’s. The men’s game is usually played with a white ball, whereas women use a yellow ball.

However, there are sometimes variations to the color if both coaches agree to change the color. Changes to the color of the ball during the game can include using an orange or green ball. Orange and green balls can be used as a substitute for a white or yellow ball in a game situation as long as both coaches agree on the color change. 

Does Training or Practice Lacrosse Balls Are The Same As The Balls Used in Match?

If you are training or practicing your lacrosse skills as a team or on your own, there are a few more options as to your ball choices. You can also train with the same balls that you would use in a regular game. Practice balls can come in a range of colors that are not allowed in a regulation match. 

There are variations of practice balls that are made out of a softer material so that they are more durable and absorbent to shock. They are usually the same weight and size as a regulation lacrosse ball so it should not impact your development or practice. These softer types of practice balls are usually a good option if you intend to practice your skills inside. 

There are also weighted lacrosse practice balls. They have the same dimensions as a normal lacrosse ball however they can be up to 3 times the weight. These balls help to develop a lacrosse player’s speed, handling skills, and strength. 

It is a good idea to choose a brightly colored ball when you are practicing so that you don’t lose sight of your ball, especially if you are practicing as part of a team and there are a number of players on the practice field. 

What is inside a lacrosse ball?

You may not be surprised to hear that many people assume lacrosse balls contain cement in them and at one point in history they did.

However, modern-day lacrosse balls are no longer filled with cement and it is no longer legal to play with these types of lacrosse balls. Modern-day lacrosse balls may feel like they contain cement, however, they are now made with one single material and do not contain a core. 

If you were to cut inside a modern lacrosse ball you would see that the outside is essentially the same material as the inside. Every certified lacrosse ball must measure between 7.75 and 8 inches in circumference and should be made of one single material such as vulcanized rubber. 

How Big is a Lacrosse Ball?

All lacrosse balls must adhere to the regulations NOCSAE and have to be considered Certified Lacrosse Balls. If a lacrosse ball is certified, then its weight, size, and diameter should meet certain requirements. 

A lacrosse ball should have a circumference of between 7.75 and 8 inches. The circumference refers to the inner boundary of a circle that is measure by taking twice the radius and multiplying it by Pi squared. Measuring a lacrosse ball’s circumference can be done using the formula 2ℼr² or by using a string to wrap around the circumference and placing it on a ruler to measure it. 

Lacrosse balls, if they are to meet certifications, can’t weigh less than 5 ounces and should not weigh more than 5.25 ounces. One slice of an average loaf of bread weighs about 1 ounce making the weight of a lacrosse ball equal to about five slices of bread.

However, weighing your lacrosse ball on a simple scale will help you to determine whether it meets regulations or not. A standard tennis ball weighs about 2 ounces and is thus lighter and bouncier than a lacrosse ball. 

The diameter of a lacrosse ball should be between 2.468 and 2.547 inches. In comparison, a standard tennis ball according to the Internation Tennis Federation (ITF) has a diameter of between 2.575 and 2.675 inches. 

Is a Lacrosse Ball Harder Than a Baseball?

Lacrosse balls and baseballs are of the same weight despite that baseballs are slightly bigger in circumference compared to lacrosse balls. Lacrosse balls are composed of rubber whereas baseballs are made of cork, cowhide, and yarn which is much less dense. 

If you hold a baseball in one hand and a lacrosse ball in the other you will likely notice that the lacrosse ball is harder and tougher than the baseball. This is because of the materials that are used to produce each ball. 

Lacrosse balls are harder in texture than baseballs because they are composed of rubber. The cowhide that is used to make baseballs also feels somewhat hard, but is softer compared to lacrosse balls. 

If you are hit by either ball it will likely hurt a lot. It is also worth noting that the surface texture of a lacrosse ball is completely smooth compared to the protruding stitches of a baseball that give it a unique texture and feel. 

To sum up… 

Now that you know everything there is to know about how a lacrosse ball is made, what it is made of, and how heavy it is, you can get out onto the field and hone your skills. 

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