Well, Lacrosse balls get made from vulcanized rubber, which has additives to make them soft. Over time the oils and plasticizers begin to move toward the ball’s surface, creating the oily coating and hardening it.
Greasing becomes an issue as the oils of the ball impede the accuracy of the shot. Coupled with the loss of accuracy is the heightening chance of injury to the player. During a game, the ball can get up to 90 mph, so what was once a game ball can become a dangerous projectile.
How To Fix It
So, now that we know the why let’s talk a little bit about how. Fixing this problem isn’t hard and can be done in a number of ways, from soaking and washing them, resurfacing them, or maybe even just getting a better-built ball.
Either way, if you love playing the game lacrosse and are tired of having a greaser, know that you don’t have to live with it or buy your balls in bulk. You have several other options.
There are three solutions to this problem that you can employ to increase the longevity of your balls.
The first is, taking them through a washing process to clean the oils off. While this method will help with the loss of accuracy, it won’t stop the ball from hardening. The ball hardens because those oils it’s seeping are meant to keep it soft and elastic.
Secondly, there is a tool that can be bought specifically for this purpose. It’s a resurfacing tool that can give your greasy, slippery ball new life. This isn’t a very hard tool to use and could save you some time and money.
The third way is to buy balls made out of other materials, which is a relatively new thing, and at the current moment, is produced by one U.S based company called Guardian. While they aren’t normal just yet, I have no doubt that they just might become the standard in the future.
How to Wash Lacrosse Balls
Degreasing the rubber is relatively simple and not all that time-consuming, taking roughly forty minutes. All you need is hot water, dish soap, and a bucket or sink.
Add dish soap to your hot water, let the lacrosse balls soak for about thirty minutes. Rinse them using cold water, making sure that you get all the soap off.
You can do this manually in a bucket or the sink. Alternatively, you can throw the lacrosse balls in the dishwater; either method will work. It just depends on how involved you are feeling.
Once this washing process is complete, dry them off thoroughly and wipe them down with disinfectant wipes or 70 percent isopropyl alcohol, making sure to remove all the grease and dirt.
If you find that the balls are still slick, you can rub them down with sandpaper. This should restore some of the grip lost from the ball’s chemical breakdown process.
Now that you’ve got them degreased and their grip restored. The way you store them can affect the ball’s lifespan; if you pack them away in a dry environment, away from the sun, you can significantly increase your ball’s lifespan.
Using the Resurfacing Tools
So, if you’re not really feeling like washing your lacrosse balls, there is another option. That option is the resurfacing tool; it’s simple to use and can quickly resurface your lacrosse balls, keeping them in use just a little longer.
The Greaser Griper can be found on Amazon and is a fantastic little tool to get that ball back in playing shape. The tool is a drill bit, so you will need to have a power drill on hand.
Put the tool into the chuck of the drill and place the ball into the end of the Greaser Griper. While the ball is spinning, apply light pressure with an abrasive surface like sandpaper.
Move the ball back and forth, making sure to get the entire exposed surface of the ball. You will have to rotate it inside of the tool in order to make sure that you’ve resurfaced the entire thing.
No Drill and on a budget, No Problem
If, by chance, you don’t have a drill, or you’re searching for cheaper substitutions to the tool. There are other options that could save your pocketbook, but they may not work quite as well.
Alternatively, you can take a tennis ball tube and line the inside with sandpaper. Toss a ball or two in there, cap it, and vigorously shake it. This process is maybe much more labor-intensive, but it’ll save you a buck or two.
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Traditionally Made Balls Will Eventually Get Greasy
No matter what brand of lacrosse ball you buy, they will eventually get greasy. Even those that have met the standards of the N.C.A.A or N.F.H.S will eventually become greased.
It’s the reality of the material from which the balls get made. It has little to nothing to do with brand or quality. Over time the chemicals that make the ball soft and bouncy begin to separate from the rubber.
While there are balls that get made to be grease resistant, they too will eventually begin to break down, where you’ll find yourself washing and resurfacing your lacrosse balls.
The Evolution In Design
However, there is a permanent solution to this problem. Recently a U.S company has begun producing high-quality lacrosse balls from polyurethane.
So, what is polyurethane? It’s a type of polymer created by joining two organic units through the use of Carbamate. In other words, it’s a synthetic material created by combining two organic materials.
This material is a great substitute for vulcanized rubber. It’s much more durable and doesn’t begin to break down over time, giving it a much longer lifespan than rubber and all the while having the same elasticity.
Guardian is the company that is manufacturing these balls. They come in two different varieties. The Pearl X and the N.X greaseless lacrosse ball, all you got to do is wipe them clean every once in a while.
Lacrosse balls get made from insufficient material that can’t withstand the test of time. Due to the separation of additives, the ball begins to secrete oils. This process of separation causes the ball to become slick and oily.
But it’s not something that you have to live with. We’ve discussed numerous ways to deal with this issue and while being able to overcome the problem is nice. It’d be great if it wasn’t an issue in the first place.
Well, It looks as if that time is right around the corner. With the production of two new types of Lacrosse balls, we aren’t very far from eliminating the issue.
As of now, it’s just one company that is producing the greaseless balls, but you can rest assured that with the success of those balls, more companies will follow.
In a few years, greasy Lacrosse balls may be a thing of the past, and the sport will finally have balls as tough as the people who participate in the game.