Lacrosse is largely considered to be one of the oldest sports in North America. Yet, despite its ancient origins, the rules of the sport have evolved over the years and, in recent years, lacrosse helmet visor rules have also evolved with the latest technology in Lacrosse equipment.
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Lacrosse Helmet Visor Rules
The lacrosse helmet visor rules are subtly altered according to the level of play. At a generic level, visors must meet ASTM standards, have a clear, molded eye shield, pass NOCSAE testing, cannot be rigid, and cannot be tinted.
Those rules are pretty standard throughout the different levels of play, with some of the lower tier levels allowing a little more freedom. Typically, there is youth play – with three levels of play (A, B, and C), high school level, collegiate level, and post-collegiate level known as the MLL (Major League Lacrosse), and PLL (Premier Lacrosse League).
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Although many of the rules are a little different according to the level of play, one thing is clear: you can wear tinted visors if you’re playing a pick-up game of lacrosse, however, any competitive play from youth all the way to professional, requires a clear and untinted visor.
Why A Tinted Eye Shield Is Illegal
Lacrosse helmet visor rules do not allow you to wear tinted visors at any level of competitive play. The primary reason why a tinted eye shield is illegal is that Lacrosse is a full-contact sport and as such, concussions are an unfortunate part of the sport.
If you have a concussion, there are signs of it that can be determined from your eyes. If a player is wearing a lacrosse tinted visor, it’s difficult for the coaching staff, medical personnel, or the referees in the game to ascertain what is wrong with an injured player.
That is, quite literally, the only stringent, uncompromising part about the lacrosse helmet visor rules. However, you are allowed to wear sunglasses underneath the visor if you choose to do so. There are a few other stipulations beyond just the tinted visors:
- Must Meet ASTM specifications and standards
- Can have a clear, molded eye shield
- Must pass NOCSAE testing
- If it hasn’t passed NOCSAE testing, must have a label clearly disclosing that
ASTM stands for American Society for Testing and Materials. Their sub-committees usually come together and put together rules for how equipment is to function and what kind of testing it has to undergo in order to meet the ASTM requirements.
In terms of helmets, the visor, and anything else to do with a lacrosse helmet, these standards usually revolve around significant impact testing and overall durability. Helmet visors in lacrosse (both men and women) have to conform to ASTM standards.
The clear, molded eyeshield is a rule implemented by USA Lacrosse and has little, if anything, to do with ASTM or NOCSAE.
NOCSAE (National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment) is similar to ASTM in many ways. When it comes to testing a lacrosse helmet and/or visor, there is a strict regimen of testing that the equipment has to pass in order to achieve NOCSAE approval.
If the equipment is ASTM approved but hasn’t been approved by NOCSAE, the lacrosse player has to display that point on his/her helmet. According to the rules, lacrosse helmets have to have a visible label on them stating that the helmet has not been NOCSAE tested.
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Does NOCSAE and ASTM Test Lacrosse Helmets And Visors?
Not very often. They have a set of criteria established in their rules and in association with USA Lacrosse. Lacrosse helmet visor rules are partly taken from the stipulations laid down by ASTM and NOCSAE.
Manufacturers are typically responsible for the testing of Lacrosse equipment and those testing results are submitted to SEI (Safety Equipment Institute) who is responsible for certifying that the equipment meets the necessary standards.
Helmets, along with visors in their respective tests, are heated up and tested, then cooled down and tested. It’s done that way to determine how the material will stand up to impacts when affected by different kinds of weather.
Typically, the helmets and visors are packed with tiny microchips that are designed to measure the impact ratings and detect any resulting flaws in the material of the helmet or visor.
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That information is fed into a computer and an overall result is compiled after the helmet and/or visor goes through a long series of impacts. If the helmet or visor fails to hold up to the testing, it’s discarded, and further work is initiated on building a better version.
That process takes place over and over again until the equipment meets the standards laid down by NOCSAE and ASTM.
All Things Considered
Lacrosse visors are very clearly labeled in the USA Lacrosse rule book, in terms of what is and isn’t allowed. The rise in concussions in professional, full-contact sports has resulted in a laser-like focus on improving standards and safety protocols to better protect the players in the short and the long term.