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7 November 2003

Lacrosse Sticks

Lacrosse is an exciting team sport that I never got to play as a kid. Art is teaching the basics in his P.E. classes. I find it interesting how different the sticks are. Some lacrosse sticks are short (40-42") with a small pocket to catch and throw the ball. Others are long (52-72") with a small pocket. One stick is short with a very large pocket. Why are there different sticks? If short and long are good, would shorter and longer be better? Where does lacrosse come from, and when was the first game (or a related game *hint*) played near Santa Barbara?

Dunn Middle School students modeling the three basic kinds of (men's) lacross sticks. The men's game is a contact sport and special protective gear is required, including helmet, gloves, and arm and shoulder pads. It's an expensive outfit. The women's game is less physical and has different rules and equipment. For example, women's sticks are all short and have a shallower pocket. We're just learning the basics of passing and ball handling, without getting rough.

We use a crowbar to magnify force over a small distance. Lacrosse sticks reduce force to magnify distance and speed. A stick with a longer "lever arm" will throw the ball farther, but a player can't maneuver it as fast. That's physics. The longer and slower sticks are also too big a target. Form follows function, so the long sticks are defense sticks and the shorter ones are attack sticks. The goalie stick is short for speed with a bigger head for maximum catching area. The local Chumash played the related game shinny with wooden sticks and ball!


Goldilocks had to search for the right porridge that wasn't too cold or too hot. So in sports (and life!) we often have to find a balance between not enough and too much. You can't throw a ping-pong ball very far because it's too light, and you can't throw a lead ball very far because it's too heavy. But in between the extremes there is a ball that's just the right size and weight to throw. Similarly, there is a right length for a lacrosse stick.

(It's my son's birthday and I have no more time today. I'll get back to this as soon as I can!)

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