An interesting “chance encounter” happened to me recently and makes for a neat story to introduce a new training aid for young players. A few weeks prior, I had been in the process of organizing an indoor clinic for youth girls that would include a number of “first timers” trying out the sport. I was expecting a good turnout of girls without sticks or protective equipment since the clinic advertised “no experience or equipment needed”. That turned out to be easier to say than to deliver. While, I did manage to pull together 16 sticks, I still had the goggles and mouth guards to figure out. Due to cost and other obvious issues, they would not be quite as practical to obtain and loan. The only alternative was to scrap the safety gear search and purchase soft indoor balls instead. It’s hard enough for a young player to learn to catch and throw and the bouncy lightweight soft balls make it even more frustrating. But they were going to have to do and I hoped the kids liked ground ball drills!
On the day of the clinic, run by our program’s coaching staff, I was at the US Lacrosse National Convention in Baltimore. I was waiting in a very long Starbucks line, just a few hours before the clinic was to start a thousand or more miles away, thinking “I hope those darn balls work out” and happened to notice what looked like a miniature soccer ball for a person about the size of an American Girl doll in the woman’s hand in line ahead of me. If we hadn’t been in an environment geared to “all things lacrosse”, it would never have occurred to me that it was a lacrosse training ball. I asked her about the ball and then excitedly asked if she could get 100 to Texas in two hours. Oh well, wishful thinking. We continued to talk about her product and her background only to unbelievably discover that a good friend of hers is also a good friend of mine! I had originally asked our mutual friend to run the clinic since I would be at the convention. In twist of “ironic overdrive”, it turns out the two of them had been talking recently about trying out these new balls…at an indoor clinic she was hosting. Small world. How amazing?
My new friend, Laura Gump, is an innovative entrepreneur and lacrosse coach. She created this new training ball to provide a safer alternative for young players to work on their stick skills. Read her bio and the story behind her invention on her website. As they say, “necessity is the mother of all invention” and this one is no exception. The Swax Lax training ball is the same size and weight as a regulation ball, providing the same catch-ability and pocket handling, but without delivering the knots on the head or causing other damage. Additionally, they are ideal for indoor (gymnasium, not living room) use, as they will not careen wildly off of hard walls or floors or cause marks.
From her website, here are some of the other benefits:
- Developed by a longtime lacrosse coach and field tested by K-12th grade boys and girls.
- Patent-pending, beanbag-like design helps new players develop their skills with less fear and more confidence.
- Less bounce and no rebounds makes for a more productive practice environment.
- Constructed of two layers of material for double-strength durability.
To purchase Swax Lax lacrosse balls or to learn more visit http://www.swaxlax.com/. I will definitely have some for our next beginner clinic; indoors or out!