Beginning in 2006, US Lacrosse statistics indicated that head injury rates were increasing among girls and women’s lacrosse players, prompting a need to take a closer look at what could be done to increase safety.

“The numbers were both troubling and concerning,” said Ann Carpenetti, vice president of lacrosse operations at US Lacrosse. “We knew we needed to do more to study the problem.”

Addressing an audience at the 2017 US Lacrosse Sports Medicine Symposium, Carpenetti noted that US Lacrosse partnered with researchers, scientists, and equipment manufacturers to dive deeper into the statistics and to understand the factors involved.

While the rules for women’s lacrosse had long allowed the use of soft headgear, it became apparent that the headgear being used -- products designed for sports such as boxing, rugby and taekwondo -- were not helping the problem of stick-to-head and ball-to-head impact.

“There were concerns resulting from not having any standards associated with the current products,” Carpenetti said.  “In some instances, we found that there was the potential for injuries to become worse by extending the duration of the impact.”

That eventually led to the development of a unique women’s lacrosse headgear performance standard, which became effective on January 1, 2017. 

While the use of headgear remains optional, the US Lacrosse, NFHS, and NCAA rules that govern play at all levels now state that if headgear is worn, it must meet the ASTM performance standard, F3137. 

“This is a hot topic in our sport because there is a lot of misinformation,” Carpenetti said.

Additional information about women’s lacrosse headgear is available online at


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The Center for Sport Science at US Lacrosse seeks to expand, broaden and elevate the safety initiatives that the national governing body has been committed to since its creation in 1998.

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