ASTM International published today a standard for protective headgear for women’s lacrosse players. Experts from the lacrosse community, the medical field, the biomechanics industry and product testing laboratories collaborated on the standard (F3137, Specification for Headgear Used in Women’s Lacrosse).
Ann Carpenetti, vice president of US Lacrosse Operations, says, “This may be a benchmark moment in the continued evolution of girls’ and women’s lacrosse, especially as it relates to increased safety for all game participants.”
The ASTM standard resulted from a decision by US Lacrosse to standardize headgear for the women’s game. Men’s and women’s lacrosse are treated as two distinct sports, with the full-body contact that is part of the men’s game requiring the use of headgear. However, intentional stick or body contact is considered illegal in the women’s game, thus headgear has always been optional for women.
Carpenetti, co-chair of ASTM Subcommittee F08.31 on Women’s Lacrosse Equipment, notes that US Lacrosse rules never stated that wearing headgear reduces the risk of head injuries, leading to a need for the specification.
“Without an evidence-based standard that demonstrates the product was developed and tested to address specific impacts most frequently seen in the game, the benefits and risks to those players wearing headgear are, at best, unknown,” says Carpenetti.
“The standard was developed to allow for optional use and to ensure that players opting not to wear headgear would not be injured by players who choose to wear protective headgear,” says Carpenetti. The optional status may be re-evaluated once the women’s lacrosse community begins to see F3137-compliant headgear in action. At this time, no rulemaking bodies are planning to mandate the use of F3137 headgear.
Product manufacturers designing headgear will be the primary users of the standard. Carpenetti expects that helmets meeting the standard may be available for purchase in about 18 months.