While I do agree with Connor in his assessment of the ‘black hole’ pockets and their prevalence in the modern NCAA game, I don’t think this is the most influential affect of the rule changes. Certainly, ‘black hole’ pockets will be prevented from occurring quite as much, but, as mentioned by Connor, this applies to a uniquely athletic player; this athletic player is also becoming more prevalent in modern NCAA lacrosse, but it is certainly not the majority, at least offensively, and I really believe that shooting, overall, will be the most affected part of NCAA lacrosse, which, inherently, means that offense as we know it, in the present, will change.
To understand how shooting is the most affected, let’s first look at what the tension and friction imposed by a tight channel and U shooting strings has to do with the physics of shooting. The amount of shooting power you have is determined by how much torque can be created in the amount of time the ball remains in your pocket; notably, players that play with more whip end up having more power, and, because of this, more players play with whip than they ever did before. This is due to a number of things, such as players getting stronger and having better technique, but the number one reason is because of the advancements in stringing knowledge in conjunction with the modernization of lacrosse heads to be thinner and hold the ball better than ever – players of all sizes with relatively similar motions are gaining speeds of 95+ mph on a regular basis. In the past, there were only a handful of players adept enough to handle a pocket with such a severe amount of whip in wider heads, and, due to this width, this meant the motion of these players were distinctly unique to handle it.
It’s hard to say whether the channeling rule, about the ball falling out of the back of the head, or the loss of U shooters will affect shooting more, but I tend to think that it’s a varying ratio depending on the shooting motions of individual players. The affect is that not as many players are going to be able to maintain the level of hold and friction in their pocket, meaning that there is less time to gain power in their shooting motion, which, ultimately, means that whole lot of players will be shooting slower this spring. Of course, there will always be the AJ Shannon or Jake Byrne or Kyle Wharton or Michael Springer who has perfected their unique shooting motion to work within any guidelines and maintain a wicked fast shot.
Now let’s look at the overall impact of this from a game play perspective, to build upon the individual perspective. If less players are able to shoot as fast, this will change how defenses play, and if there are less players who can shoot the ball as fast as they once could, then defenses could pack it in more against a majority of players, with the exceptions like the shooters mentioned above. Certainly, this is going to have an affect on how offenses think about their strategy; with goalies able to make more saves from the outside, due to slower shots, offenses will need to think about getting closer to the goal, and, if you combine this with the defenses ability to pack it in, it means offenses are going to need to find creative new ways to draw defenses out of position.
In an equally interesting, relavent and somewhat ironic twist, these new rules, based on my assessment of shooting power, play into the Canadian style of game; expect their influence on the modern NCAA game to continue. Also, I think we should expect some more intricate passing schemes, and teams will be looking for more traditional creator/feeder types to draw defenses out.
On the same subject and topic of this feeder/creator, yet imposed on by a different rule change, another thing I think we might see is the reemergence of this traditional role of attackmen initiating more dodges, due to the new substitution roles, which calls for more two way middies and will leave middies more tired; in turn, this will end up keeping solely specialized offensive middies off the field more.
The last thing about how shooting will affect offense that I’d like to mention, when keeping in mind to reference that this ties into all my previous arguments, is that this should create more transition, so it could ultimately end up having the effect the NCAA committee is hoping to have on the game, but who really knows right now. Speculation is fun.