NOCSAE Summer Standards Meeting Recap

By Marty Maciaszek
Team Dealer Division Director

Here is a recap of the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) Summer Standards Committee Meeting July 26 in Boston, which was attended by the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA):

Commotio Cordis Protector Changes

An addition to Standard ND200-19 requires the NOCSAE logo on commotio cordis protectors to be placed on the Primary Protective Component of the protective equipment. The rationale for the change, according to NOCSAE executive director Mike Oliver, is some commotio cordis protector products had the NOCSAE logo on removable harnesses, which could be removed and put on another product that doesn’t meet the NOCSAE standard. This requirement prevents that possibility.

Added to the standard was the definition of a Primary Protective Component: That component of the protector/system that is the primary energy attenuation device, without which the protector or system will not meet the impact requirements.

The standard language was also changed from “chest protector” to “protector.” NOCSAE technical director Dave Halstead said the rationale for the change was some confusion, primarily from the governing bodies of baseball and lacrosse, regarding commotio cordis protectors. In lacrosse, there are shoulder pads that could be considered a chest protector for field players.

The revisions to the standard passed.

Sports and organizations requiring NOCSAE-approved commotio cordis protectors include:

  • The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) for all baseball catchers as of Jan. 1, 2020.
  • NCAA for all baseball catchers starting with the 2019-20 academic year.
  • US Lacrosse and NFHS for all boys and girls lacrosse goalies as of Jan. 1, 2021.
  • NCAA for all women’s lacrosse goalkeepers as of the 2021 season.
  • US Lacrosse for all boys lacrosse field players as of Jan. 1, 2022. This hasn’t been mandated yet by NFHS.

Possible Football Shoulder Pads Standard

Halstead said the organization has received a request from the NFL to consider a standard for shoulder pads. The primary emphasis would be on head-to-shoulder impact dynamics and head impacts to the wearer and opposing player. The secondary considerations would be a direct impact injury to the covered area, minimum dimensions and sizing.

The concern is many head-to-ground impacts may be mitigated or exacerbated by the size of the shoulder pad and the impact into the turf. One issue is that body padding standards are not easy to develop and the commotio cordis protection is an example, according to Halstead. The NFL is concerned they don’t have an effective way to force players to wear position-specific shoulder pads.

NOCSAE said this in the informational stage right now and its board would have to decide to move toward a standard development.

Possible Flag Football Helmet Standard

Halstead said governing bodies are demanding the use of a helmet or headgear for flag and/or 7-on-7 football but there is not a NOCSAE standard for those versions of the sport. Halstead said a definition of a flag football and/or 7-on-7 helmet needs to be determined.

Concerns over concussions are driving the issue, according to Halstead. NOCSAE vice president Dr. Robert Cantu of the American College of Sports Medicine supports more research regarding the cause of head injuries, but believes it is time to have a standard because of the number of kids now playing flag football and 7-on-7 instead of tackle.

Halstead said a concern with players wearing a traditional helmet for flag football and/or 7-on-7 are potential injuries if players aren’t fully equipped in other areas.

Possible Youth Football Helmet Standard

Cantu said progress continues to be made toward developing a youth football helmet standard with the guidance of Virginia Tech University and the University of Ottawa. Cantu said the groups affiliated with both universities have nearly completed their work and plan to meet in the fall to use the research in order to develop a standard.

Field Hockey Headgear

The standard headgear for field hockey is ND061-14, it has not been modified or revised in five years and it was reaffirmed. Nobody in the US is manufacturing a helmet officially certified as compliant and NFHS is pushing for certification of field hockey goalie helmets, but the total market is approximately 900 units. If NFHS required certification a New Zealand company that provides helmets would likely get out of U.S. sales, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association.