The decision and need to recycle lacrosse balls will depend largely on how often they’re used and upon what type of surface. On average, balls will need recycling once a week if playing on turf and every two weeks if they’re used on grass. Most balls are destined for refurbishment every 3-6 weeks in youth programs and every 2-4 weeks at the high school level.
The reason for refurbishing lacrosse balls is due to the loss of grip that affects actual gameplay. There are a variety of machines that are designed to “refinish” the balls and return them to playable standards. However, many coaches are choosing to purchase new balls in bulk as a cost-savings method and to avoid the process of resurfacing that can be tedious.
Other coaches are opting to recycle the balls by turning them in to companies that refurbish them and donate them to teams in countries where obtaining lacrosse balls may be difficult. It’s an eco-friendly solution since throwing away one lacrosse ball is equal to throwing away 11 water bottles or 25 plastic bags. Still, even recycled balls will eventually need to be resurfaced.
Research has found that, in general, women’s yellow lacrosse balls get slicker faster since they absorb more UV rays while white balls reflect those rays. However, the passing, catching and shooting in lacrosse still remains the primary reason that balls become slick. Once a lacrosse ball has been recycled, it will play the same as a new ball and last the same amount of time before it needs to be resurfaced again.
For lacrosse balls that have exceeded their window of resurfacing, they can be donated to animal shelters to help dogs overcome boredom. The balls are also highly utilized for at-home myofascial release techniques to relieve pain and stretch muscles that have been overtaxed. When using them for myofascial release, it doesn’t matter if they have a high friction surface.