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Jai Tech: The Sport Behind The Ultra Power
At STX, our R&D and product teams are constantly challenging themselves to come up with new, innovative ways to advance the sport and help players reach their full potential. They dig into all kinds of crazy research, drawing inspiration from any and everywhere.
A few years ago, the R&D guys were looking into other sports that involve high-velocity movements and they came across the sport of jai-alai, a game that originated in the Basque region of Spain. Jai-alai is played in a three-walled court with a hard rubber ball (similar to a lacrosse ball) that’s thrown and received using a long, curved scoop called a cesta (similar to a lacrosse head), strapped to the player’s arm.
In jai-alai, athletes are able to throw the ball, also known as a pelota, at speeds approaching 200 MPH due to the unique shape of the cesta. Knowing that literally every millisecond matters in lacrosse, R&D was inspired by the cesta to create a new head that would add speed and power to a player’s release, significantly increasing the chances of a successful shot.
We took the STX squad down to Florida to learn a little more about the game that inspired the Ultra Power Head. The toughest challenge? Learning to throw one-handed. Here’s an inside look at Kyle Harrison and Sergio Salcido’s experience:
The Need for Speed
The cesta has a unique shape with extreme curvature that allows the ball to generate a massive amount of energy as it travels along the scoop and releases out for a shot — this is something we really wanted to replicate in the Ultra Power design.
To do this, we took the basic design principles behind the cesta and applied it to various prototypes to test how a lacrosse shot would be impacted. After multiple versions of modified heads mimicking the angle of the cesta scoop, the engineers and designers aligned on a design that gives the player an advantage over the goalie by adding a few MPHs to the shot.
Sound too good to be true? Check out this video showing the uptick for Team STX athletes Kyle Harrison and Sergio Salcido:
In order to achieve such a high level of speed, the ball needs to generate extra power during its movement through the scoop before release. To accomplish this in the Ultra Power, we needed to design an optimal curve and shape for the head (within the legal specs of course) to replicate a similar path for the ball as it travels through the pocket.
After many different trials, the end design resulted in the revolutionary Power Ramp geometry. The Power Ramp allows the ball to generate additional energy as it moves through the pocket, gaining the extra power needed to increase and maintain the shot speed through the release. The Power Ramp design also features a deep offset allowing for unsurpassed ball retention through the speed scoop without sacrificing the feel of a light, flexible head.
Both jai-alai and lacrosse share a rich history, a tight-knit community and a commitment to growing awareness and visibility of the game. The players are the sports’ biggest ambassadors, pulling double duty as mainstays on the field and sidelines, playing at a high level while coaching the next generation. Inspired by the breakneck speed of jai-alai, the highly precise movements of its players, and the unique shape of the cesta, the Ultra Power gives middies and attackmen that extra edge to take on defenders and get past the goalie.
The head that’s making headlines: Click here for the full specs and design benefits of the Ultra Power Head.
Looking to see how Marcus Holman is putting his Ultra Power to work for Team USA? Follow his journey to this summer’s World Lacrosse Championship.