The Swax Lax Story
Lacrosse Coach and Mom Laura Gump Draws from Personal Experience
The Swax Lax Ball Offers Players a New Way to Train for the Game – with Less Fear and More Confidence
These are the the demoralizing words Swax Lax founder Laura Gump heard when she accidentally hit her 4th grade daughter in the head with a hard rubber lacrosse ball while teaching her how to catch in the backyard.
It was this experience, plus her many years coaching young players, that inspired Laura’s idea for Swax Lax — a lacrosse training ball that’s the exact same weight and size as a hard regulation lacrosse ball, only a lot softer.
Swax Lax — A Game Changer for Lacrosse
Laura’s idea is now seen as a game-changer for the sport and is hailed by the lacrosse community as an excellent training tool for new players of all ages because it enables them to learn the game with more confidence and less fear of the ball. The balls are also ideal for indoor training since they don’t bounce, roll very far, or harm hardwood gym floors. More than 800 stores in the US, Canada, and UK carry the product, and teams at all levels use Swax Lax at their practices.
Laura’s love of lacrosse started as a child when her father introduced her to the sport. She joined her high school’s girls lacrosse team in 1981 and went on to play at the University of Rochester and in West London. In 2008, Laura founded Sum It Up Lacrosse with the mission of encouraging children to become more self-confident through the sport. She currently runs camps and clinics year-round and also coaches at Kent Place School in N.J.
"I realized with my daughter and young players that if a child is fearful, there’s a good chance they’ll give up,” Laura recalls. “Bad experiences could hinder the sport from moving forward. I knew we needed to train with something better. Tennis balls, bean bags, hacky sacks, or other soft sponge balls just didn’t feel right. In order to learn the proper skills, the ball has to feel right in your stick."
Driven by her passion to grow the game and help players succeed, Laura went on a mission. "I was looking for the exact dimensions and weight, but softer,” said Laura. “I couldn’t find anything. Nothing like that existed, so after getting tired of searching, I decided I’d make my own.”
After just one week of testing prototypes at her camps, Laura saw that the campers were becoming more confident while learning — they didn’t flinch anymore! Although she intended to use the newly developed balls just for her camps, people kept asking where they could buy them and Laura soon realized she was onto something.
Swax Lax launched in 2015 at the U.S. Lacrosse Convention. Being the first and only training ball of its kind on the market, the brand received lots of attention. “No one had seen a training ball like ours before,” recalls Laura. “Training balls were either super soft, light and bouncy or super heavy and dangerous. The Swax Lax ball is what lacrosse players had always craved and we filled that need.”
Out of the 2,000 samples brought to the convention, nearly every one of them sold. Four years later, her patent-pending product has turned into a successful and growing business.
Swax Lax have a soft fabric exterior, are hand-sewn and — thanks to that quality control — have an incredibly low breakage rate of less than 1%. Along with the regular lacrosse training balls, Swax Lax has also introduced MiNi™ balls, goalie balls, a Pro-grip model, and POWER™ balls for advanced players. The balls come in multiple colors and patterns, including limited editions, and can be customized and collected.
Swax Lax's Mission
“We believe that if you have a Swax Lax ball and a lacrosse stick, you can be a lacrosse player,” said Laura. “We want to push the game forward by empowering young players, by giving coaches a great tool to use, by helping parents feel at ease that their little laxers are using something softer, by giving established players advanced products to help them train, by positively affecting sport development at all levels. I’m extremely proud that Swax Lax gives players and coaches a totally new way to train that just wasn’t available before.”
A version of this story appeared in U.S. Lacrosse Magazine.