Like tires on a car, the lacrosse stick is the most important piece of equipment for your son or daughter. Stick design hasn’t changed much in the last 20 years. The use of stronger but lighter plastics has allowed manufacturers to be more creative in their designs but the rule of lacrosse dictate the size and shape of the heads (boys and girls). What does that mean? Simple, used lacrosse sticks rock. Whether the stick is brand new or 10 years old the most important thing is for your child to feel comfortable with his/her weapon of choice. The lacrosse stick is an extension of the player and it is critical that they are comfortable with it.
Sticks vary greatly in price. Entry level sticks can cost as little as $29 and can easily go for more than $175. Which should you buy? I always say buy the best stick that you can afford. I am NOT a big fan of the $29 boys sticks you can get at the big box stores (I think the cheaper girls kits (stick, goggles, and bag) are great for girls interestingly enough). The inexpensive boys sticks tend to be cheaply made and I guarantee your son will be asking you to replace it after a year or two. First time lacrosse parents with a child who is not 100% sure this is the sport for them? Buy a used stick. The older kids tend to upgrade sticks all the time so check Play It Again Sports (Webster) or Craigslist. As long as the head is straight (they can become bent – especially by FOGOs) then you should be in business.
Girls sticks are interesting in that they tend to be less cosmetic and more functional. The rules of girls lacrosse are very strict on the design of lacrosse sticks (4 leathers, and no more than 2 shooting strings), so the variation between sticks tends to be less. Where there may be 15 different boys sticks there may only be 4 different girls sticks (not counting colors) at your local store. The price range for girls sticks mirrors the boys ($30 – $175+) but there tends to be few choices in the middle price range. The beginners sticks tend of have higher side walls and are flatter which makes catching and passing easier for younger players. The more expensive sticks are aimed at the advanced player and tend to have lower sidewalls and have a curve in the head.
Reproduced from the Dick’s Sporting Good Website (http://www.dickssportinggoods.com/info/index.jsp?categoryId=222943)
How To Buy A Lacrosse Stick
The lacrosse stick is an essential piece of equipment for the lacrosse player, and the type of stick you buy depends on a number of factors, including your position, skill level, and gender.
- Types of sticks
- Anatomy of a lacrosse stick
- Shooting strings
- Proper stick length according to position
Types of sticks
Lacrosse sticks come in a variety of lengths and styles according to position and type of game played, with cost and durability as additional factors.
- Men’s sticks generally have an aluminum handle
- All manufacturers now make more technically advanced sticks made of aluminum, graphite or even titanium
- These styles are generally more lightweight and durable than wood sticks, but more expensive
- Men use either a traditional or meshpocket depending on their position and playing style
- Women’s sticks have either a wood or aluminum handle
- Wood sticks, like wooden baseball bats, are prone to damage and breaking
- These sticks utilize a traditional pocket
- The head on a women’s stick is 1 inch above the center stop
- The head has an overall length of 10-12 inches
- Women’s stick pockets are shallower than men’s. The pockets must have 4 or 5 leather thongs and no more than 2 shooting strings.
Little Kids’ (Younger than 1st grade)
- Plastic sticks are primarily used by younger players just learning the sport
- These are lighter, easier to break in and more durable than the models for more advanced players
- They usually utilize a mesh netting
- The plastic stick’s pointed mouth makes it easier for younger players to pick up the ball and throw it accurately
Anatomy of a lacrosse stick
- The type of handle you buy is very much a matter of preference
- Some players like heavy, thick handles for defensive purposes
- Attacking players generally prefer lighter, rounder handles for better faking and maneuverability
- Some players prefer square shaped handles for a better feel on which way the head is facing
Pocket types (Boys have a choice and Girls DON’T)
Lacrosse sticks come with either a traditional woven pocket for more experienced players or a mesh pocket for novices. They also can be bought strung or unstrung.
- Traditional pockets
- These consist of nylon laces woven around 4 adjustable strips of leather
- The leather strips can be adjusted to fit any type of shot. They do need to be replaced after repeated use.
- A stiffer pocket is more accurate but gives less control while running and moving
- Mesh pockets
- They are made of a nylon webbing woven into the side of the pocket and require little or no adjustment
- Mesh pockets are looser and give less accuracy on passes and shots, but make it easier to control the ball when running
- These require less maintenance than traditional pockets
- The mesh netting does not control or absorb the ball as well as leather netting
- Goal keepers tend to prefer mesh netting because it reduces rebounds
- Pocket depth
- Pocket depth is mostly a matter of preference and playing style
- Generally, a deeper pocket provides more feel and ball control, while a shallower pocket gives you a quicker release but sacrifices ball control
- Ball-control players who do a lot of short passing should use a fairly deep pocket
- Fast-break players who tend to pass the ball over longer areas should use a shallower pocket
- Overhand shooters should have an average depth pocket (a ball width or less)
- Sidearm and underhand shooters should have depths of a ball or more
- Shooting strings
- Shooting strings, positioned horizontally near the top of the stick’s head, affect the ball’s balance and direction
- Overhand passers usually put in 3 or 4 shooting strings to make a smooth path for the ball to run out of the pocket. Heavy skate laces are best used for this.
- The shooting strings determine whether your shot will have “whip,”which occurs when the ball is released smoothly and gradually. Experienced players prefer a whippy release.
Proper stick length according to position
The length of your stick depends almost entirely on the position you play.
- Attackers should buy a stick that is close to the minimum length of 30 inches to allow for more control and maneuverability
- Midfielders should buy a slightly longer medium-length stick to allow them to play both offense and defense
- Defenders should use the longest stick they are comfortable with, usually around 60 inches, for greater reach
- Goaltender sticks are generally 42 inches long
- Younger players should make sure they choose a stick that fits them comfortably, regardless of position. It is more important to be able to handle the stick and ball comfortably.
- Women’s sticks range only from 36 to 44 inches. The exact length depends on the position–longer (43-44 inches) for defenders, shorter (36 inches) for attackers.
Boys and Girls should play with sticks that are the right size for them. Your coach will help you cut your sticks to the right size. There are no minimum size for the youngest kids. By the time a player is playing 5/6 they should be using a full size shaft (attack).
Posted in: Equipment