Whether you are an attacker pushing down the field looking for a shot on goal or a defender trying to come up with a steal, you need the right women’s lacrosse gear to come up with the big play. And that all starts with having the right stick.
No matter where you play on the field, finding the stick that best fits your position and style of play is key.
When looking for one, you can either purchase a premade model which comes fully assembled or you can build your own. Although beginners may prefer the premade option, they still must choose the right stick for their position. But once you get more involved in the sport, you may choose to build your own tailored to fit your needs.
“It all depends on your level of play,” said DICK’S Sporting Goods Associate Kellee Cribby, a former collegiate player and a current youth lacrosse coach. “As you get older and learn the position you play and how to carry the ball, [your stick] becomes a much bigger deal. It all depends on your age and skill level.”
The size of your stick will depend on the position you play. Players in the field will have a stick that is between 35 ½” and 43 ¼”. A goalie’s stick can be larger, between 35 ½” and 52″ long. All sticks are measured from the bottom of the rubber end to the top of the head.
For youth players, choosing a size can come down to how well they can handle the stick. They need a stick that fits them, regardless of the position they play. In youth competition, you can cut the stick’s shaft to fit the player’s size, but this becomes illegal in high school play.
Measure along the length of the players arms to know how much to cut. The shaft should run from the tip of the player’s fingers to their shoulder. An inch or two can be added to account for height increase, so you’re not buying a new stick after every growth spurt.
Having the right lacrosse stick shaft can be crucial to your success on the field. This will be what you hold onto as you play and can have a major impact on how you perform. There are a variety of materials to consider when choosing your stick’s shaft:
- Aluminum Alloy – Heavy and durable, these shafts are a popular choice for beginners. They can be affected by temperature more than other shafts, however, so you will need tape or gloves to handle the stick in colder weather.
- Titanium Alloy – These shafts are lightweight, so they won’t slow you down on the field, but they also have the strength needed to play defense. Titanium alloy is a solid option for advanced players.
- Scandium Alloy – These shafts are extremely durable for long-lasting performance and strength. Their lightweight design allows for faster movement and greater agility. This is the choice of many elite and pro-level players.
- Carbon Fiber/Composite – These are the lightest of the lacrosse stick shafts. They are a popular option for experienced players and can allow for quick stick work. But because they are so lightweight, they can be difficult to use for younger players who have not yet mastered their handling.
- Wood – This is the material lacrosse sticks started with and some women’s players still choose for their shafts. Wooden shafts are very durable. They are also heavy, making them a good choice for a defender, but can be difficult to handle for younger players. Wood sticks also tend to be harder to grip than metal shafts.
The grip of your lacrosse shaft is important. It will either be coated or have a grip pattern to improve handling. Greater grip makes for less slippage while shooting or going for ground balls. Shafts with little to no grip, however, can make it easier to perform stick moves or to rapidly transition the stick into various positions.
“The coating on a beginner’s stick is usually shiny and can be slippery,” Cribby said. “Sometimes as you get older and more experienced, the stick has a taper where your top hand goes. There also might be a coating to make it less slick, which is nice for cold weather or in the rain.”
One way to customize the control of your stick is by using grip tape. Different patterns and methods of taping yield different results, putting the degree of grip in your hands.
The shape of the shaft can also play a part in how well you handle it. The octagon and soft octagon are both common shaft shapes, but you will also find concave octagon and teardrop shafts. Your choice will come down to what fits best in your hands.
You will use the head of your lacrosse stick to catch, shoot, pass and control the ball. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes and designs, so you are able to find a head that fits your game.
The width of the lacrosse head can have an impact on your performance, and depending on your position on the field, you may choose a wider or narrower head.
“An attacker would want a more pinched head,” Cribby explained. “The pinching helps prevent the ball from wobbling. A defender would want a wider head to scoop up the ball or knock it (out of the opposing player’s head).”
Beginners typically choose a wider head, as it makes it easier to catch, throw and cradle the ball. But after you get comfortable with using a stick, a narrower or more pinched head could be a better fit for your style of play.
A goalie’s stick head is larger than that of other players, measuring between 10″ to 12″ wide.
The sidewalls of your lacrosse head will also have an impact on how it performs. They run along each side of the head and can affect both its weight and stiffness. Choosing a flexible head or a stiff head comes down to your position and preference:
- Stiff Heads – These heads are heavier, but can hold up during physical play, making them a good choice for a defensive player.
- Flexible Heads – These heads are more lightweight and good for making agile movements. Attackers and midfielders who are often passing and shooting the ball may prefer a flexible head.
The top of the head is called the scoop, and it’s where the ball leaves your stick. Its design will affect how you pick up ground balls and how you shoot or pass. They are measured in width and drop and come in two popular forms:
- Curved or Rounded Top – These scoops form the shape of a “U.” They’re usually better for advanced players, since the curve can help with accuracy on passing and shooting, and are a popular choice for both attackers and midfielders.
- Minimal or Flat – Flat tops are the most popular choice for beginners, because the shape makes it easier to pick up ground balls. Defenders often choose to go with this type of scoop as well.
Finding the best lacrosse stick for your game will come down to being prepared in advance with the right information. But the more you play and get a feel for what best fits your style, the closer you will be to finding that perfect combination.
“There are so many different pieces to it,” Cribby said. “You might find a shaft you really like, but your head doesn’t fit your style. Some players don’t care about certain things while others are crazy about it. You will get a feel for what you like.”