It takes a special kind of player to step in front of the cage and play goalie in lacrosse.
Watching an opposing team charge down the field with the ball, preparing to launch shot after shot can be intimidating. But as a goalie, you need to be able to keep your cool and make the big saves to keep your team on top.
In order to do so, you need to come to the field prepared with the right gear. From your head to your feet, there is equipment and apparel designed specifically to help improve your game and keep you protected.
So, what do you need?
REQUIRED PROTECTIVE GEAR
One of the most important pieces of equipment is a helmet. Goalies in men’s and women’s leagues must both wear helmets, and in men’s lacrosse, it’s nearly the same design that attackers, midfielders and defenders wear. The only difference is the addition of a throat guard that attaches to the bottom of the helmet to help protect the neck area.
Don’t forget to protect your teeth, too! Every player on the field must wear a mouthguard.
Lacrosse goalies must also wear a chest protector. They are designed to offer protection for your chest, ribs, stomach and shoulders, while still allowing full range of motion. You can even get a stomach pad or armor for the arms that attaches to the chest protector for added protection.
In addition, a goalie’s gloves are different than what other players wear on the field. That’s because they offer added padding to protect the top of your hands while also helping to improve the grip you have on your stick. When purchasing a pair, make sure they fit snug to your fingertips.
MEN’S VS. WOMEN’S PROTECTIVE GEAR
Men’s and women’s lacrosse have several key differences in the rules and style of play. The goalie gear is no exception.
From high school leagues down to youth level, women and girls who defend the net need to wear padding on their shins and thighs.
Shin guards are designed with a hard outer shell to help diminish the impact of shots that go low. Goalie pants are designed to pad the thighs and hips and are made to fit under your uniform’s shorts or pants.
While they may not be required, male goalies should always consider wearing both goalie pants and shin guards.
Girls who play goalie at the youth level must also wear pelvic and abdominal protection. These guards are normally incorporated into goalie pants.
Also, men and boys need to wear a cup, regardless of the level of play.
A goalie stick is different than what other players on the field use. It’s longer than the other players’ sticks — ranging from 40″ to 72″ in men’s styles and 35.5″ to 52″ in women’s, measured from the bottom of the rubber end to the top of the head. The head of the stick is also larger, making it easier to make saves.
The stick length can vary at younger age groups. In boys’ lacrosse, 6U doesn’t usually play with a goalie. Goalies at the 8U level and 10U level can use sticks between 37″ and 54″. Girls lacrosse doesn’t use goalies at the 6U or 8U level.
Arm protection is optional but recommended, especially for youth players. Arm guards should fit properly to the body so they cover the elbow and don’t hinder movement. While rib protection isn’t a requirement in most leagues either, it’s a good idea to wear this for added protection.
There are several other optional forms of protection you can choose to wear: knee pads, elbow pads, protective shirts and arm sleeves. Wear what makes you feel comfortable and protected so you can compete at your best.
You’ll need a good pair of cleats, too, to help keep your traction. High-top options can provide extra protection for your feet and ankles if you face any low shots.
Finally, don’t forget a lacrosse bag. There are numerous options out there to help get your gear to and from the field. It’s always a good idea to keep a screwdriver, extra screws, grip tape, extra end caps and extra mesh in your bag in case you need to make an adjustment to your gear. Having a pocket pounder can come in handy if you need to restring your pocket.
Having the right goalie equipment when stepping onto the lacrosse field is the first step toward a successful season. Now, all you need to worry about is putting it on, stepping into the crease and getting ready to keep your shutout on the scoreboard.
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