How to Buy a Lacrosse Stick
With an ever expanding line of new lacrosse sticks every season, choosing a Lacrosse stick can be overwhelming. Each company tries to bombard you with “lax specs” and the “newest bestest feature” that will improve your game which ultimately does nothing more than cloud your ability to make a decision. Here I will outline some qualities that may help you how to buy a lacrosse stick.
One of the first points you will want to examine are the lacrosse head specifications. On January 1st, 2010, the NCAA instituted a new rule that affects lacrosse head dimensions in men’s games officiated under National Collegiate Athletic Association and Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association rules. After this new rule, lacrosse companies have created a few heads that are only legal for NCAA play. This is something that you must be aware of when purchasing a Lacrosse stick, because this will effect whether you are allowed to use it in game.
There are three categories of men’s lacrosse heads that will be allowed moving forward.
- NCAA Legal
- Universal-Legal for all levels of play
- Legal for all levels except NCAA-*99% of the heads manufactured prior to Fall 2009*
The next aspect of how to buy a lacrosse stick is gauging your experience level. If you are new to the game, your main concern should be improving your catching abilities. Here you will look for a lacrosse head that has a wide mouth that will allow more area for catching the lacrosse ball.
As players improve their catching abilities, they will want to focus passing the ball with more speed and accuracy. Thus they choose to purchase heads with a more narrow face. Although this is harder to catch with, it allows greater control over passing because of the narrow channel ejecting the ball.
Another aspect of how to buy a lacrosse stick that should affect your decision is the position that you play. This is important because each position focuses more on certain elements of the game than others. It is recommended that you first choose a head based on characteristics of your play, but this is not set in stone as what really matters is preference.
Defensemen should look more towards heads that incorporate stiffness, durability and a wide mouth for all the groundballs, checks and long passes that they are responsible for. One of the most popular defense heads prior to the NCAA rule change was the Warrior Revo.
Midfielders are unique in the sense that they need to choose a stick that tailors between their style of defensive and offensive play. They may want stiffness and a wider mouth, a characteristic of defensive heads or choose more narrow, flexible heads for tighter control, characteristics of attack heads.
Attackmen should look for heads that are pinched and narrow allowing more control from stick checks and tighter passing for better accuracy. One of the most popular heads for attack prior to the NCAA rule change was the Warrior Evolution.
Below is a brief overview of the different types of pocket stringing available, however if you purchase a complete stick from a store like Modell’s, you will most likely be using a 10 diamond mesh, the most popular type.
- Traditional Pockets usually consists of nylon woven around 4 strips of leather in an interlocking fashion. It is widely believed that these pockets give the player the most control over their play. They are highly customizable which has therefore given birth to many traditional hybrid stringing jobs. The disadvantage of traditional stringing is the very high maintenance that is needed to keep the stick in working order, so one should have knowledge of stringing before committing to this type of pocket.
- Mesh Pockets are the other type of stringing that one can have on a Lacrosse head. Mesh is a web of locking nylon diamonds that create a fabric for the ball. Mesh is very consistent, virtually maintenance free and is very durable. Mesh is by far the most widely used typed of stringing today. Mesh is created with varying size diamond holes from 5D, 6D, 7D, 8D, 10D to different types of coating from hard and soft. To some degree this will effect the enjoyment of a Lacrosse stick. I personally would recommend purchasing hard mesh as opposed to soft. Hard mesh allows a greater degree of control when stringing and forming a pocket.
Finally, you need a handle for that head. Some of your concerns regarding the purchase of a shaft will the cost, strength and weight. If I am not mistaken, there are currently 3 types of shafts on the market today. Those 3 are aluminum based alloys, composite and wood. The most popular shafts are those made of aluminum based alloys which are slightly tweaked with different materials affecting the strength and weight. This will mean that those with thicker shaft walls are usually the strongest.
Defensemen will need to look toward purchasing a defensive sized shaft not exceeding 60 inches. The combined size of the head and shaft must not exceed 72 inches. Defensive handles will cost 20-35% more than attack/middie handles so you must decide your price range. Defensemen will generally want a strong handle since they will checking a great deal. If a player plays at the high school or collegiate level, he may want to invest in a titanium enhanced shaft which will thus increase the weight. On the other hand, a youth player may not be able to control a heavier shaft nor need one for that level of play so a lighter, less expensive may be appropriate.
Attack/Midfielders may prefer lighter shafts for increased handling which allows quicker movement and faster shooting. For the high school and collegiate level the shaft must be a minimum length of 30 inches with a combined length of the head and handle between 40-42 inches.
On an additional note, the combined length of head and shaft of goalie sticks is between 40-72 inches.
This completes the guide of how to buy a lacrosse stick. If you have any additional questions or would like further clarification, don’t hesitate to comment.