How to Buy Lacrosse Equipment
Lacrosse is undeniably a contact sport and it requires specific protective equipment to ensure the player's safety or he can get hurt. Having the right equipment that both fits and functions properly is imperative to the safe enjoyment of the sport.
When buying lacrosse equipment, getting the most expensive is not always the best option. Good starter kits are available for around $200 and will meet the needs of most beginning players. When sizing equipment, there is no substitute for trying on the actual equipment and having a knowledgeable person fit your son properly. We recommend going to a local lacrosse store for helmets, pads, sticks and getting the stick properly strung. The prices versus big box stores are generally the same. Cleats, athletic cup and mouth guards do not necessarily need to be purchased from a specialist.
Men's Lacrosse Equipment includes:
- Men's lacrosse stick
- Shoulder pads
- Arm/Elbow pads
- Mouth guard
- Protective athletic cup
- Optional: Cleats, Rib Pads
Men's Lacrosse Sticks: $40–$300
The lacrosse stick is composed of the head, pocket, and handle. You can purchase a complete stick or purchase the items separately to get exactly what you want. If your child is just starting out in lacrosse, it is best to go with a complete stick in the starter price range. The stick should be cut (top of head to bottom of handle) to 37” to start out at the U9 level and it is the minimum length to participate at the U11 age group. U13 and U15 must be at 40” minimum. Shorter stick lengths for the younger boys will aid in their development of throwing skills by having their body execute the proper mechanics. Could you imagine a 7 year old trying to learn how to shoot a basketball with a collegiate/pro size ball?
www.stringking.com and www.powelllacrosse.com, offer relatively good quality sticks that are often strung with with decent pockets.
Made of plastic, heads come in various models. Beginner sticks have a larger face and wider scoop to make it easier to pick up and catch the ball. Advanced sticks vary in features based upon the player's position, playing style, and skill level.
In addition to technique, the pocket of the lacrosse head can have the most direct effect on a players performance as far as throwing and catching. There are multitudes of ways to string a pocket and having a pocket strung based on a players level or experience is extremely important. It is best to have the pocket strung by an expert at a local lacrosse store. Almost always, the pockets of lacrosse heads purchased at a big box stores will not meet a players needs. Once a player is comfortable with their technique or skill there may be an older player they know that could adjust or re-string the pocket. There are also channels like uString, east coast dyes, throne of strings, etc. that provide tutorials on how to string a pocket for a specific type of lacrosse head.
note: new guidelines for stringing a pocket specify no U string and the lowest lace cannot be more than 4 inches from the top scoop. Any local stringer will know this in advance.
Handles are available in four sizes, attack/middie length (30-inch), defense (60-inch), box (32-inch) and goalie (40-inch). Most complete sticks come with a standard aluminum handle, which is fine for most beginners. Upgraded handles are available in various alloy metals and composites and are stronger and lighter than standard aluminum.
A helmet consists of a hard plastic shell, a wire-mesh face mask and a 4-point chin strap. All lacrosse helmets provide essentially the same protection, so the most important aspect of buying a helmet is ensuring the proper fit. We can’t stress enough to make sure the helmet fits properly before you leave the store. Also make sure it has the required NOCSAE certification sticker on the back. Be very careful when buying used helmets and ensure that there are no loose parts, rivets or bolts. This is especially important if your son is at the U-13 or U-15 level and he is playing in off-season clinics, camps, tournaments, etc. Hockey helmets and football helmets are not allowed. It is suggested that you get fitted at a local lacrosse store. Cascade brand helmets are the most common and are recommended. There is usually not any cost difference when ordering custom colors and a local lacrosse store can advise with the ordering process. Helmets can be any color, white, black or the Avon Grove colors: maroon shell, athletic gold visor, maroon chin, any color face mask (silver, black, titanium, etc.) and white chin strap. If you are new to the organization or an experienced player looking to purchase a new helmet, the Wildcats lacrosse organization offers Cascade helmets at very competitive, if not lower cost, prices with custom Avon Grove colors. These maroon helmets are the same as the high school and can be purchased usually around registration or before the season begins.
Shoulder Pads: $40–$180
The main reason players wear shoulder pads in lacrosse is to protect their collarbones from stick checks. Pads vary from the bare minimum (covering just the collarbone) to high-tech pads that protect the shoulder, upper arm, front chest, and back. A good entry-level shoulder pad will cover the upper chest, collarbone, shoulder, and upper arm and can be purchased for $30–$40. They work for most youth players who don't have a prior shoulder injury. Football shoulder pads are not recommended as they do not provide enough freedom of movement above the shoulder. Make sure the collar bone is covered as well as the sternum of the chest. This tends to get overlooked when sizing kids, equipment too large or too small tends to create open spaces for injury.
Arm/Elbow Pads: $20–$130
One of the primary tactics of lacrosse is stick checking, in which a player tries to disrupt an opponent's pass or shot by striking across the arm with his stick, requiring most players to protect their arms with elbow pads. Most elbow pads use some sort of Velcro to keep the pad at the appropriate spot on the player's arm. Each model provides various protection and comfort features. For youth players below U11, a basic entry-level arm pad will do, but as they get older and increase their level of play, more protection is needed. Especially since the person doing the checking is not as skilled as the college guys and will likely miss his intended target many times and use a good amount of force to do so. Generally, attackmen need the most arm protection, middies slightly less, and defenseman may opt for a neoprene sleeve. Put an arm pad on and smack it with a stick right in the store, you will know right away if it is enough protection. Some players like to have their shoulder pads cover their arm pads, creating an armadillo effect, this is a good idea for the youth to increase protection and not leave unprotected “gaps” on the arm.
Note: if your son’s pads slide down his arm during the course of play, use the following trick. Poke holes in the top of the arm pad, insert a shoelace, and tie them around the plastic covering of the shoulder pads creating a one piece system for arms and shoulder. That will keep the pads in place and your son will never lose them!!!!
Because gloves provide the direct connection between the player and his stick, they are considered a player’s second most important piece of equipment. Lacrosse gloves protect the hands from stick checks. Entry-level gloves are made out of a durable cloth, while higher-end gloves are covered with synthetic leather. Gloves come in four general sizes, 8-inch (for 1st–3rd grades), 10-inch (4th–6th grades), 12-inch (7th–10th grade, and 13-inch (adult). Because hands vary in size, make sure your player tries the gloves on at the store to make sure they get the proper fit. If they can’t feel the stick, they will not have as much success. Although virtually impossible, make sure that there are minimal “gaps” between the glove and the arm pad - the cuff of the glove will cover the bottom portion of the arm pad. Coordinate this with the shoulder pads for the true armored fit.
Mouth guards are mandatory in all leagues, because they not only protect your teeth, but also soften blows to the head and prevent against concussions. They must be connected to the helmet and a player cannot play without one. It can’t be clear either. If you are looking for a more advanced mouthpiece that affords greater protection and is easier to talk with, then see your dentist. He/she can make a custom mouthpiece that will be easier to use…this is especially true if your son has braces.
Protective Athletic Cup/Supporter:
Pretty simple and available at most sporting goods stores. While no one will check your child on this issue, don't let him play without it. If your son experiences chafing, allow him to wear bike shorts, a long pair of shorts or cut off sweats as an underlayer.
If your child already has soccer or football cleats, stay with those. They'll work fine. With any footwear, fit and comfort are the most important features, not price. If you want to buy a lacrosse-specific cleat, look for something with a speed cleat (the cleat directly under the toe). Stay away from baseball cleats or any metal cleats as they are illegal for lacrosse play.
As a player becomes more comfortable with their equipment, they grow or it wears out these web sites offer good discounts for quality equipment.
lacrossemonkey.com, lax.com, lacrosseunlimited.com, asclacrosse.com, totallacrosse.com