Choosing Your First Lacrosse Stick + Maintenance
Unsurprisingly, gearing up for lacrosse can be an expensive activity, considering that any athlete will need the correct pads, helmets, and cleats before even considering the non-standard stick. So, after all those costs add up, it's important to make that you're getting a lacrosse stick that's a good fit and will help you elevate your game and performance. And, more often than not, many athletes go into their stick-buying completely blind -- a decision that may end up hurting them in the long run.
In basic terms, every lacrosse head and shaft is built for a specific type of player and you should consider these four factors before making any purchases:
First off, what position do you play? It may seem silly, but this will directly impact what you buy. Obviously, a goalie needs a specifically wide-shaft and altered stick to play in net. If that's your position, than phew, that was easy, wasn't it? However, for the other positions, it's a little bit more complicated.
Per usual, field players are divided into three lines: defense, midfield, and attack -- so it's crucial to look for a lacrosse head built for your position. Heads for attack-men are designed for accurate, quick passing, and shot power, and thus, theirs will have a tighter throat. Midfielders should find more versatile heads that can be both effective for offensive purposes but also withstand defensive checks. Then, defensemen should buy wide heads as it makes body checking, collecting ground balls, and occupying passes lanes easier as well.
Got it? Great because it only gets trickier from here.
Now that you’ve narrowed the decision down to your position, you need to decide what you want your role on the team to be. Are you a goal scorer? Find a head with shot power. Are you a feeder? Find a head that boosts passing accuracy. It can be hard to recognize your strengths, but it’s an important step to take when finding a lacrosse head. Make sure you take your time to choose the most fluid head. Thanks to the head's shape, size, build, and pocket, there are many possibilities for you out there, you just have to figure out what type of player you'd like to be!
Believe it or not, this can be a make-or-break factor in your stick creation, but it's also a detail that many young athletes and parents don’t understand. Furthermore, the stringing of lacrosse heads is just as important as the head itself -- so we recommend avoiding pre-strung heads. These heads, generally speaking, are strung in factories and are usually awful. Boasting shallow pockets and lower quality strings, you might find yourself disappointed if you use hem. Most places that carry lacrosse gear will have somebody that will string heads for a reasonable price -- it's worth it.
Some things that a professionally strung stick can do for you: create a deeper pocket for protection, ensure passing accuracy, or allow for quick, tight releases on shots. Once you've figured out your role, the strings should be easy.
Then, to wrap it all up, you'll need to find a shaft that matches the head that you’ve decided to buy. Usually, finding a match means determining the balance that you want for your lacrosse stick. The balance is entirely a preference, but very few players are happy with a stick with a heavy head and a light shaft or vice-versa depending on their role and responsibilities. Lacrosse shafts vary in grip, raw material, and durability. When buying a shaft you should also consider your level of play: a younger athlete doesn’t need the highest quality and expensive shaft as these shafts are meant to withstand college level checks.
Now that you've got your stick -- the struggle doesn't end there! In fact, you're just getting started. Taking care of your stick and giving it maintenance it is key for success. After each winter, many sticks go completely untouched for six or more months! Unfortunately, any proper lacrosse player can't get away with hiding it away during the off-season and you'll pay in the long run.
Your stick is an extension of your body and it deserves respect. This means cleaning it after practice, making sure the mesh isn't warped, and that your string isn't damaged. It may seem inconvenient, but it will only take a few minutes each day to do and it is so important! for longevity. Don't be afraid to just dunk it in water and clean with your fingers, your work now will help bring glory and avoid embarrassment in big situations later on.
Lacrosse is the fasting growing sport in the country and more kids start playing every year. Unfortunately, buying equipment for the sport is not cheap, but with those tips, you can build a stick to last. Whether you're a parent preparing for a first lacrosse season or a senior in high school looking for a new stick, spending your money wisely when buying a lacrosse stick can make a world of difference come game time, especially if you take the time to clean it afterwards!