At any skill level from junior high school beginner through Major League Lacrosse (MLL) and National Lacrosse League (NLL), the right player equipment can help you improve your game. Five attributes in equipment—head shape, sidewall, center piece, stringing and handle weight—can amplify your existing skills and help you gain new ones.
By far the biggest impact on player performance from lacrosse equipment comes from the shape of the lacrosse stick head. Head width comes down to two opposing needs:
- A narrow head increases passing accuracy and improves ball handling
- A wider head helps with catching
With a narrow head, the ball does not rattle or shift around much in the head. This narrow design is the goal for any beginner: take advantage of the wide head to learn to catch the ball accurately, then move up to a narrower head providing greater control.
How do you know when to move up? As you improve stick work, becoming more comfortable with the ball, gaining confidence in your ability to handle and pass accurately, moving the stick around your body without losing the ball, you will feel the need to have tighter control and a narrower head. What was once the welcome wiggle room you needed to catch the ball becomes a deficit as you feel the ball needlessly rattle in the head.
In lacrosse equipment, a head’s “sweet spot,” the area just below the lower, U- or V-shaped shooting string, is the ideal position for cradling, passing and shooting the ball. You get a quicker, more powerful release, trusting your teammates to handle the higher speed and reducing the time the ball is not in your team’s control.
You get that sweet spot when your stick has a dropped sidewall. This lowers the pocket, allowing for a deeper pocket for improved cradling. A stick with a dropped sidewall design is critical in achieving good ball control. It positions the ball nearly automatically in that “sweet spot” and frees your mind to concentrate on strategy and your team, not the ball.
Different center pieces, and different materials used for the center piece, will adjust to the ball in different ways. The STX Precision Pocket, for example, uses no synthetics. Extra woven string provides a pocket that needs very little break-in time. It does, however, require more maintenance than a synthetic center and needs a little TLC after play in wet weather. Other options include injection molded rubber (the deBeer Gripper Pro Pocket) and synthetic center pieces.
Keeping the pocket shape is important for consistent ball control in lacrosse equipment. You need to know the muscle memory you used one game will get the same results the next game. Leather is preferable to nylon because leather holds the pocket shape better. You can throw with confidence every time.
With lacrosse equipment, handle weight and strength is directly related to player position. Defenders should consider a stronger handle than offensive players. Stiff metals and alloys such as titanium, scandium, or a scandium-titanium blend (Sc-Ti), will be helpful here. These lighter but strong materials help defenders check harder and handle aggressive groundball pick-ups that might damage a composite stick.
A light handle makes the stick easy to maneuver, speeding up dodges and increasing power in shots or passes.
Also consider the player size and ability. A smaller-framed beginning junior high girl may tire faster than a collegiate level athlete 75 pounds heavier; light handles decrease muscle fatigue.
Longstreth is the “sweet spot” to get real and honest answers to your questions about not just lacrosse equipment, but also everything about women’s Field Hockey and Softball Essentials. Contact us today.