The most important equipment decision for you is your choice in lacrosse sticks. The right choice will help you to play your position better whether you are in goal, on defense, in the midfield, or on attack. The wrong choice can make it more difficult to keep up with your competition. When you visit your local sporting goods store next time, use this guide to stick anatomy to be sure that you know what to look for in your next stick.
The handle is the part of the stick that you grip, and it can be made from a variety of materials. Even though you can find all-wood shafts, or reinforced wooden shafts, most shafts are now made from a metal alloy or composite material. These non-wooden handles have the advantage of being lighter, stronger, more flexible, and more uniform.
The different types non-wooden handles have characteristics that vary by material. For example, aluminum shafts are some of the lightest available, and are a very economical choice, if you are on a tighter budget. Titanium shafts are much stronger, though, and have the strength to potentially last longer than an aluminum one. Composites are generally made from carbon fiber. These can be extremely light, which can give a considerable advantage Most top-of-the-line lacrosse sticks have composite shafts. All non-wooden shafts need an end cap, since they are hollow. The endcap helps you keep your grip and maintain stability of the stick, as well as serve as a reminder how to position your hands correctly.
Below the ballstop on your molded head is the throat, which allows connection between these two main parts of lacrosse sticks: the head and the handle/shaft.
The key piece of the stick is the head; where you catch, carry, cradle, and release the ball. This must meet certain regulations specific to the women’s game. According to the NCAA, women’s lacrosse heads should measure between seven and nine inches, while goalie lacrosse heads can be as wide as twelve inches. Men’s heads typically do not meet specifications for women’s lacrosse, and are therefore not legal in the women’s game. The head is divided into different parts. These are:
- The pocket; which includes the crosslace, thongs, centerpiece, shooting strings, and the sidewalls. If you are a beginning or intermediate player, you will probably choose a basic pocket with nylon mesh and thongs. Advanced players may prefer leather thongs with a more contoured centerpiece because it can help make passes and shots more accurate by keeping the ball centered in the head. How the pocket is set up also greatly affects ball control and feel. The shooting strings at the top of the pocket can be adjusted to change ball speed and release point, while the sidewall strings and the tension of the crosslace control pocket depth and ball placement.
- The scoop: which you can think of as the top of the head. This can range from totally flat, for easy scooping, to dramatically curved, which helps improve groundball control and shot accuracy.
- The sidewalls: where the pocket attaches. These can be low, mid or high, depending upon a player’s preferences and needs. Higher pockets are typically found in beginner sticks. As players improve their cradling and ball handling, they can upgrade to a medium or low pocket. This means the top of the ball will be less and less visible above the sidewall. To be legal, the top of the ball needs to be visible above the sidewall when looking at the head at eye level from the side. Having a lower or deeper pocket allows the ball handler to cradle in more creative and dynamic ways.
Without a doubt, lacrosse sticks have come a long way from when they were made of hickory sticks and leather. Today’s top players use sticks that offer all of the latest innovation in materials and design, customized to each of their needs. Longstreth offers you a large variety of lacrosse equipment from the biggest names in the sport to help you customize your lacrosse sticks to the demands of your own game.