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7 Things Every Lacrosse Parent Should Know

Female lacrosse players on the sideline of a game

Lacrosse is one of the fastest growing sports, but most parents, unless they have been lacrosse athletes themselves, don’t know much about the sport and might never have watched a game before their children became players.  Here are 7 things every lacrosse parent should know:

  1. Learn about the Game

This fast-paced sport can be bewildering. Here are some things to learn:

  • The different positions and their responsibilities.
  • How the game is played
  • Foul rules

Longstreth Sporting Goods has a great selection of books – check out the 2017 US Women’s Lacrosse Rule Book or read about the history of the game in Women Play Lacrosse

  1. Don’t Talk to Officials

Everyone cringes when parents become overly critical of officials or coaches, but no one is hurt more than that parent’s child. As a matter of fact, lacrosse etiquette says that parents don’t comment on calls at all. It is out of order to say anything either good or bad to the officials and it is important to stop other parents from doing so because it can cause your team to have a penalty.

  1. Volunteer

Like most sports, lacrosse coaches can often use another set of hands and eyes to help either in practices or games. Ask your daughter’s coach if you can be a:

  • Timer
  • Scorekeeper
  • Equipment manager
  • Concessions helper
  • Film manager
  • Statistician

Getting in on the action yourself is a way to learn about the game and also a way to get to know other players and parents. Better yet, you can go back on the sidelines and help other people understand what is going on during the play.

  1. Be Positive

Any competitive sport can cause strong emotions in both players and parents but remember that, as a parent, you set a tone for your player when you communicate with the coach. Remember to speak thoughtfully, kindly, and in a positive manner to the coach, and also to your child when talking about the coach. Coaches often spend far more time coaching than they ever get compensated for, so be appreciative!

  1. Don’t Assume-Ask

Is your daughter or another child not given much play time?  Or you see a player coming off the field and you don’t know why? Don’t assume there is some prejudice against the player or imagine the coach doesn’t think she has talent. There could be other reasons a player comes off the field, such as:

  • The player has been asked to make a change on their own and hasn’t yet done it.
  • The player may have been sent in for a particular short job on the field.
  • A player may feel winded and choose to sit out a while, which is allowed.

6. Take the Long View

Did your team lose?  Take the opportunity to give your daughter some life lessons about the value of being challenged, learning to practice harder, and learning to work together as a team. Is your player disappointed by tryouts? Sympathize but also help them see what they can do to improve for next time.

  1. Know the Equipment

Making sure your daughter has the right lacrosse equipment for playing her game and practicing her skills is an important part of helping her succeed in this fast-paced game. Make sure to choose a stick that fits her height and skill level. The handle on a stick can be shortened for smaller players, as long as the full crosse is within the legal length.  Keep some lacrosse training balls handy for her to hone her skills. Make sure she has good quality cleats so that she has a strong footing in the ground and slip-ups are minimized.

Need help? The lacrosse managers at Longstreth Sporting Goods can provide you information. We specialize in outfitting female lacrosse players and are happy to answer any questions. Feeling fancy? Come in to our store and get your custom strung lacrosse heads at Longstreth!

3 Great Professional Sports for Women – Field Hockey, Softball and Lacrosse!

professional-sports-for-women

Fortunately, many women’s sports are becoming increasingly popular to play and watch. Whether your daughter has just joined a team or is considering what she’d like to play, you might want to learn more about 3 great professional sports for women–field hockey, softball, and lacrosse.

Field Hockey

Brought to the United States in 1901, field hockey has grown as a women’s sport and is now played in over 250 colleges. This fast-paced, exciting sport resembles ice hockey but is played with a hard ball on a field of grass or turf. Players use field hockey sticks to drive the ball into a net. Rules include:

  • 11 players on each team: goalkeeper and 10 field players.
  • Only the flat side of the stick can be used to hit the ball.
  • Fouls are called for using a body part to advance the ball, hitting another player with the ball, playing dangerously or interfering with play.

Players Equipment needed for field hockey includes sticks, goggles, shinguards, mouthguards, balls, and cleats/turf shoes. Goalies also have helmets and protective gear.

Softball

The National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) is a professional softball league with six teams, each playing a 50 game schedule. In addition, close to 1,700 college softball programs are available and some players can receive scholarships to play. In softball, there are:

  • 7 inning games.
  • 11 or 12 inch balls (depending on age group) that are pitched underhand from a flat 8-foot circle 40-43 feet from the batter.
  • Bats for softball are under 34 inches and often made of a composite rather than aluminum or wood.
  • Rules that say runners can’t leave the base until the ball is pitched, but stealing and bunting are allowed.
  • Nine fielders.
  • Fields that are smaller than baseball, with 60-foot baselines.

If your daughter wants to play softball, she will need a bat suited to her height, weight, and ability. In addition, she will need other equipment for playing softball like a glove, batting helmet, cleats and other protective gear. For practice, she may want a pitching machine too.

Lacrosse

Based on a game played by indigenous Americans, lacrosse for women is equally fast-paced as the men’s game, but not as physical. Played both in colleges in the U.S. and internationally, there is a Women’s Lacrosse World Cup every four years. Women’s lacrosse is played:

  • On a field with a goal at either end.
  • With teams of 12 players, including the goalkeeper.
  • With a yellow rubber NOCSAE-stamped ball. The goal is to shoot it into the opposing team’s goal. The team with the most goals wins.
  • In two 30-minute halves.
  • By passing the ball with the sticks.
  • With players cradling the ball by moving it back and forth to prevent being checked by another player.

Because rules in women’s lacrosse prevent the play from involving as much contact as men’s games, equipment needed for women’s lacrosse is less extensive. Field players need a lacrosse stick, mouth guard, goggles, cleats, practice balls and a bag. Of course, goalkeepers need additional gear.

Whether your daughter chooses field hockey, softball or lacrosse, she can find equipment for her sport designed especially for the female athlete at Longstreth Sporting Goods. Visit us here. Excited? Just wait until you see her play!

What’s the Difference between Boys’ and Girls’ Lacrosse?

lacrosseIf your daughter has joined a lacrosse team, know that she is joining not only the oldest American sport, but one of the fastest growing team sports in both high school and college. Why the increasing popularity of lacrosse as a sport for young women? Lacrosse combines the best of basketball, soccer, and hockey, but emphasizes agility over brawn, so players of all sizes can succeed. Here are the differences between boys’ and girls’ lacrosse:

Girls’ Lacrosse is a Non-Contact Sport

Both boys’ and girls’ lacrosse have the same objective of scoring goals, but the rules and field markings for girls’ lacrosse are different. Boys’ lacrosse has a lot of physical interaction and body contact, which is not allowed in the girls’ game as outlined by the girls’ lacrosse rules. In fact, girls’ lacrosse is considered a non-contact game, making girls less likely to be injured while playing.  Because of this, girls’ lacrosse players require less protective lacrosse equipment &gear, generally only needing goggles and a mouth guard.  Some girls add gloves for light protection or because of playing in cold weather. Boys’ lacrosse teams also use mouth guards but add helmets, shoulder, chest, arm pads, as well as highly padded gloves that cover the wrist for protection during full contact play and body checking.

Differences in Sticks

The differences in play between girls’ and boys’ lacrosse means that players have different kinds of lacrosse sticks:

  • Boys’ lacrosse stick heads have a deep pocket to catch the ball and carry it. The defensive sticks are longer and often harder to handle.
  • Girls’ sticks are typically all one length, regardless of field position, and have a more shallow pocket that allows for quick ball movement and faster release.

For a great selection of women’s sticks and lacrosse heads, visit Longstreth.

Differences in Fielding

The rules and set-up of boy’s and girl’s teams are somewhat different:

  • Boys’ teams have ten players total: nine field, and one goalie; while women have eleven field players and one goalie, for a total of twelve.
  • Boys’ lacrosse fields are 110 by 60 yards fixed, while girls’ fields are a bit bigger, and can vary between the limits of: between 110 – 130 yards by between 60 – 70.

Differences in Play

Of course, both genders will claim that their play is faster, more skilled, more active and more aggressive! In reality, except for girls not being involved in body checking, the style of play is very similar. Both boys and girls use their athletic ability and stamina to be hard on their opponents, pass the ball down toward their goal and avoid being checked.

Similarities in Lacrosse Equipment

While lacrosse sticks and protective gear are somewhat different for boys and girls, some of their equipment is the same.

  • Both girls and boys use mouth guards for protection.
  • Both genders need to use approved and stamped lacrosse balls when they play.
  • Choosing the right lacrosse cleats for quick play, firm footing and agility is important for both boys and girls. Find some great selection of lacrosse cleats here https://www.longstreth.com/lacrosse-cleats.asp

Enjoy Lacrosse Watching!

Another similarity?  Lacrosse play of both boys and girls is a blast for spectators.  With the quick play, exciting action, and opportunities for vivid athleticism from every size player, lacrosse for girls is one of the most interesting and challenging sports available for young women. So be encouraged that your daughter’s choice of lacrosse may have less physical contact than boy’s lacrosse, but is just as exciting to watch!

Is it Time to Replace your Field Hockey Ball?

It is always a good idea to have a number of field hockey balls around; both practice balls and regulation game balls. Even if this essential piece of field hockey equipment takes a long time to break down, there still does come a time when the ball should be replaced with a new one.

The hockey balls that you use on game day have to undergo a strict series of testing to make sure that they play evenly on a number of surfaces, and that they conform to a bounce test, among other standards. They must also be a specific size and weight. So, if you notice while playing that the game ball is marked, dented, or otherwise damaged, you should request that the umpire change the ball. A damaged ball could affect the game’s play, and put you and your team at a disadvantage.

For the practice balls that you use, they will generally be hollow, and are often plastic, making them susceptible to breaking and cracking over time. In a study published in 2008 in The Engineering of Sport, various tests showed that at low speeds, the greatest impact on field hockey balls is to the plastic covering. As the ball is hit harder and faster, the materials that make up the ball have a big impact on if it will deform or break. Since practice balls usually have a hollow core, this makes them more likely to break down over time when compared with the field hockey balls that you use on game day. This is also one reason why practice balls have a lower price.

So when should you replace the ball? Just like on game day, if you see that a ball is dented or cracked, remove it from your practice collection. It could split or crack further, and create a dangerous situation where pieces of the ball come flying off. Without eye protection, there is the possibility of injury due to this type of damage, so play it safe and grab a new ball from a place that sell a wide variety of Field Hockey Equipment – http://www.longstreth.com/field-hockey-equipment.asp

Remember to keep in mind that the temperature also affects the durability of field hockey balls. Cold weather play makes the plastic of a practice ball and the polyurethane cover on game day balls more brittle and likely to crack or break. You want to have the peace of mind to know that when you deliver your strongest drive, the ball you are using will not break apart. Take a little extra time to inspect the ball when the temperature is below 60 degrees.

When it is time to replace a lost or broken ball, you can rely on Longstreth Sporting Goods to have the type of ball you want, from a brand that you trust. That goes for all field hockey equipment, from the store that focuses on your specific needs as a female athlete including the best and the most durable Field Hockey Sticks!

5 Ways Parents can help their Young Softball Player

One of the best things that you can do for a young player first lacing up the softball cleats is to build their love of the game. You will help to teach them core values like teamwork and dedication, while giving them the gift of a positive environment and healthy habits that last a lifetime. The benefits of playing a team sport like softball are nearly too many to list. Here are five ways that you can help your beginning softball player to improve in the sport.
Young Softball Player
1. Keep it Fun

Remember that team sports, especially for young girls, should be positively motivated. Even if you or your spouse was a star player, that doesn’t mean your daughter automatically shares the same love of the game. She will have to build this over time. The best way to do this is by encouraging her to enjoy the game. You may encounter coaches or other parents that put a lot of pressure on young players. Try to counteract this by always encouraging your daughter, and modeling good behavior in front of her teammates.

2. Get the Right GearTo help your daughter develop as a player, you don’t necessarily need to buy all the softball equipment that you saw at the College World Series last year, or have a softball pitching machine (buy them here if you decide to) in your backyard. However, make sure that she has a glove that fits and that she likes. Be sure to offer her softball bats that will help her to develop a correct swing. The last thing you want is for her to suffer an injury, so make sure she has softball cleats, or even some great beginner’s catcher’s gear, if that is her position. Then, encourage her to properly care for the investment in equipment that you have made.

3. Reward Hard Work 

Once your daughter starts to really enjoy the game, continue to reward her dedication. If she takes the initiative to join a summer league or train in the off-season, sacrifice a bit of your time and resources to make sure that she can make practices. If she shows dedication, you should too. Reward hers with upgraded bats from Demarini or other brands and other equipment, your praise, and support.

4. Keep Calm During Setbacks

For every young athlete, there are setbacks, losses, injuries, and struggles. Lead by example by correcting problems when they can be fixed, and encouraging her to learn from the difficult times of the game. Let her take a break from the sport if she needs to. If she really loves it, she’ll return to it, but in the meantime encourage other healthy habits that build an overall winning attitude.

5. Find Positive Influences

You could be the best softball player in your city, but your daughter would still need other coaches and parents to give her a balanced approach to the game. Find other role models for her to follow besides yourself, and encourage her to learn from them. Often your local Softball Store will be able to connect her with such local support system. Whether that’s a local high school pitching star that is willing to share her experience, or a coach that really knows how to motivate young players, she will need many people to help her develop the skills and habits that make a great young player.

Alloy vs. Composite Softball Bats – What Should You Be Using?

Softball batsYou want every hit coming off the softball bats that you choose to be accurate and hit at the distance that you want. Sometimes that’s right out of the park.  Sometimes it means the perfectly placed sacrifice bunt. So which bat should you be using to make sure that you make the most of every opportunity, every time you’re at the plate? There are so many choices available to you now, but you have too main choices in materials. Whether you choose an alloy or a composite softball bat depends on a lot of different factors.

Price

If you need to watch your budget, and many younger players and their families do, alloy bats have a big advantage over composite bats. You can easily pick up two or three great alloy bats from big name brands like Easton or Louisville for the same price as one of the top composite bats. If you’re still learning the game, it can be a big advantage to have a few different bats available to you with different weight balances. Choosing to go with alloy as your bat’s material offers you this possibility. 

Performance

When it comes down to performance on game day, almost all top level players now choose a composite bat. Companies like DeMarini, Worth, and all of the other big names bats constantly innovate and improve their designs, offering you some truly incredible bat options in fastpitch softball bats. When the first composite bats appeared in the 1980s, they performed very poorly, but with advances in materials, composite bats now easily outhit alloy bats, featuring a much larger sweet spot. You may also notice more “pop” coming off the bat with every hit. 

Composite bats do have one disadvantage in performance. When you first purchase a composite bat, you need to break it in before you will see the best performance from it. With an alloy bat, the first time you use it to hit you will be able to see its full potential. It will take a couple hundred solid hits with your new composite bat before it is properly warmed up and ready for its game day debut.

Durability

Composite bats do have one more negative when compared to alloy bats. The same carbon fiber that makes these bats lighter and easier to swing, also makes them vulnerable to damage. Especially during your early springtime games, you may want to choose an alloy bat, because cold temperature make the composite material more likely to crack. 

If you do some minor damage to an alloy bat, it is very likely that you will be able to keep using it without danger or reduced performance. An alloy bat can suffer a dent or two and keep its reliability. Composite bats, once damaged, are not useful anymore and can be dangerous for you and your teammates if you continue to use them. 

The Final Score

The type of bat that you choose depends upon your needs and preferences, along with restrictions that some leagues place on bats allowed for use. In short, if you want a less expensive, more durable bat that delivers reliable performance one season after another, alloy bats may be for you.

If you want a top of the line bat with the most advanced materials available and have the budget to pay for it, go with a composite bat. You will be able to hit more accurately, and will feel more comfortable because of the lighter weight and reduced sting from these bats. No matter your choice, Longstreth offers you a wide variety of alloy and composite softball bats.  For the best in Softball Equipment click here.

Comparison between Different Types of Field Hockey Balls

field hocky balls

There are many different types of field hockey balls available for all of your practice and game day needs. Which ones you choose depend upon a number of factors, including league regulations, playing surface, and field conditions. You will be spending a lot of different time using each type of ball, so here is a guide to help you choose the right one for your next practice session or game day.

Practice Balls

Field hockey balls for practice are made from plastic and are hollow inside. They can often be purchased for less than official game balls. Because they don’t have to meet exact standards for game play, they can be made in more vibrant and fun colors to make your practice time a bit more exciting. Even though they aren’t certified for play, they are usually about the same weight and size as the ball you will use on game day.

Practice balls can be used on a number of different surfaces, and are generally smooth. The smoothness can be an added challenge, because on a wet outdoor surface, it may not roll uniformly or predictably, giving you the advantage of being more quick to adapt to changing conditions.

Game Balls

On game day, you want a standard ball of a predictable size and weight. You can rely on an official certification process to make sure that each and every ball conforms to standards of national or international play. Depending upon the league and level of play, there still can be some differences in ball size and weight.

For high school play, any ball used in play must have an official NFHS stamp to certify its size and weight. The ball is hollow inside and smooth on the outside. On game day, the umpire may choose a white or orange ball or another solid color depending upon lighting and field conditions. Whichever color is more likely to help the players and umpire see the ball most clearly is chosen.

Indoor field hockey is played on a smaller playing surface, and the ball is also generally smaller and lighter than the ball used for outdoor play. It is also hollow and smooth, making it best suited to indoor play.

The standard ball for elite level play is the Kookaburra ball. Its funny name comes from being a product of Australia, and over time it has become known by the nickname “kooks.” The ball has dimples on its surface, which helps it to roll true and predictably on wet surfaces. This makes it perfect for most natural turf conditions that you will play on during outdoor play. Another advantage of this ball is that it has a molded rubber and cork core, giving it a very soft touch for improved play.

Regardless of the conditions that you play and practice in, you need to be prepared to adapt your game and perform at your best. Having a selection of practice and official game balls available to you gives you this ability to adapt. You also need to make sure that the stick you choose is right for your game. No matter what your needs, visit Longstreth for field hockey equipment that you need to enjoy the game and play at your best.