Tag Archives: Women’s sports

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

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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!

Women’s Lacrosse: A Basic Introduction to the Game

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Women’s lacrosse is an exciting game both to watch and to play. Because ball possession is integral to winning, both individual skill and team effort are important. Here is a basic introduction to the game:

Rules and Fouls

Like most ball games, the team with the most goals wins. Here are the basic rules:

  • Games start with a draw between two opposing team players at the center of the field.
  • Play consists of teams passing or cradling the ball while running toward the goal.
  • Teams gain possession by intercepting, retrieving ground balls, capturing (checking) balls from an opponent’s stick, or blocking a shot or pass.
  • Athletes can only use stick-to-stick contact. Stick to body and body to body contact is illegal.
  • Players must stand immediately when the official’s whistle is blown.
  • If the ball goes out of bounds, the team that touched the ball last loses possession. Off of a shot, the possession goes to the closest player to where the ball goes out.
  • Fouls are called for illegal stick use, illegal equipment, illegal field position, or taking a dangerous shot.

Field

Originally, women’s lacrosse field size was unlimited. However, in 2006, women’s lacrosse adopted regulation fields which are somewhat similar to  to a regulation soccer field.  There is a restraining line (30 yards infield from each goal line) which limits each team to 7 field players to engage in settled play. Defense is allowed 7 field players and a goalie between the restraining line and their defensive endline.

Positions

A women’s lacrosse team has 11 field players and one goalie. A team must have five players behind the restraining line when the ball is in their offensive end (this includes the goalie), and must have four players behind the restraining line when the ball is in their defensive end. On the draw, only three players are able to be on the circle, between the two restraining lines. This includes 1 person from each team taking the draw and two people from each team on the outside of the circle. Field players are usually divided into:

  • 4 players on attack
  • 4 players on defense
  • 3 players in midfield

Equipment

In addition to needing the right pair of lacrosse cleats for fast action on the field, players need sticks, goggles, mouthguards, and balls.

Sticks

The most important aspect in choosing a lacrosse stick is finding one that meets the player’s skill level, experience, comfort level and age.

  • Size: most sticks are roughly 42 3/4″. The STX Lilly is shorter and meant for very young, short players.
  • Diameter: options are women’s traditional 7/8″, mid-size (inbetween 7/8″ and 1″) and full size  1″.
  • Shape: octagon, concave octagon, rounded octagon and teardrop.
  • Materials: Alloys are stronger but less temperate in extreme weather. Composites are less strong but have a softer feel and are more flexible. While Sc-Ti is extremely strong and lightweight, these handles can make the stick feel top heavy.
  • Finish: soft, smooth rubberized or alloy.

Heads

The type of lacrosse stick head chosen sometimes depends on the position played. Defenders often prefer a stick head that is flatter and stiffer to deliver powerful checks, while midfielders often prefer a head that offers more flexibility for quick releases.

Goggles

Goggles protect the player’s eyes, so fit and vision are the most important factor in choosing them. Upgraded titanium cage can make the goggles more lightweight but just as protective and strong.

Gloves

Generally, gloves are optional for women’s lacrosse players, but they might be worn for warmth in cold weather, or for increased grip and or protection for the hands.

Balls

Official lacrosse game balls must follow specific NCAA regulations for color, weight, and bounce, so it is important to choose certified balls. Soft bean bag practice balls are useful for indoor practice.

Equipping Women’s Lacrosse Players

Young women lacrosse players require equipment specially developed for their skillset situations. Longstreth Sporting Goods specializes in equipment that is designed specifically for the needs of women lacrosse players of all levels.

Comparison between Different Types of Field Hockey Balls

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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.

How to Choose a Lacrosse Stick for Your Age and Level of Play

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Lacrosse is a great sport for young women to play. It is a great way to build teamwork, confidence, and other skills that will be valuable for life. It is also great fun, and unlike boy’s lacrosse, girl’s lacrosse is not a contact sport. This makes start-up costs for you or your young athlete much lower when compared to a boy getting into the sport. But you will still need to make some decisions about lacrosse sticks when deciding to buy that first stick.

Lacrosse sticks for females are somewhat different from boy’s sticks, so using a hand-me-down from an older brother or a friend is a mistake. Using a boy’s stick will put a beginning player at a disadvantage and can be very frustrating. Make sure that your athlete gets a fair start by purchasing the right stick for her. In general, sticks for female players have thinner shafts and pockets that are more shallow, making them lighter and better for ball control.

The Parts of a Lacrosse Stick

There are two main parts to the stick. These are the shaft and the head. The shaft is fairly basic, but the materials it is made from can vary. In most cases, beginner stick shafts are made from aluminum, which is light and inexpensive. The head of the lacrosse stick is much more complex, with many variables for you to decide upon as experience in the sport develops. However, there are some good tips for starting out.

The head of the stick can vary in width. Usually defenders and midfielders will use wider heads for better catching ability, while offensive players use more narrow heads to increase their accuracy and the speed of their shots and passes. For beginners, it is better to go with a wider head so that they can develop their catching ability. While this does decrease their control and accuracy, it gives a better starting point.

The scoop of the head should be flatter for beginners, who can later move on to a curved scoop as their skills advance and they begin to specialize their position. In general, what’s good for lacrosse defenders is also good for beginners. A flat scoop helps to build catching skills, while moving on to a curved design later on will improve accuracy and speed.

Two other characteristics to consider are the sidewall design and stiffness. Here again, the default preferences for defenders also have a lot of advantages for beginners. A stiffer head allows for easier catching and ground scooping. Players lose some speed off their shots with a stiffer head, but this is not as important as developing those important catching and scooping skills. The sidewall design should also be lower for beginners and defenders, building that focus on the core skills of ball control.

You might also wonder which brand is the best for beginners. Really, the brand does not matter so much for beginning players. Most of the beginner sticks are very similar in design. However, STX, Brine and Easton sticks generally stick to a more friendly design for beginners because of their scoop shape. What’s most important is to get the right stick for your level of play, and for your sport. Longstreth provides lacrosse equipment specifically designed for female players so that you can get the most from your game right from the start.

Simple Tips to Improve Your Softball Hitting

Dog with Softball equipment-bat

Great athletes have a natural beauty and rhythm to their motion that makes everything they do seem effortless. The control they have over their game, like a good softball hitter with her softball gear, separates them from the average athlete. Softball hitting can be broken into six distinct steps, each one of which you can practice mindfully.

Box Position

Step into the batter’s box with your feet in line, greater than shoulder width. To give yourself more time to see the ball, stay toward the back of the box; to catch the ball before it breaks down or away, move up in the box.
Flex your knees, keep your elbows in, and ready yourself for the pitch. Generally, think fastball and adjust your bat speed down for other pitches, but be open to advice from your hitting coach or manager.

Grip

Grip the bat lightly to give your hands quick muscle movement. Start with the bat on the second joints of your fingers, curling your fingers around. Keep the bat handle out of the palms of your hands. Wrap your fingers of both hands around the bat and line up your second knuckles, eight in a row. If that is uncomfortable or feels unnatural, you can rotate your grip so the third knuckles of one hand align with the second knuckles of the other (a box grip).

Swing

The largest muscle groups in your body are in your legs, so use them to power the bat around and send the ball 300 feet. Push off with your legs to connect. Your legs, though, are the sturdy foundation for movements elsewhere:

  1. back foot turning
  2. hips rotating
  3. shoulders turning into the swing

If everything is moving into and through the swing, you should end up with your body loosely and comfortably twisted, watching the ball streak away with your feet still on the ground.

Contact

Contacting the ball with the bat differs by pitch:

  • Down the middle—make contact straight out from the leading hip
  • Inside pitch—must be hit more in front of the center of the body
  • Outside pitch—contact is made from the body’s center to the back hip

Contact should be level, so you are hitting the ball as close to its center as possible, even if your intention is to drive it up or down.

Follow-through

Follow-through means full arm extension, then continuing your swing around. Wrists roll and the swing ends with both hands near the front shoulder, your head aligned to your back shoulder (your chin is above the shoulder).

Attitude

Finding your comfort zone with hitting means practice and more practice. You are honing your swing and stance so that everything feels loose and easy as you step into the box.
Avoid over-thinking the whole choreography of hitting. By training repeatedly, you condition your muscles and gain instinctive proprioception (awareness of body position) so on game day you can step in, assume your proper stance, and swing away without consciously thinking about any of it.

Once you have matched the right softball equipment—helmet, gloves and bat—to the player, your bat becomes an extension of your body. For the finest in fastpitch bats and player equipment, step into Longstreth, and we will help you step into the batter’s box with confidence.

 

Buying Field Hockey Equipment – Tips for Beginners

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Field hockey is a fast-paced sport that provides great exercise, life lessons and team building for young athletes. Beginners’ field hockey equipment requirements do not have to bust the family budget, either, if parents keep in mind the difference between must-haves, should-haves and nice-to-haves.

Must-Have Field Hockey Equipment

For both boys and girls beginning in field hockey, every athlete must have three essential pieces of field hockey equipment: the hockey stick, mouthguard, and shinguards.

For what some parents may dismiss as a simple piece of wood, the stick has many variations:

  • Indoor sticks
  • Goalie sticks
  • Composite sticks
  • Wood sticks
  • Hook, maxi, midi and shorti heads

Starting out, players may not know what advantage a particular head shape has, so encourage your beginning athlete to keep her ears open, ask questions, and take the advice of more experienced players she trusts. Stick length is often more crucial for beginning players than the head shape. Height charts can help, but a player gets to feel comfortable with a specific length of field hockey stick, so you may not want to invest in a high-end stick as the first purchase.

The mouthguard is a requirement for player protection. Mouthguards and mouthguard cases are available in many styles. Common these days are mouthguards for wearers of braces, flavored mouthguards, and bulk-purchased disposable mouthguards to minimize germs.

Shinguards are the only other piece of required equipment in most regions. Protect your child and keep her enthusiasm for the game by preventing painful injuries to the shin bones. Just as with the mouthguard, this is not a place to skimp, since the shinguard may be the difference between a little discomfort during an intense game and sitting out the season with a broken shin.

Should-Have Field Hockey Equipment

Goggles are an optional piece of equipment that could save your child’s sight in the event of a bad encounter with an opponent’s stick. In addition to goggles, nose guards and full face masks are available, often in a selection of colors. Have your budding field hockey star try the goggles or masks on for a snug but comfortable fit, and to test forward and peripheral vision.

Remember not to over-equip your athlete with safety precautions that themselves pose a threat to other players. Some regulations in some regions permit only smooth face masks or tight-fitting plastic goggles, for example, to prevent the wire of a framed goggle or mask from injuring others.

Nice-to-Have Field Hockey Equipment

Two items are good for your new player to have, for increased field control and for comfort:

  • Turf shoes or cleats
  • Shin guard socks or rash guards

Turf shoes or molded cleats give your child a firm grip on the field, allowing for quick turns, stops and starts.
Shin guard socks are oversized, tall socks worn under the shin guards to prevent chaffing. Rash guards prevent shin guard rash from developing. Shin guard rash may be an allergic reaction to the material in shin guards, or it may be a natural result of heat, sweat and the friction your child’s skin encounters during an exciting field hockey game. The simple remedy is to prevent the opportunity for a shin guard to rub, by having your child wear rash guards.

For parents new to the game, Longstreth is here to help. Contact us today for answers to your questions regarding the right field hockey equipment or the right kind of balls to purchase to support your son or daughter in his or her dreams of field hockey glory. After all, every great player was a beginner at one time.