What Gear Do You Need For Lacrosse?
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Lacrosse needs all kinds of gear for a player to be both eligible for official play and remain competitive with his or her peers. This gear ranges from standardized required gear like helmets, sticks, and balls to optional auxiliary equipment that can lend a competitive edge.
What gear do you need for Lacrosse? The gear needed for lacrosse that is required to be eligible for play:
- Lacrosse stick
- Lacrosse ball
- Shoulder pads
- Throat protector (goalie only)
- Chest protector (goalie only)
- Protective cup (male goalie only)
- Eyewear (women's lacrosse only)
Optional lacrosse gear that can be added to enhance protection or effectiveness on the field:
Get some help finding the best pair of Lacrosse gloves for you in this complete guide
Along with gear that is used and worn by the player, additional gear is needed for training and maintenance of equipment.
This gear includes the following:
- Lacrosse tape
- Gear bags/ball bags
- Resistance trainers
- Goals, nets, and goal targets
- Strings, stringing tools, and stringing kits
- Radar guns
- Backstops and rebounders
- Hurdles/agility ladders
- End caps/butt-ends
- Field cones
This may seem like a literal truckload of equipment, which can be daunting to players that are new to the sport, but lacrosse is high contact, and the large amounts of protective gear required are to ensure that the players remain safe.
Lacrosse gear can be broken into several different categories: basic gear, protective gear, training gear, and field gear. Read more about the gear you need to play (and the gear you'll want to be a true lax rat) below.
Read also: Lacrosse Goalie Gear
Basic Lacrosse Gear
You can't play lacrosse without a stick or a ball. Even if you're just playing street lacrosse with no official rules, you're not going to get far in the game without these.
Lacrosse balls are solid rubber balls that are typically white in men's lacrosse and yellow in women's lacrosse. Neon green and orange balls can also be used if both coaches in an official game agree to their use.
For use in casual play and practice, they come in a variety of colors.
To play in an official game of lacrosse, the balls used must also conform to a standard set forth by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE).
The main manufacturers of lacrosse balls are the following:
- Champion Sports
- Signature Lacrosse
- Pearl Lacrosse
Lacrosse balls seem simple in design, but they are vital to the play of the sport. Other than official game lacrosse balls, there are also a variety of training lacrosse balls available.
These balls (which can come in a variety of colors like pink, purple, marble, and other novelty colors) are typically softer and more shock absorbent than an official game ball, despite being the same weight and dimensions.
Lacrosse balls also come in weighted varieties, with weights up to three times heavier than an official game ball. These special balls are used for training to enhance shot speed, strength, and handling skills, but should be used carefully, as a heavier ball can lead to injury like a concussion.
Champion Sports Official Lacrosse Balls
One of the most popular models for lacrosse balls. Can be used for different sports.
Lacrosse Sticks, Shafts, and Heads
When you hear lacrosse players start talking about "power shafts" or "defense heads" it all seems a little confusing, but the basic premise is this: lacrosse sticks are specialized and geared towards the following types of players:
- Attack and Midfield
Due to the demands of the game, different kinds of players require different kinds of sticks in order to perform their role on the team effectively.
Attack players typically need shorter sticks for increased snap and increased shot power necessary to make consistent goals. Defensive players, on the other hand, need longer sticks to increase their reach and their chance of intercepting a pass or deflecting a shot.
Lacrosse is a dynamic sport where every player's role is crucial to victory, with high requirements for both precision and speed. The variety of sticks available is a testament to how precise the skills of the players are.
Lacrosse sticks are sold both as a whole stick and separated into parts--the head (which is the netted pocket on the end of a lacrosse stick that catches the ball) and the shaft (the lacrosse stick itself). The length of the lacrosse stick chosen is dependent on a player's position:
- Attack players need shorter sticks, between 40-42 inches
- Defensive players need longer sticks, between 52-72 inches
- Goalies can have a stick length of their own preference between 40-72 inches
What kind of a lacrosse head the player uses is also dependent on their position, as well as their level of skill.
Defensive lacrosse players will want to look for stiff heads with flatter scoops, while attackers and midfielders will want a head that offers control with a rounded scoop and a pinched throat.
There are more advanced heads for expert players that are designed with lightweight materials to make them responsive and quick, but because of their lesser weight, they are more difficult to handle and require more skill to use properly.
Lacrosse sticks also require some accessories, such as pre wrap (a non-chafing material used beneath lacrosse tape), lacrosse tape (to improve grip), and end caps, which over the sharp metal end of a lacrosse stick to prevent injury to players.
How to Choose A Lacrosse Stick
Lacrosse sticks for novices are often sold as an all-in-one package, with the head and the shaft already combined. However, as lacrosse players get into more advanced levels of gameplay, they may upgrade to lacrosse sticks that come with the shafts and heads separated.
Buying shafts and heads separately allows a player to buy a lacrosse head to their exact specifications based on the position they play. As players become more advanced, they also have the option of stringing their own lacrosse heads, allowing even further customization.
Here are some high-powered options for your next lacrosse stick, no matter what position you plan to play:
Great Stick for Beginners
STX Men's Lacrosse Stallion 200 U Complete Attack/Midfield Stick with Shaft & Head
Its easy to catch and ball control make this stick perfect for beginners.
- Ball control
- Solid construction
- Meets NCAA and NFHS Rules
A good choice for heavy hitters, this is an accessible stick (Amazon link) for all entry-level players
Solid Option for Adults
Tron Pro Attack by TronX
Its lightweight delivers a great handling experience.
- Well balanced
- Altium Alloy Shaft
The interior sidewall mirrors the outer for reduced weight without sacrificing stiffness, giving a great handling experience.
Great Pick for Mid-level Goalies
STX Goalie Stick
Solid 12-diamond semi-hard mesh stick for mid-level rec goalies. Good value for the money.
STX makes a goalie stick with a white-on-white platinum design and a semi-hard mesh pocket. Its relatively cost makes it a perfect choice for mid-level players.
Best Value for Money
Maverik Charger Complete Attack Lacrosse Stick
Well-rounded stick. Perfect for learning ground ball and cradling skills. Great option for beginners.
The Maverik Charger is a solid choice for learning ground ball and cradling skills. This lightweight stick is durable and solidly constructed, which makes it a great option for beginners.
It is also not too expensive, making it a decent investment (Amazon link) for new players.
STX Crux 400 Women's Complete Lacrosse Stick
This model face's shape offers a tight pinch that transitions into a wide catching area. It's built for competitive-level attackers.
A highly sought-after stick for women's lacrosse, the Crux 400 (Amazon link) boasts a smooth pocket release and a pointed scoop for grounders, with minimum sidewall rail drops for agile passes.
How to Wrap a Lacrosse Stick
Once you have your lacrosse stick, you'll want to prepare it for play.
One way most players enhance the grip of their sticks is to wrap them with lacrosse tape. These tapes come in a variety of materials and colors, allowing players to decorate their sticks and reinforce them.
Because of their construction, lacrosse shafts can be extremely slick, especially in wet weather or when wearing protective gloves.
Taping the stick allows the player to maintain a firm grip and helps protect the stick from the dings and scratches of daily use.
Use the following basic method to tape and prepare your lacrosse stick after purchase:
- Wipe down the stick with warm water to remove any debris or dust. This will allow the lacrosse tape to adhere smoothly.
- Unroll the end of the lacrosse tape and begin taping from the butt end of the stick, working up from the bottom to the top of the shaft.
- Rotate the lacrosse tape around the shaft in a tight spiraling pattern, being careful not to leave any gaps between sections of tape.
- To secure the end cap, wrap the end cap with tape and continue wrapping until you connect the end cap tape to the tape on the shaft itself.
Using these steps, you can protect your stick and make it last longer. Read on to learn about protective gear and figure out how to protect yourself.
Protective Lacrosse Gear
Lacrosse is a high contact sport, and as such, it requires a high level of protective gear.
The lowest level of gear required for lacrosse players is helmets or eye gear, shoulder pads, and mouthpieces.
Women's lacrosse only allows for stick-to-stick contact, but since it is such an explosive sport, collisions and ball strikes still happen. Men's lacrosse, on the other hand, is a full contact sport and allows both body and checks. This means, in either case, protective gear is essential.
NOTE: Because they are the target of high-powered shots and can be subject to severe injury if unprotected, goalies are required to wear extra protective gear such as throat and chest protectors (and in the case of male goalies, protective cups).
Athletic supporters and protective cups are not required for other male lacrosse players, but they're a good idea. So is wearing high quality gloves to prevent broken fingers and bloodied knuckles.
Here's a breakdown of the different kinds of protective gear that you need to keep yourself safe playing lacrosse (Amazon links):
- Eyegear: Eyegear is required in women's lacrosse rather than helmets, and this gear usually comes in the form of wire goggles. These lightweight goggles form a cage over the player's eyes that prevents damage while minimizing visual interference.
- Helmets: Rather than eyegear, men's lacrosse requires full helmets. This is because women's lacrosse only allows stick-to-stick contact, and men's lacrosse allows full body contact like American football. Helmets protect the player from concussive damage.
- Mouthguards: Mouthguards that fit inside a player's mouth over their teeth and gums are a requirement of officiated lacrosse and are designed to keep a player from biting their tongue or having their teeth knocked out by rough play.
- Rib pads: Lacrosse rib pads are low profile pads that add shielding from ball strikes and checks to prevent bruised or broken ribs. They usually include adjustable straps and strategically placed pieces of hard plastic for extra protection.
- Elbow pads: Lacrosse elbow pads are usually lightweight and flexible to allow for as much mobility as possible. They usually incorporate breathable materials to keep the player cool and prevent chafing from perspiration.
- Shoulder pads: Shoulder pads are the only kind of lacrosse pad that are required for officiated play other than the specialized protectors required by goalies. These pads are made of flexible but strong materials that provide protection while still maintaining agility.
- Athletic supporters and protective cups: Together with protective cups, athletic supporters are vital for protecting the groin during rough lacrosse play. Lacrosse players often choose to wear athletic supporters in the form of compression shorts.
- Throat protectors: Similar to a gorget in medieval armor, the throat protectors required by lacrosse goalies prevent the ball from hitting the player in the throat, which can cause serious injury to the trachea and spine if this area is left vulnerable.
- Chest protectors: Chest protectors are required for lacrosse goalies and provide added protection to the chest cavity in the form of padding that can absorb ball strikes. Chest protectors typically feature "stretch zones" that allow the goalie to move easily.
Lacrosse Gear Bags/Ball Bags
Lacrosse comes with tons of gear, and in order to keep it all together, players use portable storage. This is where equipment bags come in.
Gear bags are cylindrical carrying bags designed out of strong, durable material to allow them to support large amounts of heavy padding. Gear bags are typically constructed out of industrial grade nylon for strength.
- Gear bags, like many lacrosse accessories, come in a variety of colors so lacrosse players can keep their equipment color-coordinated with their team's colors.
- Ball bags are specialized gear bags with a top-heavy structure that are designed to carry large amounts of lacrosse balls.
Lacrosse Training Gear
Along with the gear they use to actually play, lacrosse players can use a variety of training gear in order to improve their skills between games. These range from tools to increase strength and accuracy to tools that measure progress, like speed radars.
Using speed measurement tools and training drills together, lacrosse teams can objectively measure their individual progress as they improve their agility and strength.
While performance during an actual game is always paramount, a team of lacrosse players is only as good as the amount of time they practice. A team with a strict training regimen and discipline footwork is going to cream a team that is unpracticed every time.
- Speed radars: Speed radars are speed-measuring tools used to analyze a lacrosse player's speed shot. By using this tool, players can work on increasing their own speed records, and coaches can keep track of which players on their team can sling the ball fastest.
- Hurdles/agility ladders: Doing hurdle and agility ladder drills allows lacrosse players to improve agility--that is, their ability to rapidly switch directions and accelerate while doing so. These drills also increase jumping height and help players develop fast feet.
- Resistance trainers: By practicing with resistance trainers, lacrosse players can become stronger and faster at specific movement drills, increasing their ability to call on intense dynamic bursts of power and conditions their overall agility.
- Online courses: more and more people every day are investing on personal training to improve their game and become a better athlete.A relevant example is the one featuring Rob Pannell, where he shares pro tips on different aspects of the sport: conditioning, mental preparation and fundamentals of the game. I personally like the holistic approach to the sport and the flexibility that gives you having it online.
If you want to take a look yourself, click the following link: Players Academy by Rob Pannell
Lacrosse Goals and Targets
Besides the fact that it's difficult to track scoring in lacrosse without a goal, collecting practice goals, backstops, and rebounders can prevent dozens of lost lacrosse balls. Because they are rubber, that means that lacrosse balls are bouncy. They're easy to lose without a goal to aim for.
- Goals: Lacrosse goals are lightweight and not expensive, meaning that as long as you have an open field or street and a couple of goals, you can set up a makeshift lacrosse league just about anywhere.
- Backstops: A lacrosse backstop is a reinforcement to the actual goal and can help catch any offsides ball that the lacrosse goal doesn't manage to catch. Not only do backstops prevent lost balls, they are also an important safety precaution.
- Rebounders: Rebounders are basically portable trampoline goals that allow a player to play wall ball with themselves to improve their catching and passing abilities. It's not always easy to find a brick wall to practice against, so rebounders are a good solution.
- Goal targets: Goal targets are goal accessories that allow lacrosse players to aim at specific windows within the goal. These are areas of the goal that are typically less well-guarded, and help the shooter learn to aim for the sweet spots that lead to goals.
- Field cones: Lacrosse field cones are used to set up training drills to increase general agility and direction-changing speed. They are usually made of brightly colored plastic for high visibility and are used as obstacles on the field to increase a player's footwork.
Optional Gear for Lacrosse
Lacrosse players require a lot of gear to play, but there is even more equipment to acquire through the sport that may not be a requirement, but definitely increase a lacrosse player's quality of life and general enjoyment of the sport. This is some of the optional gear for lacrosse:
- Apparel: Lacrosse apparel allows dedicated players to celebrate their love for the sport both on and off the field. Lacrosse apparel comes in a variety of colors and sizes to suit every team and is available for both men and women.
- Cleats: Lacrosse cleats are different than soccer cleats, though they serve a similar purpose. Lacrosse cleats have cleats on the toe as well as the outside of the sole, allowing for stability in side-to-side movement.
- Chin shields: Providing extra facial protection and sometimes included along with lacrosse helmets, chin shields are good for both comfort and safety; straps come in a variety of colors to match any team uniform.
- Helmet decals: Decals are used in lacrosse to decorate helmets and other protective equipment and can also be used to help quickly differentiate lacrosse players from each other. Decals come in chrome, metallic flake, matte, and many other styles.
- Water bottles: In lacrosse as in any field sport, staying hydrated is extremely important, especially when playing and practicing during the summer months. Choose a water bottle with a squeezable design and a bending straw to drink without removing a helmet.
- Sports deodorizers: This is an accessory that players may not think of until their bag or shoes or protective equipment is already rank. Prevent stinky lacrosse bags and shoes by investing in some deodorizers early on.
- Headbands: Headbands are used to keep sweat out of a player's eyes while they play. Nothing is worse than having stinging sweat blind you in the middle of a critical play. Headbands are typically made of a wicking material with elastic sewn in for flexibility.
- Wristbands: Made of the same materials as headbands are made of, wristbands prevent sweat from sliding down the player's arms onto the hands and fingers, which decreases grip on the lacrosse stick.
- Eye black: A tradition that started with athletic greats like Babe Ruth, eye black smeared under the eyes of a lacrosse player prevents glare reflected off the player's cheeks, allowing them to more easily track the ball in midair in bright field conditions.
Gear Up For Lacrosse!
No matter whether you play men's lacrosse or women's lacrosse, youth lacrosse or adult lacrosse, every member of every league needs appropriate gear to perform at their best. If budget is a concern, new players can always get basic equipment and work their way up.
To get a casual game of lacrosse started up, there isn't much more needed than a few goals, a few sticks, and a few lacrosse balls.
However, if your intentions are to be a serious competitor, it's worth the money to buy helpful accessories that can help upgrade good equipment into great equipment. This investment can be done gradually across a few months or years as you get more invested in the game.