When my daughter came to me a few years ago expressing interest in joining the local lacrosse league with some friends, I was overjoyed! She had always been athletic, and I thought it would be another great opportunity to get involved and stay active. But although we were all excited to take on a new sport, as an inexperienced “lacrosse mom,” I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into. We went looking for gear and I quickly became overwhelmed by the huge selection of women’s lacrosse gloves, goggles, and lacrosse helmets…not to mention the ridiculous array of youth lacrosse sticks, heads, and shafts to choose from out there. Thankfully, after research and experience, I now know more about the game, and have grown to love it, and what it does for my daughter, but I always wish someone had taken me aside and given me a crash course in lax gear when she was just getting started. I doubt that I’m alone here, so I figured it’d be helpful to all of the newly initiated or soon-to-be lacrosse parents out there for me to jot down some helpful hints when looking for a women’s lacrosse stick.
You may not know this, but you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get great lacrosse gear, especially if your daughter is just starting out. Higher-end lacrosse heads and shafts are going to make a big difference in her game, but if she’s new to the sport, you can shoot for the middle of the road for now and go up from there. It’s also important to know that lacrosse sticks are actually two separate parts. You can purchase the head and shaft separately, and built you own lacrosse stick, to meet your daughter’s exact needs on the field. You can also purchase a complete lacrosse stick and get everything you need in one fell swoop. I recommend complete sticks for first time players. They take a lot of the guess work out of gear shopping, help develop preferences, and are typically cheaper than purchasing the head and shaft separately. Advanced players will want to buy them individually to get the most customization out of their game though.
Lacrosse heads are, for me at least, the most complicated piece of equipment to purchase. They have the most direct influence on her game, affecting ball control, passing and shot accuracy, and defensive maneuvering, so I have always erred on the higher-end of things. But for new lacrosse parents, it’s more important to understand what you’re getting from a woman’s lacrosse head, than to just blindly buy an expensive one. When looking for a new lacrosse head, understand and consider:
- Stiffness vs. Flexibility – Stiff lacrosse heads tend to be heavier than flexible ones, and are better for defensive players, since they can take more punishment. Flexible shafts are more malleable, and are great for picking up ground balls.
- Width – Heads range from narrow to wide. Narrow heads, like the STX Crux10 take more skill to use, but hold the ball in the pocket and protect it from steals, making them great for attackers. Wider heads, like the Harrow Prime 7 lacrosse head are better for new and defensive players, since they have the most surface area to block passes and shots, and make catching easy.
- Weight – Lightweight heads let you shoot, pass, and move faster, but may reduce accuracy and durability. Heavier heads are typically stronger, and have the opposite effect on performance, slowing shots and passes but typically improving accuracy.
- Sidewalls and Scoop – The sidewalls of a lacrosse head give it its shape and create the pocket where the ball rests. The height of the sidewall affects the depth of the pocket and ball retention. The top portion of the head is called the “Scoop,” and affects how the ball is scooped into the pocket, and how it leaves the pocket when you shoot or pass.
- Pocket – Lacrosse heads have to be strung with an approved net before play. When you buy a new head, you can either buy it unstrung and string it yourself, or buy it pre-strung by the factory. Unstrung heads are typically cheaper than strung heads, but if you are new to the game, I suggest purchasing a factory strung head like the STX Crux Lacrosse Head. You can also go with an unstrung head like the Brine Epic 2 Lacrosse Head, and have your coach string it for you, before you learn and develop personal preferences.
Lacrosse shafts are just as varied, although somewhat less complicated than lacrosse heads. The higher-end shafts are going to be stronger and lighter than the more cost-effective ones. However, if your daughter is just starting out, the differences are going to be negligible, especially since women’s lacrosse has less contact than men’s, and shaft strength is less of a concern. When searching and pricing lacrosse handles, take into account:
- Construction– The days of all wood lacrosse shafts are over. Today, companies like Brine, STX, Warrior, and Harrow are using advanced metals and alloys to create shafts that range in weight, strength, overall performance, and of course, price.
- Aluminum shafts are the most common, and typically most affordable. They have a solid strength-to-weight ratio, and are versatile for all positions and skill levels. The STX Lilly Girl’s lacrosse stick is a great, affordable aluminum stick.
- Titanium lacrosse shafts are much stronger and lighter (also more expensive) than aluminum ones, making them perfect for more advanced players who need something to handle hard hits without adding weight.
- Composite lacrosse shafts, like the STX Tremble, are made of high-grade carbon fiber, giving them incredible strength with minimal weight. These shafts have an interesting feel, warmer in cold weather and cooler on hot days, and also feature excellent grip, making them easier to control.
- Alloy lacrosse shafts are some of the strongest, lightest, and most expensive shafts out there. Most manufacturers have added built-in grips on these handles to give you even more control and feel.
- Scandium shafts are currently at the top of the game, with the highest strength-to-weight ratio and massive durability and versatility. The new line of Under Armour Illusion 700 Scandium lacrosse shafts is becoming very popular!
- Grip / Feel – How the shaft feels in your hands. Does it feel hot, cold, comfortable? Does it have a built-in grip, texture, or tack area, to help hold and control it? All of these are important features that determine how the stick reacts and performs.
- Weight / Strength – The lighter the shaft, the quicker you’ll be able to move down the field and the faster you’ll be able to shoot and pass. A stick must also be strong though, since it has to hold up to regular abuse. In women’s and girl’s lacrosse though, strength is less of an issue, since stick strikes are illegal.
Overall, the idea is find a lacrosse stick that works for her style and skill level, and fits your budget. There are plenty of options out there, and sticks can range anywhere from $20 to $150, and beyond, making it easy to get lost. Hopefully this information helped clear some things up a bit, and makes it a little easier for you to get your girl ready for the game. Good luck out there!