At any skill level from junior high school beginner through Major League Lacrosse (MLL) and National Lacrosse League (NLL), the right lacrosse equipment can help you improve your game. Five attributes in equipment—head shape, sidewall, center piece, stringing and handle weight—can amplify your existing skills and help you gain new ones.
By far the biggest impact on player performance from lacrosse equipment comes from the shape of the lacrosse stick head. Head width comes down to two opposing needs:
With a narrow head, the ball does not rattle or shift around much in the head. This narrow design is the goal for any beginner: take advantage of the wide head to learn to catch the ball accurately, then move up to a narrower head providing greater control.
How do you know when to move up? As you improve stick work, becoming more comfortable with the ball, gaining confidence in your ability to handle and pass accurately, moving the stick around your body without losing the ball, you will feel the need to have tighter control and a narrower head. What was once the welcome wiggle room you needed to catch the ball becomes a deficit as you feel the ball needlessly rattle in the head.
In lacrosse equipment, a head’s “sweet spot,” the area just below the lower, U- or V-shaped shooting string, is the ideal position for cradling, passing and shooting the ball. You get a quicker, more powerful release, trusting your teammates to handle the higher speed and reducing the time the ball is not in your team’s control.
You get that sweet spot when your stick has a dropped sidewall. This lowers the pocket, allowing for a deeper pocket for improved cradling. A stick with a dropped sidewall design is critical in achieving good ball control. It positions the ball nearly automatically in that “sweet spot” and frees your mind to concentrate on strategy and your team, not the ball.
Different center pieces, and different materials used for the center piece, will adjust to the ball in different ways. The STX Precision Pocket, for example, uses no synthetics. Extra woven string provides a pocket that needs very little break-in time. It does, however, require more maintenance than a synthetic center and needs a little TLC after play in wet weather. Other options include injection molded rubber (the deBeer Gripper Pro Pocket) and synthetic center pieces.
Keeping the pocket shape is important for consistent ball control in lacrosse equipment. You need to know the muscle memory you used one game will get the same results the next game. Leather is preferable to nylon because leather holds the pocket shape better. You can throw with confidence every time.
With lacrosse equipment, handle weight and strength is directly related to player position. Defenders should consider a stronger handle than offensive players. Stiff metals and alloys such as titanium, scandium, or a scandium-titanium blend (Sc-Ti), will be helpful here. These lighter but strong materials help defenders check harder and handle aggressive groundball pick-ups that might damage a composite stick.
A light handle makes the stick easy to maneuver, speeding up dodges and increasing power in shots or passes.
Also consider the player size and ability. A smaller-framed beginning junior high girl may tire faster than a collegiate level athlete 75 pounds heavier; light handles decrease muscle fatigue.
Longstreth is the “sweet spot” to get real and honest answers to your questions about not just lacrosse equipment, but also everything about women’s Field Hockey and Softball Essentials. Contact us today.
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.
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.
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, Longstreth provides you with all of the field hockey equipment that you need to enjoy the game and play at your best.
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:
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.