What Equipment Do I Need for Lacrosse?
Are you or your child interested in playing lacrosse? If so, you may have little or no idea what kind of equipment to buy.
Lacrosse and Its Growing Popularity
Lacrosse is the oldest existing sport in North America. Native Americans invented the game 300 years ago.
One proposed reason for the game’s popularity is that it’s a contact sport that’s less violent than football, which parents often prefer. Another is that the exciting, fast-paced game is now televised at both the collegiate and professional levels, exposing more people to the game. Plus more high schools are adding lacrosse programs to their sports lineups.
Once most popular on the East Coast, the game has been expanding across the United States. Contributing to this growth, the NCAA is spending an additional $13 million to increase westward expansion of the game.
But particularly if you grew up in the Midwest or West, you may have little knowledge of lacrosse, aka “lax,” which some refer to as the “best sport ever.”
If you’re relatively new to the game, here’s are 7 pieces of lacrosse equipment that you or your child) need to be a laxer.
1. Lacrosse Ball
The objective of lacrosse is to drive a smooth, solid rubber ball into the opponents’ goal.
The men’s ball is 7.75 to 8 inches in circumference. It weighs about 5 to 5.25 ounces. The ball is white, yellow, or orange.
Although the rubber balls may appear to be similar for women, they are actually different. Depending on young women’s age, the ball may be lime green, yellow, or orange for women.
In all cases, the ball must read “Meets NOCSAE Standard.” NOCSAE is the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment.
If you have questions about which ball to buy for your gender and age bracket, check with a knowledgeable expert at your sporting goods store, such as Do It All Sports.
2. Lacrosse Stick aka Crosse
To move the ball toward the goal, players use a long stick with a small basket-like net at the end. This piece of lacrosse equipment is called a crosse. The stick part of the crosse is called the shaft. The basket end is the head.
Similar to the ball, the type of crosse varies based on the players age bracket and gender. The type of crosse also depends on which position the player is playing.
According to the US Lacrosse, a men or boy’s crosse that is 40 to 42 inches is regulation for attackmen and midfielders. Defensive players have longer crosses that span 52 to 72 inches. Additionally, the head of the crosse must be 6.5 to 10 inches wide. The goalie can have a wider head on his crosse—extending 10 to 12 inches.
By contrast, a girl’s crosse may span 35.5 to 43.25 inches. Plus, the head of the crosse is larger, extending seven to nine inches. For women, the goalie’s crosse may be longer (up to 48 inches) and its head may be made of mesh and span 12 inches.
For men, the pocket of a crosse is illegal if the top of the ball in the head of the crosse, is below the bottom edge of the side wall. For women, the top of the ball in the pocket must remain above the side walls.
Experienced players may want to customize their crosse by buying the shaft and head separately
For both men’s and women’s safety, mouthguards are mandatory because of the intensity of the game. Additionally, the mouthguards must be a highly visible color. They cannot be clear or white, and they can’t have graphics of white teeth. The brightly colored mouthguards makes it easier for officials to enforce the mandatory mouthguard rules.
4. Protective Helmets or Eyewear
Men, but not women, are allowed to body check and stick check during a lacrosse game. Research indicates that checking may lead to more injuries, particularly at the collegiate level. The protective helmet is intended to minimize common men’s injuries, such as concussions.
Therefore, men must wear protective helmets when playing lacrosse. These helmets have a face mask, chin pad, and a cupped four-point chin strap. Like the lacrosse ball, these must be NOCSAE approved. The goalkeeper’s helmet has a special NOCSAE approved face mask.
Headgear for women is optional—except for the goalie. However, research indicates that women lacrosse players have a higher percentage of head and facial injuries compared to males. By contrast, these injuries are more likely to be from the stick or the ball rather than from direct contact with other players.
Although headgear is optional, women lacrosse players must wear eye protection that meets ASTM standard F3077 for their level of play.
Besides concussions, the most common types of lacrosse injuries for men are sprain, strain, and contusions. These injuries often involve the hand, particularly the thumb. Therefore, all laxers are required to wear protective gloves.
You’ll want gloves that are flexible. Altering them in any way is against regulations.
Similarly, the most common types of injuries for women are mild concussions, sprains, contusions, and lacerations. However, gloves for women are only mandatory for goalies.
6. Other Protective Equipment
Good padding can protect players form broken or dislocated bones. For that reason, men must wear additional protective equipment, such as shoulder pads, arm guards, protective cups, and athletic supporters. Rib pads are often required and are strongly recommended.
Women and girls are not required to wear padding—unless they are playing goalie. Goalkeepers are required to wear chest and throat protectors. They may also wear minimal arm, leg, and shoulder pads as long as they don’t increase the players size disproportionately. High school goalies must wear shin and thigh pads. Youth goalkeepers must wear abdominal and pelvic protection.
Shoulder pads that “breathe” while being lightweight and flexible are ideal.
7. Shoes or Cleats
Lacrosse shoes are similar to soccer cleats, except they have an extra cleat at the center of the toe. They provide much needed ankle support and are lightweight for swift movement. Be sure to find out if you’ll be playing on turf, natural grass, or another type of playing surface.
In summary, you may want to consider gently used equipment to start. Why? Your child may grow or switch positions, or the gear may experience regular wear and tear. This may require you to buy items repeatedly. What’s more, if lacrosse doesn’t work out for you or your child, you can bring your equipment back to Play It Again Sports.
Stop by, test our lacrosse equipment, and meet our courteous, trained staff members today.
Play It Again Sports is located in Palatine Plaza at 315 E Northwest Hwy, Palatine, IL 60067