The most essential piece of lacrosse equipment is not the pads, helmets or gloves. It’s the stick.
In a sport that has rapidly evolved over centuries, there are many moving pieces and parts to the game of lacrosse. But no matter your position, experience level or even gender, every lacrosse player to ever play the game has used a stick.
But not all lacrosse sticks are made the same. Here are some common questions when buying a stick:
What are the differences between men's and women's sticks? The first difference comes in the pocket. Because men’s lacrosse allows contact, men’s sticks are deeper to protect the ball while being checked and/or cradling and dodging defenders. In women’s lacrosse, the top of the ball must remain above the top of the sidewall. Also, men’s sticks tend to be longer and stronger, again, because they’re involved in collisions.
In men’s lacrosse, how long is each stick? Attack & middies are allowed sticks between 40-42 inches. Defenders are allowed sticks that measure up to 72 inches. Goalies are allowed anything between 40” and 72” depending on their preference.
Why do defenders have longer poles? Defenders don’t tend to shoot often, especially long pole defenders. They’re mission is to disrupt the opposing offense, so defenders want a stick long enough to poke check an oncoming opponent and/or disrupt their running and passing lanes. Long pole lacrosse sticks can also launch the ball further, which is good for clears.
What is the benefit of texture or grip? The benefits lie in the preference of the player. If you want a better handling in rainy/cold weather or just a more consistent grip, you’ll probably favor a textured grip. But if you want a smoother, comfortable grip, you’ll probably lean towards a raised grip. If all else fails, you can always use grip tape to change the feel of your stick.
Difference between hard and soft mesh? Hard mesh pockets tend to live longer. They allow for quick releases, where soft mesh pockets tend to make it easier to catch. Your preference in pockets will depend on your game and how you factor into an offense. If you tend to shoot from the point and rocket in challenging shots, you’ll probably want a hard mesh pocket, where finesse players may prefer a soft mesh.