The difference between success and failure on the lacrosse field comes down to a few key things - like always having the right equipment. A good stick is imperative, and no two lacrosse sticks are created equally or are the same. Each position has its own stick length measurements, head and shaft requirements and variations. Understanding why lacrosse sticks have different sizes will go a long way towards making sure that you spend your hard earned money in the right place and on the correct equipment.
What are the different sizes?
Before we get too deep into the reasons and benefits of each position, the correct stick lengths for men’s lacrosse players, per NCAA regulations are as follows:
- 40 to 42 inches long for offensive players (including the head)
- 52 to 72 inches long for defensemen (including the head)
- 40 to 72 inches long for goalies (including the head)
Why are they different?
There is a very specific reason why lacrosse sticks tend to be different sizes: each position requires different stick length measurements to better allow a player to succeed at their responsibilities. A goalie and a striker have two very different needs for their stick, which is why they tend to have different lacrosse sticks with different lengths.
There are times where you'll be on the field and you may have to switch from one position to the next. In those stressful times in the middle of a match, you'll always need to know which stick to grab to give the other team your all.
If you're having a hard time justifying different sized sticks, it can be helpful if you think of lacrosse sticks the same way you would golf clubs. There is a vast number of different sizes and types of golf clubs that you can choose from, depending on where you are on the course, how far away you are from the hole, the type of shot you want to make and other characteristics. Each club is designed to serve a different purpose in the best possible way, which is similar to the way that lacrosse sticks are designed.
The first of the three main sizes of lacrosse sticks are called short sticks. This length of sticks is commonly used by players who play both middie or attackmen. According to the official rules that govern lacrosse in the United States, the shaft of these types of sticks must be exactly 30 inches in length. When you take both the head and the shaft into consideration, the measurement needs to be between 40 and 42 inches.
The major benefit of these types of sticks is that they are shorter, which makes them much easier to control than other longer sticks, which makes it easier for people in these positions to dodge defenders and score from tough angles and distances. As you’re sprinting towards the goal, you'll appreciate the shorter stick when dodging defenders without losing the ball. That's where short sticks come in handy.
The second most common type of lacrosse stick is called the long stick. These types of sticks are commonly used by defenseman, as well as by certain middies. According to the official United States lacrosse rules, the head and the shaft of the long stick must have a combined measurement of between 52 and 72 inches. The shaft alone will be about 60 inches, making it almost double that of the short stick.
The long stick is specifically designed to be longer, as it makes it significantly easier for people to play defensive positions. When an opposing attackmen enter your zone, you'll want to have a good long stick in your hands so you have the best possible chance of fending them off, forcing a turnover and preventing a goal.
Goalies in lacrosse have their own lacrosse sticks with their own specific sets of dimensions. The shaft of a goalie stick is 40 inches long, making it closer in measurement to a short stick than a long stick. According to official United States lacrosse rules, the head and the shaft of the goalie stick must have a combined measurement of between 52 inches and 72 inches.
The main benefit of a goalie stick comes not in the length of the shaft, but the size of the head. These sticks feature a much larger head than the other two types, which makes it easier for the goalie to save any ball thrown their way. The downside, however, is that the wider head also makes it harder to both pass and cradle the ball should the need arise. If you're a trained goalie, however, you'll quickly learn to use these perceived "limitations" to your advantage when it comes to knocking back the other team time and again.