It is hard to know what to get so we have provided you with some basic recommendations we think will be helpful. We will stop from the head down.
CS-R: For ages under 12
CPV-R: ages above 12. Highly recommend this helmet. There are no advantages to the next step up which is an additional $60
The most important thing about shoulder pads is the fit. Shoulder pad's main function in lacrosse is to protect the collar bone. As such a $19 shoulder pad is which fits is better than a $100 shoulder pad that is too big. We recommend you do not spend more than $40 on shoulder pads.
Arm Pad vs Arm Guard
Traditionally lacrosse arm pads are constructed out primarily foam padding. This design allows the lacrosse arm pads to be very light weight while still taking the brunt of any checks thrown in their direction. Lacrosse arm pads can range from tiny elbow pads to the full forearm and upper arm pad, similar to most arm guards. Lacrosse arm pads are worn more commonly by mid-fielders and defense men. This is simply because they don’t take as many checks while they work their magic on the field. Conversely, attack-men working in the trenches against defenders, tend to use arm Guards which offer a little sturdier protection.
Lacrosse arms guards are usually designed with protection in mind. Lacrosse arm guards will typically have padding underneath of a protective plastic shell. The protective plastic on the lacrosse arm guards give attack-men peace of mind as they dodge that it won’t be the wrath of the defense they feel, but the glory of scoring goals. Lacrosse arm guards protect the full arm for the most part with the main objective being safety. Understandably, mobility, flexibility, and bulkiness have to take the back seat to protection making buying the right lacrosse arm guards so important. It is always nice to feel completely safe, but when a bulky arm pad cramps your style on the field, certain lacrosse arm guards become intolerable quickly.
Elbow pads are the LEAST PROTECTIVE padding and only are targeted at protecting the elbow. We do not recommend players wear elbow pads in case a coach moves them to a position that required a larger amount of protection. If you do wish to purchase elbow pads we only recommend defensive players wear them.
Lacrosse gloves are one of the most important pieces of equipment in your bag. You need to have a glove that will allow you to get the best feel of the stick as well as be protective enough to avoid injuries. The glove is the main point of contact you have with your stick and in order for you to succeed at your full potential, your glove needs to fit correctly and you need maximum protection. Sizing lacrosse gloves is hard without actually trying on an actual pair, but we will guide you in the best way possible. It depends on what you are looking for. Lacrosse gloves are designed to fit closely to the hand for maximum protection and a snug fit throughout. You will notice that on lacrosse gloves there are more breaks in the padding than hockey gloves. These additional breaks allow lacrosse players to have higher levels of mobility without having to lose any important protection. You want to have a glove that is going to fit comfortably but also correctly protect your hands. Some players like to have a tighter fitting lacrosse glove and some like to have a looser fitting option. Gloves range from sizes 8”, 10”, 12”, 13”, and sometimes 14.”
With that said, you need to be able to fluidly move your fingers without any restrictions so that you can handle your stick correctly and not palm it. The top of your hand should be a nice volume fit throughout the glove but not too tight where it restricts your wrist from moving freely from the rest of the glove. If you put on lacrosse gloves and your fingers are touching the top edge of the finger gussets, then the glove is too small (see video for example). Most gloves now have wrist guard that will allow your wrist to move independent from the rest of the glove while still giving high levels of protection. When fitting gloves, make sure that the cuff of the glove is right in line with the point where your wrist meets your hand.
Until the mid-2000’s, it was very common to see goalies with the same gloves field players use. Back then, goalie gloves were not even an option. With new technology and a lot of research and design, manufacturers have now come out with gloves specifically for goalies as well. What makes a goalie glove so different, you might ask?? Well for one thing, the thumb is completely overhauled with reinforcements because when you grab a goalie stick your thumb is the most exposed part of your hand and can be subject to getting jammed back or broken. Also, the padding on the top of the hand is increased to provide the back of the hand with great protection as well. Now some goalies choose to wear field gloves because they can be more flexible, but understand you are taking a risk with wearing a field glove.
When you hear someone talk about a stick they are talking specifically about 3 components, mesh, head, and shaft that have been combined to make 1 complete stick. Below are recommendations
Hard Mesh - this is your most basic mesh and is sold by companies like Jimalax. The nylon is coated and compared to other mesh, it would feel a little bit harder in your fingers when you touch it. Hard mesh has minimal weather resistance but will wear out as you break it in. One big benefit is that the pocket will stay consistent and keep its shape.
East Coast Mesh - East Coast Dyes have exploded onto the market with their softer mesh which will improve the feel of the ball in your pocket. This mesh contains a wax which gives you some extra grip on the ball and will also significantly improve performance in all weather conditions.
String King Mesh - String King has also rocketed up in popularity and offers both a semi-hard and semi-soft mesh. The harder mesh will be a more "broken in" mesh while the softer one will be the more responsive mesh. String King is completely waterproof and we've found it to be most consistent mesh on the market - cold, wet, warm and all other weather conditions.
Traditional - back in the day wooden sticks were hand-carved and strung up with what we now call “traditional” mesh, where natural gut stringing and leathers were used to form the pocket on the stick. Yes, you did read that correctly -- natural animal intestine was used to string the sidewall of sticks because it is extremely durable! In the early days of lacrosse, sticks didn’t necessarily have fully formed “pockets” like we do today. Instead, cradling was a skill necessary to maintain possession of the ball. Traditional mesh will provide you with the best feel on the ball, but also requires the most maintenance, the longest break-in and will require ongoing adjustments (due to factors like weather) to get everything to your liking. -
Head- A large part of which lacrosse head to select is based on your playing experience. Are you a beginner, intermediate or advanced player?
Beginner: When you are just learning the basics, your best bet is likely a complete stick. The stick should have a head with a wide face to make catching much easier. Having a softer mesh is also a good idea as this will minimize the ball bouncing off too hard (like a tennis racquet) and it will make cradling the ball easier. Complete sticks also tend to have a flatter scoop, allowing beginners to easily pick up the ball.
Intermediate: As players learn the game more you can start to try different types of heads with different face shapes and see which one you want. As players get more advanced they should look for heads that will make their passing and shooting more accurate and picking up ground balls easier. You can then start to look for heads by the position you play. These heads will typically have more advanced technology in the plastic and will be more durable for you.
Advanced: Once you have been playing for many years and are skilled enough you can then transition into heads that have even more advanced technologies. This means more holes for stringing, a more aggressive pinch on the face and a more rounded scoop. At this point, you know what type of pocket you like and where you want the ball to sit in the head and many at this level have learned to string thier own stick.
Elite/Pro: The Elite/Pro level stick are the ones being used at the NCAA level or professional, though these heads are available to purchase for any player. At this level, you are getting the absolute top-grade plastic materials at their lightest, stiffest and strongest. These will generally have the same amount of stringing holes as an Advanced head, but the face of the head is often even tighter with these.
Within the past couple of years we have seen lacrosse head manufacturers start to design heads based on position. The position you play isn't the defining factor on which head you should buy, but it will make it easier for you to narrow down your choice.
Offensive: Players who are the centerpiece of their team's offense and need to be able to control the ball. Offensive players need to be able to pass and shoot with accuracy and power to be successful. These players often want a tighter throat to help keep the ball in the pocket as well as a nice pocket placement so that they can get powerful passes and shots off.
All-Around: These players need to have a stick that can handle playing both sides of the ball; offense and defense. These heads need to be able to protect the ball while carrying it on offense but also need to be able to handle throwing a bunch of checks and intercept passes on defense. On offense they need to be able to throw with accuracy and speed but on defense have the ability to stand up to the everyday beating a defender gives out.
Defensive: Defenders need to be able to stop the offense plain and simple, they need a head that will be able to withstand all the checks and ground balls they encounter. Usually defensive heads have a flatter scoop and are stiffer to prevent from warping. Defenders will also need a head that is wide enough so that they can get their stick into passing lanes and intercept a pass.
Goalie Heads: This is pretty simple - goalies need to stop the ball so they have the largest heads on the field. They need to be able to have a head that will be able to take up the net but also need it to be accurate enough to make those outlet passes. You want a goalie head that is sturdy enough to handle those fast shots as well as being light enough to make those outlet passes.
Shafts- For a lacrosse player the shaft is arguably the second most personal piece of equipment in the bag, not far behind their head. Your stick is your lifeline on the field and you need to be comfortable with what stick you are using. There are many different types of lacrosse shafts on the market, but choosing the right one can sometimes be difficult given how many choices you have. Your position and age level will largely determine which type of shaft you should use and which one will be best for you.
We generally categorize d-poles into two levels of play - intermediate and advanced.
Intermediate defense shafts are for the player in the U12 or U13 range who has really just recently decided that they want to focus on just playing defense. All defense shafts in this range (around $80-120) will provide you with a light feel and very durable product. For the more experienced lacrosse player, we recommend advanced shafts. At this point, a more experienced player has started throwing checks and requires an even more durable, tougher shaft. These generally range from $120 to $250. At the higher end of that price range are the lightest, most durable shafts made of composite or titanium, which will provide you with optimum performance and feel.
ATTACK/MIDFIELDER: Most players simply refer to these shafts as "A/M" shafts or "attack" shafts. While the material and durability in these won't differ much from what you find in defense shafts, these shafts are far shorter in length and have a bit more of a variety in shape, style, grip and texture, which makes for additional price point levels than a d-pole.
Wood shafts ruled the game for a long, long time. With the innovations in the game of lacrosse over the past ten years, however, wood shafts are no longer the standard on the lacrosse field (though you can still see and buy them occasionally). Today you'll find most players using metal or composite shafts. What's the difference? A metal shaft will be stiffer, while the composite material in a shaft will provide you with a little more flex (similar to a hockey stick). WHILE WOOD IS LEGAL WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND YOU DO NOT USE A WOOD SHAFT.
As you consider metal vs. composite, know that there are benefits for each one and one isn't necessarily better than another. If powerful shooting is a big part of your game, then it's likely you'd benefit more from a composite. But not everyone's game is 100% focused on the power shot. That said, a lot of it is feel and what is most comfortable for you.
If you see some paint chips or very small dings on your shaft, don't panic - you do not need a new one! Major dents and bends make your shaft very susceptible to breaking in half.