Tips on purchasing a youth lacrosse stick
Buying a lacrosse stick for your child can be confusing if you head into the process without doing a bit of research. In addition to men’s, women’s and youth lacrosse sticks, you have a choice of sticks made for specific position players. Before you buy any lacrosse stick, talk to your child about what position he plays, and if possible, talk to his coach for a recommendation.
Types of youth lacrosse sticks
Lacrosse sticks for children are primarily made from plastic instead of the heavier and more expensive wood and metal materials used in adult sticks. Deeper pockets and a pointed mouth help kids control the ball better. Because youth sticks are made from plastic, parents and coaches can cut them to a personally desired length, based on the child’s height. You should also ask your child’s coach about the type of pocket, which helps players adjust their sticks to their position, skill-level and style of play.
1. Attacker sticks
Sticks for attackers are shorter, which makes them more maneuverable and helps improve shooting accuracy. Choose a stick in the 36- to 40-inch ranges, recommends retailers LacrossUnlimited.com.
2. Defender sticks
A defender uses a longer stick so she can reach and stop more balls and generate more acceleration to throw and pass farther. Youth defenders should opt for a 72-inch stick.
3. Midfielder sticks
Midfielders prefer sticks with a length in-between what attackers and defenders use. Because they play both offense and defense, this helps them transition between the two more easily. If your child is just starting the sport and hasn’t decided on a position, consider starting her with a midfielder stick. Choose a stick in the 36- to 42-inch range.
4. Goalie sticks
Goalies need maneuverable sticks that help them make quick reactions while defending shots on goal. The stick must also be long enough to reach shots, but short enough to maintain speed. Look for a stick about 42 inches in length.
Types of pockets
Most youth players are now using mesh pockets, rather than the traditional leather and nylon pockets that require more maintenance. The blog on the Penfield, NY Youth Lacrosse website offers a good post on the different types of lacrosse pockets. Be aware that boys and girls leagues have different rules regarding stick pockets.
Here's a closer look at three kinds of mesh pockets:
1. Stiff mesh
Less expensive, less maintenance, good for catching, doesn’t do well in wet weather, less control for passing and shooting
2. Hard mesh
Costs more, last longer, offers more control, takes longer to break in
3. Marc mesh
Expensive, easier to break in, offers more consistent playability
Beginners can start with pockets that require less maintenance and last longer. As your child specializes at a certain position, he will notice how a stiffer, looser, deeper or shallower pocket affects ball control while running, shooting, passing and catching, and he’ll start to learn what type of pocket he likes.