The head, shaft, pocket, and butt end — these words might not mean much on their own, but when you put them together, they make up a lacrosse stick! In lacrosse, the stick is an extension of the player. It is crucial to understand the different parts of a lacrosse stick in order to catch, throw, shoot, and shop for lacrosse gear that suits your style. Depending on your position and skill level, the parts of a lacrosse stick may vary in shape and size; however, every lacrosse stick is comprised of a few basic parts. Without further ado, let’s break down the parts of a lacrosse stick and why they matter to every player.
What Are The Three Main Parts Of A Lacrosse Stick?
- Lacrosse Head: The lacrosse head sits at the top of the lacrosse stick and contains the pocket, which is the netting that holds the lacrosse ball.
- Lacrosse Shaft: The lacrosse shaft is the long, pole-like part of the lacrosse stick.
- Lacrosse Pocket: The lacrosse pocket is the mesh netting attached to the head where the ball rests.
The lacrosse stick head is one of the most critical parts of a lacrosse stick. Made up of a scoop and sidewall, the head carries, throws, shoots, catches, and passes the ball. Lacrosse heads come in different shapes, sizes, designs, and materials for each type of player.
Lacrosse Head Scoop
The top of the lacrosse head is the scoop, used to pick the lacrosse ball up off the ground. The scoop ranges from curved to practically flat. A flat-style scoop requires players to get lower to the ground to get the ball, typically used by newer players learning fundamental techniques. A curved scoop can help channel the ball during a pass or shot for greater accuracy.
Lacrosse Head Sidewall
The side of the lacrosse head is called the sidewall. Sidewall holes connect the strings to the lacrosse head. The distance between each sidewall varies from head to head and depending on the player’s position:
- Defensive heads are wider, making it easy to knock offensive passes out of the air. Defensive sidewalls are also thicker for durability, so defenders can throw harsh checks and not break their heads.
- Attack heads are narrower to allow for better ball control. The sidewalls are often slimmer, making the head lightweight and quick to move. This allows attackmen to cradle, dodge, pass, and shoot the ball with ease and control.
- Midfield lacrosse heads are a mixed breed. They are lightweight for handling and shooting, but strong enough to handle defense work.
- Goalie heads are the widest of the bunch. The heads on goalie sticks are wide to maximize the potential of catching the ball and making a save.
Sidewalls also feature stringing holes that run alongside the head. These stringing holes allow you to string a lacrosse pocket that holds the ball inside of the head.
Lacrosse Head Material
Traditional lacrosse sticks were made out of a single piece of wood bent into shape. Modern lacrosse heads are made of nylon resin, a hard plastic that is melted and molded.
Though they are made of the same material, different heads offer flexibility or stiffness. Defense heads are typically stiffer for hard, effective checks, while softer, more flexible heads suit midfielders and attackers picking up ground balls.
Stiffness comes from more plastic material used to create the head, adding weight. Conversely, flexibility means less weight with thinner sidewalls, making ground balls harder to nab.
The lacrosse shaft is one of the key parts of a lacrosse stick, impacting range, power, accuracy, and speed. The shaft length depends on the player’s position. For example, defense sticks are much longer, while attack and midfielder shafts are about half its size. Lacrosse shaft weight is also a consideration for players. Lightweight shafts allow for faster movement for attackers, while heavier shafts give strength and durability to defensive players.
Lacrosse Shaft Material
- Aluminum: An inexpensive material, ideal for starter players as it will dent with more advanced play.
- Alloy metals: These shafts are constructed from a mix of metals and are lightweight and reasonably priced.
- Scandium: A popular lacrosse shaft material, scandium has an excellent strength-to-weight ratio while offering more strength than alloy. It works for all positions.
- Composite: If you want to choose flex precisely, composite shafts are exactly what you need. They are made from carbon fiber and, like hockey sticks, offer a variety of flex profiles.
- Blends: Blended shafts use a mix of the above materials to perfect strength and weight; however, none will be as lightweight as an unblended material.
Lacrosse Shaft Length
The length of a lacrosse shaft varies by position:
- Attack shafts and midfield shafts are typically around 30 inches in length.
- Defensive lacrosse shafts are typically around 60 inches in length.
- Goalie lacrosse shafts are typically around 36 inches; however, goalie stick length can range quite widely as you approach college and pro leagues. For example, as goalies get taller, they might prefer a slightly longer stick length.
Stick length is modified to be much smaller in U10 youth leagues.
Lacrosse Shaft Butt End
The lacrosse butt end (also known as end cap) is a small rubber or plastic cap that goes at the end of your lacrosse shaft. The butt end is designed to protect players from the end of the lacrosse shaft, which can be dangerous or sharp if left uncovered. Butt ends are also helpful for securing hand placement. When sliding your hands up and down the shaft, the butt end serves as a stopper for your bottom hand, allowing you to quickly transition into a pass or a shot.
The lacrosse pocket is comprised of mesh, sidewall strings, and lacrosse shooting strings. The pocket is where the ball rests and it is designed to give the player control when cradling. The way a lacrosse pocket is strung depends on the player’s style, skill level, preference, and position. To name a few options, there are high pockets (ideal for quick release), low pockets (ideal for control), and mid pockets (the best of both worlds).
Even the most skilled lacrosse players rely on a well-constructed pocket. A poorly strung pocket and affect a player’s ability to pass, shoot, and cradle the lacrosse ball.
Lacrosse Pocket Depth
In lacrosse, the pocket can only be a certain depth. According to the men’s lacrosse rules, the pocket shall be deemed to have sagged too deeply if the top surface of a lacrosse ball, when the ball is placed in the stick and held horizontally, is below the bottom edge of the sidewall (this does not apply to goalkeepers). Additionally, the pocket must be completely attached to the head and the side walls, leaving no gaps large enough for a ball to pass through it or become wedged.
Lacrosse mesh is the name for the strings that form a diamond pattern in the pocket. Lacrosse mesh is the foundation of the pocket, and comes in several different types:
- Performance mesh: This is made of superior materials, but consider it a label, not a particular style. It can be hard mesh or soft — the name refers to the fibers which offer grip and durability.
- Wax mesh: A smooth grip mesh, this gives enhanced hold with less whip and can make shots faster by reducing resistance. However, stringing can be tricky; the wax can stick around on your sidewalls after play.
- Soft mesh: This is ready to use out of the package and a preferred choice for many offensive players. It’s easy to manipulate and gives excellent ball control, but it will stretch over time.
- Hard mesh: A classic choice; the longer a hard mesh ages, the better it performs. This is ideal for durability but requires some time to break in and skill to use as there is very little ‘give.’
- 6-diamond mesh: This is a tight-knit mesh, easy to break in and get used to, thanks to the smaller diamonds (versus standard 10-diamond mesh). It offers excellent handling, but stringing can be tricky.
Women’s Lacrosse Sticks
Women’s lacrosse sticks are comprised of the same components as men’s sticks (head, shaft, pocket, butt end); however, the pocket in women’s lacrosse sticks is different. According to the rules of women’s lacrosse, the top of the lacrosse ball, when placed into the pocket of a horizontally held stick, must be visible above the top of the entire sidewall. As a result, the pocket depth of a women’s lacrosse stick is much shallower than the pocket of a men’s lacrosse stick.