For a player, or parent new to lacrosse, purchasing that first set of gear can be rather daunting. Below is a list of the necessary equipment and some information to help you better understand what it is you need to be looking for when purchasing equipment. I hope it helps. Let me know if you have further questions.
REQUIRED EQUIPMENT: Helmet, mouth guard, shoulder and arm pads, gloves, athletic supporter and cup, cleats and a stick. We do practice for a portion of the season on pavement, so a good set of running or athletic shoes are beneficial. A second back-up stick is not required, but strongly encouraged. As we are a TEAM, it is preferred if the gear you purchase matches the colors this team wears on the field. Red, white and black.
HELMETS: Nearly any helmet will work fine. For Sandpoint Lacrosse players, it is necessary that when purchasing a new helmet, you make sure it is white. As lacrosse in both Sandpoint and our region progress, local governing bodies will become more strict on adherence to NFHS uniform rules. Helmets may have scarlet red trim on the brim, and vents, but the body must be white. If you already have a helmet of another color, don't worry. Right now, no one is enforcing this rule, but IF you buy a new one...make sure it is white. The Cascade Pro-7 is the most popular and most expensive helmet on the market. While it claims to be more proficient at preventing concussions, I have not been able to find any statistical data that show this to be the case. This would be the only advantage to spending the extra money on a high end helmet. While purchasing used gear is encouraged and a great way to save a few bucks, this is not the place. You never know what kind of shape a used helmet is on and what kind of blows it has already absorbed. Please contact us before purchasing a helmet as we try to place a group order each season to take advantage of team pricing.
MOUTH GUARDS: Old school mouth guards are cheap, but only work to mitigate dental injuries.. Some of the newer ones are also designed to mitigate concussions, as well. These are certainly worth the extra dollars. There is good data showing they are beneficial, and I will post a link to that data at some point. Every player is required to wear a mouth guard at all times during play, be it in a game, or in practice. Worn out, or chewed up mouth guards do not work and will not be permitted.
SHOULDER PADS and ARM PADS: Unlike in football, lacrosse shoulder pads and arm pads are not intended to soften blows from body checks. They are intended to blunt potentially painful stick checks. Look for comfort and cost. There is no reason to pay full price for the latest/greatest product here. Shoulder/arm pad technology has not gotten any better since I picked up my first stick in 1991. Look for the sales on these guys.
GLOVES: Again, a comfort item. Higher end gloves do provide some better dexterity and may help a more advanced (High School Varsity level) player. But, again, this year's glove is no better than last year's and the one on sale is the better choice. (Please, though, try and stick to team colors. Red/White/Black.)
RIB PADS: While not required, rib pads can be nice for attackmen and middies who find them selves attacking the goal on a frequent basis. The cheaper, the better. Seeing a trend here?
CLEATS: Any lacrosse cleat will work. And any soccer or football style cleat will do just as well. If you have a set, no need to buy more.
STICKS: I will break this into the three components, but first will say that in twenty years of playing lacrosse, there have been few advances in lacrosse stick technology. If it sounds like a gimmick, it probably is...
HEADS: The most important thing here, is that you have a LEGAL head. There are three types: NCAA approved, NFHS approved, and Universal ones that are BOTH NCAA and NFHS approved. You have to have a head that is NFHS approved. If it is only NCAA approved, you can not play with it in this league. Any cracked or broken head is illegal and can not be used.
Most heads are fine to play with. Less expensive heads are wider throughout the throat making it easier to catch for beginner players. More expensive sticks have a tighter throat that helps keep the ball in the pocket when being checked. Again, this year's head is no different from last year's head. Find a head on sale, and make sure you buy unstrung heads...I'll explain later...
SHAFTS: To start, there are three sizes: Attack (40"), Defense (60"), and goalie (somewhere in between). For beginners, grab an attack shaft. (And for youth guys...no D-Poles. U-15 and up can use long defensive sticks, but not in the youth league. The common opinion in the lacrosse community is that letting young players use longer stick will impede the development of their stick skills, as well as their positional play. They look tempting, but are not beneficial.)
The guys are always asking what the best lacrosse shaft is. My answer: The lightest and cheapest shaft you can find. Shafts are the biggest gimmick in lacrosse. It amazes me how many there are, and how little differences there are between them. For defensemen, weight is certainly an issue. A lighter stick is easier to throw around when checking. However, just because a shaft is expensive, doesn't mean it is lighter or tougher than the rest. Shafts rarely break, no matter the make or model. I have been using my defensive shaft for twenty years. Lots of bends, no breaks. Again, go for the one on sale.
That said, I do have relationships with two shaft companies. (I do not receive any kickbacks from either) Tri-Core is in Missoula, Montana and is run by the matalurgist that created the STX Sci-Ti shaft, wich is one of the most expensive shafts on the market. Tri-Core makes a great shaft that is very light, and very strong. They also have a ONE YEAR WARRANTEE! I get these shafts at cost and pass that price to our athletes. The other company is new to the market and makes quality shafts for a very reasonable cost. Musket Lacrosse builds both a scandium shaft and a composite shaft for $45 and $55 respectively. Please contact me if you are interested in either of these products.
POCKETS: The pocket in the stick of a lacrosse player is by far the most important piece of equipment they own. A player can use a poor pocket, but will certainly develop poor technique to go with it, and their play will eventually be handicapped. There is not a factory strung pocket on the market that is worth playing with. For this reason, purchase unstrung heads and have someone here string it for you. There are a few high school guys that can string a good pocket as well as my self. I do not charge, and I believe none of them do either. The club buys stringing material in bulk to help keep costs down. I can be contacted for both.
I hope this helps, and please feel free to contact me with any further questions,
High School Head Coach
Sandpoint Lacrosse Club