Shopping Guide

Buying Guide

Lacrosse is a fast and sometimes dangerous sport that requires gear that allows for maximum movement and maximum protection. Below are some key things to consider when making purchases for new equipment.

Complete Sticks

Complete sticks are sticks that include a strung head attached to a shaft.  Complete sticks are great options for developing players because the heads are typically designed for entry level play and the shaft is typically made of a softer, less expensive metal.  Typically, complete sticks are available at a lower price point, becoming an affordable option for those first introduced to the sport. Complete sticks are sold at all lengths: field length includes a 30” shaft, defense length includes a 60” shaft, goalie sticks include a 40” shaft and women’s sticks include a 42” shaft.  We do offer a few youth complete sticks for our K-3rd grade players, these sticks are sold with a 28” shaft.   To better understand the components of a complete stick, please view the Heads, Shafts and Stringing sections.

Heads

The Head of the stick attaches to the shaft and carries the ball during play.  All heads are made from a high grade plastic but vary in weight, design and technology.  When shopping for a head, it is important to first know which head specifications your league participates under.  The head specifications are the measurement requirements the head must meet to be legal.   The requirements are set by either NFHS (National Federation of State High School Associations) or by NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) rules.  Typically, if you are playing youth or high school lacrosse you are participating under NFHS rules and college or post-collegiate lacrosse plays under NCAA rules.  Goalie heads  See chart requirement chart below:

When distinguishing between head designs, it is valuable for both men and women to look at three different parts of the head, The Scoop, the Pinch, and the Sidewall:

  1. The Scoop (Beginner/Advanced) – The scoop of the head is the top construction of the head.  The scoop comes in contact with the ground during ground ball pick-ups.  The scoop varies from a flat design, where the scoop has little curve at the top, to “U” shape, where the scoop has a lot of curve at the top.  Heads with a flatter scoop for designed for developing players; more plastic is in contact with the ground making it easier for a ground ball pick-ups.  Heads which feature a distinguished “U” shape are better for advanced players.  A “U” shape scoop will channel the ball better during a pass or a shot, making the head more accurate.

  2. The Pinch (Wider/Narrow)– The pinch of the head refers to how wide or how narrow the face of the head is.  A wider shaped head is better for developing players because it is easier to catch the ball; it’s like having a larger baseball glove.  A more pinched, or more narrow head is better for advanced players.  A more pinched head retains the ball better during checks and is more accurate during passing and shooting.  Be aware that more pinched head are harder to catch the ball and they are more difficult during ground ball pick-ups.   If you are buying a head for a specific position, defensive players typically prefer wider heads and attack players or players who shoot the ball often prefer more pinched heads. 

  3. The Sidewall (Stiffness/Weight) – The sidewall refers to the sides of the head.  The sidewall determines the weight and the stiffness of the head.   A sidewall with more plastic typically adds weight to the head but makes the head more stiff.  A more stiff lacrosse head is beneficial for players who are often stick checking (defenders and midfielders).  A head with more open space in the sidewall typically makes the head lighter but reduces the stiffness.  A lighter head is preferred typically by players who are often shooting or passing (attack and midfielders).  A lighter head will often make the head more flexible which is not as effective during stick checks.   It is always good to look at the sidewall design to gauge if the head is better for stiffness or for weight.   Ultimately, choosing the perfect head for each individual player is based on playing style and what the player values most.

Shafts

Shafts are sold at a variety of lengths.  You will notice the large variety of price points shafts are available in.  The manufacturer sets the price of the shaft based on the material used to produce the shaft.  Below you will find a list of both shaft length and materials.  When buying a shaft it is valuable to look at three main components of the shaft, The Grip, The Strength and the Weight.

  1. The Grip – The grip on lacrosse shafts can be either smooth/no grip (most common), sand grip (the technique of sandblasting or adding a sandy coating) or sticky grip (a tacky coating applied to the shaft).  A sand grip typically adds little to no weight to the shaft but it can deteriorate the palm of the gloves quicker.  A sticky grip often replaces the need for tape but does wear off over time.  A smooth shaft which does not offer a grip is the most common but players often need to add tape which adds weight to the shaft.

  2. Strength – The strength of the shaft relates directly to the materials the shaft is made out of and the thickness of the shaft wall.  Typically the greater the strength, the greater the price point.  Stronger metals make stronger shafts.

  3. Weight – The weight of the shaft also relates to the materials the shaft is made out of and the thickness of the shaft wall.  A heavier shaft moves slower during passing, shooting and checking but is more effective during stick checks.  A lighter shaft moves faster during passing, shooting and checking but is less effective during stick checks.  The best way to gauge the shafts weight is by checking out our features tab or by knowing the material the shaft is constructed from.

Shaft Materials

Aluminum – Aluminum is the most common material used and the original after wood.  Aluminum is a low cost material but doesn’t provide the quality of strength other metals can.  Aluminum shafts are typically constructed of 6000 series alloy and they are often the shafts which are attached with complete sticks.  Aluminum is a great metal for developing players but will quickly dent at more advanced levels.

Alloy – Alloy is a mix of metals consisting of usually a 7000 series alloy.  These metals include C405, Vanadium and other variations.  Alloy offers a great strength to weight ratio and is often offered at a great price point.  Alloy can easily be altered to add additional grip through applying a sticky grip or by sandblasting.   These shafts are very common at the high school and lower school levels.

Composite-   Composite shafts are made from carbon fiber.  Composite shafts offer a unique feel, much different than metal shafts.  A benefit to carbon composite shafts is that they won’t dent or bend; they can still break.  Also, composite shafts aren’t nearly as cold as metal shafts, making them the number one option for women’s shafts.

Scandium- Scandium is becoming the most desired shaft material.  Scandium offers top strength to weight ratio.  Scandium is a single metal type which allows for the bond to be stronger than traditional alloy.  Scandium is a great shaft for all positions, the weight and strength has become ideal.

Blends- Blended shafts are the newest version of lacrosse shafts materials.  Manufacturers are taking scandium, alloy and titanium and blending them to find the perfect strength-to-weight ratio.  Blends often offer an ideal feel but the consumer will often have to pay a little extra for the premium combination.

Titanium- Titanium is known for its superior strength.  These shafts are perfect for players who play aggressive and demand the most from their lacrosse shaft.  The weight can be slightly heavier than other metals but the strength of the shaft makes it worth it.

Shoulder Pads

Shoulder pads cover the top of the shoulder, the collar bone and the sternum.  Protecting yourself is the number one priority on the lacrosse field; players cannot afford to wear a poor fitting pad.  When purchasing lacrosse protective equipment, the consumer should examine the flex, ventilation and protection.  The width of the shoulder pad is easily adjustable by a strap which attaches to the front of the body of the pad.  The bicep pads are typically removable and easily adjustable.  Shoulder Pad Liners are becoming a popular version of a shoulder pad because of its low-profile design.  Shoulder Pad Liners won’t be worn with a shoulder pad, the player wears either a traditional shoulder pad or shoulder pad liner.  Shoulder pad liners often offer the same amount of protection around the collar and sternum but usually offer less protection around the shoulder.

Rib Pads

Rib pads are not a mandatory piece of protective equipment.  Rib pads are common for players who might be prone to rib or abdominal injuries.  Rib pads are worn under the shoulder pad and protect the player’s lower ribs, abdominal area and lower back.  Rib pads are commonly purchased for players who are protecting themselves from a pre-established injury and are looking to speed up their recovery time.   Rib pads adjust by a strap which fits over the shoulder of the player and adjust through the waist by a strapping system.  A player wants to avoid purchasing too large of rib pads because they can interfere with the natural motion of shooting and passing.

Arm Protection

Protecting the players elbow is very important in lacrosse; stick checks often land on the players arm.  Arm protection comes in a variety of pads: arm guards, arm pads, and defensive pads/sleeve.  All three types of pads offer different benefits.

Arm Guard – The arm guard is the most common arm protection.  The arm guard offers the most amount of protection but might be too bulky for some playing styles.  The arm guard is typically a three piece pad which includes: the upper barrel, the elbow cap and the lower barrel.   Arm guards are more common for developing players, attack players and players who carry the ball often.  The arm guard typically includes an inner compression sleeve to hold tight to the arm, along with an upper and lower strap.

Arm Pad – The arm pad is the most popular pad at more competitive levels of play.  Although the arm pad offers less protection than the arm guard, the arm pad offers greater flexibility with less bulk.  The arm pad typically uses an inner compression sleeve to hold the pad tight to the arm, along with a single upper strap.  Arm pads are the most common pad for competitive midfield players.

Defense Pad/Sleeve- The defense pad also known as the defensive sleeve, offers the least amount of protection.  This pad meets the minimal requirements for arm protection.  This type of pad is not recommended for developing players.  Mostly defensive players and players looking for the least amount of bulk wear this pad.  Defense players typically don’t get stick checked on the arm as much as midfield and attack players, this is the reason why defense players wear this pad.

Gloves

When purchasing new gloves, there are many stylistic and functional options to consider.  A good way to begin on your venture of finding the perfect glove is to compare fabrics, protection, and functionality aspects.  Gloves take the most amount of contact from the opponents stick so you want to find a glove that you are comfortable with.  Like with all protective equipment, buyers want to evaluate gloves based on ventilation, protection and flexibility.

Ventilation- Ventilation is commonly found on the back of the glove along with the palm of the glove.  It is important to have good ventilation because a player must be able to always have complete control of their stick.  During the course of a game, sweat can build up and you don’t want your gloves absorbing all the moisture.

Protection- Players need the greatest amount of protection on the back of the hand and throughout the thumb.  It is always valuable to focus on the cuff of the glove.  Gloves either have two pieces or three pieces of layered protection on the wrist.  If the glove offers 3 pieces of protection, then it has an adjustable cuff guard which protects players’ wrist during ground ball pick-ups.

Flexibility- Flexibility will be determined by the amount of padding breaks and stitch points in the glove.  A more flexible glove will allow the player to have better stick control and better control of their movement in the wrist and fingers.  A more flexible glove will typically be a higher price point but will take little to no time to break in.

Helmets

The helmet is the most important piece of equipment.  Lacrosse helmets are unique to other sports helmets because of a handful of features.  Lacrosse helmets feature a visor which helps keep the sun out of the players’ eyes when catching, passing and shooting the ball.  Also the chin of the helmet follows the natural chin line of the player in order to better protect against contact with a shot or pass.  Lacrosse helmets vary in fit, vision and weight.  The most important part of the helmet is the fit.  A player cannot afford to play in a poor fitting helmet because it will not protect like it is designed to.  See Fitting Guide for proper fitting instructions.  The field of vision the helmet provides is determined by the face mask.  The weight of the helmet will be determined by the material of the shell, the material of the mask and by the materials used to pad the helmet.

Goggles

Goggles are a mandatory part of equipment for the women’s game.   Goggles fit snug to the face much like a swimming goggle.  The adjustable back strap is fully adjustable and will allow for a “one size fits most” fit.  The frame of the goggle varies between a gel backed frame and a foam frame.  Different players prefer different styles of frames.  Another variable in goggles is the mask.  Masks are made from different materials; alloy, titanium and tungsten are the 3 most popular mask materials.  Different goggles do offer different protection around the bridge of the nose.  It is important to determine the protection, weight and field of vision when buying goggles.

Box Lacrosse Helmet

Box lacrosse, also known as indoor lacrosse, is becoming more popular in the United States.  A box lacrosse helmet is a hockey helmet with a box lacrosse specific mask attached.  Like with any sports helmet the player wants to make sure they have a snug fit on the head.  The box lacrosse mask varies by weight and field of vision.  Most box lacrosse mask fit all brands of helmets.  A box lacrosse helmet varies from a field lacrosse helmet because it box lacrosse players do not have the need to block out the sunlight with the visor.  Box lacrosse helmets are traditionally lighter than field lacrosse helmets.  Be aware that box lacrosse helmets are typically not legal for field lacrosse play.

Goalie Protection

Goalies are the modern day gladiators of lacrosse.  With players shooting the ball harder and harder, finding the correct protective equipment for a goalie is crucial.  Unique to the goalie position, goalies must wear: throat guard, chest protector and goalie gloves.

Throat Guard- The goalie throat guard is often specific to the brand of helmet it must attach to.  Manufacturers do offer goalie throat guards which offer a universal fit, meaning they can fit all brands of helmets.  The throat guard attaches to the bottom chin of the helmet and protects the goalies throat against shots.  The throat guard must be able to move slightly with the player so that the player doesn’t expose his throat to his opponent.  Throat guards are often made from a high grade plastic or foam and vinyl material.

Chest Protector- The goalie chest protector protects the entire front chest and abdomen.  Most goalie chest protectors are dual gender, meaning both male and female players can wear them.  The chest protector fits over head and rest on the shoulders of the player.  When evaluating goalie chest protectors, customers should look at the material used to pad the protector, the amount of protection around the shoulders, the length of the pad and the protection around the sternum.  It is important for the chest protector to focus on sternum protection because the sternum is highly important area to protect.  All chest protectors have adjustable straps to ensure a snug fit.

Goalie Gloves- At the youth level of play, players can use field player gloves but at higher levels of play, a goalie specific glove is mandatory.  An injured or broken thumb is the most common injury for lacrosse goalies.  Our intentions are not to scare players out of goalie, but to educate them that having a protective goalie glove is highly important.  The method to protect the thumb varies from different manufactures.  Always examine the material used around the thumb and the degree to which it protects.  Aside of thumb protection, also think about the three common factors: ventilation, protection and flexibility.

Box Goalie Equipment

Total Lacrosse strives to set themselves apart from their competitors.  One unique approach Total Lacrosse has tackled to do just that is by becoming the premier box lacrosse retailer in the United States.  Total Lacrosse stocks all the equipment unique to box lacrosse.

Chest Pad- The upper body pads are much like hockey goalie pads.  In our box lacrosse goalie section you might find a few hockey chest pads which work well for lacrosse too.  These pads fit close to the body and offer the utmost protection.  The chest pad protects the collar, chest, abdomen, shoulders and arms.

Goalie Pants – Mimicked from hockey goalie pants, box goalie pants are thick pads which slide up and attach snug around the waste.  Box goalie pants offer protection all around the entire leg and stop at the knee.  You will find that most of the box goalie pants are manufactured for hockey but work perfect for box lacrosse.

Shin guards- Box lacrosse shin guards are not your typical shin guards.   Box lacrosse shin guards protect from the top of the foot to above the knee cap.  The box lacrosse goalie shin guard attaches by multiple straps in the back and fit tight to the leg.  Box lacrosse goalie shin guards are unique to this sport and Total Lacrosse has them in stock.