To the casual viewer, men’s and women’s lacrosse looks pretty much the same. Both games involve a stick, a ball, and a goal.
Two opposing teams move the ball down the field, passing it back and forth between them, in their attempt to score in the opposing team’s goal. However, as the game evolved, differences in the men’s and women’s games evolved as well. Men’s lacrosse is far more aggressive, with players running longer distances with the ball, while the women’s game includes more frequent passing of the ball and is played on a larger field. In order to accommodate the very different styles between the two games, a men’s lacrosse stick is somewhat different from a woman’s.
Men’s Lacrosse vs. Women’s Lacrosse
Lacrosse is played with a small rubber ball approximately 8 inches in circumference and weighing about 5 ounces. Players toss the ball back and forth between each other as they move down the field “cradling” the ball in the head of their stick. Sticks are several feet long and have a mesh head constructed of various materials such as nylon or leather.
Cradling— Both the men’s and women’s games use a back-and-forth, semi-circular motion of the stick while the ball is in the head, which creates enough centrifugal force to keep the ball in the pocket. Women cradle the ball close between their ear and shoulder, while men carry their sticks further forward to allow for greater range of movement and to block body checks.
Checking— Cross-checking is allowed in the men’s game while the player is passing, shooting, or attempting to shoot the ball. The women’s game, on the other hand, does not allow cross-body checking, shooting when another player is in front of you, or putting your body in front of a shot.
Field— The standard playing field for the women’s game measures 120 x 70 yards; however, women may play on a field up to 140 yards long. The men’s field is slightly smaller at 110 x 60 yards.
Number of players— A men’s team is composed of a total of 10 players: 3 attackers, 3 midfielders, 3 defensemen, and one goalie. A women’s team has 5 offense players and 6 defense players and, of course, a goalie, for a total of 12 players.
Gear— Male players wear helmets, mouth guards, gloves, and elbow and shoulder pads. The women’s game requires goggles and mouth guards; only goalies wear helmets and protective padding.
Gameplay— Many differences apply between the men’s and women’s games, including the way the game begins, how it resumes following a score, and where players are allowed and not allowed to be on the field based on their positions. Strategically and tactically, the two games are quite different.
Men’s Lacrosse Sticks vs. Women’s Lacrosse Sticks
All lacrosse sticks are made up of either wood or a lightweight composite metal shaft, a plastic head, and a pocket. In both games, the goalie’s stick has a larger head than the other players’ sticks.
Women have a smaller range of stick lengths, anywhere from 35 ½ to 43 ¼ inches; only goalies use longer sticks of 35 ½ to 48 inches. Men use different lengths of stick—the short crosse and the long crosse—depending on their field position and age division. Shorter sticks range from 37 to 42 inches long, while longer sticks measure anywhere from 37 to 42 inches in length.
Due to the checking allowed in the men’s game, the head of a men’s stick has a deeper pocket, which keeps the ball in place within a greater range of movement. The pocket is made of interwoven synthetic mesh and hockey laces. Shooting strings at the top of the stick’s head determine the ball’s balance, direction, and angle. Hockey skate laces create a smoother shot, while nylon strings allow for a crisper one. Official rules for the men’s game state that the top edge of the ball must not sit deeper than the lowermost edge of the sidewall for legal play.
Women’s stick heads have a shallower pocket and shorter sidewalls, allowing for frequent passing. The smaller pocket makes the head significantly more difficult to use than the men’s and therefore requires more finesse. Pockets are constructed of leather or synthetic thongs, cross-lacing, and shooting strings. Beginner sticks may use mesh.
Choosing a Lacrosse Stick
Lacrosse sticks can be purchased in standard, off-the-rack combinations or can be custom ordered as players become more adept at the game and have more refined preferences. When you take into account all of the different materials that can be used for the shaft and the mesh and add length options, there are literally thousands of possible combinations when ordering a custom lacrosse stick.
Above all, younger players need to choose a stick that they can easily handle. Shorter sticks with wide heads are easier to handle and better to learn on. Note that the head may need breaking in before it is ready to be used in a game.
There are many options and combinations for the type of metal that is used in the stick shaft, and which you choose will depend in part on your position and your level of experience. Beginners may start with a stick composed of aluminum alloy, which is a heavy and long-lasting material. Advanced players may choose a titanium or scandium alloy, which are relatively lighter and allow for greater finesse. Some players still use wood shafts, which was the first material used in lacrosse sticks.
Wayne Sporting Goods—Your Source for Lacrosse Sticks
Spring is in the air, and lacrosse season is finally here! There is no substitute for buying your lacrosse sticks from a local small business staffed with experts who know the game. At Wayne Sporting Goods, we know how to equip you with the ideal gear to get the most enjoyment and precision out of the game. Our staff will evaluate your level of experience, your height and arm span, and your position in order to recommend the ideal lacrosse stick for your style of play. Wayne Sporting Goods is fully stocked with the premium lacrosse gear you need for yourself or your team to have a great season. Stop into the store or give us a call today!