We all have been told it’s the wand, not the wizard at some point in time in our careers. While I truly believe it is the skills that makes a goalie great, having the right equipment does truly help. I can’t tell you the number of times I have seen a goalie struggle to throw with a stick, and a coach continually tell him or her to try this or do that, but when I go to throw with that stick, I can barely throw with it! The fact of the matter is the equipment you choose to play with does make a difference! No, it’s not going to make you an All-American, but it will certainly make your life easier in some aspects. Not to mention having the right fitting equipment will make you more comfortable, giving you one less thing to worry about in goal. Below are some of my personal favorites and why!
We recommend two different options for helmets- The Cascade R and the STX Stallion 600. Cascade has been the leader in helmet for several years, they make a light, durable helmet with great sight lines. I personally use this helmet while playing with the US team, and it has never failed me. STX has recently gotten into the helmet business, but they have paired up with Schutt, the leader in football helmets. Their Stallion 600 comes with protection that you should demand in all helmets, and adjustable air bladders for a perfect fit. It also comes in 4 different sizes to ensure that it fits on your head perfectly. If you’re having a hard time getting a helmet to fit right, and you’re looking for a company that knows how to protect your noggin, this helmet is for you. Click the pictures below to learn more about each helmet from their respective manufacturers.
Depending on the helmet you go with, each company has their own specific throat guard. Often times they come in multiple colors, although I recommend a clear throat guard.
Your chest protector is something you can invest in and have it last throughout your entire career. I have been using an old STX chest protector for over 10 years now, and I’ve never looked back. If you’re in the market for your first chest protector or are maybe looking for an upgrade, head to your local lacrosse store on and try on as many as possible. This is an article of equipment that can really inhibit your range of motion if you don’t get the correct size. You’ll also find different chest protectors sit differently on your body, so it’s important to find the one that makes you feel like it isn’t even there. Almost all chest protectors these days come with some kind of plate over the chest, so I wouldn’t worry as much about protection as fit. The better it fits, the better movement you’ll have, but also more protection you’ll have as it won’t be sliding out of place as you go for a save.
As you get to the upper levels of competition (HS on up), you’ll want to invest in a solid pair of goalie specific gloves. The difference between a field set of gloves and a goalie glove is the level of padding, specifically on the thumb. Since we are taught to drive our top hand to the ball, it would stand to reason that your thumb is put in the line of fire more often than not. It is practically a rite of passage for goalies to break their thumb, but with a pair of goalie gloves you can at least take preventative steps to avoiding this common injury. This is the one area where I would sacrifice some mobility and comfort for protection. No matter which brand you go with, most solid goalie gloves are going to limit your range of motion in your thumb. I personally use the Shield Pro gloves by STX no matter when or who I’m playing with. They offer great protection with a decent amount of mobility. Click the picture below to learn more about the Shield Pro goalie gloves.
I’m not even going to try an be unbiased when it comes to heads. I have been using the STX Eclipse since I was in high school. It’s never done me wrong, and every time I meet a young goalie, it is the head I recommend. It’s not as stiff as some other heads, but it’s been around for almost 20 years and despite the increase in technology, the top goalies still use it. It has a great wide face, a good scoop and great weight ratio. This head is great no matter your skill level. Despite my love for the Eclipse, I would still recommend you look at other heads. Again, some goalies just like other heads better, and that’s ok! Check out the STX Shield or other brand’s top goalie heads. It’s an investment that you want to last, to make sure the head is right for you!
This is ESSENTIAL to having a good stick. You could have the best set up in the world, but if it is strung poorly, you won’t be able to throw! When it comes to mesh you have quite a few options, from 10D, 12D, 14D, regular mesh, and 20D. You also have the choice between hard mesh, soft mesh and wax mesh. Not to mention a lot of brands. I would recommend you play with others to get a feel for what you like, and then take it to a trusted stringer to make sure it is strung properly. You should be able to pick up a regular stick and move to a goalie stick and throw with the same mechanics within a few throws. If you can’t, chances are the stick is strung poorly. I prefer and string my own sticks with 12D, but each goalie again has their own preference.
I won’t get into the different brands here, but when looking for a shaft you want to consider what you’re looking for. I personally prefer the lightest shaft I can find. I like the balance of the stick to be more in the head so I can feel the ball. Some goalies prefer the stick to be more balanced and opt for a heavier shaft (mind you, we’re talking about a difference in ounces). One thing I can say for sure is, no matter whether you’re playing men’s lacrosse or women’s, the strength of the shaft is not important. Goalies, even the most active, simply do not get checked often enough to warrant spending money on the strength of your shaft. Your stick should definitely not be getting bent from tapping the pipes either (mostly because you shouldn’t be tapping your pipes that often!).
There’s also a choice in a shorter (A/M) or longer shaft (G). When deciding, again take into consideration the balance of your stick, but also the handling, ability to pick off passes etc. If you’re unsure of how long you want your shaft, start with the longest and cut 1-2″ off at a time until you find the perfect length. I personally prefer an A/M length shaft, as I like the mobility and rarely got use of the length benefits from a longer, goalie shaft.
Extra Protective Equipment:
If you’re a female in HS or below, or a male in youth lacrosse, you may be required to wear additional protection. Girls’ lacrosse requires thigh and shin protection. Boys’ lacrosse requires the use of arm padding. For both genders I recommend using the most mobile equipment available. For thigh padding, Nike and McDavid make two great products: The Nike Pro Hyperstrong Elite Shorts and the McDavid Hex Thudd Shorts. Both are minimalistic yet offer great protection. For shin guards, again, I recommend something with more mobility like soccer shin guards (without the ankle protection). I’m a big believer that the use of catcher softball shin guards really inhibits mobility, gives up rebounds, and also encourages poor technique. Getting hit repetitively in the shin is dangerous, so protection is recommended at the younger levels, but there is something to be said about realizing you’re supposed to make the save with a stick not your body. For boys’ elbow guards, simply find the youth version and that will suffice. Goalies rarely, if ever, get hit in the arms so mobility and fit are important here.
Once you’ve purchase your equipment, it’s time to go break it in! We hope this helps you find the best equipment for you.
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