Physical contact plays a large role in the game of lacrosse, making protective gear extremely important. No part of the body is more important or vulnerable than the head, so protecting it during a game of lacrosse is essential. This means the most important piece of protective lacrosse equipment is likely the helmet.
What are helmets used for in lacrosse?
The physical nature of lacrosse poses a number of potential threats that could result in injury, especially to the head. Lacrosse helmets serve to protect the players from injury as a result of a check, being hit by the ball, or getting whacked by a stick.
The helmets typically have a hard plastic exterior shell to protect the head from outside dangers. Inside the helmets, there's rubber padding to help absorb impact. The front has a face mask consisting of metal bars that protect the face, while also allowing the players to see through it. Helmets also have chin straps that connect to both sides of the helmet and run underneath the player's chin to keep the helmet on even when they receive a big hit.
Things To Consider
When looking for a lacrosse helmet, you'll want to consider the following:
- What type of helmet are you looking for?
- Have you suffered any head injuries before?
- What position do you play?
- How much money do you have to spend on a lacrosse helmet?
- Do you have a favorite brand or color?
Most lacrosse players wear the same style helmet that is protective but sleek, aerodynamic, and light to not exhaust players while moving. These helmets have a lot of ventilation to help keep players cool, but safe from most of the dangers of the game. Lacrosse helmets can't fully protect players, but they are built to minimize the risk.
Lacrosse goalies use a slightly modified version of a regular player helmet because they face high-speed shots, so they need slightly different protection. These helmets come with an extended throat guard that protects the neck, which is the part of the body that regular player helmets leave most vulnerable. Goalies don't face the same risk for checking, but they are more in danger of being hit by shots, so the additional protection reflects that.
The hockey-style helmet is a hockey helmet with a lacrosse facemask attached, and it is also known as the box lacrosse helmet. Box lacrosse is played in an indoor arena that closely resembles a hockey rink, which is why the helmets are so similar. Box lacrosse helmets provide more protection and visibility at a lighter weight, but it also offers less ventilation.
Lacrosse helmets are made out of different materials that offer different levels of protection and play different roles in the helmet's performance.
- ABS Plastic: ABS plastic is a thermoplastic polymer that is made up of several materials that usually don't combine, which gives it some unique properties. ABS plastic is a solid plastic that holds up under large pressure, while also being relatively inexpensive to produce. A strong, cheap, light plastic makes for an excellent outer shell on a lacrosse helmet.
- Polycarbonate Plastic: Polycarbonate plastic is also a thermoplastic polymer capable of withstanding intense forces. Polycarbonate is slightly stronger and more expensive than ABS plastic, but it is also more prone to scratches. This makes it a slightly less common material for helmets, but it is still effective nonetheless.
- Titanium: Titanium is a light metal that is extremely strong for its weight, which makes it an effective protective material. The face mask of the helmet is responsible for protecting the face so, despite being designed with small bars, they have to withstand extreme forces without weighing the helmet and player down. This makes titanium an ideal material despite its high costs.
Lacrosse helmets are produced by a wide number of brands, but we're going to take a look at 3 of the most common brands: Cascade, STX, and Warrior.
- Cascade: Cascade helmets have been the official helmet brand of the MLL for many years due to special protective advancements in the padding of their helmets. Their helmets usually have a dial on the back to adjust the tightness of the helmet, which allows them to be versatile in terms of size.
- STX: STX produces some of the most expensive, advanced helmets on the market. Their helmets come with an air pump to adjust the fit of the helmet while also having some of the best ventilation systems to keep players cool.
- Warrior: Warrior produces some of the more affordable helmets on the market. Warrior produces helmets in several different sizes with a focus on being lightweight but safe. Their helmets often come with great visibility, plenty of ventilation, and lots of protection.
When you purchase a lacrosse helmet there are a number of factors to consider including durability, cost, and size.
Lacrosse helmets rarely break, given that they are responsible for protecting the most important part of the body. Primarily, the only time that a helmet needs to be replaced is when a player outgrows it. Many brands sell just adult and youth size helmets that allow helmets to fit for a longer period of time, so the point at which they outgrow the max size of the youth helmet is when a new one is needed.
Given that lacrosse helmets are responsible for protecting the most important part of the body, they tend to have a high price tag. Most lacrosse player helmets are sold in the range of $140-$350, while goalie helmets are slightly more expensive as the throat guard costs an additional $30-$40. Box lacrosse helmets are slightly cheaper as they usually range from about $90-$170.
Lacrosse helmet sizes vary by brand. Some brands sell adjustable size helmets that allow them to create helmets that are generally only two sizes. This allows them to market their adult helmets to all adults and all youth helmets to younger players, as they are both one-size-fits-all. Some brands also sell helmets in the typical small, medium, and large sizes for both adult and youth models.
How much does a lacrosse helmet cost?
Lacrosse helmets are typically expensive, but they range greatly in price. Box lacrosse helmets tend to be cheaper than regular lacrosse helmets as they tend to be in the $90-$170 range. Regular lacrosse player helmets typically cost between $140 and $350, while goalie helmets are even more expensive due to the throat guard they have to add on to the player helmets. The throat guards are an additional $30-$40, which means goalie helmets can cost anywhere between $170 and $390.
How do you size a lacrosse helmet?
The way you size a lacrosse helmet largely depends upon the brand you choose to purchase. Some brands produce only youth and adult helmets that are one-size-fits-all due to their adjustability, while others offer more specifically sized helmets. Some brands offer small, medium, and large sizes for both adults and youth; a few even offer extra small and extra large sizes. The best, most accurate way to determine your own helmet size is to try on several different helmets in person as they can all have different fits.
Do you need to wear a helmet in women's lacrosse?
Women's lacrosse players are equally at risk of being hit in the head by a stick or ball, but physical contact is not allowed. This slightly lowered risk is reflected in the rules of women's lacrosse by not requiring full helmets, but instead enforcing that players wear face masks to protect the eyes. Some women who play lacrosse do choose to wear full helmets, but it is not very common despite taking very similar risks to the men who play and are required to wear full helmets.