A lacrosse stick is made up of two parts: the stick head and the stick shaft. The shaft of a lacrosse stick plays a crucial role for players in terms of their defensive range, shot power, accuracy, and passing abilities. Essentially, the stick shaft plays a critical role in every aspect of the game.
What are lacrosse shafts used for?
Most lacrosse shafts have an octagonal shape and are the part of the stick that players hold onto. Players use different length shafts based on their positioning, which results in a number of customizable features for stick shafts that allow players to choose the shaft that perfectly compliments their game. When people discuss the size of the stick they are almost always talking about the stick shaft, as the head plays a smaller role in the size of the stick.
Lacrosse shafts weren't originally a separate entity from the head, and sticks commonly resembled spoons. The shaft eventually became separate from the head allowing for both to be optimized for players, resulting in the modern game of lacrosse that we know today. Lacrosse shafts are not dependent on which hand is dominant, and all shafts can be used by both right or left handed players. This makes them uniquely versatile in addition to the many specific customizations they can offer.
Things To Consider
When looking for a lacrosse shaft, you'll want to consider the following:
- What position do you play?
- What size shaft do you need?
- How much do you want to spend on a lacrosse shaft?
- Is there a certain material you want your shaft to be made out of?
- Do you have a favorite brand or color?
Lacrosse shafts are important and each position has different responsibilities, so they require different types of shafts.
The primary focus of an attackman or midfielder is to score goals and create scoring chances, so they have a smaller stick to allow for more precision on their shots and passes. Most attack/midfielder shafts are typically in the size range of 40-42 inches. The short shaft allows for attackmen and midfielders to have a quick release on their shots, while also being accurate.
A defender's primary goal is to prevent the other team from scoring, so they have a longer stick shaft in order to be able to defend a larger area. The length of the defender's stick shaft should be between 52 and 72 inches, while they are most commonly about 60 inches. The wide reach of the defender's shaft allows them to reach around opposing attackers, while also allowing them to throw long, powerful passes that lead to counterattacks.
Goalies primarily need a stick best suited to their needs or preferences, as they have the responsibility of preventing goals. Goalie shafts can be anywhere in the range of 40-72 inches, meaning they could be the length of the shortest attack stick or the longest defender's stick. A longer stick offers a wider reach, but the shorter shaft allows for quicker, more precise movements.
Lacrosse shafts are made of a number of different materials that provide different benefits, so we're going to look at the most common materials for shafts in aluminum alloy, carbon fiber composite, scandium, titanium, and wood.
- Aluminum Alloy: Aluminum is a light metal that provided a significant upgrade over the original wood sticks. It is a strong metal that provides some durability while not weighing down a player too much.
- Carbon Fiber Composite: Carbon fiber is a material that is made up of carbon atoms that are bonded together to be strong, but light. Carbon fiber composite shafts allow for sticks to be easy to hold, while offering a maximum amount of flexibility.
- Scandium: Scandium is a metal that is typically found mixed with other metals, but is difficult to extract, which makes it rare. It is typically used in addition to other metals in lacrosse stick shafts. Scandium is a metal that is as light as aluminum, but stronger.
- Titanium: Titanium is a durable metal that's strength far outweighs its actual weight. Titanium is an ideal metal for lacrosse stick shafts given that it is so strong and light, but it tends to be expensive due to these qualities.
- Wood: The very first lacrosse sticks were made out of wood. Wood is heavier than any of the modern materials used for lacrosse shafts, which makes them difficult to use given the speed of the modern game.
There are a number of different manufacturers for lacrosse shafts, but to keep it simple we will focus on some of the most popular in Brine, Maverick, STX, and Warrior.
- Brine: Brine designs shafts with a focus on offense and speed. Their shafts tend to be extremely light weights that allow for players to move quickly without sacrificing too much durability.
- Maverick: Maverick produces both high quality attack and defender's shafts. Their defender's shafts are special as they contain many of the same elements preferred in attack shafts, while also maintaining the strength and durability needed to defend. Their attack shafts are light, durable, and often very affordable.
- STX: STX produces some of the best attack shafts on the market. They offer shafts that are easy to hold and use, but also resistant to bending. These shafts help players move the stick in their hands to fake out the opposition and quickly shoot.
- Warrior: Warrior is one of the premier lacrosse brands producing longer and shorter shafts. Their attack shafts are designed to give players the quickest release possible with a lot of accuracy. Their defender's shafts are designed to be light, easy to use, and relatively durable, but they come with a higher price point.
There are a number of things to consider when purchasing a lacrosse shaft including the durability, cost, and size of the stick.
Lacrosse is a physical game with a lot of contact revolving around the use of the sticks. This leads to a lot of bent or broken shafts despite the use of strong materials. Players should always bring at least one backup stick to games or practices in the event that their shaft bends or even breaks. There's no pattern to how often a shaft will break, so it is ultimately best to be prepared for the possibility of it happening at any time.
The price of a lacrosse shaft is determined by three primary factors: the brand, the type of shaft, and the materials it is made of. The brand of the shaft will cause a variation in price as some brands add special features, such as grips. The type of shaft also has an effect on price, as smaller sticks use less materials to produce. Attack shafts range from $65-$155, defender's shafts range from $140-$210, and goalie shafts range from $120-$150. Materials like carbon fiber, titanium, and scandium will also cost more than wood.
There are three primary sizes to lacrosse sticks: attack shafts, defense shafts, and goalie shafts. Each type has a range of approved lengths depending on the player's position. Attackmen require a smaller stick for more precision, while defensemen use a longer stick to defend a wider range. Meanwhile, goalies can use any stick that's a legal length. Youth sticks are typically smaller by position given that the players are smaller, but their size is typically dependent upon the player's personal preference and position.
What type of lacrosse shaft do I need to play defense?
In order to play defense in lacrosse, you need a shaft that is longer than the stick of the player attacking. Defenders need increased reach, which results in them using a shaft. Defender's shaft lengths range from 52-72 inches, but are typically 60 inches. This extra length allows defenders to check the players with ease and have a greater area of coverage.
Which kind of lacrosse shaft is the strongest?
While all materials used in lacrosse shafts are intended to make the stick durable and strong, the strongest shafts tend to be made of metals. Most modern metal shafts are made up of a combination of titanium, scandium, and aluminum, which makes these shafts lighter than wood and heavier than carbon fiber. Metal shafts are also stronger than carbon fiber and wood. It is up to you to choose what you prioritize in a shaft, and if that is strength then you should look for a shaft made of some combination of titanium, scandium, and aluminum.
Are lacrosse goalie shafts different from field player's shafts?
Lacrosse goalie shafts are generally in between attack and defense shafts in terms of length, although they have a wider range of lengths allowed. As long as the goalie stick is within the legal length limits, which ranges from 40-72 inches, it is usable. This gives goalie sticks a greater versatility than field players' sticks. Goalies can choose a shaft that suits their personal preferences and they get a much wider range of lengths to select from, but outside of that they can use the same shafts as any other player on the field.