Choosing the Right Lacrosse Stick is Crucial for Beginners
Selecting the proper lacrosse stick is one of the most important decisions when outfitting a new player. The stick, also called the crosse, is used to catch, cradle, and pass the ball, so finding one with the right fit and feel can give kids confidence as they learn fundamental skills. The right size and weight stick helps young players develop good habits from the start.
For starters, stick regulations dictate length and other specifications based on age and position. Youth players under 15 use short sticks that are 40-42 inches for field players or 52-72 inches for goalies. Junior and senior youth sticks go up to 52-72 inches depending on position. Within those rules, comfort and control are key. Young players should be able to cradle the ball without forcing their hands too close together or overextending their arms. Those with smaller hands may prefer narrower sticks to easily grip and maneuver. Trying out different brands can help find the optimal combination of materials, flex, and stringing for each child. Pro shops are a good resource for sizing sticks accurately.
Sticks come pre-strung or unstrung, allowing you to customize stringing patterns later as skills progress. Pre-strung budget sticks focus spending on other gear initially while getting started. Though cost is a factor, remember that the stick directly impacts performance, so invest in the best quality affordable option. With proper use and care, a dependable stick can last multiple seasons as kids grow into the sport of lacrosse.
Properly Fitted Helmets Are Vital For Protection
Finding a helmet that fits correctly should be a top priority when equipping a youth lacrosse player. The helmet is essential protective gear that shields the head from checks, errant sticks, and hard shots. With the speed and physicality of lacrosse, head protection helps minimize the risk of traumatic brain injuries. That’s why taking the time to find the right size and fit for each child’s head is so important.
When trying on helmets, the fit should feel snug all around with no gaps where the helmet can slide around. Look for just enough room to fit one finger between the pads and the forehead. The chin strap should align right under the chin and jawline so the head doesn’t wobble inside the helmet. Newer helmet technology offers extended rear coverage for added protection. Kids will also need to determine if they prefer the look and feel of a tradition high-wrap chin strap or the newer anchored chin strap systems.
Beyond safety, it’s vital to find helmets that are comfortable since they’ll be worn constantly in practices and games. Ventilation, liner padding, and adjustable chin straps all affect comfort. Letting players test out different helmet models and sizes is the best way to find the ideal match. Some brands size numerically while others use small, medium, large sizing. Consult shops for proper measuring and fitting. Also consider that youth players will need to transition to new helmets as their heads grow bigger over time. Investing in high quality lacrosse helmets designed for optimal protection, visibility, and breathability will serve young athletes well as they advance in the sport.
Arm Pads and Shoulder Pads Prevent Injuries
Lacrosse is a fast-paced, physical sport, so having proper protective padding is essential for keeping kids safe on the field. Arm pads and shoulder pads take the brunt of checks, bumps, and falls, helping young players avoid minor to serious injuries. Since youth players are still mastering body control and stick skills, lightweight and breathable pads allow freedom of movement while providing essential protection.
When fitting arm pads, look for full coverage from the wrist or forearm up to the shoulder. A sleeve-style pad offers the most protection and stays in place better compared to strap pads. Integrated elbow caps add shielding on point of impact. Shoulder pad sizing is based on chest circumference and width rather than age, keeping in mind that kids will grow. Pads should have a snug fit with no gap between the body and pad edge, while still allowing free arm motion.
For starters, focus on basic, affordable pad sets with moderate padding and protection. As kids advance and play intensity increases, more protective options can be added. Goalies require specialized chest and arm padding able to absorb high speed shots from close range. No matter the skill level, ensuring arm and shoulder pads fit properly and cover vulnerable areas is key to letting young athletes enjoy the game without fear of injury.
Cleats Provide Traction and Speed for Lacrosse
Finding the right cleats is an important part of equipping youth lacrosse players. Cleats provide essential traction for quick cuts, stops, and direction changes during competition. The spikes grip the turf surface allowing players to run at top speed while maintaining control. Cleat technology also helps protect feet, ankles, and legs from the strains of sprinting and sudden impacts.
For beginners, mid-cut cleats offer a balance of ankle support and lightweight mobility. Low-cut cleats prioritize speed and freedom of movement while high-tops offer maximum ankle stability. Consider the playing surface too – shorter molded studs work on natural grass while longer spikes dig into synthetic turf. Proper fit is key, so have kids try on cleats with athletic socks to find a snug but comfortable size, allowing a thumb width at the toes.
Let young athletes choose cleats they like since excitement over gear can inspire them to play their best. Lacrosse cleats come in a rainbow of colors and popular athletic brand designs. Durability and safety should come first, but finding options kids love wearing boosts motivation. Proper cleats give young players the stability and quickness needed to excel on the lacrosse field as their skills and speed develop.
Balls are Essential for Drills, Passing, and Shooting
Having enough lacrosse balls on hand for practices, drills, and games is a basic equipment necessity often overlooked. New players need their own ball to get comfortable with cradling, scooping, catching, and passing as they develop stick skills. Using the same ball regularly improves feel and control. Teams share balls for shooting drills and running structured plays during practice. For games, every team needs a designated ‘game ball’ along with extras as backups.
For youth levels, soft, cushioned balls are gentler on developing hands and minimize sting on errant shots. Regulations dictate ball specifics for each age group and gender. Junior and youth balls range from 7 to 8.5 inches in diameter and weigh between 5 to 5.5 ounces. Softer, bouncier balls suit beginners for catching and throwing. Opt for sturdier, high-quality leather or synthetic leather balls as kids improve stick skills and shooting power. Every player should start out with their own ball labeled with their name or number to encourage responsibility and connection with a primary piece of gear. Having the right lacrosse balls on hand in the right quantities is key for engaging kids in skill-building play.
Mesh Bags Keep Gear Organized and Accessible
One of the most useful purchases when outfitting a youth lacrosse player is a mesh equipment bag. These bags keep all the sundry gear needed for practices and games neatly organized in one place. Durable bags with shoulder straps make it easy for kids to carry their helmets, pads, cleats, and sticks to and from the field.
Look for bags with multiple compartments to keep clean and dirty gear separate. A ventilated wet/dry section is ideal for storing sweaty pads after use. exterior pockets allow quick access to essentials like water bottles, mouthguards, tape, towels, and snacks. Mesh bags allow air circulation so gear doesn’t get that stale sweaty smell over a long season. Durability is also key – bags take a beating on the lacrosse field so look for rugged stitching, reinforcements, and quality zippers.
A mesh equipment bag eliminates the scramble to collect and account for all necessary items. Kids can take responsibility for having their own gear ready to go. A labeled bag also prevents their valuables from getting mixed up with others. Mesh bags are handy for trips to tournaments and camps too. Keeping lacrosse gear organized in a specialized rugged bag makes managing equipment easier for busy lacrosse families.
Gear Will Need Replacing as Kids Grow
When buying youth lacrosse equipment, it’s important for parents to remember kids grow quickly. Gear that fits perfectly one season may be too small the next year. Younger players especially may outgrow sticks, pads, cleats, and helmets quite rapidly as they develop. Planning ahead and budgeting for equipment upgrades helps avoid shortages or make-do hand-me-downs as kids get bigger.
Sticks should be checked each year to ensure they are still regulation length for a child’s age level. New heads and restringing kits can refresh sticks temporarily. But once a crosse gets too short as a child grows, a new stick is required. The same goes for helmets – once a helmet starts feeling tight, it’s time to size up. Well-fitting protective gear is essential, so pads and gloves often need replacing as kids gain height, weight and muscle mass.
Cleats may last longer since feet grow less dramatically as hands and heads. Still, assess fit and mileage at least annually. Growing kids deserve gear made for their current size rather than making last year’s equipment “work.” Developing lacrosse skills and confidence requires sticks, pads, and helmets sized right for their bodies today. Planning equipment upgrades into the yearly budget ensures they always have proper fitting gear.
Focus on Safety and Comfort Without Overspending
Buying youth lacrosse gear involves balancing cost, quality, and necessities. Safety is the top priority, but not every item needs to be high-end right away for beginners. Focus first purchases on properly fitted helmets, arm guards and sticks to minimize injury risks and give new players confidence. Add more expensive specialized gear like team uniforms, custom cleats, or carbon fiber shafts later as skills improve.
Consider comfort too when evaluating budget-friendly options. Bulky or restrictive padding can discourage kids from playing their best. Test out cheaper versions of gloves, shoulder pads, and sticks to ensure decent fit and function. Well-chosen entry-level gear allows enjoying lacrosse without getting overwhelmed or overequipped.
Gear lasts longer if cared for properly. Use antimicrobial spray on pads after games and allow equipment to fully air out and dry before storing. Sticks benefit from restringing and occasional shaft repairs to extend usefulness. Shop discounted off-season sales or team swaps to get quality gear at lower costs. With some savvy purchasing, essential protective items and starter sticks don’t have to break the bank.
Include Kids in Purchasing Decisions
Finding the right lacrosse gear has as much to do with fit, comfort, and usability as the technical specs. Since equipment needs to work for their game, having input from kids during the purchasing process gets them invested. Players who help choose their gear take more pride in using it properly.
Youth lacrosse players know their own preferences better than anyone. They may like certain gloves for the grip and wrist support or react better to a stick with more flex or a specific stringing pattern. Trying on different helmet brands and pads can help players determine the best match. Kids also have opinions on things like colors, graphics, and styles they find appealing.
Within reason, allow some customization and personal choice over helmets, pads, gloves, bags and other gear to get kids excited. This may mean letting them pick neon gloves or a helmet with their favorite team’s logo. Some individualization makes them feel connected to their gear. The right mix of protection, playability, and personal style gets beginners eager to gear up and play their best. Including them in purchasing decisions makes equipment shopping more collaborative and fun.
Proper Gear Allows Enjoying Lacrosse Safely
The right lacrosse gear allows young athletes to experience the thrill and challenges of this fast-paced sport while staying protected. Equipping kids for success on the field involves finding equipment that fits well, feels comfortable, and suits their playing style so they can perform at their best. Safety is the top priority, but don’t overlook factors like fit, weight, and adjustability too.
With practice and guidance, kids will gain skills and confidence using their gear. Take time outfitting beginners to ensure they have essentials like snug helmets, padded gloves, arm and shoulder guards, and properly sized sticks. As they improve, more specialized items can be added, like customed strung sticks or lightweight cleats. Proper gear paired with good coaching allows developing a passion for lacrosse while avoiding preventable injuries.
Beyond required safety gear, little touches like a personalized equipment bag, fun helmet decals, and a practice ball with their name on it gets kids connected and invested. Budget carefully when buying starter equipment but remember needs will change as young athletes grow and take on more challenging positions and roles. With the right lacrosse gear, both safety and enjoyment are possible for beginners taking their first scoops, catches, and shots on the field.