Importance of Wearing a Throat Guard for Lacrosse Goalies
As a lacrosse goalie, protecting your throat from harm should be a top priority. A stray lacrosse ball to the Adams apple can spell disaster. That’s why wearing a quality throat guard designed specifically for lacrosse goalies just makes good sense. But with so many options on the market, how do you choose the right throat protector?
The throat guard you wear could mean the difference between walking away uninjured or sustaining a serious, season-ending throat injury. Lacrosse balls can travel at speeds over 100 mph, packing a dangerous punch. Without adequate protection, you’re putting your larynx and trachea at risk.
Let’s explore the key factors to consider when selecting the best lacrosse goalie throat guard for you:
Look for a throat protector that extends well beyond just the throat itself. Models that also shield the chin, jaw, and upper chest provide better protection. Don’t leave gaps that could expose you to harm.
Prioritize guards constructed with shock-absorbing materials engineered to diffuse and dampen the force of impact. Hard plastic shells with padded interior lining often perform best in this regard.
A loose throat guard can shift and expose vulnerable areas during play. Seek out a protector designed to stay snugly in place on your neck for maximum safety. Integrated options may fasten securely into your goalie helmet.
An uncomfortable throat guard may tempt you not to wear it at all. Find one with breathable, moisture-wicking materials that won’t cause overheating or chafing. Custom moldable options can provide a personalized fit.
Established lacrosse equipment brands like Cascade are known for engineering top-performing protective gear. Seek out throat guards from reputable manufacturers with a proven track record.
Youth vs. Adult
Make sure to choose a throat protector designed specifically for your age level. Youth and adult throat guards have different sizing and levels of protection.
If opting for an integrated throat guard, ensure it’s designed to properly attach to your particular helmet model for full functionality.
Molded vs. Universal Fit
Custom-molded throat protectors offer a more personalized fit, while universal options feature adjustable strapping for a secure feel. Evaluate your needs.
For versatility, consider a detachable throat protector you can easily attach to any helmet. Or go for an integrated guard built right into your goalie helmet.
While essential, know that top-tier lacrosse throat guards often come with a higher price tag. Determine how much you’re willing to invest for quality protection.
Check your throat guard regularly for cracks or tears, and replace it promptly when needed. Proper care maximizes its protective lifespan.
Finding the right lacrosse goalie throat protector involves balancing key factors like coverage, shock absorption, comfort and fit. Prioritizing quality protection helps minimize the risk of traumatic injury when balls strike your unprotected throat. Don’t gamble with your safety – invest in a throat guard designed for your sport.
Types of Materials Used in Lacrosse Throat Guards
When selecting a lacrosse throat guard as a goalie, you’ll find there are a few common materials used in their construction. Understanding the properties of each can help inform your decision when choosing the best throat protector.
Here are some of the key materials used:
Hard plastic shells are frequently used in lacrosse throat guards, often combined with interior padding. Tough plastics like polycarbonate or ABS provide excellent impact resistance. Their rigidity helps diffuse and dissipate energy from lacrosse balls and other collisions.
Layers of soft, shock-absorbing foam are commonly used to line the inside of lacrosse throat protectors. Closed-cell foams provide cushioning and reduce force before it reaches the player’s neck. Open-cell foams wick moisture and enhance comfort.
Rubber materials introduce flexibility while still protecting against blunt force impacts. They allow the guard to flex slightly to contour to the player’s neck. Thermoplastic rubber blends are popular choices.
Gel pads or linings found in some lacrosse throat protectors offer advanced shock absorption and distribute impact forces. Gel is soft and conforms to anatomy without sacrificing protectiveness.
Many lacrosse throat protectors use a combination of materials to balance rigidity, flexibility, and cushioning. Hard shells with softer foam or gel interiors provide both robust impact resistance and next-to-skin comfort.
Moisture-wicking performance fabrics help keep players cool and dry. Strategic use of mesh and ventilated materials enhances airflow and evaporation for comfort during intense play.
While plastics and foams are common, don’t rule out newer material technologies that provide advanced energy management and comfortable fit. Seek out throat protectors engineered using data-driven insights and testing against impacts.
Prioritizing advanced materials can help maximize protection. But also ensure the lacrosse throat guard you choose fits comfortably and securely to keep you safe on the field.
Hard Plastic vs. Soft Foam Throat Guard Construction
When picking out a lacrosse throat guard, you’ll notice the primary materials used tend to be hard outer shells and soft inner lining. But how do you choose between plastic and foam constructions?
Hard plastic exterior shells are prized for their strength and impact protection abilities. Materials like polycarbonate and ABS plastic diffuse the energy from lacrosse ball impacts away from the throat. Their rigidity helps resist cutting or penetration risks.
But while robust, hard plastic shells can feel uncomfortable next to skin. This is why they are typically paired with softer foam interior padding. Closed-cell foams provide cushioning and dampen impact forces before they reach the player. Open-cell foams also wick moisture and promote airflow.
Combining a tough exterior shell with shock-absorbing foam interiors gives lacrosse goalies the best of both worlds. The outer plastic shell acts like armor against ball strikes, while the interior foam enhances comfort and fit.
Some throat guards may utilize softer materials throughout, like combinations of dense foam or gel layers. These provide good dampening of impacts, but sacrifice a bit of strength compared to rigid plastics.
Dual-density foam constructions can add firmer exterior foam to boost protection while keeping next-to-skin layers soft. This balances cushioning and reinforcement in an all-foam design.
For optimal safety, durability, and wearability, hard plastic shell exteriors with foam interiors offer goalies the ideal blend. Just ensure the foam adequately cushions and doesn’t leave pressure points against your neck. With smart material choices, you can protect your vital throat region from hazardous lacrosse ball impacts.
When uncertain, consult player reviews to see how the plastic shell and foam lining combo of a particular throat guard performs in real-world use. Proper construction is key to keeping you protected in the crease.
Custom Moldable Throat Guards for a Perfect Fit
Unlike a helmet that encompasses your whole head, a throat guard sits closely against the contours of your neck. This makes proper fit incredibly important for safety and performance.
Many lacrosse throat protectors feature adjustable strapping to dial in the right snugness. But for truly personalized fit, custom moldable options are ideal.
Customizable throat guards start with a blank template of plastic or moldable foam. You submerge it in hot water to make the material pliable, then press it firmly against your neck as it sets and cools. This allows the protector to form to your anatomy for a tailored feel.
The benefit over generic one-size-fits-all guards is a snugger, more secure and gapless fit. This enhances protection by eliminating any wiggle room or unsupported areas.
Moldable throat guards also tend to be more comfortable long-term since they conform to your neck without pressure points. The custom fit prevents chafing and rubbing that can occur with loose or misaligned guards.
For youth goalies still growing, the ability to periodically remold a throat protector ensures it adapts as needed. Guards can be reheated and reshaped if they start to feel loose or uncomfortable over time.
Downsides are the extra effort required for the molding process, as well as potential fit issues if not done properly. Be sure to carefully follow molding instructions for best results.
All in all, customizable throat protectors provide an easy way to achieve excellent fit straight out of the box. Just be prepared to take the time to properly form it to your neck. The payoff is unrivaled comfort and security during gameplay.
Extended Throat Coverage vs. Standard Guards
When evaluating lacrosse throat protectors, you’ll notice some offer more expansive coverage than others. Standard guards shield just the central throat region, while extended options add protection lower down the chest and upper back.
More complete protection is key for goalies who take the brunt of shots. Lacrosse balls can strike from all angles, so you want ample coverage without gaps.
Extended lacrosse throat guards add a bib-like panel that shields the upper sternum. Some may even reach around to the upper back and over the shoulders. This safeguards more vitals like the heart and spine from direct ball impacts.
Throat guards with increased coverage area also help deflect shots away that might otherwise slip beneath a standard protector. The extra material keeps your upper torso better protected as you move.
Do keep in mind that more coverage often means more bulk and warmth. Extended guards can get hotter during intense play. Ensure any additional material is breathable and moisture-wicking.
Also consider potential interference issues from oversized guards. Too much material could inhibit mobility or vision as you track shots.
For most goalies, the trade-off of increased warmth and bulk is worthwhile for expanded protection. Just be sure to try any extended throat guard first to ensure adequate range of motion.
Prioritizing broad coverage without vulnerable gaps will give you confidence to command the crease. Focus protection beyond just the throat to block shots from all angles.
Consider Shock Absorbing Properties of Different Materials
Choosing the right throat guard is one of the most important decisions a lacrosse goalie can make. After all, the throat is a vulnerable area that needs maximum protection from high-speed shots. When struck in the neck, the shock waves can disrupt breathing and blood flow to the brain, resulting in injury or even death in extreme cases. That’s why goalies must select a throat protector that absorbs impact and shields the neck without restricting mobility or comfort.
Today’s lacrosse throat guards utilize various materials and designs aimed at dissipating energy from shots. Understanding the shock absorbing properties of these different components can help goalies find the best product for their needs and budget.
Hard Plastic Shells
The outer shell of most modern throat guards is made from hard plastic, usually polycarbonate or ABS plastic. These materials are engineered for high impact resistance. Polycarbonate in particular has 250 times the shock absorbing capacity of glass. The rigid shell distributes force from ball impacts over a wider area instead of concentrating it in one spot. This prevents localized damage to the neck. Vents and curvature in the plastic also aid shock dissipation.
On the downside, bare plastic can feel uncomfortable with repeated impacts. Some goalies complain it transmits excessive vibration to the neck. Using padding underneath the shell helps remedy these issues.
Inside the outer plastic shell, most lacrosse throat protectors have foam padding for extra cushioning. Standard foams like EVA absorb shock by compressing and deforming. Multi-layer foam constructions provide progressive resistance, slowing momentum more gently. Memory foam molds to the player’s neck for a personalized fit.
Padding thickness and density influence shock absorption. Denser foams withstand impact better but can feel stiff. Thinner padding improves comfort and ventilation at the cost of less protection. Goalies must balance these factors based on their preference and risk tolerance.
Some high-end lacrosse throat guards insert gel packs between the shell and foam padding. Gel intelligently flows away from impacts, allowing it to absorb large amounts of shock energy. Tests show polyurethane gel can absorb over 60% more energy than foam before bottoming out. Gel also reduces peak impact forces transmitted to the neck.
On the other hand, gel feels more alien next to the skin than foam or textile padding. Exposure to extreme hot or cold can also degrade gel performance. Replacement gel inserts may be hard to source as well once the original set wears out.
The contact layer touching a goalie’s neck usually consists of textile fabrics like nylon, polyester or spandex. These materials wick moisture and feel smooth on the skin for all-game comfort. Some throat protectors have antibacterial textile linings to inhibit odor.
Thin textiles do not appreciably absorb impact forces. Their main role is managing moisture and optimizing comfort. Some goalies layer separate padded neoprene neck wraps under the textile lining for extra protection.
Additional guards attached to the main throat protector boost protection for vulnerable areas:
- Sternum guards shield the chest and heart from close-range shots.
- Side guards protect the carotid arteries along the neck.
- Jaw guards cover the fragile mandible from checks and collisions.
These extensions absorb impact independently from the main unit. They enable 360-degree coverage tailored for goalies. Some players remove supplemental guards to improve ventilation and mobility as needed.
Fit and Coverage
Fit is crucial for goalie throat protectors to work as designed. Loose-fitting guards shift on impact, exposing the neck. Oversized shells and padding also allow energy to channel through gaps instead of absorbing it. Properly snug guards stay centered on shots to maximize shock dissipation.
Coverage gaps leave the neck vulnerable to shots slipping underneath. Goalies must account for anatomy and pad compatibility when selecting extended designs. Full-wrap guards with side protections and chest padding provide comprehensive coverage for goalies that want ultimate protection.
The Bottom Line
Lacrosse goalies rely on their throat protector hundreds of times per game to shield the neck from serious injury. With knowledge of how materials like plastic, foam, gel and textiles absorb and dissipate shock, goalies can make informed choices on the best throat guard for their needs.
Focus on coverage for maximum protection. Prioritize comfort for confidence and consistency on the field. With the right throat guard, goalies can withstand the hardest shots as a stalwart last line of defense.
Prioritize Comfort Without Sacrificing Safety
Finding the perfect throat guard is a balancing act for lacrosse goalies. Maximum protection from blistering shots is the top priority. But all-game comfort is nearly as important. After all, an irritating throat protector that shifts after every save does little good gathering dust on the sidelines.
The good news is that today’s designs allow goalies to prioritize comfort without sacrificing critical safety. By understanding key fit and material considerations, goalies can enjoy lightweight, breathable protection that also absorbs impacts optimally.
Snug Fit Eliminates Gaps
A loose-fitting throat guard jeopardizes safety by leaving gaps between padding and skin. Shots can sneak underneath and transfer full force to the neck. Excessively stiff plates also create pressure points and chafing when they float freely on the throat.
Properly snug throat protectors stay locked in place during action. Built-in stretch fabrics combined with multiple strap points often produce the most comfortable, gap-free fit. Sliding side straps also enable micro fit adjustments.
Moisture Wicking Manages Sweat
Even with generous ventilation holes, throat protectors heat up on hot sunny fields. Sweat-soaked padding feels awful and breeds odor-causing bacteria. This is why many premium throat guards use moisture-wicking textile linings.
High-tech nylon and polyester fabrics draw perspiration away from skin into the pad layers. Increased air circulation accelerates evaporation so padding dries faster. Antimicrobial treatments inhibit bacterial growth for freshness.
Strategic Gel Packs Soften Impacts
Gel pack inserts placed over the carotid arteries cushion shots to the neck. Unlike foam padding, gel intelligently flows away from impacts to protect blood vessels and nerves. Goalies report a noticeable difference in shot damping with gel augmentation.
Gel does come with some drawbacks though. It gets stiff in very cold temperatures. Replacement gel packs can be hard to source once originals degrade. Multi-layer foam constructs provide similar damping effects for goalies sensitive to gel.
Plastic Venting Manages Heat Buildup
Hard plastic shell exteriors provide vital impact resistance for throat guards. Solid designs without vents tend to get hot though. Ventilation holes in premium shells allow inward airflow to cool and dry interior padding.
Vents do slightly diminish the protective shell surface area in localized zones. But improved comfort often outweighs this tradeoff for goalies in warm climates. Those facing heavy shot volume can still opt for unvented solid shell constructions.
Extended Coverage Without Bulk
Full-wrap throat protectors with sternum, side and jaw extensions provide comprehensive protection. But bulky rigid designs hamper mobility, vision and breathing. Newer minimalist extensions strike a better balance.
Thin flat panels with tapered edges add coverage without encumbering movement. Low-profile designs integrate into the contours of the main throat guard. Supple shock-absorbing rubberized frames enable flexing and twisting.
The Bottom Line
Today’s lacrosse throat protectors give goalies the best of both worlds. Advanced fabrics, strategic vents and supple extended guards maximize comfort and mobility. Durable outer shells and energy-absorbing interior foams provide robust protection from all shot angles.
With a properly fitted, lightweight throat protector, goalies can perform at their peak hour after hour. They can react faster, move more fluidly and track the ball better without neck strain or irritation. Premium protection that feels like a second skin keeps goalies confident and consistent in the heat of battle.
Compare Prices of Lacrosse Throat Guards
Lacrosse goalies need premium throat protection, but budget is also a key factor for many players and families. Comparing prices and value across the major brands enables smart choices to maximize safety and performance per dollar spent.
Of course, cost is not the only consideration. Matching threat protection, comfort and ventilation to individual needs and preferences is also essential. But understanding the lacrosse throat guard pricing landscape gives goalies a great starting point.
Entry-Level: Under $50
New lacrosse goalies on a tight budget can find basic throat protection models for under $50. These guards typically have a vented polycarbonate shell over EVA foam padding. A simple chin strap offers fit adjustment.
While affordable, entry-level guards often lack moisture wicking liners and only shield the central throat. Those wanting more comprehensive wrap-around coverage, gel padding and removable/washable liners can plan on spending $75 and up.
Mid-Range: $50 – $100
The $50 to $100 range offers goalies good all-around value with guards that include premium features. Expect moisture wicking interior linings, removable/washable pads and adjustable or removable sternum/jaw extensions in this tier.
Major brands like Cascade, STX and Warrior provide excellent fit, construction and protection at mid-range pricing. Orders from online lacrosse specialty shops also helps save on costs versus in-store purchases.
Premium: $100 – $180
Highly protective lacrosse throat guards with the latest shock absorbing materials and extensions run from $100 up to around $180. Most guards in this tier feature strategically placed polyurethane gel pads or packs. Some integrate FlexArmor or D30 shock absorbing foams as well.
Premium models offer complete 360-degree coverage and maximum shock absorption. But for goalies on a budget, more affordable guards can still provide excellent protection.
Used/Discounted Older Models
Savvy goalies can sometimes find closeout or used guards from previous years at a discount. For example, the Warrior Neck Pro 3 throat guard retailed around $130 when first released but now sells for $60-$90 new-old-stock.
Just be sure to carefully inspect older guards for cracks, loose straps or missing parts that could compromise protection. Replacement liners, foam and gel pads may be unavailable on discontinued models as well.
Buy With Team for Group Discounts
Many lacrosse specialty retailers offer team pricing discounts with group orders. Buying throat guards alongside teammates can save 15-20% or more off standard retail costs. Coaches usually organize team orders in early Spring.
Group orders also eliminate shipping costs, though it means waiting until all guards are delivered before getting your own. Plan ahead and communicate with coaches to take advantage of team discounts.
The Bottom Line
While top-tier lacrosse throat guards with all the bells and whistles can cost over $150, excellent protection is available for much less. Goalies on a budget can get quality guards under $100 if they shop smart.
Match your priority features like gel padding, moisture wicking and flexible extensions to your budget range. With some research, goalies can find just the right balance of premium protection and value for their needs.
Value of Chin and Neck Protection in Addition to Throat
Lacrosse goalies know that shielding their throat from shots is absolutely vital. But the chin, jaw and neck also warrant protection from checks, collisions and errant strikes. Integrated or supplemental guards in these zones complement the main throat protector.
Hard lacrosse balls can inflict serious damage when impacting unprotected areas of the head and neck. Fortifying chin, jaw and carotid artery coverage defends goalies from an array of on-field threats.
Shielding the Fragile Jawline
The mandible jawbone and TMJ joints are highly vulnerable to blunt force. Even non-penetrating impacts can fracture or dislocate the rigid but fragile jaw structure.
Jaw extensions on many modern throat guards cushion wayward shots targeting this region. Low-profile attachments add protection without restricting mobility or vision.
Safeguarding the Carotid Arteries
The carotid arteries along the neck supply oxygen-rich blood to the brain. Forceful blows to these critical pathways can lead to dissections, clots or dangerous hypotension.
Supplementary neck guards with tapered edges extend coverage along the carotids without hindering movement. Integrated side panels on full-wrap throat protectors offer similar protection.
Shielding from Checks and Collisions
Legal stick and body checks are part of lacrosse, but head/neck injuries still occur. Defenders’ long crosses can inadvertently strike the chin on poke checks. Hard collisions along the boards can whip the head violently.
chin guards cushion inadvertent checks while also protecting from own-crosse impacts on cradling. Full side and rear neck coverage is ideal for goalies that help clear and may take checks.
Direct blows to the chin or side/back of head often result in concussions for goalies. Rotational acceleration from hits asymmetrically twists the brain, tearing neural connections.
By damping and deflecting impact forces, complete chin and neck protection reduces concussion risk from routine contacts. Proper helmet fit and parenting also help.
Withstanding Ball Impact Forces
Throat guards provide vital protection but leave sections of the neck exposed. Goalies may reflexively turn their head on shots, leading to ball strikes on unprotected areas.
Supplementary chin and neck padding creates a more complete shield against shots. Extending coverage downward also protects the trachea above chest padding.
The Bottom Line
Shots to the throat represent just one threat facing lacrosse goalies. Checks, collisions and inadvertent ball strikes target vulnerable areas around the head and neck as well.
Integrated or modular chin and neck guards complement main throat protectors by expanding protective coverage. Shielding more surface area better prepares goalies for the myriad of impact risks they face behind the cage.
Choosing Youth Sized vs. Adult Lacrosse Throat Protectors
Lacrosse goalies come in all shapes and sizes, so most throat guard manufacturers offer multiple sizes. Youth models suit smaller athletes, while adult guards fit older teens and full grown players. But when is it time to size up to an adult throat protector?
Considering key anatomical differences, performance factors and industry sizing recommendations helps determine the right time to transition to adult lacrosse throat protection.
Children have proportionally larger heads and thinner, more horizontal necks than adults. Youth lacrosse throat guards account for these anatomical differences with shorter, wider designs and padding.
More upright adult neck angles call for taller guards that extend protection downward to the collar bones and upper chest. Bulkier facial protection is also needed for mature facial structures.
Undersized guards can shift and expose the neck on impact. If shoulder strap slides are fully extended or loose, it’s a sign a larger guard is needed to eliminate gaps.
Oversized youth guards also compromise protection by floating freely on the neck. Measure for a snug fit minimizing up/down play or side-to-side shifting.
Outgrowing Protective Padding
Fixed-thickness foam or gel padding that was once snug can become loose, sacrificing damping capacity. Replacing worn pads may not help if underlying plastic plates are now too small.
Look for thinning/compacted padding and guards that ride too low or expose upper neck. These cues indicate it’s time to upsize with fresh padding built for larger anatomy.
Company Size Recommendations
Most lacrosse brands provide sizing charts for transition between youth and adult guards based on age and height. Athletes growing past 5’8” generally need adult models with more coverage.
Measure neck circumference as well for best fit. If on the cusp, opt for adult guards offering more adjustability for growth spurts.
Venting and Breathability Needs
Youth guards typically have less ventilation to maximize protective coverage. But heat and moisture buildup can now hamper older players.
If lacking airflow, upgrade to an adult guard with strategic vents, moisture-wicking liners and more breathable open-cell foams.
Used Gear Condition
Hand-me-down or used throat guards reaching the end of typical 2-3 year lifespans may not offer full protection anymore, even if right-sized.
Inspect closely for cracking, loosening and thinning before trusting old guards for another season. New adult guards are often a smart investment at this stage.
The Bottom Line
Anatomical development and performance considerations indicate when youth lacrosse players need adult-sized throat guards. A proactive fitting rather than reactive sizing after injury is best practice.
With the right adult throat protector in place before vulnerable gaps emerge, goalies can keep focused on playing their best, not worrying about protection compromises.
Popular Brands Known for Quality Lacrosse Throat Guards
When shopping for lacrosse throat protection, the brand itself conveys important quality and performance expectations. Industry leaders known for excellent goalie gear also produce some of the top-rated throat guards year after year.
Understanding which brands are most popular with lacrosse athletes and reviewing actual customer experiences enables smart choices.
Cascade is synonymous with high-performance lacrosse gear, especially goalie helmets and masks. Their throat guard lineup offers trusted impact protection rooted in decades of innovation.
Top Cascade throat guards feature injected polymer frames with customized carbon or steel flex points for ideal fit. Moisture-wicking XRD foam inside absorbs heavy shots.
Warrior throat guards provide complete lightweight protection aided by flexible Visrol polymer alloy exteriors. Models like the Burn Pro utilize advanced SevenTech gel and foam to dissipate high-speed shots.
Warrior also caters to goalies on a budget with more affordable guards maintaining core safety elements. Youth and adult players alike trust the Warrior brand.
Known for field sticks, STX offers a proven lacrosse throat guard lineup. Their Stallion 500 model combines a polycarbonate exterior with dual-density VN foam lining for excellent shock absorption.
As an established athletic protective gear brand, STX engineers throat guards for comfort and mobility in addition to maximum shot stopping. The value is strong with STX.
Shock Doctor broke into lacrosse after years perfecting hockey neck guards. Technologies like Air Dispersion X plates transfer and distribute impact forces for protection without bulk.
As a trusted name in sports safety equipment, Shock Doctor gives lacrosse goalies pro-grade protection borrowing from other sports.
Epoch shook up lacrosse with innovative carbon fiber shafts and heads. Now their Integra line brings advanced carbon fiber composites to throat guards as well.
The Integra Carbon Pro throat guard delivers a featherlight yet strong unibody design. For goalies demanding ultra premium protection, Epoch delivers.
Known for standout goalie leg pads and gloves, Maverik also produces high-end M5 lacrosse throat guards. They combine a carbon-reinforced shell with D30 rate-responsive foam lining for top-level shot absorption.
Maverik gives goalies consistent premium protection extending from head to toe. Their M5 throat guard brings the same attention to detail as other Maverik gear.
The Bottom Line
When evaluating lacrosse throat protectors, the brand reputation counts for a lot. Companies like Cascade, Warrior and STX design market-leading throat guards backed by years perfecting goalie equipment.
While cost varies, elite brands provide the assurance of maximum safety, durability and performance. For total confidence in throat protection, turn to the proven pros.
Consider Detachable vs. Integrated Helmet Throat Guards
Lacrosse goalies have two main options for coupling throat protection with their helmet: detachable guards that strap on separately, or integrated guards built into the mask. Both approaches have pros and cons to weigh.
Reviewing key differences in coverage, convenience, breathability and costs helps determine if a detachable or integrated throat guard is the best choice.
Coverage with Detachable Guards
Detachable lacrosse throat guards connect to the helmet via straps and snaps. This enables full wrap-around coverage and compatibility with many helmet models.
Detachable guards also make sizing easier by mixing and matching independently sized helmet and throat protector. Extended neck coverage is straightforward as well.
Built-in Coverage of Integrated Guards
Integrated throat guards bond directly to the helmet shell, eliminating gaps that detachable designs can suffer. They generally provide more complete coverage around the sides and back of the neck.
The tradeoff is integrated guards are sized fixedly with the helmet itself. Those needing a smaller or larger throat protector must buy a whole new mask.
Convenience of Detachable Guards
Detachable throat protectors allow quick on/off helmet attachment for gearing up. Swapping between helmets is easy since the guard isn’t fixed to one mask.
Detachable guards also make cleaning and maintenance simpler. Parts are accessible and replaceable without affecting the helmet itself.
Integrated Guard Stability
Chin straps and hardware needed for detachable throat guards can loosen over time. This allows unintended shifting upon impact that leaves gaps.
Integrated guards eliminate detachment points for more complete stability. The protector stays centered on shots without need for adjustments.
Detachable throat guards often interfere with helmet ventilation at attachment points. Airflow reaching the neck area can be reduced.
Integrated guards have tailored vents that align with those in the helmet shell. This optimization prevents blocking airflow and overheating.
Detachable lacrosse throat guards allow mixing and matching different brands to control costs. Replacing only the protector is cheaper if the helmet remains functional.
Integrated guards require buying a brand new helmet anytime a different size is needed. But some brands include the guard at no extra charge.
The Bottom Line
Detachable and integrated lacrosse throat protectors each offer advantages. Detachable guards provide fuller coverage and easier sizing changes. Integrated guards promise better stability and ventilation.
Considering usage, cost and convenience factors helps goalies choose the right coupling approach for their protection needs and budget.
Properly Caring for and Maintaining Your Throat Protector
Lacrosse goalies rely on their throat guard hundreds of times per game to absorb shots. Like any protective gear, proper maintenance is required to keep throat protectors functioning as designed season after season.
Following key best practices for cleaning, inspection, storage and replacement ensures throat guards remain in peak game-ready condition.
Sweat, dirt and grime degrade throat guard materials over time. Bacteria growing in accumulated gunk also causes foul odors. That’s why regular cleaning after practices and games is essential.
Use mild soap and warm water to cleanse outer surfaces. Replace removable padding and liners in the washing machine periodically. Let all components fully air dry before storage.
Inspecting for Damage
Inspect throat protectors before each use for cracks, warped plates or loose/missing hardware. Pay special attention to high wear areas like strap attachment points.
Press down firmly on padding to check for compacted or bottoming-out foam. Replace thinning pads that no longer rebound fully when compressed.
Replacing Worn Parts
With removable pad designs, worn foam liners, straps and gel packs can be replaced individually as needed through the manufacturer.
This extends the life of the throat protector shell, saving money over buying new. Be sure to use only factory authorized replacement parts for proper fit and protection.
Keep throat guards out of direct sunlight when not in use. UV rays damage and fade lacquer coatings and plastic over time. Store in a cool, dry area away from other gear that could scratch the surface.
Avoid tossing guards loose into bags. Use a protective case or wrap gently with clothes to prevent damage during transport.
While some elite goalies use throat guards for 5+ years, most players replace their protector every 2-3 seasons. Changing neck size, wear and technology advances support this replacement cycle.
Compare your current guard to new models when considering replacement. Better fit, padding and coverage likely make an upgrade worthwhile.
Recertifying Used Guards
Gently used lacrosse throat guards pass through dealers offering inspection, reconditioning and recertification services.
This extensive renewal process confirms pre-owned guards meet original safety specifications. Certified pre-owned (CPO) throat guards provide value for budget-conscious players.
The Bottom Line
With steady cleaning, inspection and replacement of worn components, lacrosse goalies maintain peak throat guard protection for seasons on end.
Proper maintenance reduces risks while maximizing value. A little regular care goes a long way toward confident, consistent performance in the crease.
When It’s Time to Replace an Old or Damaged Throat Guard
Lacrosse goalies develop trust in their throat protector over seasons of absorbing shots. But consistent peak performance requires replacing guards once they show clear signs of wear and decline.
Evaluating key indicators of diminished protection capability helps determine when it’s truly time to retire an old throat guard for a new model.
Obvious Cracks or Breaks
Cracks in the rigid exterior plastic shell compromise structural integrity. One deep shot could cause a cracked guard to fail. Obvious fractures, especially around screw holes, necessitate immediate replacement.
Broken clip posts, frayed strap remnants or missing screws also indicate catastrophic failures rendering the protector unsafe for use.
Warping and Misshaping
Repeated impacts and UV sun exposure slowly warp the shape of plastic throat guard plates. Distortion from the original molded shape suggests material fatigue.
Gently bend and twist the protector to check for plastic memory loss. Prolonged misshaping signals declined performance and imminent brittleness.
Interior Pad Deterioration
Repeated compression flattens padding layers and gel packs inside throat guards. Bottoming out on impacts transfers more force to the neck.
Press down firmly on padding to check rebound quality. Mushy, slow-recovering foam or gel indicates limited remaining shock absorption.
Loose, Ineffective Hardware
The chin cup and side straps keep throat guards anchored firmly against shots. Clasps and sliders that slip or easily disconnect suggest replacement.
Difficulty achieving a snug fit despite loose hardware adjustments also indicates a worn out protector shell.
Poor Moisture Wicking
Saturated sweat-soaked padding breeds bacteria and odors while reducing performance. If moist layers are slow to dry out, the liner material has broken down.
Replacing worn textile lining components often remedies moisture issues. But pervasive wicking problems indicate a guard has reached its lifespan.
Accessory Replacement Unavailable
Manufacturers eventually stop offering replacement parts for older throat guard models. Missing or damaged components force full unit replacement at this stage.
Lack of customer support, instructions and compatible accessories signifies a protector is obsolete and due for retirement.
The Bottom Line
Outward signs of aging demonstrate when a lacrosse throat protector has exhausted its protective lifespan. Cracks, warped plates, loose hardware and worn padding indicate replacement time has come.
While prolonging guard life with good maintenance is wise, recognizing inevitable decline ensures continued safety in goal. Know when it’s time to retire an old friend.
Protecting Your Throat Can Save Your Lacrosse Season
Stepping into the crease without proper throat protection jeopardizes every lacrosse goalie’s health and season aspirations. Yet some still downplay the dangers of playing sans neck guard.
Understanding the critical function of throat guards reveals why no shot should be faced without one. Goalies must make informed decisions to safeguard their future.
Preventing Catastrophic Injuries
While fortunately rare, lacrosse ball impacts to the front of the unprotected throat can crush the trachea and larynx. Death from suffocation can result.
Side and rear blows to the unshielded carotid arteries and jugular veins also risk severe hemorrhaging. A throat guard helps prevent severe or even fatal injury from errant shots.
Shielding Vulnerable Anatomy
The neck contains multiple fragile structures critical for breathing, blood flow and consciousness. The windpipe, arteries, veins, nerves and spine all lie exposed.
Throat guards cushion blows to prevent damage that could require emergency surgery and extended recovery periods.
Direct shots to the front or sides of the neck violently whip the head and brain. The resulting acceleration and twisting forces cause concussions.
Proper throat protection absorbs energy from shots that could otherwise give goalies a traumatic brain injury.
Preventing Painful Contusions
Even non-penetrating ball impacts leave painful bruises on unprotected necks that swell and stiffen. Limits to mobility and turning the head result.
Contusions to the larynx or trachea further hamper breathing and vocal cord function for calling out defensive assignments.
Minimizing Recovery Time
Playing without a throat protector risks injury requiring extensive time off the field for recovery. Lost playing time affects performance and team chemistry.
Wearing a guard ensures goalies avoid lost seasons and maintain their key role protecting the crease.
Knowing their vulnerable neck area is shielded from harm provides goalies peace of mind. They can focus completely on the ball rather than worrying about injuries.
Feeling safe to react instinctively is critical for goalies to perform at their best and highest level.
The Bottom Line
Lacrosse throat protectors are essential defensive gear, not an optional accessory. Protecting the fragile structures of the neck and throat prevents severe injuries that can impair breathing and prove fatal.
Goalies who overlook neck guards gamble with their health and entire season. Smart players make informed decisions to protect their future in the crease.