As a new lacrosse player (or parent of a lacrosse player), picking out what stick to buy is not so simple as it would seem. Some players are so unfamiliar with lacrosse sticks that they’re completely unaware that they even come in different sizes.
You can tell which lacrosse stick length to buy based on your position. Note that adult and youth lacrosse players have differing stick length guidelines. A helpful sizing chart for complete sticks (both head and shaft) is provided below.
|Position||Minimum Stick Length for Adult||Maximum Stick Length for Adult||Minimum Stick Length for Youth (Age 10 & Under)||Maximum Stick Length for Youth (Age 10 & Under)|
|Short Stick Midfielder||40″||42″||37″||42″|
|Long Stick Midfielder (LSM)||52″||72″||47″||54″|
These legal stick length requirements provide a general indication of what size stick to buy. However, you may have noticed that defensemen, LSM’s, and goalies have a broad stick length range to work with. For a new lacrosse player, it can be difficult to determine what exact stick length within this range is ideal for their individual preferences and body frame. We will address this issue in the latter portions of the article.
Purchase the Size of a Lacrosse Stick Based on Your Position
In order to select the proper lacrosse stick, your first order of business is to establish what lacrosse position you want to play. Obviously, you can’t do that if you don’t even know what the different lacrosse positions are. If you have not chosen your desired position, don’t rush this decision here without obtaining a base level of position knowledge.
Instead, click over to my article The 4 Major Lacrosse Positions: A Beginner’s Guide so that you will have a foundational understanding of each lacrosse position. This way, you can make an informed decision on which position suits you best.
Next, you need to know that there are three major parts to the lacrosse stick: the shaft, the head, and the pocket. Most beginner lacrosse sticks come completely assembled together. However, if you want to completely customize the stick, you will have to buy each part separately.
These three basic parts of the lacrosse stick are labeled in the image below.
To learn more about each specific part of the lacrosse stick, click over to my article The Parts of a Lacrosse Stick: An Illustrated Guide.
There are two types of lacrosse head sizes: one for regular field players and one for goalkeepers. These two head types are extremely different in size. The specific differences in head dimensions are shown in the table below (source 1 & source 2).
|Head Dimensions||Field Lacrosse Heads||Goalie Lacrosse Heads|
|Length||10 inches||16 & 1/2 inches|
|Width||6 to 10 inches||10 to 12 inches|
For your reference, I also included an image below to offer a better indication of what size head to look for.
There are three types of lacrosse shaft sizes: attack/midfield shafts, goalie shafts, and defense shafts. The standard lengths at which these different types of lacrosse shafts are sold can be found in the table below.
|Type of Shaft||Standard Length|
I know tables can only go so far, so I provided a visual for you below so that you could see the difference in shaft sizes for yourself.
Once you’ve decided which position you want to play, you will then be able to apply the knowledge above to purchase the appropriate sized lacrosse stick to match your position. In the sections below, we will go over each position in detail and summarize the major points of what size lacrosse stick to buy.
Attack & Midfield Stick Size
Attackmen and short stick midfielders play with the shortest lacrosse sticks, as mentioned earlier. The legal specifications for short stick length in lacrosse is between 40 and 42 inches.
It is important that the majority of face-off specialists fall into this category as well. There are a few face-off specialists that predominantly use a long stick, but they’re in the minority.
Short sticks do not have nearly as much flexibility relative to other positions in terms of stick length. They are limited to a narrow 2 inch legal range. Youth players can shorten their stick to 37 inches. However, these shortened sticks are not available for sale. The lacrosse shaft must be physically cut down in order to reduce a stick to a length of 37 inches (head and shaft combined).
Defense and Long Stick Midfield (LSM) Stick Size
Defensemen and long stick midfielders use a lacrosse stick that is nearly twice as long as attackmen and normal midfielders. The length of their sticks lie within the range of 52 to 72 inches.
Defensemen have a much wider range to work with in terms of legal stick length. Nevertheless, all defense shafts are sold as 60 inch lacrosse shafts. Combined with the head, this makes for a standard long stick length of approximately 70 inches.
Defense shafts do not come in a vast range of stick lengths. For example, you cannot purchase a 43 inch lacrosse shaft or a 59 inch lacrosse shaft. If you want to have a long stick that is shorter than 70 inches, you’ll have to cut down the shaft on your own.
Youth defensemen and LSM’s can have a long stick that is as short as 47 inches, but again, the lacrosse shaft must be manually cut down to reach this shortened length.
As a general rule of thumb, a long stick should be about as tall as the player wielding the long stick. If the player is 5’6″ for example, then you will have to cut down the stick to be approximately 66 inches.
Goalie Stick Size
Goalkeepers have the most unique stick size of all lacrosse positions given the unorthodox nature of their responsibilities on the field.
They require a head with a tremendous amount of surface area so that they can have a fair chance at making saves. This is why the goalie head dimensions are so much larger than regular field heads.
In addition, they have the most flexibility when it comes to stick length. The lacrosse rules committee leaves it up to the goalies to determine whether a short stick or a slightly longer stick suits their goalkeeping ability best.
Although goalies are allowed to play with a lacrosse stick that is as long as a defensive stick (72 inches), I personally have never seen a goalie play with a stick that long. It would be far too clumsy to react to oncoming shots in a timely manner. Generally, the standard goalie shaft length is 40 inches long, which would roughly make for a 56 & 1/2 inch complete stick.
To customize the length of your goalie stick, you will need to cut down the stick yourself. Virtually all goalies keep their shaft length within the range of 30 inches to 40 inches (source). It is rare for goalies to venture beyond this range.
Should You Cut Down the Length of Your Lacrosse Stick After Purchase?
With all this talk of manually cutting down your lacrosse stick, you’re likely wondering if this is the best course of action for you. We will analyze the exact pros and cons of cutting down a lacrosse stick for youth players, long stick defensemen, and goalies so that you can make an informed decision on what is the ideal choice given your current situation.
It is always a dilemma whether or not youth players should cut down their lacrosse sticks. By rule, youth players under the age of ten are allowed to play with shortened lacrosse sticks.
Pros: Youth players have yet to reach their full development and may lack the strength to play with a full lacrosse stick. Trimming down the lacrosse shaft grants these youth players a fair opportunity to learn how to play lacrosse the right way. Cradling, passing, shooting, dodging, defending, and every other fundamental lacrosse skill can be more easily learned with the appropriate sized lacrosse stick.
With an overly heavy, lengthy lacrosse stick, this may not be a possibility. Instead, they may develop bad habits on the field that permanently stick with them.
Cons: A major disadvantage of cutting down the shaft is that it puts a cap on how long the lacrosse stick will be legal for. As you probably know, lacrosse sticks don’t come cheap. If a youth player only has one or two seasons left where it is legal for them to play with a shortened lacrosse stick, it may not even be worth it to cut down the shaft.
The good news is that you could simply unscrew the head and replace the shortened shaft with a full length one. But even then, shafts can get pretty expensive.
Furthermore, it’s important to note that youth players may grow to rely on a shortened lacrosse stick if they play with it for too long. Once they’re forced to transition to a full length stick, the adjustment period might be unnecessarily frustrating for them.
Long Stick Defensemen
Long stick defensemen also face this same dilemma of whether they should cut down their stick, whether they’re an adult or youth player.
Pros: The standard 70 inch length of long sticks can be extremely difficult to manage, especially for lacrosse players that have yet to reach their full development. It can be troublesome to land forceful stick checks with precision with such a long, clumsy stick.
Some defensemen see a noticeable improvement in their game performance when they trim down their lacrosse shaft. Due to the reduced weight and shortened length, they’re better able to keep opposing ball carriers at bay. They can actually deliver stick checks with speed and accuracy – something that they likely weren’t able to achieve with a standard sized long stick.
Cons: The problem is that the whole purpose of playing with a long stick as a defenseman is that it provides an extra cushion against ball carriers. The additional length of the stick allows defenders to pressure opponents from a safe distance. This way, defenders don’t have to approach ball carriers every time they deliver a stick check and leave themselves in a vulnerable position.
Decreasing the length of the shaft takes away from this defensive advantage. So although certain players may benefit from cutting down their shaft, other players may see their performance suffer.
Also, it is imperative that the shaft is not trimmed too short when performing a manual cut. You can make a lacrosse shaft shorter, but you can’t magically make it longer. If you accidentally make a mistake during the cut down, you may end up having to fork over another hefty sum of cash to get a new long pole.
Last up on the list is goalies. Since goalies have the most flexible range of stick length, they are typically the ones who cut down their lacrosse stick the most.
Pros: If any position should cut down their lacrosse stick, it should be the goalie. The reason is that goalies thrive on split second reflexes to make saves on oncoming shots. Reducing the weight of the lacrosse shaft by trimming it down may help them get their stick to the ball a fraction of a second quicker. Ultimately, this could mean the difference between a save and a goal.
As aforementioned, shafts are only sold at three fixed lengths. In order for a goalie to feel the most comfortable in the cage, having a custom length shaft is a must. Sometimes, fixed length shafts just don’t do the job. By cutting down their stick, goalies can design a shorter shaft for an ideal combination of lightness and quickness that you can’t get with a fixed length shaft.
Cons: Figuring out the ideal shaft length as a goalie can be a tedious process, especially as a beginner. Since it is only possible to shorten a lacrosse stick and not lengthen it, you have to cut the shaft down inch by inch and experiment at each stick length to see if it’s what you’re looking for. If you’re impatient and cut down the shaft in haste, you’ll end up with a stick that is shorter than what you prefer.
In addition, cutting down a lacrosse shaft takes a considerable amount of effort in and of itself. If you lack experience in this area (which many lacrosse goalies do), there is a high risk that you may end up making a jagged cut at the wrong location.
How to Cut Down a Lacrosse Shaft
After reading through the pros and cons listed above, you may have decided that cutting down your lacrosse shaft makes the most sense for you. To cut down your lacrosse shaft in the most safe and productive manner possible, I have outlined a step-by-step guide below.
As a disclaimer, cutting down your lacrosse shaft does involve the use of sharp tools. Injury can result if you’re not careful. You should cut down your lacrosse shaft with someone who is experienced with these tools to minimize the risk of injury.
Step 1: Gather the Necessary Materials
You will need the following materials to cut down your lacrosse shaft:
- lacrosse shaft
- lacrosse head
- tape measure
- post-it notes
- athletic tape
Step 2: Measure the Stick and Mark Your Desired Stick Length
Next, you will need to attack the shaft and head together. Use the tape measure to measure the exact length that you want your lacrosse stick to be. Tape over the general area of the shaft where you’re going to make your cut. Then, draw a line on the tape to designate exactly where you need to cut.
Be sure that the line is straight. Otherwise, you will end up with a lopsided cut!
Step 3: Use the Hacksaw to Perform the Cut
The next order of business is to perform the cut itself. Remove the head from the shaft and place the shaft on a sturdy workbench. The portion of the shaft that you’re going to cut down should be hanging off of the table.
Have a friend hold the shaft against the surface of the workbench to keep the shaft immobile. Once the shaft is securely held down, you can finally begin the sawing process. Slowly cut a notch into the shaft at the designated line that you marked earlier. Take extreme care to saw in a straight line and don’t rush yourself! Trust me, it’s worth it to take the extra five to ten minutes to get the cut just right.
Once you’ve sawed about halfway through the shaft, you can start to quicken the pace.
Step 4: Sand Down the Jagged Edges of the Cut with Sandpaper
With the excess shaft material trimmed off, it’s time to polish off those jagged edges with sandpaper. Place the sandpaper on the workbench and rub the sawed off end of the shaft against the sandpaper. Once the rough edges of the cut have been sanded off, reattach the end cap so that it covers the sawed off end of the shaft.
Step 5: Screw the Head Back On and Enjoy Your Ideal Length Lacrosse Stick!
With all the hard work out of the way, all that needs to be done now is fastening the head to the shortened lacrosse shaft. Once the head is fixed in place with the screw, you’re set and ready to go!
If you’re more of a visual learner, I provided a quick two and a half minute video below summarizing these steps below.
Make Sure You Don’t Buy a Mini Stick on Accident!
As a final note, I have to point out the difference between mini lacrosse sticks and real lacrosse sticks.
Mini lacrosse sticks, or fiddlesticks, are toy lacrosse sticks that are meant for informal play. They’re just something to mess around with in and around the house. Lacrosse players don’t use fiddlesticks for actual gameplay. You can see the obvious difference between a real lacrosse stick and a mini lacrosse stick in the picture below.
The main takeaway here is to not confuse mini lacrosse sticks with real lacrosse sticks! The last thing you want to do is come home and realize you bout a lacrosse souvenir, not a real piece of useful equipment.