The exhaustive list of names for the different pieces of lacrosse equipment is seemingly endless to those that are just getting familiar with the sport. This is why many lacrosse novices have a challenging time figuring out the exact name that labels the bottom end of a lacrosse stick.
The bottom end of a lacrosse stick is commonly referred to as the “end cap” or the “butt-end.” Both names can be used interchangeably to describe the solid rubber or hard plastic cork at the bottom of the lacrosse shaft.
The end cap is one of the more overlooked parts of the lacrosse stick due its small stature. However, it is an essential term to know. The end cap has significant implications in terms of the overall legality your stick and the quality of your ball control. Read further to discover these explicit ramifications for yourself.
Common Names for the Bottom End of a Lacrosse Stick
The most commonplace terms that reference the bottom end of a lacrosse stick are described below.
“End cap” is the preferred term utilized by referees to allude to the bottom end of a lacrosse stick. As we will see later, the end cap must follow a certain set of stipulations in order for your lacrosse stick to be legal for play.
Players and coaches frequently reference the bottom end of the lacrosse stick as the “butt-end.” This is certainly the more informal term of the two. However, it is equally, if not more, commonplace in the lacrosse community than the term “end cap.”
Where Exactly is the End Cap Located?
The end cap is located at the very bottom of the lacrosse shaft. It is the farthest point away from the lacrosse head and the lacrosse pocket. This is the standard location where a player positions their non-dominant hand while cradling, shooting, or passing.
At times, the end cap can be a challenging item to locate. This is because lacrosse players have a tendency to tape the shaft area near the butt end. Tape provides additional grip for players while performing various lacrosse movements, such as shots, passes, or checks.
The precise location of the end cap is shown in the image below. This is a prime example of how the tape encircling the bottom portion of the shaft can make it difficult to find the end cap from afar.
The Purpose of the End Cap
There are a couple of reasons as to why the end cap is always found at the bottom end of the lacrosse stick.
Promotes Player Safety
The primary rationale for the inclusion of the end cap is safety. Without the end cap, the bottom of the metal (or wooden) shaft is exposed. There is an emphasis on physical contact in lacrosse. The exposed, sharp metal at the end of a lacrosse shaft does not bode well with physical contact.
Trying to check an opponent with a naked metal end has the potential to result in severe injury. Thus, the end cap is fitted with nearly every lacrosse stick on the market to minimize this likelihood of injury.
Helps The Non-Dominant Hand Stay on the Lacrosse Stick
In addition, the end cap prevents the bottom hand of a lacrosse player from flying off of the stick.
Shots, passes, and checks put a lot of pressure on the bottom hand. In the absence of a textured end cap, this excess pressure could cause the bottom hand to veer off of the slick metal shaft.
It is exceedingly difficult to retain control of your lacrosse stick when you only have one hand to work with. The lack of control that inevitably results almost always leads to a wild shot, pass, or check. Obviously, this is not a good thing for lacrosse players.
The textured grip of the end cap does a much finer job at preventing the bottom hand from sliding off. Not only that, a lacrosse player is able to feel where the lacrosse stick ends when the end cap is present.
It is similar to the warning track in baseball. The texture of the field transitions from grass to dirt for the purpose of signaling to the outfielder that the stadium wall is within reach. This same concept applies to lacrosse sticks. The texture of the shaft changes over from metal to rubber or hard plastic to let the lacrosse player know that the bottom of the shaft is near.
This knowledge is critical because lacrosse players cannot afford to keep their eyes on their stick. They need to hold their head up so that they can adequately react to their surroundings in a swift manner.
Different Examples of What an End Cap Looks Like
The end cap can take a variety of forms. Some of the most prominent of these forms are described in the subsequent paragraphs.
Rubber End Cap
The image to the left is an example of what a rubber end cap looks like. This is the standard type of rubber end cap that comes equipped with nearly every lacrosse stick on sale today. It has a rather simple design given that its main purpose is to simply cover the exposed metal end of the lacrosse shaft.
Most lacrosse companies produce these types of rubber end caps. These manufacturers include STX, Brine, Epoch, East Coast Dyes, StringKing, TRUE, and Warrior.
If you are curious, the specific make of the rubber end cap in the image shown above is the Brine King End Cap.
Hard Plastic End Cap
The lacrosse end cap can also take the form of hard plastic. An example of what this looks like is depicted in the image to the left. It is easy for a lacrosse player to tell where the lacrosse stick is about to end because of the marked difference between the texture of the shaft and the texture of the hard plastic.
Like the rubber cap, hard plastic caps typically come in a plain style. However, there are an assortment of colors to choose from with both rubber end caps and hard plastic end caps.
The specific brand of the model hard plastic end cap above is the Gait Men’s End Cork. Gait and Warrior are currently the leading manufacturers of hard plastic end caps in the lacrosse industry.
Is It Illegal to Play Without a Butt End?
It is most certainly illegal to play without a butt end. The hollow of the lacrosse shaft must be completely covered. No part of the inner section of the lacrosse shaft should be seen. Formal lacrosse guidelines definitively specify that every lacrosse stick must be equipped with a manufactured end cap designed exclusively for lacrosse.
The last portion of the previous statement is extremely important. The end cap must be manufactured exclusively for lacrosse gameplay. Thus, tape and bottle caps do not fit the explicit criteria for a legal end cap, even if the inner section of the shaft is covered.
Referees in the past used to turn a blind eye to this sort of thing. Nowadays, referees are cracking down and strictly going by the book. If a referee does find that a stick is not properly fitted with a company manufactured end cap, an illegal crosse penalty is issued.
Again, this goes back to player safety. Specially designed lacrosse end caps that adequately cover the end of the lacrosse stick must be utilized to protect other players from being harmed.
The end of a metal lacrosse shaft has the potential to pierce through tape or break through bottle caps. No lacrosse stick should be a potential source of harm to other players. This is why the higher-ups in the lacrosse community outlined the rules regarding end caps in the explicit manner that they did.
Can You Tape the End Cap?
It is illegal to substitute the end cap for tape. However, it is legal to fasten the end cap to the lacrosse shaft with tape.
As aforementioned, there is a tremendous amount of pressure on the end cap throughout particular lacrosse movements. The end cap will actually come off upon reaching a certain pressure threshold. If this happens to a player during a game, they will be forced to sub off until their lacrosse stick adheres to the legal criteria.
To avoid this issue, many lacrosse players choose to secure the end cap on with tape. The picture below is a model example of what this actually looks like.
Another common tape job that players routinely apply to their end cap is what is commonly referred to in the lacrosse world as a “donut.” This is because the end cap mimics the appearance of a donut once the tape job is finally finished.
The purpose behind taping the end cap in this way is to create a physical obstruction that will stop the bottom hand from flying off. Some players just like how it feels. Others believe that this type of tape job grants a player extra leverage on shots that translates to increased power and speed.
Regardless of what they believe, many lacrosse players elect to use this type of end cap tape job. I actually still prefer to use this tape job myself.
An example of this distinct tape job is pictured below.
This type of tape job falls within legal limits as long as the physical end cap is still able to be seen at the bottom of the shaft.
An example of what the bottom of the shaft should look like is pictured below.