The quality of a lacrosse stick is just one aspect of the game, but it’s easily one of the most important for several reasons. For starters, your personalization can dictate a lacrosse stick’s performance. Not taking the proper care of your stick can also result in using a stick you aren’t comfortable with, and that can affect your game as well. Avoid all of this by simply following some essential lacrosse stick maintenance for every player.
Check Your Lacrosse Stick’s Head
The first place you should always start when keeping up with maintenance is at the top with the lacrosse stick’s head. The two easiest things to look at to make sure it’s ready for gameday is the screw and ball stop. Both are at the bottom of the head. A screw will be on the back and keep your head connected to the shaft.
PRO TIP: Always keep a few extra screws and a screwdriver in your lacrosse bag!
A ball stop is a small piece of padding that will be on the inside of the lacrosse head, and this will do exactly that—keep a lacrosse ball from bouncing once it gets into your stick. If the ball stop happens to fall off, the good news is you can easily replace it with a new one!
Inspect Your Pocket
Once you finish looking over some general things on the lacrosse head, you will then want to check out the intricacies of the pocket. This is the part of stick maintenance that can greatly impact your performance on the field, so it’s crucial for you to check often.
Make Sure It’s Legal
There are several things you will want to be wary of when you are looking over your stick, and a vital one is its legality. Now, the legality of a stick varies based on the level or discipline you are playing at, but an easy stick check you can do that’s pretty universal is placing a ball in the pocket and looking at it from the side. If the ball falls below the plastic of the lacrosse stick’s head, that means it’s illegal, so make sure there’s a little bit of the ball above the plastic to avoid a pocket that’s too deep and illegal. If you need to tighten up your pocket, adjust the two stings and the bottom of the lacrosse head.
Look at the Sidewall and Strings
Another important part of the stick to check is the sidewall. Stringing tends to deteriorate over time and taking a look to make sure it’s not on the verge of breaking apart and nothing is loose is an easy way to avoid problems during practice or a game.
The final part of your pocket to look at is the end of the strings. For the girls’ game especially, you don’t want long strings going up against your face or caught on anything, which is why you want to cut them down a little. When you cut off a little bit of the strings at the end, make sure you still leave some room in case you need to switch something up. After cutting the extra length of the string off, have either you or your parent take a lighter to the end of the string to avoid frays.
Watch the Throat
Because lacrosse heads can change shape, you will want to look out for this as well to keep it legal. A common area where a head may morph is the throat, which is the width of a head. Where the throat needs to be will also depend on the rules at your level, but a common tactic to make it legal is to use a softball when you are not playing with the stick, to bring it back to its correct shape.
What To Look for on the Lacrosse Stick’s Shaft
You never want to mistreat your lacrosse stick’s shaft either, so there are a few things to check with that as well. The first is making sure the tape on the shaft is legal and in good condition so it gives you the grip you are looking for. Butt ends can typically fly off during play as well, and not having one is not only dangerous, but also illegal, so make sure yours is intact.
Store It Properly
A common mistake young lacrosse players make is keeping their stick in the back of their car or in the garage. The problem with this is that both hot and cold weather can warp your lacrosse stick’s head and stringing. Therefore, another part of essential lacrosse stick maintenance for every player is to keep your stick protected in a dry environment inside either your home or in a locker room.
In Wet Conditions
Playing in the elements is inevitable with lacrosse and when it rains, that can cause your pocket to bag out and it may become illegal.
PRO TIP: During the game or practice, keeping your stick under your jersey is a good way to keep it protected.
Afterwards, you can remove any mud by putting the head under warm water and rubbing it off. When you complete all of that, make sure your pocket is where you want it and soak up any extraneous water with newspaper.
On the Road
If you are on a travel team or plan on attending a camp, you may have to go on a flight to get there. When you are checking bags, you run the risk of damaging or losing your stick. Since the TSA doesn’t classify a lacrosse stick as a carry-on bag, your next best bet is to take your stick apart. Bring your strung head on the plane with you by putting it in a backpack or a small bag. Then put your stick’s shaft in the checked bag. This way, you don’t have to worry about what might come to your pocket as bags board the plane.
Have a Backup
As you start to progress in your lacrosse career, it’s worth considering getting yourself a backup stick. Maintaining your stick regularly will do a lot, but emergencies happen, and most elite players have a backup stick strung up to their liking ready to go on the sidelines just in case. A backup is much better than the alternative of using someone else’s stick that may have too much whip or not have a pocket deep enough, which leads to you having to adjust and potentially hurt your performance on the field.
Keep a Stringing Kit Handy
In addition to a backup lacrosse stick, players should also have all the stringing supplies they may need. Lacrosse Fanatic has men’s and women’s lacrosse stick stringing kits readily available. If you don’t string your own head, Lacrosse Fanatic can also help you in that department as well with our custom stringing options done by our experienced stick doctors on staff!