Lacrosse is a sport that’s played with a lacrosse stick. The head of the stick has been adapted for every position of the years and is still adapting to this day. Players will use the head to shoot, pickup, catch, pass and carry the ball.
Depending on the position you play, you’ll find that there are slight variations in the head with different positions requiring to do different tasks, the heads are normally adapted to be better in these situations.
As a last man defensive player, I find myself intercepting a lot more passes than some of my forward teammates and therefore having a wider head allows me to intercept a lot more passes. Whereas my attacking teammates find a narrower head helps them generate more power and accuracy on shots and dodging in and out of defenders.
Depending on if you play NFHS, NCAA or Universal there’s a slight variation in the width that your head is allowed to be. We’ll go into detail on each of the sizes later on, but this is something you shouldn’t put aside and if you don’t know the rules you should be following, ask your coach. He’ll probably even recommend you a few different heads.
Attacking and Midfield players heads are normally a lot lighter. This allows the player to weave in and out of defenders easier. Their head is normally a lot narrower than any other position and is best for shooting and passing.
Defensive players will often use a wider head so it’s easier to intercept passes and stop goal-scoring opportunities. The heads are often sturdier and can withstand checking players and picking up ground balls.
Lacrosse heads can come both strung and unstrung. Buying a strung head has the advantage of knowing it’s strung to the average player with passing, shooting and catching in mind. But they’re also more expensive. Whereas an unstrung head means you can customise the stringing process and make small tweaks depending on the position you play. Attackers seem to string their heads as you want it more customized for your gameplay.
The good news is that I’m not going to throw affiliate links for the top five lacrosse heads for each position on amazon as you’ll find on plenty of other sites. And well you’ve probably already made that amazon search and wanting to know which one to buy. So instead, using my 8 years of lacrosse knowledge, I’m going to hopefully explain to you the best lacrosse heads and which types are suited for each position.
I must, however, disclose that some links on this page are part of the amazon affiliate program and I will make a small commission on any qualifying purchase. All affiliate links are to products that I’ve personally used or that have been recommended by my previous coaches.
Table of Contents
- Glossary Guide
- Narrow Vs Wide Heads
- Stiff Vs Flexible Sidewalls
- Curved Vs Flat Scoops
- Attacking Recommendations
- Midfield Recommendations
- Defensive Recommendations
- Goalie Recommendations
Depending on which type of lacrosse specifications you follow. Either NFHS, NCAA or Univeral there are certain restrictions the head must be within. When you go to buy a lacrosse head make sure that it’s legal for whichever type of rules you are following.
A lot of heads are universal meaning that you can use it for both NFHS and NCAA games. But it’s best to double-check before you buy.
If you don’t know which rules you are following, either ask your coach or buy a universal head.
If you’re new to lacrosse below are some keywords that’ll come up a lot within this guide. We made this section so you can refer back if you don’t understand anything we say.
Mesh: Most manufacturers use some form of nylon meshing as the main material for the pocket.
Scoop: As you’d expect the scoop is right at the top of the head and is used primarily for collecting ground balls.
Ball Stop: A ball stop is at the bottom of the head and is usually a small piece of foam or rubber that helps reduce the bounce of the ball when you catch it.
Sidewall: The sidewall stops the ball from falling out of either side of the head when you collect the ball. The wider the head the bigger the sidewall will be.
Throat: The throat is the part at the bottom of the head that is used to connect the head to the stick shaft.
Cradling: The cradling motion is a small back and forth motion often used to keep the ball in the pocket and stop it from bouncing out. The motion helps keep the ball still so you avoid any unnecessary drops.
Rail: The rail is the two vertical strings that allow the ball to be released smoothly when going to make a pass or shot. Allows the player to also generate a lot more power.
Lip: The lip is known as the bit just under the shooting strings where the ball will nestle inside the pocket.
Narrow vs Wide Heads
Choosing a narrow or wider head comes down to your skill level and position that you’ll be playing. Choosing the right width can generally improve your overall game.
If you’re a beginner and haven’t played too much lacrosse before then you’d be better off buying a wider head until you can master the basic fundamentals of the game. Even if you’re an attacking player, jumping straight into a narrow head (which are better for attacking players) can increase the time it takes for you to master the basics.
If you’re more on an intermediate player, someone who’s played the game and played regularly. Then choosing the width can come down to the position you play. Wider heads are more suited for defensive players. As you’ll find it much easier to scoop up balls off the ground and intercept passes.
Narrower heads are used by attacking players. A narrow head is much more accurate in passing and shooting situations but you need to have mastered the skill of catching the ball as it’s much more difficult with a narrow head.
Benefits of Narrow Heads
- More accurate
- Lighter which allows the player to weave in and out of defenders better
- Generate slightly more power
Benefits of Wide Heads
- Easier to catch the ball
- Easier to scoop up ground balls
- Able to block shots and check players
Which type for each position
- Attackers: Narrow
- Midfielders: Narrow(Attack Minded) – Wide (Defensive Minded)
- Defensive Players: Wide
- Goalie: Wide
Like I mentioned earlier if you are an attacking player but a beginner. Then a wider head could suit you more when starting out and slowing narrowing the head the more you play and get used to the basics.
Stiff vs Flexible
When we refer to stiff or flexible heads we’re talking about the sidewall of the head.
Stiff heads are preferred by defensive players because it helps make stronger defensive players. They’re more sturdy and durable and if you play a defensive role you know you’re stick can take quite a beating.
They are however more heavy which is why midfielders and attacking players tend to use flexible heads. As there’s less weight it makes it easier to generate more power when passing and shooting. Flexible heads are also great for agile movements which are often performed by the more attacking players in the team.
Conclusion: Defensive minded players tend to use stiff heads. Whereas attacking-minded players like to use flexible heads.
Curved vs Flat
Referring to the glossary guide, when we talk about curved or flatheads were talking about the scoop of the head.
More advanced players like to use curved heads. A curved head makes the scoop more of a U shaped head. Players find using this type of head can help improve accuracy on passes and shots.
Beginners tend to find curved heads more difficult to play with because it’s a lot harder to pick the ball up off the ground. So they tend to use flat heads.
Although it doesn’t give you as much accuracy, they’re easier to play with.
Defensive players tend to choose a flat head over a curved head as they’re involved in scooping the ball up off the floor and don’t take many shots.
All the recommendations below are based on players who are not beginners and have played the game and learnt the basics.
As a beginner, you’re probably better off either getting a recommendation from your coach as he’s seen you play and will be able to suggest a head based on experience in dealing with a lot of players. Or opt for a more wider flat head as these are more beginner-friendly. They make scooping the ball and catching air balls easier.
Choosing a lacrosse head for an attacker
An attacking player will be mainly passing, shooting and moving in and out of players to try and find space.
That’s why attacking players like to choose a curved scoop as this will provide them with much higher accuracy in shooting and passing.
Whilst a flexible head is also preferred as these are lightweight and help with dodging defenders and moving quickly into space.
A narrow head will suit an attacking player. Although it’s technically harder to catch balls. This won’t affect the intermediate players as much as beginners and thus will have more benefits such as greater accuracy on shots.
- Flexible Sidewall
- Curved scoop
- Narrow head
Choosing a lacrosse head for a midfielder
As a midfield player depends on what your main job will consist of. If you are a more attacking-minded midfield then you might want to look at flexible heads to improve your agile movements.
A curved head will help improve your accuracy on passing.
Choosing narrow or wide will ultimately depend on your preference. Even though you may be an attacking-minded midfielder you’ll still be involved in a bit of defending.
For more defensive-minded midfielders a flat head will help make scooping up ground balls much easier.
And choosing a stiff sidewall would be beneficial as you’ll find your stick will be much more durable and stronger in the defensive situations.
- Narrow head
- Flexible sidewall
- Curved Scoop
- Wider Head
- Stiff sidewall
- Flat scoop unless experienced in scooping ground balls then a curved could be better in picking accurate passes.
Choosing a lacrosse head for a defensive player
As a defensive player myself, my head is a wide head for making it easier to scoop all the ground balls. I find defensive players will scoop far more ground balls and thus a wider head is far more beneficial in this area. It’s also easier to block shots and intercept passes.
I Use a stiff sidewall. I believe if I was to use a flexible sidewall my stick wouldn’t last too long. And so using a stiff sidewall although makes it slightly heavier. It’s much better in defensive situations.
As a more experienced player I use a curved head but I did use to use a flat head until I really mastered scooping ground balls. But a curved scoop has definitely improved my game, my overall passing has improved because the curved scoop allows me to be much more accurate when trying to make more difficult passes to my forward teammates.
- Wide Head
- Stiff Sidewall
- Curved Scoop
Choosing a lacrosse head for a goalie
A goalie’s head is a lot wider than any others on the pitch. It’s a whole different head compared to outfield players and so you can’t really compare it to them.
As a goalie you’ll want to look for some of the following:
Strengthened throat area: This makes it so the ball doesn’t constantly rebound off of the head and onto the floor all the time. This does take some skill as well but looking for a strong throat will make this easier.
Vented Sidewall: A vented sidewall is better for the goalie as it reduces the weight which helps improve your reaction times when having to move quickly to stop shots. If you were to have a heavy stick this would make moving quickly and reacting much more difficult when the stick is heavy.
Hopefully, with my experience, I’ve managed to help you decide upon what type of head you should be looking for, for your lacrosse stick.
At the end of the day although you’ll find different positions choosing certain types of the head there’s no restrictions on what you can and can’t use for each position as long as you are in the maximum sizes.
So it’s ultimately down to your personal preference as a player. There’s nothing wrong with using a wide head for an attacking player. Over time the more you play and the more experienced you get you’ll be able to change the head based on your play style.
If you, unfortunately, are still a bit confused about what you should be looking for. I’d recommend speaking to your coach. He’ll be able to suggest a head based on watching how you play and what you need to improve on.
Lacrosse Stick Length
You’ll need to decide upon the length of the shaft that the head will attach too. We’ve written a guide on the best lacrosse stick length for youth players. Whilst you might not be a youth player the guide also covers how to properly cut the stick length down in size to attach your lacrosse head.
Stick length also varies for the position you play and you must make sure you don’t go below or above the overall stick length that’s set depending on the rules you follow.