This post was initially published in October 2015 and since then lacrosse companies have released a lot of new pieces of gear that I’ve been able to play with. I updated this post in May 2018 with the latest and greatest items that I recommend to beginner goalies.
Want to take this goalie gear guide to go? Click here to download my entire lacrosse goalie toolkit including this guide!
This post is a guide which will explain all the lacrosse goalie gear, both mandatory and optional, that is needed to play this amazing position.
I’ll also provide my recommendation for specific pieces of gear that I like.
As goalies we want to be as protected as possible without limiting our movement. So the gear that I prefer typically offers a high level of protection and functionality while still permitting freedom of movement.
Luckily for us, lacrosse goalie gear (and lax gear in general) has made tremendous strides in just the last 10 years. I mean consider this is what lacrosse helmets looked like not too long ago –
With the explosion in popularity of the sport, many lacrosse companies have invested heavily in research and development to create new lacrosse gear that’s lighter while also safer than its predecessors.
There are lots of great options for every single piece of equipment. Just because I recommend and like a specific helmet, doesn’t mean that there are not others that work great. Same with chest protectors, sticks, gloves, etc.
If you’re a brand new lacrosse goalie or a parent wondering what gear your child will need to play goalie, this post will help you understand all of the lacrosse goalie equipment that is needed to play in the cage.
Here’s a table of contents of the lacrosse goalie gear in case you want to skip directly to that part of the page:
Today’s helmets are extremely light and yet offer more protection and style then helmets of the past. Goalies are going to get hit in the head with the ball so it’s extremely important to use a newer style helmet to avoid concussions.
There is no difference between a goalie helmet and the helmets used by attackman, defenseman, and middies. The only slight difference is we add a throat guard to the goalie helmet.
There is also no difference between the helmets used by male and female goalies. Just ensure you always get the right size.
If you play for a school team, they may provide the helmet. However if you’re playing for a club or traveling team you’re often on your own.
The helmet I recommend: Cascade R. It’s a pretty sweet looking helmet to boot. I love the matte version.
Your lacrosse goalie stick, aka your wand, aka your save maker, aka the most important piece of equipment when it comes to you ability to make saves.
I’ll split the stick up into 3 different areas – the head, the mesh, and the shaft. Complete goalie sticks will come all 3 together as a package or you can pick and choose different ones to create a perfect goalie stick.
I prefer a shaft that is as light as possible. This makes the overall stick setup extremely light and gives the goalie faster hands when it comes to attacking a shot.
At 142 grams, the StringKing Metal 2 is one of the lightest and strongest shafts out there. It’s also durable so it won’t be damaged as you hit the pipes checking your position. I wish I had this one back in my early playing days.
The chest protector is going to protect our chest, heart, stomach and shoulder area. Like the helmet, we’re going to be taking shots off of the chest protector so it’s important you buy the best protector you can afford.
Modern chest protectors come with reinforced chest plates to protect your heart in the event you take a shot to that region.
I find that these chest protectors offer max protection while still giving us mobility. The STX Sultra is the 1st piece of lacrosse equipment specifically designed for the women’s body. While I have not used it myself, several female coaches, players, and parents have given me positive reviews of that chest protector.
This is an excellent piece of equipment and we’ve gone through plenty in my house with two goalies. My daughter specifically asked for this model after trying a half dozen different types loaned to her by friends, teammates and coaches. It fits true and stays in place. It’s well padded and provides excellent protection while allowing for full range of movement and doesn’t interfere with her stick handling at all. I’d definitely recommend it to a friend or family member and only withheld the fifth star b/c nothing is perfect. – Neil Flynn from Amazon.com.
Both of these chest protectors offer additional shoulder protection where getting hit can cause painful bruises. If you can deal with the pain and prefer more mobility, shoulder protection is optional.
I used to wear just a simple athletic cup. Then I got hit square in the package.
If I would have had a mobile phone on me, I would have ordered a reinforced goalie jock right from the field. This jock provides the most protection and is well worth the investment. Given what’s at stake, this is my favorite piece of lacrosse goalie equipment that I own.
As you can see in the picture above, this type of athletic cup offers some additional hip padding in addition to protecting your entire groinal zone.
Obviously, this piece of equipment is more valuable for us male goalies. Female goalies might feel sufficiently protected in this area with the lacrosse goalie pants.
I recommend using cleats on grass fields. Unlike the other equipment they’re not going to have a tremendous impact on your game so really any pair of cleats will do.
Getting a pair of high tops will give you additional ankle and foot protection in the event a ball strikes this area. This recommended pair is by Warrior however a similar type of football cleat will totally suffice.
I would stay away from soccer cleats since they don’t offer as much protection as lacrosse and football cleats do.
The mouthpiece is a mandatory piece of equipment in lacrosse. Everyone, including the goalies, must wear one.
Since goalies are constantly talking to communicate to the defense, many (including myself) don’t like to use mouth guards. But they are extremely important to reduce concussions from a laser shot to the head or from getting hit while outside the crease. They’re also mandatory according to the rulebook.
My recommendation is to get a custom fit one from the dentist. I grind my teeth at night anyway so this actually killed two birds with one mouthpiece for me.
If you go the dentist route, make sure the dentist creates it with colored plastic because clear mouth guards are illegal according to the rulebook.
They appear to be really configurable and come in a ton of different colors.
OPTIONAL LACROSSE GOALIE GEAR
The next few pieces of equipment are not required by rule but are definitely legal to use and recommended by me so that you can feel safe and protected while in the goal.
Back in the days, ice hockey goalies used to wear barely any equipment. In the late 50’s they didn’t even wear helmets or masks! After Jacques Plante, a goaltender for the Montreal Canadiens was hit in the face, injuring his cheek and nose, he returned wearing a self-made fiberglass mask. He was ridiculed by his team with most everyone questioning his toughness. All for wearing a mask on HIS FACE.
Today many goalies view this extra goalie gear as akin to Plante’s face mask in the 50’s. But I see lacrosse heading in this direction with goalies, especially youth, opting for these optional pieces of equipment and eventually facing less ridicule and questioning of mental toughness.
If anyone teases for using extra protection, tell them to step into the cage and see what its like.
There’s no reason why you can’t wear this equipment to feel confident and protected in the cage. Some of these pieces of lacrosse goalie gear are even mandatory, as noted.
Even if you don’t use this optional equipment during games, you might want to use it during practice when you receive more shots then you would in a game situation.
At the youth level (Under 15 and below), arms pads are a required piece of equipment for all goalies.
The idea here is that youth player’s bones are still developing and thus we want to take all precaution to prevent injury.
At all other levels, they are permitted but not required.
Required arm pads for youth goalies make zero sense by the way. I never played with arm pads and never once did I take a shot to elbow from a shot. The padding needs to be on the other side to protect the forearm and bicep where I did take plenty of blows.
Arms pads are the one piece of equipment I actually discourage goalies (other than youth) from wearing. I think they limit our movement of the arms so much that they hinder our ability to make saves.
There’s no way to sugar coat this – Getting hit in the shins with a lacrosse ball sucks! It can knock the wind out of a young goalie’s sails and ruin the rest of the entire practice.
Some goalies claim shin guards slow them down but that’s why I recommend a super light pair that doesn’t restrict the ankle or knee movement.
There’s no reason not to wear shin guards except for pride then. So put pride aside and strap on shin guards.
I used to recommend STX goalie specific shin guards but I don’t think they’ve perfected the product yet. So the best bet is just getting a pair of lightweight soccer shinguards that will protect the shins and still allow great mobility.
For women goalies at the high school level and below, shin protection is required.
Do NOT use ice hockey or baseball catcher shin guards as these are going to restrict movement too much. Also, by rule padding that excessively increases the size of body parts is illegal.
Goalie pants are another piece of optional equipment that I recommend especially during practice.
I remember a specific drill one practice where I took a crank shot to the thigh. It hurt but so it goes with being a goalie. I shook it off. Then in the next play of the same drill, I took another crank shot literally to the exact same spot. I thought my leg was going to fall off as the muscle started spasming uncontrollably.
All that to say – I wish I was wearing goalie or football pants. I ended up taping an extra goalie glove to my thigh with athletic tape and continuing the practice haha.
These pants are going to protect your thighs and hips. Most importantly they’re going to reinforce the feeling of being protected which will help instill confidence in our young goalkeepers.
Like shin protection, for women goalies at the high school level and below, thigh protection is also required. Just ensure it doesn’t excessively increase the size of your legs (i.e. no field hockey pads) to remain legal.
If you decide to use goalie pants, be sure to get a pair that doesn’t restrict your range of motion.
The other option is to use football pants. If your young goalie is hesitant to pad up for macho reasons, let him know even top goalies at Syracuse have used the football pants to add some additional protection.
The football pants are going to give you additional thigh, hip, and knee protection. And in my opinion, I think they look damn good while they do it.
There are a lot of versions of football pants out there but this pair comes with integrated pads:
As a goalie, I was hit in the knees many times with shots and never received anything more than a bruise.
But for youth players wanting to feel extra protected, I often recommend lightweight knee pads to help shield the kneecap from injury while still allowing the knee to bend and move with limited restriction.
If you’re using football pants that protect the knees then you obviously do without the kneepads.
At 40 x 15 x 15 inches this bag is large enough to fit all the standard lacrosse goalie equipment plus your extra gear. Also comes in a bunch of colors so you can pick your school or club team’s colors.
It’s a little bit of a squeeze but if you’re looking for a backpack option try the Adrenaline TacPack. The exterior stick holder and helmet pocket give you just enough room to fit your other equipment into the backpack’s main pouch.
You’ll have more room with the Maverick Monster bag but if you’re looking for portability and easy transport, the backpack may be the way to go.
The various pieces of lax goalie gear required to outfit a new keeper can add up fast. Thus always look to buy used gear at a local sports store if possible.
The pieces I recommend in this post are certainly not the only pieces of lacrosse goalie equipment that are functional and awesome, however it’s what I like and what I encourage others to get when they ask me.
Until next time! Coach Damon
Want to take this goalie gear guide to go? Click here to download my entire lacrosse goalie toolkit including this guide!
NOTE: Most of the above links are affiliate links meaning I get a small percentage with no additional cost to you in the event you decide to buy through my page. Even though these are affiliate links, I thoroughly recommend every piece of lacrosse goalie equipment that’s listed. If you’ve enjoyed the free content I’ve put together on this blog I’d be honored if you purchase through those links to give me some support. I’ve also had nothing but great experiences with LacrosseMonkey.com every time I’ve used them to buy my lax gear.
What’s your favorite piece of lacrosse goalie gear? Any additional questions about a specific piece of lacrosse goalie gear? Let me know in the comments.
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About Coach Damon
About Coach Damon
Lacrosse is my passion! The game has given me so much and this blog is my way of giving back to the lax community. Specifically the most bad a$$ part of that community - the goalies! After learning to play goalie from scratch, I wanted to create a site where I could share what I learned with others so they too can become champions in the crease and in life. Learn more about Coach Damon.