The Lacrosse Goalie Gear Guide: Everything you need to play goalie
By Coach Damon on October 21, 2015
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:
Without further ado, here’s my recommended lacrosse goalie gear:
MANDATORY LACROSSE GOALIE GEAR
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.
For more info on this helmet, checkout the full Cascade R helmet review that I wrote.
The throat guard attaches to your helmet via screws and protects your throat from shots.
When you have this device on always be sure to check that it fully covers your throat area as getting it in this region could cause serious injury.
I think the clear version looks the coolest but Cascade also makes it in black and silver.
The throat guard I recommend: Cascade Goalie Throat Guard.
For more info checkout the post on all the lacrosse goalie throat guard options.
There are literally thousands of different head, mesh, and shaft combinations that you can use to create your goalie stick. This happens to be my favorite.
Just look at the all variations used by today’s MLL goalies.
For me, this stick setup is all about balance. Balancing lack of rebounds and control with the ability throw accurate outlet passes.
I love the weight and throwing ability of the STX Eclipse head. The 12 Diamond Mesh gives you great balance between hold and throwing ability. The Warrior Kryptolyte shaft is incredible light to aid in stick rotations. It’s also durable so it won’t deform as you’re repeatedly banging it against the pipes to check your position.
You can cut the defensive shaft to your desired length. I preferred to play with a shaft that was just like longer than a normal attack shaft (about 45 inches). I felt this gave me a good balance of lightness while still giving me enough torque to make the right outlet passes.
Checkout my full review of the iconic STX Eclipse goalie head.
And here’s my full review of the Warrior Kryptolyte goalie shaft.
Goalie head I recommend: STX Eclipse head. Goalie mesh I recommend: 12 Diamond Goalie Mesh. Lacrosse Goalie shaft I recommend: Warrior Kryptolyte shaft.
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.
My recommended chest protector: STX Shield 300 (Men) / STX Sultra (Women).
It’s important that you purchase lacrosse goalie gloves as opposed to just a normal pair of lacrosse gloves.
The goalie gloves have additional padding as well as a reinforced thumb to help protect our hands and avoid any injuries.
I broke my thumb while in college after a close range shot hit it directly. This was before I had lacrosse goalie gloves. It’s painful and something you want to avoid at all cost.
For an even deeper explanation of what to look for in goalie gloves be sure to checkout my lacrosse goalie glove guide.
My favorite pair of lacrosse goalie gloves are: Brine King Superlight 2 Goalie Gloves.
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.
My athletic supporter of choice: Warrior Tool Box Goalie Nut Hutt.
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 soccer cleats since they don’t offer as much protection as lacrosse and football cleats do.
Cleats I use: Warrior Second Degree 3.0.
If you play your home games on turf, I recommend buying a pair of turf shoes. Some players simply wear their grass cleats on the turf field and that works fine.
For me however, I felt like I had better traction and responsiveness using the turf shoes while on turf. Even on some grass fields where the crease was extremely hard, I’d opt to use the turf shoes.
Same with the cleats, I prefer high tops to provide more protection to my foot and ankles.
Here’s the pair I like: Nike Huarache Lax Turf Shoes.
The mouth piece 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 anyways so this actually killed two birds with one mouth piece 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.
In the event you don’t want a custom guard, Shock Doctor makes good mouth guards that you can fit to match your bite: Shock Doctor Gel Nano Mouthguard.
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 this 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 there 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.
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.
For youth, be sure to get Youth arm pads like these: Brine Youth Uprising II.
There’s no way to sugar coat this – Getting hit in the shins with a lacrosse ball sucks!
There’s no reason not to wear shin guards except for pride. So put pride aside and strap on shin guards. I use a pair from Brine for lacrosse goalies however if you have soccer shin guards or field hockey shin guards those will work just fine as well.
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.
Here’s what I use: STX Valor Shin Guards.
Goalie pants are another piece of optional equipment that I recommend especially during practice.
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 into our goal keepers.
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.
I like these goalie pants which are extremely light and offer a great range of motion: Brine Ventilator Lacrosse Goalie Pants.
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 a lightweight knee pads to help shield the knee cap from injury while still allowing the knee to bend and move with limited restriction.
If you’re using shin guards which go over the knees then you obviously do without the kneepads.
I recommend a light weight pad like those used in volleyball: Mizuno Volleyball Kneepad.
If you want a little more protection, many brands offer padded under shirts or protective arm sleeves that can help serve this purpose.
I find this pieces of gear to be light enough that do not limit our movement while they do add to the feeling of being protected which boosts confidence in the cage.
Especially during practice I recommend the EliteTek Padded Compression Shirt and a pair of McDavid Hexpad Arm Sleeves.
Finally you’re going to need a bag to carry all your lacrosse gear.
Some schools have team bags so you won’t have a choice in which bag to go with. However if you’re looking for you own bag, here are my two favorite options.
Maverick Lacrosse Monster Bag
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.
Adrenaline Lacrosse TacPack Backpack
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.
For every single piece of goalie gear recommended above, be sure you get the right size.
All pieces of equipment should fit snugly so that it doesn’t move on our bodies as we’re making saves. But not too tight that it hurts or limits our range of mobility.
Loose fitting equipment can be extremely dangerous as a chest protector may slide and leave an area unprotected. Or loose fitting helmet could hit against our head causing a concussion.
Make sure you review size recommendations for each product and then adjust them to fit snugly. If they’re too big or too small return them for a different size.
The number one piece of advice I offer new goalies is: Get Protected!
While you may think its macho and cool to wear very little padding, wearing the right amount of pads will make you more confident in the cage
Unfortunately, playing goalie in lacrosse is not cheap. 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
NOTE: Most of the above links are affiliate links meaning I get a super small percentage 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.