What’s The Right Shaft Length for Lacrosse Goalies?
By Coach Damon on November 17, 2015
By rule the men’s lacrosse goalie stick must be between 40 and 72 inches (102 to 183 cm) in length when measured from the bottom of the stick to the top of the head.
Boy’s youth lacrosse for U-9 and U-11 has a little shorter minimum requirement with shaft length range of 37″ to 72″ (94 to 183 cm).
For the women’s game the regulation stick length for goalies is between 35.5″ and 53″ (90 to 135 cm).
A standard goalie head, like the STX Eclipse, is about 15″ tall meaning the rest of the stick length is determined by the shaft we select.
Since we have a full range of length between a normal attack or midfielder stick and a 6-foot defensive pole, the question for goalies is what is the optimal length for our goalie sticks?
For the goalies who chose to go with the longer stick length they have a few advantages.
One, they’re able to generate more torque on their outlet passes. Especially for smaller youth goalies this is helpful as you might not have the strength to complete a long outlet pass. The additional stick length would help generate the torque necessary for a deep outlet pass.
The longer shaft length is helpful to pick off passes that the attacking team makes from behind the goal.
With a longer shaft the goalie can also scoop ground balls and clamp rebounds with more ease.
Some goalies find that with the longer shaft their stick is fully balanced, i.e. not top-heavy like you might find with goalie sticks that have shorter shafts.
While some may laugh at this next benefit, other goalies swear by it. Shaft saves! The longer shaft provides just a tiny bit more surface area covering the goal and that could result in a few more saves over the course of a season.
Finally the longer shaft allows us to reach the pipe to check out position. With the shorter shaft we may not to be able to reach the pipe to give it a quick hit to ensure we’re properly situated in our goalie arc.
The shorter shaft is going to be a lot lighter.
Having a lighter feeling stick in your hands can help a goalie’s mental game as well. The lighter shaft feels easier to move and rotate to block shots.
The shorter shaft allows the goalie to cradle and ball handle easier than a long shaft. If you’re a mobile goalie who likes to leave the crease on the clears than I would definitely recommend a shorter shaft length as your ability to dodge is greatly increased.
Finally with a shorter shaft there is less chance that our butt end gets caught on equipment, the net, the ground, etc. during saves. The shorter shaft allows full rotating movement as we make our saves.
Ultimately, there is no one right answer when it comes to the optimal goalie shaft stick length.
Each goalie is as unique as their stick setup.
When I played in college I felt most comfortable using a shorter shaft.
I felt the benefits of the shorter shaft: quicker movement and rotation, plus the ability to cradle and ball handle better were much better suited for my game.
The total length of my stick was 44″. I stand at about 68″ (5 foot 8 inches) meaning my stick was 65% of my height. I describe my exact stick setup my lacrosse goalie gear post.
If you’re going to go for a shorter stick, 65% of your total height is a good barometer.
The shaft length has a lot to due with the feel and the balance of the stick. So you want to find a shaft length that feels good in your hands and allows you to quickly rotate the stick for low shots.
For my entire playing career (and to this day) I used the Warrior Kryptolyte shaft which is extremely light and also very durable.
Even with the short shaft throwing clears was never a problem for me as I had the strength to throw accurate passes into the offensive end if need be. As long as you’re hitting the weights and doing goalie drills for speed and strength, outlet passes shouldn’t be a problem with the shorter shaft.
If you look at the goalie’s in the MLL and college these days you’ll notice that the majority of them are opting for shorter shaft lengths, however there are still plenty of goalies playing at the top levels that prefer the benefits of a longer goalie shaft.
If you’re deciding between a range of shaft lengths, you should always start with the longest first.
Once you cut your goalie stick, you can’t magically make it longer. You can only go shorter.
Since lacrosse shafts are not the cheapest things in the world make sure you don’t ruin a shaft by cutting it too short.
One thing to consider for youth goalies is that you are going to grow. So if you don’t want to buy a new shaft every season you might want to use a little longer shaft.
A recent poll of lacrosse goalies on the Inside Forum lounges proves the point I’m making in this article: there is no optimal shaft length.
Of the 704 entries, they are almost equally split between a longer shaft (goalie shaft), a shorter shaft (attack shaft), and somewhere in between.
There are literally thousands of different goalie head, shaft, and mesh combinations so you’ll have to experiment to find what works best for you.
There are pro’s and con’s to using a longer and shorter shaft. Personally, I found most my comfort zone was with an attack shaft.
Until next time! Coach Damon
What is your optimal goalie shaft length? Let me know in the comments.