The Lacrosse Goalie Gear Guide: Everything you need to play goalie
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 2021 with the latest and greatest items that I recommend to beginner goalies.
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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:
- Arm Pads (mandatory at the youth level, U15)
- Shin Guards (mandatory for women, high school and below)
- Lacrosse Goalie Pants (mandatory for women, high school and below)
- Knee Pads
- Protective Shirts and Sleeves
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.
Cascade offers a newer version called the Cascade S and an even newer version called the Cascade XRS. Those are also a great options but will cost you about a $100 more new. But if you want the best in style and performance, here it is:
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.
In fact with certain helmet colors, the black Cascade throat protector can look pretty saucy too.
The throat guard I recommend: Cascade Goalie Throat Guard.
There 2 ways to attach the throat guard to the helmet. By drilling a holes on either side of the helmet and using the screws:
This option will secure the the throat guard a lot better and prevent it from bouncing around while you’re running outside the crease.
Or attach with string or zip ties. This will allow the throat guard to sit lower:
For more info check out the post on all the lacrosse goalie throat guard options.
Lacrosse Goalie Stick
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.
There are literally thousands of different head, mesh, and shaft combinations that you can use to create your goalie stick. Just look at the all variations used by today’s PLL goalies, yesterday’s MLL goalies, NCAA Men’s Goalies, and NCAA Women’s Goalies.
What I’ve listed below happens to be my favorite.
It took STX 18 years to release a second version of the STX Eclipse but it was worth the wait.
The sequel provides all the things you loved about the original – lightweight, great face shape, awesome ball scooping ability – and combined it with great new features.
The STX Eclipse II is stiffer than the original while maintaining basically the same weight. They added tons of sidehole stringing options so the stick ninjas can put in amazing pockets.
And they finally enhanced the plastic grip on the bottom for those goalie who like to setup with their top hand gripping the plastic.
While there are a lot of other solid goalie heads including the StringKing Mark2G, the Warrior Nemi 3, Deep South CL18, and the Under Armour Command, my favorite remains – the STX Eclipse II.
Checkout my full review of the STX Eclipse II head.
Goalie Mesh – 12 Diamond
Of all the mesh sizes I recommend 12 diamond. The larger diamonds ‘grip’ the ball better and provide less rebounds while making outlets easier.
When you check NCAA and PLL stick setups the majority use 12 diamond and I think this setup works very well for beginners too.
There are a few companies producing amazing mesh these days so you can’t go wrong. Here are two great options from East Coast Dyes.
HeroMesh 12 Diamond Semi Hard or HeroMesh 12 Diamond Semi Soft
The Semi Soft is harder to string but will break in faster and ultimately give you fewer rebounds.
Another company putting out an outstanding mesh product is Mesh Dynasty. They have an awesome 12 diamond mesh product called Disciple Rhombus Goalie Mesh that is amazing.
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When I first published this post I recommend the StringKing Metal 2 goalie shaft.
They’ve since discontinued it in favor of the Metal 3 but if you can get your hands on a Metal 2, it’s an amazing shaft.
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.
There’s a goalie length but I just prefer to use an attack length shaft. If you’re trying to decide, I wrote a full post on the ideal length for a goalie’s shaft.
Check out my full review of the StringKing Metal 2 goalie shaft here.
Goalie stick setup I recommend for beginners:
With the new chest protector rule that went into affect 2021, there are currently only a handful of options for goalies when it comes to street legal chest pads.
Here they are:
Besides the Nemi Pro, the other chest I really recommend is the STX Shield 600. Full review of that one here.
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 one of these approved chesties because they also have reinforced heart protection to fight commotio cordis.
My favorite of those is the Warrior Nemi Pro. I think it gives a tremendous amount of mobility while still providing nice protection.
When it comes to the female goalies, STX used to offer the Sultra which was specifically designed for women. However it is currently not approved by NOCSAE and for reasons unbeknowst to me (but rhyme with shmoney) they not making a female specific goalie chest pad.
I’ve heard from a few females goalies (or their parents) that the Warrior Nemesis Pro is also a great option for the girls.
I wrote a full review of the Warrior Nemesis Pro here. The STX 600 is also a solid option.
My recommended chest protector: Warrior Nemesis Pro (both men / 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 check out my lacrosse goalie glove guide.
My current recommendation for beginner goalie gloves are the STX Shield 500 goalie gloves.
You can read my full review of these STX Shield 500’s here.
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: Powertek Barikad V3.0 Ice Hockey Goalie Goal Cup & Supporter Jock
Another solid option that many lacrosse goalies swear by is the Nutty Buddy.
I wrote a full Nutty Buddy review here and if you’re looking for a little more mobility but high protection on direct hits, that is an amazing choice.
Whether you go Nutty Buddy or ice hockey goalie cup, you’re going to be well protected in that most sensitive of areas!
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.
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 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.
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.
A couple of Lax Goalie Rat readers have strongly recommended the mouth guards by SISU.
They appear to be really configurable and come in a ton of different colors.
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.
Additional Head Protection – LexiShield
Unfortunately, with as fast as players can shoot nowadays, shots taken to a goalie’s forehead or facemask can still result in a concussion.
I recently interviewed an MLL goalie who had suffered over 4 concussions throughout his career and that story is not uncommon for us goalies.
Thus it makes sense to add some aftermarket concussion protection in the form of a LexiShield.
This device attaches to your helmet and helps reduce the chance of concussions. You don’t even feel it when it’s attached so it’s really a no-brainer for use in practice.
Check out my full review of the LexiShield or pick up on on Amazon.
Another option for additional head protection is a piece of gear called the Guardian Cap.
Like the LexiShield, this is an aftermarket device that attaches to the goalie’s lacrosse helmet and provides some additional protection against concussions.
At the youth level (Under 15 and below), arms pads are a required piece of equipment for all goalies.
2022 Update: Arm guards are no longer required for youth goalies. They are an optional piece of equipment which I actually don’t recommend.
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 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.
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! 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.
Shin protection used to be required in the women’s game. But the NFHS made a rule change making it optional starting in 2022:
Under Rule 2-6-1a, goalkeepers are no longer required to wear shin protectors, as there is no standard for those pieces of equipment. Goalkeepers still have the option to wear shin protection with padding up to one inch in thickness, which also creates consistency with boys lacrosse.
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 recommend: Franklin Sports Superlight Shinguards.
If these shin guards slide around too much you can always fix them in place with long socks or a few revolutions of white athletic tape.
Another solid option for goalie shin guards are these from G-Form. Meant for motocross, they’re on the ex (albeit on the more expensive side but offer great protection and flexibility.
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.
I like these goalie pants which are extremely light and offer a great range of motion: Brine Ventilator Lacrosse Goalie Pants.
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 and knee protection. And in my opinion, I think they look damn good while they do it.
You can remove the hip and tailbone pads, unless of course you like them. But I find they cut down mobility too much.
There are a lot of versions of football pants out there but this pair comes with integrated pads:
Check them out on Amazon here.
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.
I recommend a lightweight 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 these pieces of gear to be light enough that they 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 your 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.
Looking for other non-essential items for goalie bag – check that post.
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. I wrote a full post on how much all this goalie gear will cost.
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
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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.