Lacrosse Heads 101

Your lacrosse head matters, regardless of your level of play or position. Too choose the one that’s right for your game, consider legality, your position and your level of experience.

There are over thirty different lacrosse heads available on, and choosing the right one can be a tough task. The angle, stiffness, width and weight are all important aspects to look at when selecting your new lacrosse head. Below is a description of some of these characteristics.

The basics: 

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Defenders will want a stiffer head with a flatter scoop, while attack men and midfielders will want a head that offers more control; a pinched throat and more rounded scoop.

More advanced heads are designed with less material to make them lighter and faster, but are a little more difficult to control.


In 2010, NCAA lacrosse specifications set new standards for measuring the dimensions of a lacrosse heads for NCAA play. Specifically, it outlines four points on a lacrosse head that must conform to a set of minimum dimensions.

Every head on LACROSSE.COM will be labeled universal, NFHS approved or NCAA legal. This tells you which heads are legal for youth, high school and college play.

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Universal heads, as the name implies, are legal for every level of play (NCAA college, NFHS high school and youth). These heads are usually designated with a U or X in their name.

NCAA legal – These heads have width requirements allowed on the college level that are not allowed by high school and youth lacrosse rules.

Legal for all levels except NCAA – These heads are allowed on the high school and youth level, but not at the college level.


Whether telling an attacker, “Nice try, but not today,” or executing a bombing Gilman Clear, a goalie relies on the perfect bucket to be the last line of defense and the first point of offense. Like other heads, when buying a Goalie head, stiffness, weight, durability and reactiveness are important factors. As with field player heads, goalie heads also have to adhere to specifications. Goalie pockets can be much deeper than field players.

Narrow vs. wide

Young players will generally prefer a wider head. Wider heads make it easier to control the ball. More experienced players like a “narrower throat,” which allows for quicker, more precise ball handling.

What is offset? 

One of the most popular types of lacrosse gear out there, the offset lacrosse head drops down at the throat. The throat is where the head meets the handle of the lacrosse head, the offset allows for a lower position of the ball and pocket on the head. Offset lacrosse heads are designed to give the lacrosse player maximum feel and control when carrying the ball, as well as great ball retention and accuracy when passing and shooting.

Stiffness vs. Flexibility
This tends to be a personal preference. However, defense players usually want to play with a stiffer head for more effective checking. While attack and midfield players tend to favor more flexible heads which offer greater control.

Virginia 6A Girls' Lacrosse Semifinal Westfield vs Battlefield


Ball Stop: A small piece of rubber, foam, or other material at the base of the head that softens the surface and lessen the bounce in the pocket.
Cradling: Rocking the stick back and forth in the hands to keep the ball in the pocket
Just under the shooting strings where the ball nestles in the pocket.
The pocket, usually a pre-manufactured piece of nylon meshing
Monster Mesh:
Mesh with a wider weave of larger diamonds
String or mesh in the head.
Two vertical strings in a custom pocket that allow the ball to ride smoothly out of the pocket
The top of the head that’s used for scooping up ground balls
The sides of the lacrosse head
Throat: The part of the stick head that meets the shaft.
Pocket style with four strips running top to bottom
A pocket that has at least one shooting string strung in an upside-down V, Casey Powell made it popular