Outfitting for Lacrosse

Lacrosse Gear Explained 

Lacrosse is a great sport for your child to learn how to set goals and master coordination. Learning the tactics for successful play and skill development will take time and persistence to develop. “Practice makes perfect” is easier to achieve if your child has the lacrosse gear that will help them advance their development by improving their performance and confidence with equipment that is specific to the sport.

Often parents and players new to lacrosse will ask if hockey protective equipment can be worn. There are several important differences between hockey and lacrosse gear, and having the right equipment will not only enhance your child’s technique and performance but also their level of enjoyment while playing.

The main differences between lacrosse (lax) and hockey equipment are:

  • Weight of the gear
  • Amount of protection
  • Gear’s heat reduction capabilities
  • Freedom of movement

How To Outfit your Child for Lacrosse


A lacrosse helmet features a single curved bar down the middle of the cage with additional bars wrapped horizontally across the middle bar. There are less cage bars than a hockey mask, to allow for more visibility. The helmet serves to protect your child from in-coming shots from all sides, but at the same time allows for head rotation by being light in weight. As with all head protection, the helmet needs to be fitted properly so that it can protect the way it was designed to - never purchase a helmet to “grow into”. Remember, if it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t protect.


The gloves used in lax differ greatly from those used in the game of hockey. Lacrosse gloves come with a free moving thumb for easier movement and control to grip a stick. They feature less padding around the wrist area with an opening and strap for improved ventilation and natural movement. Lacrosse gloves normally extend 2 to 3 inches above the wrist, allowing for crucial mobility for stick handling, while maintaining protection. A hockey glove comes with extra padding and wrist coverage which make it more difficult for your child to curl and rotate their wrist.


Although they look similar, shoulder pads for hockey and lacrosse have distinct design characteristics.
Hockey is played with the shoulders and hands in a ‘below the waist’ position, keeping the stick on the ice to control the puck., therefore the shoulder caps are set into the chest protector to allow for coverage in this downward arm position. The movements in lacrosse are exactly the opposite, with throwing and catching motions taking place ‘above the waist’ as the ball is passed in the air, off the surface of the ground.

Lax pads have been designed with floating shoulder caps that allow your child to raise their arms and hands above their waist without restriction. Although lax gear is light weight to allow for running and mobility, and have generous ventilation to keep the player from overheating, there is more protection across the chest to deflect wild balls that are in the air at waist and head level.

How To Outfit your Child for Lacrosse

Rib Protector

Especially for a child starting in lacrosse, a rib pad offers extra protection for the rib cage and kidney areas. While midfielders and attackers usually only get hit with stray sticks, defensemen also need to worry about the hard rubber ball coming at them at great speed. Rib protectors come in several styles and price points. For a beginner, choose a rib protector that has strap adjustments or wider mesh straps over the shoulders. The higher-end (and more expensive) options include shirts with patented “gel-to-shell” technology that harden immediately upon impact, and then return to a jelly-like consistency until the next hit.

Elbow Pads and Arm Guards

Lax elbow pads have additional coverage and protection compared to a hockey elbow pad. Lax pads can extend from the mid-wrist to mid-bicep area, with a large padded area on the elbow cup. Arm pads offer extended protection above and below the elbow, whereas most hockey elbow pads are designed specifically focus to protect the elbow cup and not the entire arm. Adjustable straps allow for a perfect fit so that the pads don’t slide down the arms.

Mouth guards, Jocks or Jills

As your child learns to play lacrosse, there is the likelihood that there are going to be some stray throws that might hit sensitive body parts. Even as their control and skill with handling the ball increases, those random wild throws are going to be coming in a lot faster. Protect future generations of your family DNA with a jock (for boys) or jill (for girls).

Mouthguards are the same for hockey or lacrosse; just make sure you have the right size to properly protect your child’s teeth.


It is likely that your child will be playing Box lacrosse here in Canada, which normally takes place in a hockey arena that has had the ice removed for the season. A good pair of supportive and well-fitting running shoes is all you need when your child is starting out in lacrosse. Fit is definitely important as your child will be running hard, stopping quickly, and maneuvering and turning, so the shoe and foot need to be one integrated unit.

TIP: Playing on the concrete floor can sometimes be slippery. Veteran lacrosse parents carry hairspray in their child’s gear bag to spray on the soles of the running shoes to decrease slipping!