Straight Shooters

Heads bought now safe for a few years

June 08, 2008|By Matt Zash

Straight Shooters answers your youth lacrosse questions with the help of US Lacrosse experts. This week's "Straight Shooter" is Matt Zash. Zash was a two-time All-America midfielder at Duke, graduating in 2006. He plays professional lacrosse for Major League Lacrosse's Philadelphia Barrage and the National Lacrosse League's New York Titans. Zash was a member of the 2003 U.S. under-19 men's world championship team and played for Team USA in the 2007 Indoor World Lacrosse Championships in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He owns and operates the Lax Hut, a chain of lacrosse retail stores.

Q: What would be a good stick to get my 12-year old son? I've heard they might be changing the rules on what will be allowed. Can you shed some light on that? He has also been talking about trying defense. He likes the rough part of the game, even though he's a fast, skinny guy. Should I get him a defensive stick or stay with the shorty?

Scott Waldhauser, Kingsville

A: I would recommend Harrow's H2 or STX's Proton. The heads are a little wider than most on the market. The wider the head, the easier it is to catch the ball (half the battle at that age). Also, wider heads are more conducive to stringing smooth, legal pockets with little or no whip.

I don't recommend deep, or near-illegal, pockets for youths because, without sufficient force, it's difficult to throw a straight pass. The narrower heads are for experienced players who demand every little advantage. That said, in 2010, almost all of the heads on the market will be illegal for college use because they're too narrow.

Last summer, a playing rules oversight panel approved wider heads in an effort to restore some of the game's high-speed pace and skillful integrity. These new measurements will be enacted Jan. 1, 2010, by the NCAA. However, the National Federation of State High School Associations has yet to decide if this rule will be enforced by high school and youth lacrosse organizations.

I can't see youth organizations being quick to force parents to buy a new $100 head. Because of the financial burden, I think the rule transition from college to high school and youth lacrosse will be slow, and you should be legally safe for a few years with any head you buy now.

If I were you, I would encourage your son to play as many positions as possible. Let him experiment while he's young and not forced into a role by a coach. Plus, you never know what kind of body type that fast, skinny, 12-year old will grow into. Regardless, exposure to various positions will help improve his overall game and understanding. If your son can persuade a defenseman on his team to try midfield or attack, make the pole switch. Nobody has to buy a thing and everybody wins. Straight Shooters thanks Sun readers for the great questions and feedback this season. The series will return in February for the start of the 2009 lacrosse season. Until then, you can follow Straight Shooters year-round on Lacrosse Magazine Online at US Lacrosse, headquartered in Baltimore, is the national governing body of men's and women's lacrosse. Learn more about playing, coaching and officiating lacrosse at

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