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Right shaft length for goalies varies according to the weight of the stick and your playing style, height and experience level. Shorter sticks are lighter, being better for new goalies and those who run during matches. Longer sticks are preferred by goalies who make long passes to clear the ball.
Shaft length is one of the many considerations that go into buying a stick.
It varies not just according to your position on the field but also with individual considerations.
These include your preferred style of playing as well as your height, which is perhaps even more crucial for goalies since their shaft lengths can vary widely.
As far as rules governing shaft lengths go, male goalies’ sticks must be between 52 and 72 inches long. For female goalies, the length of goalie stick varies between 35.5 and 48 inches.
Both these lengths are longer than those allowed for other positions, which has traditionally meant that goalies have had longer sticks.
But, as with many other aspects of your stick, it is hard to prescribe a one-size-fits-all ideal shaft length which will do the trick for every goalie.
However, there are some general guidelines which you can follow as well as some factors that should influence your decision, along with advice from actual coaches who train goalies.
The Importance of Shaft Length
Shaft length is important as it affects the weight of your stick. Lower weight means faster reflexes and less fatigue.
On the other hand, longer shafts help generate more torque and let you make long passes.
This is especially useful for shorter goalies or those with less arm strength.
As a goalie, you will have to do two things: block incoming shots as well as clear the ball around and outside the crease.
As far as blocking shots go, your shaft length will probably not make too much of a difference. Even if you need to block low shots, a long shaft is not particularly helpful and you’ll rely more on your reflexes and footwork.
However, shaft length becomes important when you need to make passes.
In a game when milliseconds can make a difference, a shorter shaft means less weight on your hands which can lead to quicker reflexes and a successful pass.
More importantly, shaft length helps determine how far you can shoot the ball as well.
If you’re the kind of goalie who prefers make short passes to clear the ball, then a short shaft which gives you the advantage of speed will suffice.
But if you need to make a long pass, a short shaft will put you at a definitive disadvantage.
A longer shaft can help generate more torque while making a pass, which is useful for players who don’t have the arm strength to make such a pass without the added length.
Even for more experienced players with more arm strength, making long passes can boost their performance considerably and a long shaft is indispensable in shooting the ball to more distant teammates.
Other minor benefits of long shafts include the ability to provide a counterweight, letting you balance yourself better while running or going toe-to-toe with the other team in a match.
Long shafts can also help you determine your position between the pipes as you can quickly compare where the ends of the stick are to approximate your position.
Factors Determining Shaft Length of Goalie Stick
Shaft length is determined (1) your experience level as a goalie (2) your playing style, such as whether you prefer playing outside the crease or stay near it to block and clear (3) your height and (4) the weight of the shaft.
A number of factors, both personal and individual as well as more general considerations, can help you settle on the best shaft length for you. These factors are:
1. Experience level
Newer players to the game should consider beginning with a shorter shaft to start to get a general sense and feel of the game.
A shorter shaft means that it will weigh less and let you get used to the weight of a stick while playing.
Newer players might also not be experienced enough to make the long passes that longer shafts are meant for.
Experienced goalies, on the other hand, can easily opt for longer shafts both because they are used to maneuvering a lacrosse stick but also because they have better ball control and accuracy and are more capable of making long shots to clear the ball.
2. Shaft weight
The weight of the shaft is extremely important, especially in fast-paced matches where even a small amount of excess weight can slow you down and result in either missing a pass or not being able to block on time.
Shorter shafts have the advantage of being lighter, allowing your hands to react faster.
Lighter weight also increases the maneuverability of the stick overall.
3. Playing style
Your personal playing style also comes into play while making decisions about shaft length.
Earlier, coaches regarded goalies as part of the defensemen and emphasized shaft length because of how it would help in making passes to clear the ball.
If you follow this style of goalkeeping and cannot make do with only short passes then a long shaft should be your shaft of choice.
Newer coaches, however, regard the position of the goalie as a unique one and emphasize the need for a goalie to be able to block shots. If you subscribe to this outlook, then a short shaft will do the job well enough.
Apart from this, if you are a goalie who prefers to run a lot during the match then a shorter shaft will also suit you because the lower weight will result in less fatigue while playing.
Player height is perhaps the most important individual factor.
No matter how great your arm strength is, you cannot choose a shaft which is so long that you have trouble maneuvering it.
A common method of deciding shaft length is by sticking out your hand and putting the shaft next to your armpit and against your outstretched hand.
You should cut your shaft 6 inches from where your fingertips end. However, this is only a rule of thumb and even this varies with height.
Shorter players might want to cut it at a lower distance, such as 3 inches, while a taller player may be comfortable with longer shafts.
You should probably err on the side of caution and get a longer shaft and then cut it down to size in small increments after testing it out.
Shaft length determines the weight of your stick, your ability to move it around comfortably, and even the force and torque your shaft is capable of generating.
Because of this, it affects your balance, hand reflexes, and the distance up to which you can make a pass.
There is no single ideal shaft length for goalies but there are some important factors that should influence your decision.
On the personal side of things, your own height as well as your preferred playing style, such as whether you make long passes or run a lot in a match, are the factors to consider.
More generally, the weight of the shaft, as well as your experience level, determine your shaft length.
Keep these broad guidelines and pointers in mind and with a bit of experimentation, you’ll be able to find the ideal shaft length for you.