Got a great email the other day from Emily who is having trouble clearing the ball. Here’s the email:

>> Hey there Jonathan. I’ve been playing lacrosse for 4 years now, and from the start my coaches put me in the cage. The first and second year, they didn’t work with me in practice, just shot on me a bit right before games. Last year, they worked with me a little in practice with the fundamentals and everything. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a decent goalie with save percentages I don’t have a problem with that, but now that I’m on my schools modified team, I am starting to notice that I have a hard time clearing the ball and passing, I throw my clears and passes too short. I just ordered a new stick, so will cutting it shorter or keeping it longer help? My shaft right now is not a goalie shaft, I believe it is a midfield shaft. I’m 5’5″ and a girl if that helps. Thanks!
>> -Emily

Hey there Emily. Thanks for emailing me this question. I sent an email back but am going to take some time here to write a bit more so our readers can benefit. First, here’s a picture of Emily’s stick just so everyone knows what we’re talking about here.  My response is below the photo.

Notice how the shooting strings are too far down the pocket.

Notice how the shooting strings are too far down the pocket.

I know a couple things about Emily from my emails back and forth with her and do know that she is quite strong physically so throwing the ball up the field is not a problem strength-wise.  If a goalie is weak there is not a lot you can do with the stick to help her clear, but in this case the goalie is quite strong so we start to look at the stick.

I have no problem with a short (attack or midfield length) shaft for most goalies.  In fact, almost any goalie up to 5’10” can use a short shaft and be just fine with it.  If you have good strength, a short shaft can help you move to the ball and help you in the odd chance you have to dodge players on a clear.  So no problem with the length of shaft.

I also have no problem with the STX Goalmaster head she is using.  I actually played with a similar style head when I was young.  My only complaint about this head is that it isn’t very light feeling in your hands.  To me it feels dead.  Not very lively if that makes sense.  I do love the STX Eclipse and find it quite light feeling and I think it is due to the stiffness of the head.  Either way, this is a very good head for young goalies and overall it is not the root cause of any clearing problem.

So if the shaft is fine, and the head is fine, we start to look at the mesh.  For young goalies, for most women’s goalies, I do recommend the smaller diamond mesh especially if it is hard mesh.  I do not recommend using the small diamond soft mesh.  For that matter I don’t mind using soft mesh unless it’s an expert goalie, that’s another post to talk about that topic.

So in this photo Emily is using a small diamond hard mesh that looks like it’s broken in quite nicely with a nice channel down the middle.  That helps keep the ball centered while passing, so I like that too.

What I don’t like looking at this photo is the placement of the shooting strings.  This to me is the culprit on why this stick is not allowing Emily to make long passes.

You want your lacrosse stick to act like a lever,  actually more like a catapult.  Do you remember those fun plastic summer toys.  They looked like a half moon and you tossed a wiffle ball with them?  The ball would just zing out of those bad boys.  The ball would start at the bottom and as you threw it the ball would run the length of the plastic scoop and shoot right out.

Now think of a shot put.  The ball doesn’t go as far and it feels really clumsy.  I bet that’s what Emily’s stick feels like right now.

When you throw a lacrosse ball, with any stick, the ball travels slightly down the pocket before it hits the first shooting string. If the ball has no room to do that it gets “stuck” on that first string.  It hooks.  And the ball goes straight into the ground.

Now if you are super strong you can “shot put” the ball up field, but for most athletes that’s just not possible.

So in the case of this stick I would do the following:

1) Take out the lowest shooting string closest to the throat of the stick.

2) Put a shooting string that is made of the same sidewall lacing one row down from the scoop.  (So scoop, skip one row, then put the first shooting string in there.  Then skip a row and put the second shooting string in there.  Then skip another row and place the third string.

In the case of this stick I think all Emily has to do is take out that third string, put in the shooting string across the very top, and leave the other two.  That should do it.

She will need to loosen the strings in order so that the ball as a transition between the pocket and the top shooting string.

Now you can get all fancy with V’s and multiple strings etc.  Keep it simple.  Stick with the tree strings and you should be fine.

Emily thanks so much for you question.

Coach Edwards –

P.S.  For those of you who are reading this and you’re not a member of Lacrosse Goalie University, come check it out, and sign up today.  It’s the best resource for lacrosse goalies and it’s a way that you can get private coaching, from me, every month.  Check it out at



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