College Gear Training

Crazy Lacrosse Stories: I Cut Down My Long Pole

Jamie MacDonald Denver Lacrosse longstick lax
Does that look short to anyone else?

I recently cut my lacrosse defenseman’s longsticks down by approximately 8 inches.  Both of my go to poles had been standard factory length shafts up until last week but I didn’t hesitate for even a moment to cut them both.  In fact, I can’t believe I didn’t do this years ago.  I really should have, it might have helped me become a better player.

I played goalie from 4th grade through 8th grade, then switched to midfield.  On my first day of practice at Wesleyan University, Coach Raba handed me a longstick and asked me to give that position a shot.  I did, and ended up starting almost every game for the rest of my college career.  I lacked in defensive skill and knowledge, but I was athletic, so I could hold my own most of the time.  But the switch to the long pole was just too much for me.  I wish I’d ditched my pride and just cut that darn thing down.

I didn't cut my hair, but I did cut my longstick.

I was good with a short stick, not great.  That’s probably part of the reason I got moved to pole!  But my decent skills didn’t transfer that well… it could have been smoother.  And I think a shorter pole could have helped with that transition.  In fact, I play so much short stick nowadays, that when I switch back to a full pole (like I would have done this weekend in Tahoe), it feels awkward.  I get caught up on the butt end from time to time, and throw checks that connect with the middle of the shaft.  It’s not always pretty.  Even wall ball becomes more difficult.  Until now.

I went out and played about 15 minutes of wall ball today with the shorter longpole, and I noticed a difference immediately.  It didn’t feel too long, or awkward, like it usually does, and within a minute or two I was humming passes off the wall and cradling and moving with the rock almost as easily as I would do with a shortie.  Yet my stick was only EIGHT inches shorter.  I threw some checks (on no one, just an imaginary man) and it felt like I could get the stick back into position quicker after a check and I felt like I could throw harder, more precise checks.  Maybe it’s just a placebo effect… I’ll find out this weekend in Tahoe though, that’s for sure.

If it makes a difference, I may have to go on a “cut down the pole” crusade.  I always believed that a longstick should come up to your eyes… or at least in that area.  But now I’m thinking that a slightly smaller pole might be easier to control, lighter, better for offensive stick work, and just a better weapon overall.  Denver has a guy or two that cut down their longsticks and it seemed to work for them!  That last part wasn’t very convincing…

So I’m curious if any of our readers have any experience playing with a shorter pole.  And I’m ESPECIALLY interested to hear from those who play both shortie and pole.

Jamie MacDonald Denver Lacrosse longstick lax

Does that look short to anyone else?

Photo courtesy DenverPioneers.com

About the author

Connor Wilson

Connor is the Publisher of LacrosseAllStars.com. He lives in Brooklyn with his better half, continues to play and coach both box and field lacrosse in NYC as much as possible, and covers the great game that is lacrosse full-time. He spends his spare time stringing sticks and watching Futurama.

20 Comments

  • Well, I don’t play pole, but goalie instead, but I have some experience with cutting down shafts. I cut about an inch per time off of my goalieshaft up until i felt comfortable with it. Ended up cutting down about 5 inches or so. Never been faster and more accurate. It changes the game, and removes dead weight, even if it is only ever so slightly. 

  • I remember being encouraged to cut my D pole down when I was in middle school.  It was a lot easier to work with.  But, it’s hard to know if it’s because I was physically smaller or just because it worked better for me. Keep us updated on your expereince.  Ol’ hickory could lose a few inches this off season…

  • I think it depends on a defenders’ skill set and preferences. Some defenders may prefer and be more more effective with a shorter, lighter pole while others might prefer the extra length of the factory length poles. 

  • I played d from 5 grade, ( I’m going into 9th) and I never used a short long pole,
    Im not the fastest so I like to have the stick on the man but be able to keep up taking less step
    Also I like how the attackman has to start his dogde farther from me. Giving me more time to react

    • all true!  It’s not all good when you make the switch, that much is certain!!!!  I’ll definitely lose a bit of reach, but I’m also HOPING that it will force me to play better body position and not be LAZY!  I’m old and tend to do that now…

  • No placebo effect here. I meant to cut about 6″ from my pole for Thailand, but ended up with 7-8″ removed because my first cut was lousy. I started doing this 20 years ago because 6-8″ cut off of a hickory shaft is a very dramatic weight difference. When I was younger, I could throw faster, more precise checks like you describe (and with a wooden pole). Now a shorter pole helps hide the additional lag that age has introduced into the system…

  • I have about the opposite experience, I started playing as a pole, and then transitioned into attack in college.  I always find that the handling when transitioning back to long from shorty is much easier, whereas transitioning to the shorty from the long pole has much bigger adjustment curve. 

    I personally am not a fan of the adjusted pole based on my experience learning with the long pole.  However, there are a couple HS coaches in the area who teach their LSM’s to play with about 6-8 inch shorter poles.  It’s an interesting concept because the LSM can now be more of an offensive threat in transition and be less of an automatic sub on teams with short numbers.

    • Will, I respectfully disagree with you on this one.  In high school I played goalie/midfield and when I went to college I had all intentions of playing goalie.  Sadly, I was quickly moved to LSM (where athletic goalies go to die) and didn’t have a hard time adjusting to the pole because of my experience with a shortie.  I think playing with a shortie also vastly improved my stick work with my goalie stick as well.  In short, I tell all of my players to play shortie during the summer (even my goalies) because it is the best way to work on stick skills.

      • We agree :) I said that the transition to long from shorty is easier.  I think that learning the skills on the shorty is crucial to extending them outward to the long pole.  However, the opposite really can’t be applied as different mechanics are at play with the long pole when gripped at full length.

  • I actually played all of high school with a shorter pole, it gave me a lot more control since I was a shorter guy, and not to mention it’s lighter than some of my short sticks (old kryptolight, with a brine vapor) I absolutely loved it. More control, better checks, and easier switch of hands

  • When I coach, I’m a huge supporter of the shorter pole for youth players. There’s no reason that a 4’9″ sixth grader should have a 6′ pole, especially if their parents aren’t willing to buy a truly feather-weight shaft for $250. At that age, no matter how big, they are not strong enough or coordinated enough to use the length properly. However, I think that’s where this debate ends for me.

    I think the shorter pole gives you a disadvantage on defense. Certainly not a huge one but I believe it’s there (I can name a number of specific instances but I’ll keep it brief).

    And, I don’t think a pole that’s six inches shorter gives you an advantage on offense. It may feel more comfortable to you now because you’ve been playing so much shorty but it wouldn’t help you carry the ball better (even through traffic), pass or shoot better, or get gb’s easier.

    It may help you face-off easier but guys who face off are often a different animal all together.

    I do realize, however, that at the end of the day you have to do what works for you, and if the shorter pole gives you confidence, that’s going to be more effective than another 6″.

  • I have played pole ever since I started playing lacrosse which was right when I got into college. I loved playing defense, but always had opportunities on offense when the time was right (notched a few goals in my college career). Anyways, my last college game I had my F15 shaft (which I had my entire college career) snap on me about 5-8 inches below the head. I decided to use the shaft as a shortened long stick during summer league here in Idaho. Turned quite a few heads with it since a lot of people thought I was playing with a goalie shaft. 

    I actually enjoyed playing with a shortened shaft, but it always felt weird playing with it. I don’t know if I was worried that it might not be legal or the fact that I do not look like a guy who should have a shorty…since I get a lot of people saying its weird to see me with one. It just didn’t feel right. I will be giving it a few more chances on the field, but I will always stick with ol’ reliable in the long pole. 

  • I’m a Varsity middie/attackman short sick kind of guy, but every now and then if the JV was short some guys I’d play a little pole (LSM AND D) just for kicks and giggles. But I felt going from the shortie to the pole was a good thing!

    Most guys when they make this transition get conservative when blowing past a guy or creating space for themselves with the ball. But with that pole I was able to dangle, and break ankles as if I was still using my shortie. I used the pole the same way with the ball, and the pole was full length. So I don’t think it makes a big difference in length offensively, it’s just how you approach it. Defensively, it’s all preference (just like everything else in lacrosse from stringing to gear) I recently used my club team’s LSM shortened pole and just goofing off guarding a guy in the hotel at the last tourney I did feel more control with the checks, but in the game you may want that extra reach. For checks and for attackman starting their dodges, and picking off passes man down. So I’d have to say it’s all whatever the player likes. 

  • I cut my pole down last year and got shit from my coaches about it. I really enjoy play with it about seven inches shorter. it’s much more effective for basic ball handling and since a d-poles should be playing with their body anyway I don’t feel as if I’m losing anything.

  • The length of the pole should be determined by how effectively the defender can handle it.  Clearly there are disadvantages in terms of covering passing lanes, extending on your man’s gloves, and an overall decrease in ranginess for the LSM or Close Defender.  No question the shorter pole gains the advantage in “scrum” ground ball play and handling in transition.  Much of this question boils down to personal preference/performance and coaching philosophy.  No question, younger players may benefit from and should use a shorter pole and increase the length of the pole as they grow into it.

    My recommendation: use the longest D pole allowed by rule.  Note the grip for handling with the shorter pole and tape the full length stick at those grip points so you can see where the butt end would be if you were to cut it down.  The full length long pole should feel much more comfortable handling and in transition and now you haven’t sacrificed range and reach on the defensive end.  You will get used to exposing the butt end and adjust your GB play and stick handling to protect it.  See video of Joel White(Syracuse/Rochester) for an example of how to make a 6ft stick look like a shorty.

    Or.. see great D men like Max Schmidt (Maryland/Chesapeake) who rarely choke up offensively and can handle just as well and absolutely rip a shot – 100mph recorded this Summer – watch out Hartzell!

  • My son plays LSM and we cut his down to 54 loa, as it feels better for him seeing he is on the smaller size.
    I belive crosses are like golf clubs , there are some that just ‘feel’ right to each individual.
    We bought a few el cheapo clearance specials ($25) and cut to 52,54,56, and full. 
    He played around  until he found the length he liked best.  I then got him a decent shaft and cut to that length. 

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