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 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.
Photo courtesy DenverPioneers.com