Warrior Lacrosse is obviously a major player in the lacrosse space, and they cover both pro leagues, tons of college teams, and then even more programs below that. They offer a huge range of products, so when I asked them to send over whatever they wanted to show off for 2018, I found it really interesting that the only things that they sent over were different versions of the Warp head.
Warrior Lacrosse offers gloves, arm pads, helmets, footwear, padding, heads, shafts, and more, and all they sent over was Warps – if that doesn’t tell you what their priorities are right now, I don’t know what else does!
(Check out our other published 2018 Gear Reviews – Powell Lacrosse’s new heads and shafts, Cascade Lacrosse’s new S Helmet, Maverik Lacrosse’s 2018 gloves, shafts, and heads, Nike Lacrosse’s new head and gloves, Brine Lacrosse’s two new heads, and new heads and gloves from Under Armour Lacrosse. There are more reviews to come!)
Back when I reviewed the original Warp, I had some ideas on where Warrior Lacrosse would go with this product line. A lot of them were informed by patent applications, and they were pretty spot on, but actually using these newly released products is a totally different story, and it’s exciting to see the Warp pocket product line moving forward and improving. This is a long-term project, and redefining what a good lacrosse pocket can be with take time. So let’s see how Warrior Lacrosse is faring with their evolutionary process in Year 3 of the Warp.
Warrior Lacrosse – 2018 Warp Gear Review
Warrior Lacrosse sent over three different Warp heads. The first is a junior stick, designed for U10 players and below. The second was an intermediate stick, designed for players above U10, through middle or high school. The third was the defensive Warp Pro Reg Max. I also got my hands on a fourth Warp, the Evo Box head, which Warrior did no send to me, and I’ll include a review of that as well at the bottom.
Evo Warp Junior – The biggest problems with a lot of beginners sticks, or sticks designed for little kids, is that they often have terrible pockets, are too big and too heavy, or are just “big people” sticks that have been slightly tweaked for “littler people”. The Evo Warp is definitely not that at all, and this product really stands out as a piece of introductory equipment designed specifically for a younger player. It’s legal for U10 play, which is always good, but lots of sticks are legal.
What separates the Warp Junior, and how is it designed for a youth player?
The stick comes as a complete, with head and shaft included. It’s super light, a little shorter than a regulation stick, and the head is black (at least the one I got is black) and it looks like a stick you would want to pick up – way more so than an old Warrior Outlaw complete stick ever looked. And on top of looking better, it actually plays better. This stick throws with no whip whatsoever, it allows the ball to sit low or in the middle of the pocket, and it really allows the player to feel the ball in their stick. To a certain extent, it also FORCES players to feel the ball in their stick, which should help reinforce good fundamentals. For doing drills, or for a first timer picking up the sport in a clinic or on a team of youngsters, this stick could do wonders from the following point of view – it’s consistent, the pocket can’t be changed, and it forces good habits when cradling, passing, and catching, while still allowing young players to hold on to the ball and take a good shot or make a good pass.
The pocket is about 3/4s of a ball depth, the diamonds in the pocket are large, and there is a huge catching area. The ball sits in the middle of the channel relatively well, and if you cradle with good form, it really stays in there quite nicely. It’s also important to note that for a young player, it’s important to have a light stick, because most young kids have not developed enough strength to handle a really heavy one. The Warp Junior makes the game accessible immediately with a little good instruction, and for that reason I love it for U10 players, or intro clinics. The ball alone can be pretty heavy for 8 and 9 year olds, so a smaller, lighter stick is absolutely key early on. Warrior has done a good job here creating a simple, consistent product which meets the needs of younger players.
Evo Warp Next – The Warp Next is quite literally the next step in the Warp family, and is designed for the kid who ages out of the Warp Junior, starting around 10 years old. I brought this stick to a clinic for first time players, and they were hooked on it immediately. It threw the same way every time, they could feel the ball in it nicely, and it’s light enough for any kid to pick up and use. Like the Warp Junior, the ball sits really nicely in the low and mid positions, but the Next definitely has a little more hold to it, and a little more power. I won’t say it has whip necessarily, because it really doesn’t, but the Next definitely allows a player to draw back a little more than the Junior does, so players can really start to sling the ball with a little more force.
Like the Junior, the Next performs best when fundamentals are used well, and it delivers crisp passes and offers a wide catching area. The ball centers itself in the channel a little more than it does with the Junior, and a good cradle keeps the ball tucked in place nicely. The Diamonds are a little smaller on the Next, and the “shooting string” is a little lower in the pocket, giving an additional snap/pop when shooting and passing.
For players in the 10-14 year old range, I really like this stick because it is a big step up from the Junior, but it doesn’t lose all of the fundamental keys to success that the Junior helps engender. A strong, vertical cradle is still the best option here. An overhand pass or shot will be rewarded most with this stick, and so on and so on. For me, a big consideration is whether a player wants to continue to develop their fundamental skills during their middle school years – if they do, the Warp Next makes for a really interesting option, with a number of strong upsides. It’s a product that can solve some problems for players struggling with a bad pocket, and it forces players with bad fundamentals to improve.
Reg Max Warp Pro – The Pro version of the Warp is designed for the highest levels of play, and I guess that means high school through professional, because those are the levels where you will see the Pro versions of the Warp being used. This head is designed to function as any elite level pocket should function, and this is probably the biggest challenge area for Warrior Lacrosse in their Warp venture. High level lacrosse players can be super picky when it comes to gear, and even more so when it comes to pockets. To break into this market in any serious way, Warrior Lacrosse has to offer as good or better of a product than mesh can offer – so how is the process going?
In the early days, the Warp pockets lacked feel. They threw great, caught ok, and did a lot of good things, but the big knock on them was that they didn’t have the feel, hold, or touch that a good mesh pocket could provide. Since then, Warrior Lacrosse opened up the hole sizes, reduced the string on ball contact dramatically by cutting away materials, changed the string material, and switched up how tight certain weaves were, while loosening others. The end result is a similar product in concept – it’s still a “woven integrated pocket” – but this is a VERY different product when it comes to function.
The newest Warp heads feature a super soft pocket, which channels the ball to the middle, but also allows it to move around a lot more freely for a similar “feel” to mesh. Pockets are more defined now, and channelled, but because of the smooth texture of the soft pocket, the resistance isn’t there, which you can find in a lot of mesh. So you get hold hold, with less snag. The result has been a pocket that plays differently from mesh, but at this point it’s definitely NOT worse. It’s just different… and here’s the kicker: more and more people are starting to believe in that kind of pocket. And this is key.
Think about it this way – if Warrior wanted to create the best mesh pocket in the world, they would just make mesh. They clearly don’t want to make a mesh pocket, they want to make something different. And this different kind of pocket is really starting to take on a life of its own now.
The Reg Max head is stiff, it’s great for D guys, and the pocket simply does not change. You can get this head with different levels of whip, and since it really is so different from mesh, I almost can’t describe how different it is. On it’s face, this head has a high channeled pocket, with good hold, and a little bit of whip, but my best recommendation for any Warp Pro head is to find one and try it. It may take a little getting used to at first, but pretty quickly you’ll notice how far this product idea has come already.
The Reg Max has a high pocket, a little tug, and a super solid body structure. It’s a tough head, meant for defenders who want to get after it, and for D guys who just want a stick that WORKS, the Reg Max could be a great option. All of the above being said, I can’t recommend it enough that you try one of these new Warp sticks from Warrior Lacrosse. Maybe it’s for you, maybe it’s not. But you’ll never know what the difference is until you give it a shot, and the product is definitely approaching a much more developed stage in its life cycle. It can’t be written off as a gimmick – this is a product with staying power.
Evo Warp FB – This is my favorite Warp series head, and that holds true by far. The one I have is low to no whip, provides all the hold in the world, AND it has a kind of bag pocket. It’s like everything I’ve ever looked for in a box pocket. I can throw a fake and then still get the ball out with a flick of my wrists. I can still shoot hard and accurate, and the ball just sits where I need it to most of the time. That’s as much as I can say for any of my sticks!
The wider holed mesh channel goes really high on the FB head, and this allows the ball to sit all over, but it also pops loosies right into the channel right away. It’s a great head for box lacrosse, especially for defenders and transition players. I can see more O guys using this version of the Warp than any other, but even in the NLL the number of offensive guys using the stick is still pretty limited. I might actually use it, as I’m trying to get the ball out of my stick as quickly as possible – the Warp is actually great for that, but in a good way.
As I’ve said before, there is something different about mesh, and there is something different about the Warp, but I think a lot of it also just comes down to time, and personal preference or tradition. As more young offensive players are used to the Warp feel, maybe more pros will use it as well. Rob Pannell uses one in field, and Curtis Dickson uses one for box, so it’s not like no one is using them, but both players are Warrior athletes, so take from that what you will. Other Warrior pros like Rabil do not use the Warp. Like with anything new, it will take time, but I do think the product is getting there quickly, and more players are converting to the idea of an all in one head and pocket.
Now, if you want whip in your head, maybe they offer that option for the box stick, but you might have to go to an Evo Pro field stick for that option. I’m not sure because I haven’t tried one of those yet, at least not very much. The Box stick is narrow (illegal for field), but just wide enough where it matters, and it shows how this pocket can really be adapted for any level of play, and any type of stick. The Women’s Warp isn’t far off, and I’m intrigued to see how that evolutionary process plays out, and what lessons learned Warrior Lacrosse takes from their product release on the men’s side.
2018 Gear Review Methodology – We did outreach to manufacturers asking them to send us any new (or relatively new) product they wanted reviewed for 2018. We made no promises on what we would say, and every brand is given an opportunity to participate. Our focus is on Heads, shafts, helmets, gloves, padding, and footwear. We will also a giant 2018 Mesh Review soon. No scores are given. We simply talk about the positives (and negatives) of any product. Our goal is to help you, the consumer, make informed decisions on equipment purchases. That’s it!