As with similar sports like hockey and soccer, the goalie position is arguably the most important one in the game of lacrosse–a team’s overall success often rests upon the performance of its goalies. A goalie’s performance, in turn, is influenced by the quality and characteristics of his or her equipment.
Lacrosse goalies have different equipment than other players, which includes the unique design of lacrosse heads for goalies. And if you want to help your team win as many games as possible, it’s important to have a solid lacrosse goalie head.
This guide is primarily intended to be for advanced lacrosse players. If you are looking for more basic information about lacrosse heads or the goalie position, check out our other guides on those topics:
Overview of lacrosse heads
Beginner’s complete lacrosse stick guide
Overview of lacrosse positions
Table of Contents
How Big is a Lacrosse Goalie Head?
Goalie is the one position in lacrosse for which the heads are entirely unique. The most obvious difference compared to the heads of other positions is the much larger size of the goalie head, which makes it easier to save shots.
Lacrosse goalie heads are 10-12 inches wide, compared to heads for other positions which are 6-10 inches wide (at their widest point). Similarly, goalie heads are longer from top to bottom, at up to 16 inches, compared to those of other positions at 10-12 inches.
There are also some other specific features that manufacturers emphasize in their elite goalie heads to provide various benefits that give goalies a better chance to make saves.
What Should You Look For in a Goalie Lacrosse Head?
Generally speaking, lighter heads are preferable for most players, and this is true for goalies as well, since slight differences in weight can have just enough of an impact on mobility to mean the difference between a goal and a save.
Stiffness is usually a matter of personal preference for most players, but for goalies it’s a pretty essential feature. If a head is too flexible, stopping high velocity shots all the time may cause the shape to warp.
Moreover, a stiff head will provide more stability on each individual save since it will be able to handle more impact force without bending or wobbling, which could otherwise cause the ball to pop out when making a save.
Scoop design may not vary too much from one goalie head to another, but it is still important for them to have scoops that are favorable for picking up ground balls, since this is a regular part of the goalie’s job. Again, marginal differences in reaction time and efficiency of action can mean the difference between a save and a goal.
It’s important for elite goalie heads to have sturdy sidewalls and enough stringing holes to allow for a pocket that will retain its shape even after repeatedly having to stop super fast shots.
For lacrosse goalie heads, the design of the throat is important so that goalies get a firm grip with their top hand. Offsetting the head, designing it so that it essentially leans back a bit at an angle on the stick, allows gravity to help keep the ball in the pocket. This provides better control when making passes or if the goalie decides to run with the ball and handle it away from the crease.
Best Lacrosse Heads for Goalies
STX Eclipse 2
According to STX, “The STX Eclipse II remains the number one selling lacrosse goalie head in the game.” No doubt that’s due in part to STX’s fantastic reputation as arguably the most trusted brand in lacrosse.
But this lacrosse goalie head also blends together a great combination of lightweight and speed, so that you have the ability to get your stick quickly in front of blistering high velocity shots and know that your head is tough enough to withstand the impact.
The STX Eclipse II goalie head also sports a scoop designed for picking up ground balls in and around the crease with ease. The main knock against this head may be its price, which is a bit higher than others in this list, but you get what you pay for in the world of lacrosse and this head from STX is one of the best goalie heads around.
StringKing Mark 2G
StringKing, as the name suggests, is known for its lacrosse heads that place a special emphasis on stringing customization and for having superior mesh in its factory-strung heads.
The StringKing Mark G2 has an unheard-of 42 sidewall holes, which provides just an absurd level of customization potential. That abundance of sidewall holes also brings down the weight a bit, since it means less material in the sidewall, and makes this a particularly aerodynamic head for easy handling and quick releases.
Ironically enough, this goalie head’s main strengths also constitute its main potential drawbacks. Not all players, let alone goalies, want to deal with a head that has 42 sidewall holes. That’s 42 chances for parts of your pocket to loosen up during the course of a game and/or season. Not to mention the hassle that it is to manually string such a head, although it is nice that StringKing does provide a pre-strung option for this lacrosse goalie head. Lastly, one might reasonably question how durable a head can be with swiss cheese sidewalls–that lack of material could very well make this a head that’s more prone to cracking than others.
This head is not for everyone, but it does provide you with an unparalleled ability to get wild with your stringing if you so desire that in your lacrosse goalie head.
Warrior Nemesis 3
According to Warrior, the “Nemesis 3 is the lightest performance goalie head available.” You might take that claim with a grain of salt given that just about all lacrosse goalie heads, especially new releases, claim to be superior in the weight department. Nevertheless, it’s never a bad idea to buy a lacrosse goalie head from a brand that recognizes the importance of light weight in a head.
The Nemesis 3 lacrosse goalie head also claims to have superior stiffness and durability–again, a common claim in the world of goalie heads, but an important quality to have if you’re playing at a high level of competition where opposing players have the strength to put some real heat behind their shots.
As with many Warrior heads, this goalie head also features tapered sidewall holes designed to make it harder for your strings to loosen up. Not everyone is a fan of this unconventional design, but for some it definitely will help make stringing your head a little less arduous.
Finally, a great thing about this lacrosse goalie head is that it is available from at least one seller (Lacrosse Monkey) not just pre-strung, but also as a complete stick, meaning you can save both money and time by not having to search for and purchase a shaft separately. You also get the peace of mind of knowing that your and head shaft will fit together well.
Brine Eraser 2
Brine, which has been owned by Warrior for the past decade and a half, has struggled a bit to stay competitive in the market of lacrosse heads, but the Brine Eraser was one of the most popular goalie heads in its time and the Eraser 2 introduces a bit more added strength and stiffness without adding extra weight. It therefore checks all the boxes that a lacrosse goalie head must check today to stay relevant with competitors.
One relatively unique feature of this lacrosse goalie head is its offset design, which provides better control and accuracy with outlet passes, enabling you to set your team up in the offensive zone more efficiently with pinpoint stretch passes down the length of the field. The offset also may help to keep the ball in your stick when making saves or when running and handling the ball outside the crease.
This head has been known to have some problems with warping and/or cracking more easily than others, but at its low cost, it’s a highly affordable budget option that still has elite characteristics.
According to STX, the STX Shield lacrosse goalie head is “the first goalie head to incorporate STX’s proprietary C-Channel™ technology,” a streamlined design of the siderail intended to introduce more strength and stiffness.
The C-Channel technology also helps the head to retain its shape over time, since it can hold up better against the stresses of making saves on hard shots and clamping down on ground balls. That retention of shape not only gives this lacrosse goalie head more durability, but also means that the head will continue to throw consistently over the course of a season, which–like the Brine Eraser 2–gives it some extra value in the ability to dish out accurate outlet passes.
Despite their best efforts, however, the STX Shield is a bit heavy compared to other goalie heads. STX has tried to counter this a bit by streamlining the throat to improve reaction time and maneuverability, but it still might not quite stack up against other heads on this list in terms of quickness of handling.
Still, if you value strength over speed in your goalie head, the STX Shield might be the best option for you.
Lacrosse goalies wear the same helmets as other players, but with the addition of a neck guard, which is a separate piece tthat attaches to
Goalie heads are larger than the heads for other lacrosse positions. A typical lacrosse head is 10-12 inches long, but a lacrosse goalie head can be up to 16 inches long.
In addition to a lacrosse goalie stick and head, a lacrosse goalie needs a helmet with a neck guard, goalie gloves, a chest protector, cleats, a mouthguard, and an athletic cup. Other optional items include leg pads and elbow pads. If you want to learn more about goalie equipment requirements, read more here.