Are aches and pains after a tough lacrosse game common for you? If so, you’re probably not using the best lacrosse shoulder pads. Lacrosse is a rough game that requires ample protection to stay safe. According to a study in 2014, about 6.3 injuries for every 1,000 youth players. For men’s lacrosse, the figure is a bit lower at 5.29 for every 1,000 athletes.
While there are several injuries you can experience on the field, lax shoulder pads are often considered to be one of the most important pieces of gear you can buy. We’ll go over why that is in a bit.
Think about how much better your game would be if you didn’t have to deal with pain from a hard check. You can just get right back up and continue to push harder until you’re victorious. It sounds like a pipe dream, doesn’t it?
Right now, it probably takes a bit to recover from a painful check. You might even be dealing with the ramifications of that hit for a few days after your game.
High-quality lacrosse shoulder pads can make all the difference on and off the field. In this guide, we’re going to help you find the very best pads that money can buy. Check out our top picks and learn more about how the quality of your shoulder pads affects your performance.
The design of Lacrosse shoulder pads has evolved quite a bit in the last few decades., which has resulted in a steady decline of injuries in the sport. Innovation has resulted in more choices for lax players, allowing you to choose the right protection for your playing style and position.
1. Traditional Shoulder Pads
Traditional pads are a tried and true form of protection. This option offers the most physical coverage. Made out of thick padding and high-impact plastic, they can definitely take a beating. The great thing about traditional lax shoulder pads is that they cover all of the key areas.
In addition to covering your heart, collar bone, and deltoid muscles, most traditional shoulder pads have a separate piece that covers the bicep. While they may look rather cumbersome at first, the gear is strategically designed to offer protection without affecting your agility too much.
Thanks to the heavy protection they offer, traditional models are often regarded as the best lacrosse shoulder pads for defense players. The increased coverage keeps you safe during slashes, crosschecks, and any other aggressive play.
2. Shoulder Pad Liners
On the opposite side of the spectrum, we have shoulder liners. While traditional pads offer the most protection, liners only cover the bare minimum. These aren’t recommended for youth players who are just getting started. Let me explain why…
Shoulder liners do not offer any form of arm protection. They’re more focused on securing the heart and collar bone. While there is some deltoid coverage, it’s minimal at best.
Why would you want a liner instead of traditional lax pads? Well, it’s all about flexibility and movement.
Liners are the best lacrosse shoulder pads for attack players because they free up your arms to make powerful maneuvers. There are no arm covers to restrict your movement, making it easier to gain power for a shot. Plus, they’re lighter and more breathable.
3. Hybrid Shoulder Pads
So, what if you need flexibility with lots of protection? This is where the hybrid shoulder pad comes in. These are some of the best lacrosse shoulder pads for midfield players. Middies spend most of the game running up and down the field. They support both attackers and defenders.
Hybrid shoulder pads offer the best of both worlds. They’re not as bulky as traditional gear. Yet, they cover the same key areas. The lightweight design makes it easy to maneuver the playing field.
Typically, the chest piece of hybrid pads is molded to fit anatomically. This removes that uncomfortable bulky feeling that comes with traditional pads. The weight is on your chest, making it feel like a second protective skin.
5 Best Lacrosse Shoulder Pads for Attack, Defense, Middies & Kids
Now let’s have an in-depth look at the top 5 best lacrosse pads that we’ve handpicked for laxers belonging to all categories on the field.
The Stallion 50 shoulder pads are what you need if flexibility and peak performance are your goals. This is a traditional system that offers plenty of chest and shoulder protection without the added bulk of hard plastic. Despite its lightweight design, the protective gear has some thick padding to keep you going after a check.
The great thing about this lax pad is that it’s easy to customize to your needs. Want to make it even lighter? Just remove the shoulder caps and chest piece. Need something that’s going to grow with your body? The elastic velcro straps have you covered!
Velcro strap system
Removable chest piece and deltoid covers
Not available in extra-large
No hard-impact shell
These lacrosse shoulder pads certainly pack a protective punch. Thanks to its flexible design and lightweight build, it’s ideal for attackers and middies who want to stay on top of their game.
2. Lacrosse Unlimited Maverik Max Speed Shoulder Pads
You don’t need to sacrifice too much to get the protection you need. This option is built for speed and flexibility. It’s made up of several protective panels that are connected with a breathable inner layer of mesh fabric.
Those panels are quite tough. Some are filled with foam to keep your shoulders and core secure. However, the chest piece is made out of tough hard plastic. It’s strategically designed to keep your heart and sternum in good shape after a hard play.
Thick protective panels
Velcro closures and adjustable straps
Hard chest protection
Lightweight and flexible
No arm protection
Can be a bit bulky for smaller players
There’s no doubt that these lax shoulder pads can keep you safe. While it doesn’t cover your arms, the thick panels around your core make it a worthy contender for attackers and middies.
3. Warrior Youth Rabil NXT Shoulder Pad: Best for Kids
Your young lax superstar can remain safe with these shoulder pads from Warrior. This product is specifically made for kids just starting out. Thus, it fits players as young as 5 years old!
The shoulder pads cover many key areas. It protects the deltoids, biceps, chest, rib, and sternum. Some of those components can be removed to customize the gear, which is great for young players who are just figuring out their playing style.
Rib and sternum protection built in
Traditional shoulder-pad design
Removable shoulder panels and chest piece
May be cumbersome for younger kids
Prone to holding onto odors
These are one of the best lacrosse shoulder pads for kids. With its thick padding at every corner, it’ll keep your child safe and give you peace of mind during every game.
4. Champion Sports Rhino Lacrosse Set: Best Pads for Youth
The Rhino lacrosse set from Champion Sports has your young player covered. In addition to the traditional shoulder pads, it has gloves and arm guards for optimal protection on the field. The great thing about the shoulder pads is that they’re lightweight.
Even so, the padding covers all key areas. It’s even thicker around vulnerable points for good measure. As an added touch of convenience, all of the foam is covered in mesh. This helps to keep players cool on those hot summer days.
Breathable mesh fabric
Includes arm guards and gloves
Adjustable velcro straps
Thicker padding on sternum, spine, and collar bone
No hard plastic
Doesn’t offer much room to grow
If you’re looking for a full set that won’t break the bank, this is the product for you. It’s ideal for young kids and helps them learn the ropes of lacrosse while staying safe.
With its cool design, your child can stand out while staying safe. Beneath the attractive printed pattern, you’ll find dual-density foam that softens the blow from checks and ball hits. For extra security, there’s also a plate system inside the lacrosse shoulder pads. It offers an added layer of protection around the chest.
Despite all of the coverage these shoulder pads have, it’s designed with flexibility in mind. Elastic is used on the straps to ensure that your child’s range of motion isn’t limited as they play.
Internal safety plate
Traditional shoulder pad design
Hard protective panels
Doesn’t limit movement too much
Velcro strap system
Not suitable for older kids
No rib protection
All in all, the Uprising shoulder pads are a great option for any youth lax player. The product is lightweight, yet covers most of the major vulnerable points to keep them safe.
A Complete Buying Guide for Lacrosse Shoulder Pads
The quality of your lacrosse shoulder pads can mean the difference between serious injury and walking away from a check unscathed. Whether you’re buying for yourself or your favorite family lax star, it’s important to consider every detail of the shoulder pads. Here are some things that you need to think about while you’re shopping.
Key Features to Pay Attention to When Buying Lacrosse Pads
Let’s face it; every player works up a sweat during a lacrosse game. All that running will increase your heart rate, which results in higher body temperature. Without adequate ventilation to keep your core temperature in check, you run the risk of increasing your heart rate too much or experiencing heatstroke.
Luckily, it’s not hard to find breathable shoulder pads. Many manufacturers use mesh to let air through. It’s also recommended that you go with a product that has elastic around the chest piece. This makes it easier to expand when you breathe in.
The way the lacrosse shoulder pads are secured to your body is important, too. The last thing you want to worry about mid-game is your protective gear slipping off.
There are a few options available. Buckles tend to be the most durable. But, that comes with the sacrifice of added bulk. Hook and loop closures are a great alternative. They’re easy to adjust and can be secured in seconds. The only downside is that they tend to degrade over time.
The key is to choose a strap system that works with your play style. If flexibility is a top priority, hook and loop closures are the way to go. Regardless of the system you choose, just make sure that it’s adjustable to provide you with a snug fit.
Earlier, we mentioned that shoulder pads are one of the most important pieces of lacrosse gear you can own. The reason for that is because they’re designed to protect your heart. Lacrosse can be incredibly dangerous. Speeding balls, stick checks, and overall aggressive maneuvers pose certain heart risks.
Between 1980 and 2009, approximately 23 players in the United States experienced cardiac arrest or sudden death during a game of lacrosse. Defenders and goalies are at the highest risk. The issue is so serious that the Board of Directors at US Lacrosse recently implemented some gear changes to enhance heart protection.
When you’re looking for the best lacrosse shoulder pads that money can buy, go for something that offers an additional layer of protection. Some brands include separate hard sternum plates to stop fastballs. Others use inflatable air bladders as an extra cushion. These extra features can make a huge difference in your safety and peace of mind.
Your lacrosse shoulder pads should enhance your technique, not hinder it. To ensure that you’re not bogged down as you make your way across the field, choose lightweight protective gear.
Thanks to advancements in the manufacturing process, the hard outer shells of shoulder pads are lighter than ever before. Materials like ABS can be precision-molded for optimal protection without the added bulk. The same goes for closed-cell foam padding.
Lastly, you need to get gear that fits you! Getting a snug fit is crucial if you want to take advantage of all the protective features the lax shoulder pads have. Because lacrosse is played by people of all ages, you won’t have a hard time finding an option that’s right for your body.
Generally, manufacturers base their sizes on chest circumference. Extra-small pads, which are made for the youngest lax players, usually fit chest sizes between 22 and 25 inches. On the other end of the spectrum, extra-large pads fit people with chests that measure 37 inches around or more.
Despite how thrilling the game of lacrosse is, you should never hit the playing field without some protection. The best lacrosse shoulder pads should have a permanent place in your gear bag. Finding those perfect lax pads requires some careful thought and consideration. However, it’s a worthy investment that will let you play with confidence.