What to Bring to your First Lacrosse Tryout
Getting ready for your first lacrosse tryout can be a stressful time, as you may not know what to expect, or how to prepare. No worries, though, because this guide will give you peace of mind and get you ready to impress the coaching staff with your preparedness and gusto! Take note of all the necessary items and pack your bag because we’re off to tryouts.
First and foremost, you’re going to want athletic wear that fits you properly and that’s comfortable to run around and sweat in for a few hours a day. Leave the jeans, hoodies, and XXXL basketball shorts at home. Pack your bag with the right gear, and you won’t have to worry about sticking out like a sore thumb in all the wrong ways.
For your upper body, a simple t-shirt will do, but there are certainly more appealing alternatives. A moisture wicking top offers significantly more comfort and a better fit, and a decent one doesn’t cost much more than a good t-shirt. Moisture wicking technology essentially soaks up your body’s sweat and pushes it out the other side of the fabric, keeping your body cooler and dryer than a simple cotton shirt would.
All the major athletic companies make these tops, and they can be purchased for roughly 20 to 30 dollars online or at athletic retail stores. These shirts come in many different styles, including shirts that are designed specifically for hot and cold weather conditions. Some people prefer the tight form-fitting shirts, while others prefer the looser style. Whichever one you choose, make sure it’s the right size, or it may not perform the way you want it to.
As for the shorts, basketball or soccer shorts work just fine. Make sure they fit properly and don’t fall down below your waist, though. Coaches hate having to look at a player’s rear end and constantly tell him to pull his darn shorts up! Generally, the bigger and baggier a pair of shorts is, the less useful they are in lacrosse. With all the equipment and long sticks, larger shorts may get caught on something or fall down — two recipes for disaster at a tryout with coaches keeping a close eye on you.
Fine Fitting Footwear
Next on your checklist should be a solid pair of cleats or turf shoes. You don’t need to go all out and buy an NFL quarterback’s 150-dollar signature model (unless your parents are willing to pay for it!), but you shouldn’t exactly be scraping the bottom of the barrel, either. A good pair of shoes can last you for a couple of seasons, depending on your luck with the weather.
Figure out if your potential team plays on turf or grass. For field-turf or grass surfaces, football or soccer cleats are your best bet. Avoid buying baseball or golf spikes, as these shoes are specifically designed for use in dirt and fairways, respectively. Shoes with metal spikes or cleats or not allowed at most levels of lacrosse, anyway. Football and soccer cleats are much better equipped for handling the constant running, planting, and cutting that a lacrosse player does regularly.
If your team plays on an Astroturf surface, get a nice pair or turf shoes. These are similar to cleats, except instead of cleats on the bottom, they have small rubber nubs that grip the turf surface and allow you to cut and plant without fear of slipping. Basketball or running shoes would also be acceptable for Astroturf, but not with the same effectiveness as turf-specific shoes. Most companies offer turf shoes at similar prices to their cleats.
The Bare Necessities
If this is your first tryout, don’t go overboard and buy all your equipment before you’ve even made the team. Instead, stick to the basics and fill in the blanks later.
Your first priority should be to get yourself a good stick. If you don’t want to cash out for a nice stick just yet and you have friends already on the team, see if someone will loan you their backup stick until you know what type of stick you prefer.
Either way, the head of the stick is the most important thing. A light or strong shaft is nice, but as a beginning player the most important thing is to have a stick that throws and catches consistently, and a good head provides that. Don’t bother buying a beginner head, since you’ll likely want to get a new and more effective head shortly after making the team anyway.
Nothing tells a coach that you want to make the team more than showing up early and being prepared. Arrive ahead of schedule and get loose prior to the actual start of the tryout. Any coach loves to see players that go above and beyond the minimum requirements. Make up for your temporary lack of skill with a can-do attitude and a commitment to showing up early and working harder than everyone else!
If you can wrangle up a pair of gloves prior to tryouts, that should be next on your list. Practicing your stick handling with gloves on should give you a leg up on the competition. Again, see if someone will lend you an old pair of gloves until you are ready to buy a pair.
Another must-own is an athletic supporter/cup. Some players feel tougher playing without one, but as anyone who has taken a shot to the groin without any protection can attest, this may actually be the first thing you want to buy! Many players find jock straps to be uncomfortable; if this is the case, look for a model that fits like compression shorts, or form-fitting boxer-briefs. They have a slot in the front to slide the plastic protective cup into, and are much more comfortable than the classic jock strap.
All the Small Things
In addition to the basic big-ticket items, you will need a few smaller pieces of equipment to complete your list of essentials for your first tryout.
Mouth guards are mandatory in lacrosse; penalties are assessed in games for players failing to wear one, so get out and snag one right now! With all the hitting and contact in lacrosse, the health of your teeth and brain are imperative, so do everything you can to protect them. Mouth guards are very inexpensive (around five dollars), but also come in high-end models that can run you around 30 dollars. Try to get one that attaches to the face cage on your helmet, and you won’t have to worry about losing it.
A definite must-have is a clean pair of socks. Wearing the old socks you’ve been trudging around in all day is a sure way to get a nasty case of athlete’s foot. Not to mention, fresh socks always feel great on your feet! Custom socks are available in almost any combination of colors to match your team’s uniforms, should you be concerned with the aesthetics of your footwear.
Just in Case
You never know when weather may foul up your tryout field, or when another team from your school or city may have priority on your field. As such, prepare yourself for an unexpected change in weather or venue by packing a few extra items in your gear bag.
A pair of sweat pants can really be a lifesaver in extremely cold conditions. Sweats are inexpensive, and while they’re not normally worn in lacrosse, they can be used at tryouts or practice to keep your lower body warm and protected from the elements. Just don’t try to wear your sweats in a game!
In the event of rain (or snow for you east coasters), a grass field may be closed or unusable. Generally when that happens, the coach will have your team hit the track or gym for some conditioning or indoor practice. Since cleats aren’t useful for either of those situations, be sure to bring a solid pair of athletic shoes with you to tryouts. Running shoes, cross-trainers, or basketball shoes ought to do the trick for this scenario.
Ankle or Knee Brace
If you have a history of ankle or knee problems, be certain to bring a brace with you to tryouts. Know how to put it on properly and wear it at all times. You can’t make the team if you’re not on the field, and nothing can stifle your chances like an injury at tryouts.
Now that you’ve got all the essentials in place for your tryouts, you can get out on the field and bust your butt to impress the coaches without worrying whether you’re sufficiently prepared. In addition, be sure to hustle all the time and work to make yourself stand out on the field. Be confident in your abilities, and best of luck making the team!