It is difficult to describe how truly customizable the sport of lacrosse is. From the different types of heads, shafts, equipment, and apparel, to the different types of playing styles that go along with it. Most sports have some customizable aspects to them, such as the basketball arm sleeve, football sweatbands, or hockey skate laces. But lacrosse? Every possible thing can be customized to your liking, all the way down to the color of the screw that holds the head on the shaft.
Everybody who plays lacrosse understands that no two players are exactly alike. Player style varies between all of the positions, from the dodging attackman who takes a beating from an aggressive long-pole defenseman, to the step down shooter who likes to shoot from 17 yards out; the nifty long stick midfielder who is a human vacuum in between the box lines, to the face-off specialist who virtually lives on his hands and knees for the entire time he is on the field. Many players emulate these styles and their gear is customized to fit exactly what they need.
Lyle Thompson is the dodging attackman that everybody wants to play like. He is known for taking an absolute beating from the entire defense, but somehow still managing to find the back of the net in a magical way. He is known for standing still behind X, which goes against all of what coaches teach young players, as the defenseman hacks at his arms. He patiently waits for the right time to make his move. He has one of the quickest first steps in the game, beating his defenseman to the goal line, where he then picks from his repertoire of finishes, whether he will shoot his infamous backhand shot, or possibly behind the back, or even one handed between the legs. Thompson partnered with Nike to create a custom cleat (which I personally wore in college, which basically made me Lyle Thompson on the field) to fit his style of play and quickness. He also uses beefier pads to help protect him from some brutal checks. Watching him play is really like watching the Harlem GlobeTrotters dribble circles around the Washington Generals.
Sergio Perkovic is a 6 foot 4 monster who uses his pure strength and power to tear apart goalies from a distance. He is known for his step down shooting skills that set him apart from the rest of the pack. His size, strength, and overall toughness can be seen through the pads he wears. As a midfielder who usually is guarded by either the long stick midfielder, or the best short stick midfielder, he wears little to no pads in order to step in to his shots without feeling the restriction of big, protective pads. This sacrifice of course comes with the brutal penalty of getting his arms hacked and bruised until they are full of welts.
Trevor Babtiste is a record setting face-off specialist who uses his quick hands and powerful first step to win the clamp of the face-off and beat his man off the ground, racing down the field towards the net. Face-off specialists use a very specific type of equipment, especially in terms of heads, shafts, and mesh in order to really put themselves ahead of their opponent. Within the past 10 years or so, companies such as Warrior and STX started to work with the top face-off guys in the country to develop a head and shaft that would work better, and hold up longer than normal lacrosse heads and shafts. Baptiste helped to develop the top face-off sticks used today as he continues to dominate at the X.
These unique players, and every other player in professional leagues, the NCAA, all the way down to youth leagues, are able to adjust and change their gear as they develop and perfect their style of play. This customization of equipment then allows for the game of lacrosse as a whole to develop and advance as the skill level of players increases exponentially. This development leads to rule changes, as we have seen in the past with the addition of stringing rules, and on field rules such as the addition of the shot clock. It is really intriguing to see where the game of lacrosse will be in 10-15 years when a new generation of lacrosse players take over. Lacrosse is truly an art form, and just like any artist, players can draw whatever they would like.