Interview with Kiel Matisz of the Philadelphia Wings, National Lacrosse League
We know there is a lot you want to know about lacrosse sticks. So, we sought out an expert in the field: Kiel Matisz, pro lacrosse player and lacrosse coach at Thrive Lacrosse. We sat down with Kiel to find out all there is to know about a player and his or her lacrosse stick.
Q: Tell us a little about your lacrosse stick and its importance in the game.
Matisz: I believe the lacrosse stick is the most sacred piece of sports equipment in the entire sports world. It is so unique to our sport. Every stick is different and each player customizes his or her stick to their own performance needs. There is a special bond that all lacrosse players have with their sticks. Many professional lacrosse players say they have slept with their stick at some point in their lives. In Native American culture, they believe the lacrosse stick is an extension of their own bodies.
Q: How do you feel about traditional vs. newer materials used for lacrosse sticks?
Matisz: When I describe the “new age” lacrosse stick compared to a traditional lacrosse stick in the school board, I try to create a story.
Hundreds of years ago, the game had a playing field through forests - uphill on mountains and down through the valleys where the goal would be miles away. The sticks were made out of wood carved from tree trunks and the pockets were made out of cat gut or leathers from animals. They used the materials from the earth to supply the game we all love today.
Today, the game has changed; it is fast paced with high entertainment value which keeps fans on the edge of their seats at every moment of the game. This has a lot to do with how the lacrosse stick evolved over time. The stick today provides high performance and an added feel for the player to allow for precision, accuracy and speed.
Q: Can you tell us a little about how a lacrosse stick shoots?
Matisz: There are many factors that dictate how a lacrosse stick shoots. First and foremost, I believe a lacrosse stick shoots differently depending on the shooting mechanics the player uses in game play. Every player shoots the ball slightly differently; some could shoot more with arms or some more with hips and legs.
There are some key things that can determine how a stick shoots:
- How the lacrosse stick pocket is tied,
- The materials the pocket is made from, and
- The shape of the head.
The terminology on how a stick is shooting varies, but I use three simple terms to describe shooting:
- The Hook: The ball holds or sticks too much in the pocket and "hooks" downwards on release towards ground or feet.
- The Sky: The ball has little hold and releases high and fast out of pocket upwards towards the sky.
- True: As the ball releases from the pocket, the player can feel the ball go directly through the pocket, shooting straight where player is pointing.
Q: What is the biggest challenge in choosing a lacrosse stick?
I spoke before about the uniqueness of the relationship between a player and their lacrosse stick. I believe everyone is unique and different; player to player, team to team, season to season. In lacrosse, the “wizard” still gets to choose their wand and they both get the opportunity to grow together and create a perfect harmony. Personally, I have forged a special relationship with my Epoch lacrosse stick.Matisz: The challenge with a lacrosse stick brings to mind the Harry Potter series. In the first movie, Mr. Ollivander states, "The wand chooses the wizard, Mr.Potter." Mr. Ollivander further goes on to say that it’s not always clear why.
Another challenge with a lacrosse stick is keeping it protected and ensuring you get the right “feel”. That’s why I like Sniper Skin lacrosse stick grips.
Choosing your lacrosse stick is truly unique experience to find what works best for you and your style of play.
The Sniper Skin team was thrilled to get some great input on lacrosse sticks from Kiel. Remember that part of your unique stick is a unique lacrosse grip.