August 8, 1997:
I have a soft mesh and I am trying to adjust the strings so that the ball goes off the strings rather than the plastic. Any ideas?
Your shooting strings are too loose. A soft mesh is very flexible and needs a "staircase" of shooting strings for the ball to climb smoothly out of the pocket on throws and shots. Usually three or more shooting strings are required with soft mesh unless you play with a very shallow pocket.
The key is to adjust the top one first. Pull it pretty tight and tie it off. You can change it a bit later, if need be. The top shooting string can be the one that came with the stick or one you weave in between the original and the plastic rim. Once you have the top string tied off. Gradually adjust the tightness of existing shooting strings and weave in new ones at even lengths from each other so that a "staircase is built. Fat shoestrings and sections of string from old discarded sticks make perfect shooting strings. The path should actually be smoother than stairs, but I think the analogy works. The staircase is finished when the bottom shooting string is close enough to the deepest point of the pocket that the flow of the ball doesn't hit a severe "first step" as it is rolled out.
5 shooting strings.
Tie and wrap shooting strings wherever
you can. Some heads don't have
enough holes so share.
An uneven step at any point in the pocket will cause varying "whips" in your throw. A little resistance by a shooting string on the way out of the stick is normal, as long as it doesn't make your throws go lower causing you to pull back and slow your shot potential. A balance has to be reached between control while ball handling and accuracy/speed of throws.
Now throw against a wall and adjust the shooting strings one at a time until the throw is comfortable and accurate. Be sure to try all speeds of throws and shots. The ball may start hitting the plastic again on harder shots. Tighten them all a bit more until your hardest shot is all string. Remember, at this point especially, you always have the side strings to help you adjust overall pocket depth.
Doubling the top strings is a little trick to help avoid hitting plastic.