WARNING: Ovens, lighters, matches, knives, and other tools called for in this tips section can be dangerous when not properly used. If you intend on trying any of these tips at home, you must tell your parents exactly what your plans are before proceding. Improper use of some of the tools suggested can result in cutting, burning or staining yourself or your family's property. So ask FIRST, and be careful!
We get tons of stringing feedback, opinions, questions and communications of every kind from all over the country so we have a pretty good view of the stringing landscape. But just to be sure we spoke to our friends at Lax World in Baltimore and Olympic Den on Long Island to confirm some data with the real experts before we released this story. It's a cinderella story of a blue collar stringing style scraping its way to the top and there's even a surprise ending as the once powerful king falls to the very bottom of stringing popularity. First, we'll give you the top ten and then we'll break down and analyze the list by category. Have fun and remember, whatever pocket fits your game is a good pocket for you and only you know what that is.
Hard Mesh is king! It's consistent, weather resistant, delivers crisply and cleanly and with the narrow widths of popular heads and barely legal depths and shooting string configurations of in-style pockets, the material's natural deficiencies on the control side are diminished. Olympic Den's Anthony Barberio says that hard mesh is what they will always try to sell to a beginner to give them the best chance to succeed. Some kids order the soft mesh specifically from the long-time Long Island retailer, but most of what they sell is hard mesh. Mark Krastel at Lax World says hard mesh dominates their sales too. Krastel, an old school stringer at heart, created the Krasty, Wide Ride and a few other E-Lacrosse Stick Tech custom pockets, answering the demand from our readers and the stringing fanatics, but he recommends a good mesh pocket for consistency and performance, especially for young players.
The old King, soft mesh, settled comfortably, as it is known to do, into second place and still rules with the "big whip" crowd. Remember that lots of folks use something to harden a soft mesh or soften a hard mesh so these fan groups cross over quite a bit. The 6 diamond mesh is popular and falls only slightly behind its older siblings.
These are the pockets made by professional stringers like Stylin' Strings' Van O'banion, Max McCool, Mark Krastel at Lax World and, of course, Flip Naumburg's Rock-it Pocket. The top sellers at Lax World are the Twister and the Nu Pocket. At Stylin' Strings, the G-String, Mesh-X and the Ish are hot and they are now offering a girl's custom pocket called the Girl-String. McCool sells plenty of his E-Lacrosse featured pockets and has a few more in the cue. Rock-it Pocket retails four pockets; the world famous Rock-it Pocket classic, the George, the Davis Dog and the Pookie Pocket.
These are the pockets you string that you might read about on E-Lacrosse or the ones you would send to Stick Tech for review in the Reader's Tips section, some much better than others. They include the Big Word, Wide Ride, Pat Miller's Shook Shakedown, Chemo-Sure pocket and an infinite number of others. Meditionals like the recently featured Drob and Corner Seam pockets were born from the ever growing and ever younger custom pocket culture.
Many custom pockets produced at home are variations or exact replicas of the professional custom pockets, as well. Often kids find the instructions on sites like E-Lacrosse including those for the early Van O'banion pockets like the Homegrown and the Mesh-X, Max McCool's Big Word and Turtle Shell and Mark Krastel's Krasty and Wide Ride pockets, all, of course, available commercially. And the pro pockets get knocked off too. We see "Mock-it Pockets" and "Stolen Strings" all the time on high school fields.
Monster mesh and Mini mesh have seen their best days and are fading. They were new and that was fun. But they made creating symmetry harder when stringing and are generally "shooting string unfriendly". Kids and teen stringers will still ask for them but less and less each year.
These are the brand name pockets that are produced by the stick makers. Fresh Mesh is a soft but unforgiving (pre worked-in) synthetic manufactured mesh substitute by Brine. The Tracker Pocket by Gait is a more traditional style stringing with channels built into a one piece unit that is easier to string than a piece of mesh. The Tracker is also sold in a women's version under the deBeer brand and is extremely popular. STX's Rail Mesh is like a piece of soft mesh with a distinct channel built in for ball control and accuracy.
The biggest surprise we found while doing our research is that the traditional pocket, the basic four leather and nylon pocket that used to be in the big two, is dead. It's been sent into retirement by the custom variations that are similar enough to traditional but have something, each of them, that make them more appealing to each buyer or home stringer that nobody picks the trad any more. Most of the Traditional stringing kits purchased today will end up in a custom rig as opposed to the straight, followed the directions on the packet pocket. People don't string it, people don't ask for it any more. The walls in the stockrooms of the Olympic Dens and Lax Worlds of the lax world are 10 deep, 5 down and 20 across in hard mesh adorned heads from every manufacturer while the traditional pockets are strung when they are ordered, as if they were custom. In fact, if we were really fair about this and less nostalgic, the traditional wouldn't even get a listing, other than as a custom pocket.
NOT ON THE CHARTS
These Experimental pockets, with or without beads, some rubberized with elastic parts or crafted entirely from hemp or fishing line, are not included in this study. They would fall into the custom pocket realm if they were practical and legal to use in games.
RANKING THE KITS
We spoke to retailers and the stringing kit popularity survey won't surprise you after reading this far.