We picked twenty-two reader tips for publication this month! And we're giving the authors E-Lacrosse TECH TEAM TANKS!
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!
THE TOP TIPS (in no particular order)
I've destroyed too many leather strings when stringing traditional
pockets by using razor blades to cut the two little holes at the bottom. Finally, I found a solution: go to any hardware store, and buy a package of electrical ties. They're self locking ties, and they wont damage the leathers at all.
In fact, if the leathers do get wet and stretch out too much, the tie can be adjusted to be able to allow that extra stretch. They're really cheap, and they're worth every cent!
TEN TECH TEAM TANKS
ARE BEING AWARDED!
I have found that the most versatile pocket, as well as the best performing pocket, is soft mesh with hockey lace. This combo will give you the best feel in all weather, is the easiest to maintain, and can be adjusted quickly and easily. Here are a few quick tips to help make your pocket the ultimate:
1. Always use an interlocking sidewall!
2. Tie the end of the mesh correctly at the bottom. There should not be a gap larger than 1/2 inch there. Tie it without any wrinkle in the mesh. You'll be surprised at the difference this makes.
3. After it's strung, if you need to stretch the depth of the pocket some, do it by adjusting the interlocking sidewall. This will keep the pocket from becoming too big, and allowing the ball to move around too much. It adds tremendously to control and consistency.
4. When tying the hockey lace up top, allow some play in the top shooting string. This will give you a MUCH smoother release. I have seen people tie it too tight, and the stick actually bumps when the ball hits the top shooting string.
5. Make sure the top two shooting strings keep the ball off the plastic when it's thrown. I said earlier that it shouldn't be too tight, but it also can't be too loose.
6. Pre stretch materials before stringing. If you "weather" your shooting strings and sidewall and mesh beforehand, they will be much easier to tweak afterwards, and less likely to stretch as frequently, while playing. It is a pain to have to retie your shooting strings every day for a week because they keep stretching every time you play. I've strung lots of sticks, and I know that each of these tips work, so give them a try!
Putting an inverted V or U shooting string in your mesh pocket can be difficult, and it's very easy to make the pocket uneven doing it the way you would do a normal shooting string. Instead of putting a string across the mesh then wrapping around it, run the string in and out every hole in the mesh, then do the same on your way back. Not only is this easier, it prevents the ball from shooting off the v-string, it just channels it towards the normal shooting strings. Also, if you have a problem with ball coming off the v-string, you can bring it up past the first two or three shooting strings so that the ball is channeled directly into the shooting strings.
I play goal and I think I have developed my own type of stringing style. I take either a heavily died piece of mesh or a piece of dura mesh with lots of nail polish hardener on it. This allow the stick to still be able to throw well while maintaining a large pocket. You string the top of the mesh as usual. The only difference is in the sidewall. Instead of the normal sidewall I make a row of diamonds like the 6x6 stringing, which allows the stick to have a larger pocket. I call this stringing style the "Goalie Double Six String" I string sticks at a lacrosse store call "Lacrosse Unlimited. It's the same store where Christian Pfor used to work.
I read the question in a previous StickTech about what would happen if you dyed a clear stick. The dye that I used made the ice edge just the color of the dye, and it was no longer transparent.
Tom Howard, Washington, DC
As good as mesh pockets are, I have found that there is one serious
problem with mesh. Hard mesh is consistent, durable, and produces a hard shot but has little to no hold. Soft mesh is good for cradling but requires more work to maintain than hard mesh, as it wears and shrinks with use. When I decided to restring my stick into mesh, I went about trying to produce a piece of mesh with the hold of soft mesh and the durability, consistency, and shot of hard mesh. I discovered that soaking a piece of soft mesh in diluted Elmer's Glue was the best. You simply boil a little water in a pot and pour in the glue in and stir a little. I found I could control how much the mesh hardened by simply adding more glue or more water to the solution.
NOTE: I don't know much about cooking stuff but you can save yourself about ten minutes of scrubbing if you use a nonstick surface.
I recently had a traditional pocket leather break on me only an hour before a game. This wouldn't have been a problem but the broken leather was the one that had the slit in it for the pocket string to go through. So instead of trashing the pocket or settling for a back up stick, there is a simple procedure I discovered. Just cut out the bad leather and replace it with the new leather. Cut the slit where you normally would, but you obviously can't feed the pocket string through it. Find a very small cable tie or a little trash bag tie (they usually come in the boxes). Take the tie and put it through the leather and latch the pocket back down by twisting the tie around the leather and the pocket string. This is a really good quick fix when you are in a bind like this.
John K. ,
St. Louis, MO
This is a great method of breaking in sticks called the Butter Knife Technique. First, soak your stick in warm water for about 30 seconds. Be careful not to have the water to hot if you have dyed your stick other wise the dye will fade and spread a bit. Then take it out and place the ball in the pocket and then place a butter knife under the sidewall, over the ball and under the other sidewall. Place the whole contraption back in the water and let it soak for 30 minutes. Then take it out and let it dry. I did this about 3 times.
Matt Webster, Medina, Ohio
One way to take some of the "gloss" out of new soft mesh and/or pinch your head a little is to put it in the dishwasher. All you do is wash your head in the dish washer and when it comes out immediately take a piece of wood or something hard that is the length that you want to pinch your head to, tie your head to it and set it outside. I did this to my barracuda. If you just want to take the "gloss" out of the mesh wash it in the dishwasher and let it sit in there for a few hours while it firms up. The fewer dishes you have in with your head the softer the plastic will get.
Andrew Duncan, Powell, Ohio
1. When wet... the leather at the top of mesh strung sticks will sag and after a while the leather will get so worn it will snap. So when stringing mesh take a nylon shooter, fold it in half and run it through the top 4 holes like you would with the leather. The nylon is less likely to sag and will last longer than a leather. It's also easier to do.
2.When dying your stick take a piece of string and run it through the hole where the screw would hold the shaft and head together. and connect both pieces of string and tie them together. When you put the head in the dye don't submerge the whole string... just enough to where the entire head is under water. When you're done dying pull the head out by the string. This prevents water sloshing around and keeps your fingers the color they were before you dyed your stick.
3. Before you dye your stick plan it out... the reason for saying this
is you don't want to be doing 10 things at once... put the hot glue or the tape on BEFORE you start boiling the water... this will prevent mess ups and keep you from going insane.
4. When making your pocket a quick and easy way to do it is to place a screwdriver over the ball and under the sidewall so the ball is held firmly in place... and placing the ENTIRE stick underwater. Leave the stick under water for an extended amount of time... then remove and let it air dry...the leathers will tighten around the ball and you'll have an instant pocket. At first the leathers will be tight but after about a day or two of pounding or throwing against the wall they'll loosen up.
5. If you have a soft mesh stick and you want it a little more stiff, put the stick on the ground outside face down. Take a can of laundry starch and spray over all of the mesh. After it's dry, do another coat wait for it to dry and do another coat and so on depending on how you want it. Do the same to the inside of the pocket.
I've found a good way to string the shooters of a mesh stick (soft or
hard) that is deep and will hold the ball well for fakes. You use three hockey laces. String the top lace very tight, and you can pound it a little later to how you want it. The next string should be strung loosely. Finally the last string should be strung very loose. It should be so loose that the mesh can be pounded to the max, without the string getting in the way. Then you just pound, pound, pound it in. You pound the bottom two the most, and the top to your liking, depending on how much whip, if any, you like. Pound them in the middle only, because this creates more of a channel. When done, your stick should have a less than 45 degree angle which it holds the ball on the strings. If you don't like your pocket in the front of the stick, you can pound it back to where you like it, and it will still fake rather well.
I have also found two types of mesh that I especially like. First,
The type i have in my d-stick is soft mesh that I died. It is slightly stiffer, but retains the feel of soft mesh. Also, old hard mesh is in my opinion the best mesh you can get. Find any old sticks you have, or your friends have that they don't want, and take the mesh. It is probably broken in to the max, so it won't loosen during a game or in the rain.
Three tips especially for new players when breaking-in new sticks:
1.Loosen the side strings at least 1" and do very little with the bottom of the leathers (or tie-off cord) at the throat of the stick. Then stretch the pocket with a ball midway along the length of the pocket, jammed under a butter knife.
2. When you get a new "traditional" head, rub baby powder into the leathers. This softens the leathers and helps to repel water because the baby powder gets into the leather pores. Repeat this at least once a week for the first month and when leathers dry after every wet game or practice. A softer pocket wears less and is easier to catch with.
Here are some of my tips:
1. When pinching a head, don't microwave it or do it over a stove, bake it in the oven at 450 for 5 minutes. To keep it legal up top, I cut a dowel rod to 6 1/2 inches. Also, to keep the bottom of the head legal, I place a field hockey ball in the bottom, since they are slightly larger than lax balls.
2. When stringing traditional, I tie the nylons off at the top of each leather and at the bottom of each leather, and string the pocket the usual way, I've found that this allows me to replace broken nylons easily in the middle of a game. My coach showed me this trick.
3. When stringing traditional, I always use a double knot for each diamond, this ensures that the pocket is set the way I string it.
4. Also when I string traditional, I twist two pieces of nylon between the middle two leathers, so my pocket is symmetrical.
When stringing the pita pocket make sure the outside leathers are tight and the inside loose. String the nylon loosely in between the outside leather and inside leather on both sides. In other words make big diamonds. But in between the sidewall and outside leathers make sure the diamonds are tight. These big diamonds will make the ball stay in the middle and create a much more accurate shot. When you are stringing in between the two middle leathers, you want to make the "pita" or twists. Put as many twists in as possible, cause by the end it will work as if another leather was in the pocket. Put some vaseline on the leathers. This will soften the leathers up and make an ideal pocket. When doing the shooting strings do the over under method even with hockey laces. This creates less whip in the future when the pocket really breaks in. Have two hockey laces and 1 nylon lace at top.
World Class players like Jesse Hubbard, Paul Gait, and the Virginia and Loyola teams use this pocket.
Josh Huminski, Connecticut
This goes out to all the goalies out there. I recently started playing at goalie, and I love it. At first I had a little trouble getting a nice clean, clearing shot, after I had scooped it up or after I had stopped the shot. I saw one of my friends had a lacing in his attack head to give a straighter shot off the stick, so I decided to try it in mine. I took a hockey lace, and wove a upside down V into the head with the point about an inch below the shooting string. Then I worked a huge pocket into the center area of the V so that it was deeper
than the rest of the mesh in the head. Now i can get straight fast and
long throws off the head without the ball going off to one of the side
or not getting clean of the head. It works great, your should try it if
you are a goalie.
If you want to turn soft mesh into hard mesh put it in a cool bowl of salt water. To make the salt water keep pouring salt into the bowl of water until the salt doesn't dissolve in the water any more. Let it soak for an hour and stir it every once in a while to get the salt dissolved again. Take it out and let it dry. It should have some salt sticking to it still, making it crusty. After it has dried, spray paint both sides any color. Now you have hard mesh. If you want really hard mesh, instead of using cool water use hot water. Be careful using hot water though because it might shrivel up your mesh or run a dyed head.
I am a goalie and have been playing for many years. I always had the vertical throwing strings in my goalie stick for better cradling and over-all ball control. I always had a tough time of finding string or leather that held up and wouldn't stretch out. I have found that the Oval shoelaces found in the new sneakers (Adidas, Nike) have a rubber core and are really good for the vertical throwing stings or guide strings, you can find them at any shoe store, like foot action or foot locker.
When stringing mesh, I use one 4 foot long piece of traditional lace. I use it for both the top and the sidewalls . I start at the top where I tie off the top tight. Then for the sides I can adjust for depth I want. Also, it helps to keep the mesh as close to the scoop as you can. Hard Mesh is my choice.
Another tip is after cut my shafts down, I quickly smooth down the edges so that the edge does not cut into the butt end stop.
I have a tip that I haven't read yet for putting in channeled shooting strings. When putting in an "inverted U" shooting string, make the two diagonal parts as tight as possible, and make the top of the "U" a bit looser than the shooting string above it. This keeps the ball moving towards the middle of the stick and throws with less whip.
When stringing a traditional stick don't put in the shooting strings
Until you break in the pocket. This will make it easier to put it the
Shooting strings to the way you throw the ball. Once you put in the shooting strings, still break it in and adjust. I find this way easier because it takes less adjustment on the strings.
In my stick with hard mesh, I've found it effective to put in two hockey laces and one u-string and an inverted u-string. By making a circle like setup in the middle of your pocket it keeps the ball still and ready for a quick and accurate release.
Brad Miller Jr.
I found that when you bake a stick by using string to tie it, sometimes the string will not tighten up enough and u will not the pinched head u want. I tried using cable ties and it kept the head pinched in place.
Thanks to all for participating. Keep sending your tips and we'll pick another ten in a few months! Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org!