Many players and fans may have noticed that the most popular pocket in today's sticks at the collegiate level is the mesh pocket. Why Mesh? For a number of reasons. Mesh is easy to string, maintain, and adjust. As opposed to traditional type pockets, mesh pockets have only a couple of variables that you may need to adjust; the sidewalls, (which should mirror one another), the bottom string and the shooting strings. Another benefit of mesh is that the mesh pocket can be saved and transferred from stick to stick. I know of a few players that use the same mesh pocket for four years, even though they break more than a stick a season! I would recommend a mesh pocket for a player looking for consistency and easy maintenance.
Mesh comes in a variety of different kinds. There is hard-mesh, dura-mesh, and soft-mesh. There are also some types of mesh that feel as if they are in between some of those types. Those three however, tend to be the most popular. With any of the three meshes I would recommend stretching them first. When you open the string kit, grab the mesh on all sides and pull it apart. This will ease the break-in process and allow for less changes in the pocket down the road. This technique is similar to pulling on leathers that are fresh from a traditional stringing kit.
Each stringer tends to string their mesh sticks in their personal manner. There is no right or wrong way to string a mesh stick. I will run over some of the options in mesh pockets and then describe a few techniques towards stringing them. The pictures on the right show a variety of mesh pockets types.
You will find with all mesh that in time the mesh will tend to wear out and some of the diamonds will tear. This usually occurs at the sidewalls first in most peoples sticks. This is because the whole time that you have a ball in the pocket or are punching and forming your pocket there is friction placed on the mesh where it is attached by the strings to the stick. Tearing mesh especially becomes a problem for people when they try to use an old piece of mesh combined with new crisp strings. A tighter-bound and smaller string tends to cause the most tearing in mesh sticks. For instance, a nylon string strung across the top of the stick will cause it to tear much earlier than a piece of leather would cause the mesh to tear. What are the most destructive strings? Here is a rundown of tough strings from most to least destructive:
The Basics of Hard-mesh and Dura-mesh pockets
These pockets tend to allow for quick releases and a longer break-in than with soft mesh. They tend to have a long life span and will provide a consistent pocket if strung correctly.
Each stick requires only a couple of basic strings to create different pockets.
You will have:
A top-string to attach the mesh to the scoop of the stick
Two identically strung sidewalls
A bottom-string for attaching the mesh to the throat of the stick
Most top-strings are strung in the same manner. After folding over the top rows of mesh, start by knotting the string, looping the string through the mesh and then back through the plastic again. This will tighten the mesh to the side of the stick. Feed the string through the next hole in the mesh then through the hole in the other side of the scoop, then loop it under the string right before it goes into the hole in the mesh. Then skip a hole in the mesh and continue this process until you come to the other side Tighten the mesh through the last two holes as you did at the start. It is important to make sure that the mesh has been placed directly in the middle of the stick and that you skipped the correct holes across the top. You will be able to tell if you did not attach the mesh properly because the mesh will be easy to tighten on one side and very tough to tighten evenly on the other side. There are a number of different kinds of string that can be used as top-strings. They each have their own advantages.
Leather has been known as the traditional top-string in many hard mesh sticks. This is because the leather is very durable and thick, therefore it will wear slowly and will not tear into the mesh too much. The disadvantage is that the mesh cannot be pulled as tightly to the top of the stick
Sidewall rope is becoming a very popular string to be used as a top string because it allows for a tighter strung top than the leather, its disadvantage is that it is not as durable as the leather and is tougher on the mesh, many people will double up and string two top-strings with sidewall in an identical fashion.
Nylon string is also becoming more and more popular because it allows for the tightest strung top of the stick, you will definitely need to double up on this string though, because it is not nearly as durable as the other strings and can be really hard on your mesh!
The Manner in which you install the sidewall string is the most important element in the formation of the pocket. For instance, if you string the sidewall string through a lot of holes in the mesh at the top of the stick you will create a pocket with more slack at the top of the pocket which will equate to more of a whip in the stick. If you string the top tightly however and stretching the mesh down you can create a stick with less whip and a pocket at the throat of the stick.
Sidewall strings can be strung in a couple different ways. The traditional way is the one that can still be found in the STX stringing manuals and in the Goalie mesh section that you can find on E-Lax from a couple of months back. You simply start by tying off a knot at the bottom hole of the sidewall of the stick, then weave the sidewall string in and out of the mesh until you get to the top, at which point you loop the string back through a mesh hole then through the sidewall holes and continue this process all the way down until you get to the last hole in the sidewall string.
The second way resembles the exact same looping manner in which you place sidewalls in a traditional stick. The only difference is that as you go from hole to hole in the plastic as you loop the string through the holes in the mesh. This technique is becoming very popular because it is very simple and easy to string and unstring in order to adjust. Moving the mesh holes up or down will create the pocket in the varying places in the stick. You'll find one that's right for your game. The only thing that this pocket does not do is pull the mesh as tightly to the plastic as the other technique can do, this technique is also harder on the mesh due to the manner in which the mesh rubs on the sidewall strings.
Sidewall string tends to be the best string to use here, although nylon string can be used in a repair situation in order to patch up a pocket, but the nylon strings are used in conjunction with the already existent sidewall strings.
Nylon can also be used as a second sidewall string, simply tie it off at the bottom through one of the leather holes, then weave it up though the same row of vertical mesh holes, tie it off at the top string and tighten to create an additional channel, this works very well in wider sticks.
The bottom string
This string is the easiest to put into place and can be woven through many or just a few holes in the mesh before being tied off. If the throat of the stick is one like the edge or proton you can use leather and tie a simple knot at one end push the leather through the big holes on the sides of the throat. Weave it through the mesh and tie off after you come back up through the throat on the other side. Or you can use sidewall string and the four small leather holes at the bottom of the stick to tie the mesh off, once again this is the style that is presented in the STX manuals. Simply loosen or tighten the string to adjust pocket size at the bottom.
The shooting strings
The shooting strings are probably the most important element in your pocket next to the sidewall strings. This is the last part of your stick to string. There are two ways to go about stringing your shooting strings. The first is the technique that you may see in most factory strung pockets. The shooting string is tied off at one end through the plastic, then brought across the mesh in between rows of mesh diamonds. Then loop the string around the sidewall string and weave the string through alternating between the two rows of mesh, while looping around the string that has been pulled across as well. This is also demonstrated nicely in the STX Manuals. This technique allows you to be able to pull the one "unwoven" string in order to tighten the shooting string.
The second way of stringing shooting strings is a complete weave. In order to do this take the shooting string and pass it once under the sidewall string so as the middle of the shooting string is touching the sidewall string, then when both sides are even weave both sides in and out of the same row of mesh diamonds all the way across. The advantage of this technique is that the shooting strings are nice and smooth all the way across, as opposed to the other way in which there is more string on one back-side of the pocket than the on the front.
Hockey lace allows for a soft release and a good combination with the crisp hard mesh.
Shooting string creates a more crisp release due to the stiffness of the string.
Sidewall rope is becoming more popular at the top of the stick in order to create a crisp feeling release. This occurs because the string is bound more tightly than the shooting string.
The "V" shooting string
This has become incredibly popular design, started up at Syracuse in many of their mesh sticks. Simply use the second shooting string technique and instead of stringing straight across, string up into a v shape with the small end of the v at the top of the stick, as you can see in many of the pictures there are a unlimited combinations that can be created using the different strings. Try to mix it up and find the combination that works best for you.
EASY - This refers mainly to mesh pockets and those for the novice
and first time stringer.
MEDIUM - This refers to sticks such as the six and eight
diamond stringings from August. The designs aren't too tough,
but require some concentration and time.
DIFFICULT - This refers to sticks like THE "Dog Track" in September. These sticks are usually variations from the basic traditional pocket.
ADVANCED - This refers to sticks that take more time and careful attention to string properly. Overall stringing capability and ability to tie more complicated knots are usually needed to string a pocket reading 4 on the String-O-Meter.
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