The pocket of the lacrosse stick is one of the most important elements of a player's game. For instance, if a pocket is strung unevenly it might not throw consistently or if a pocket is strung too tight ball control might be sacrificed. In the months to follow I will be showing you various stick stringing styles, starting with the basic and moving onto more advanced pockets. You will see various traditional pockets, mesh pockets and everything in between. Hopefully along the way you will find a few that work well for you.
The Physics of the Pocket
Why does my stick throw too high?
Why does my stick throw too low?
Why doesn't the ball come out of my stick the right way?
There is an explanation to all of this, and no, you don't need to buy a whole new stick.
Generally speaking, the deeper the pocket the more control and feel you have when the ball is in your stick. A shallow pocket usually means a quicker release and less ball control. This is where the all-important shooting strings come into play. The shooting strings, if adjusted correctly, allow you to throw the ball in a smooth fashion from a deep pocket. A gradual "staircase" transition from the top shooting string to the bottom leads to a smooth and gentle release of the ball. A less gradual transition creates a more abrupt toss. This abruptness is commonly referred to as "a whip" (Diagrams 1 & 2).
So, would someone want to use a stick that doesn't have a smooth release? Many top shooters and most of the better ball handlers use a whip pocket. This is because the whip provides a better hold on the ball when cradling, dodging and faking and, when shot correctly (we'll talk about that in a later issue), allows the shooter to take a larger windup creating higher velocity on shots.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that just because a stick works well for someone else doesn't mean that it will work for you in the same way. So what style pocket works the best for you? In the following months I will be presenting new pockets as well as traditional styles along with explanations and general instructions for each. Each pocket will have different combinations of ball holding and release capabilities. So prepare to go on the search for your own perfect pocket.
This month's sticks: straightforward traditional 8 diamond (Brine Edge) and 6 diamond (DeBeer Shockwave) pockets.
The Basic Elements
The Leathers: The Leathers are the backbone and structure of the sticks, it is important that they, just like anything else in the pocket are put in correctly and adjusted properly. In this months sticks there will be four of them in each stick.
The Sidewall Strings: These strings are made of a rope-like compound that is tough enough to be strung through the plastic of the stick, but is flexible enough to support the rest of the pocket. This string holds the sides of the pocket to the stick, thus the name - sidewall string.
The Nylons: The Nylons are the strings woven between the leathers and the sidewalls which depending on how much nylon is used makes the pocket stiffer or more flexible. This string is used for the most complicated part of the pocket.
The shooting strings or shooters: These are the strings placed across the top of the stick and adjusted in order to create a smooth or abrupt release of the ball. Usually Hockey Laces or thicker strings are used for shooting strings.
THE SIX AND EIGHT DIAMOND STRINGING
In order to string this style of stick one must first put into place the four leathers (diagram 7) . The stick turns out the best when you tape the leathers down to the pole in order to keep them taught throughout the stringing process.
The next step is to put into place the sidewalls. String them first through the outside of the stick and then loop the sidewall back through the string again (diagram 4).
At this point some people prefer to put in the shooters (diagram 3, above). That way the rest of the stick can be strung around them and then the shooters can be adjusted later. I prefer to string the rest of the stick first, begin to break it in, and then put in the shooting strings.
The rest of the nylons then need to be put into place (diagrams 5 & 6). The leathers and side-walls are pulled tight so it is easy to weave through the nylons and tie the knots throughout the stick. This is where you must decide how many diamonds to string. If the nylons knots around the leather 9 times, you will have an 8 diamond stick, if it is 7 times then you have a 6 diamond stick (See photos above).
Untape the leathers and loop them through the plastic on the backside of the stick then back around to tie off. Beat the pocket in with your fist or ball in order to get a nice even pocket (diagram 8).
The 6 and 8 diamond advantage: Both sticks are consistent throwers. But the 8 diamond stick will be stiffer due to the amount of nylon used and have a quicker release due to this. The 6 diamond stick will have a bit more hold because of the distance between diamonds and the increased movement of the pocket.
Pat Miller in '98 against UNC!
ARE YOU A STRINGER? Do you have stringing wisdom and tips to pass along or unique stringing designs to share? We want your input. Those who give us great tips will be eligible for prizes! Start now by submitting your secrets, tips, diagrams, designs, photos, etc. We're awarding E-Lacrosse "Save the Dive" T-shirts for the ten best submissions! Just send input to email@example.com.