Stick "Baking" or Shaping
A lot of readers ask questions about altering the shape of their sticks. There are a number of effective ways to do this. In this column I will demonstrate a couple of ways to go about "nukeing", "baking", or "pinching," your stick.
Shaping with Temperature

We're using one of the most popular sticks to cook; the DeBeer Shockwave. The head was designed by Paul Gait and the ones he uses look pretty baked. Remember that Box Lacrosse rules allow the head of the stick to be much more narrow. Also, Paul and the players in the NLL are so good that narrowing the size of the head does not effect their catching or scooping ability as it would most people. Don't bake your playing stick! You may ruin it. If you primarily play field lacrosse, bake an old head or an extra head that you don't mind messing up. The most important thing is that you check with your parents before using the stovetop or microwave to shape a stick.

One of the most effective ways to pinch or shape your stick is to first tie a piece of string, pocket nylons will do, from one sidewall to another. Tie the strings as tight as you would like the stick pinched.

Remember for those playing by NCAA regulations that the top of the stick must be at least 6.5 inches across, and the bottom must be wide enough, with the stopper in place, for the ball to roll out when tilting the stick past forward when it is straight up and down.

Now we apply a high temperature to soften the plastic. Turn up the burner on your stove with Mom and Dad's supervision or consent and hold the stick there until the plastic feels soft and the nylons that tie around the stick feel lose. The plastic or strings should never actually touch the flame if you have a gas stove. We're using heat, NOT fire. The stick at this point, due to the heat has softened up and changed it's shape according to how it is tied up.

Place the stick in the freezer so the plastic hardens back up and the stick feels stiffer. You can leave the stick in the freezer as long as you would like, remember to be patient and take your time throughout the process. After the stick feels stiff and has taken its new shape, untie it and let it sit out and warm up to room temperature again.

WARNING: Keep in mind that anytime you alter the shape of your stick it becomes a little weaker than when you first bought it and may tend to be a little more flexible than it was at first. Also the Manufacturers and Stores will no longer return a head for any reason once it has been shaped by these methods, even if it's still under warrantee.

The Microwave technique

This technique is similar to the one above, but instead of holding the stick over the stove, you place it in the microwave for 3 to 4 minutes in short intervals (never more than a 30 seconds at a time). Using the Microwave can be effective but I prefer to use the stove instead because you can get a better feel on the temperature of the stick. It's easy to accidentally melt the plastic using this method and that weakens the stick considerably. We tested the limits on this STX Octane and it melted a bit at exactly 5 minutes in 30 second intervals.

Pinching by Hand

This technique requires no temperature changes, just brute force. Have you ever put your equipment on your stick, left it there, and then thrown it in the corner of your closet for a while. When you go to use it the next time, your stick looks like a big spoon? Well this technique works on the same concept and is just as effective if you want just a little pinch to your stick. Tie up the stick as you would if you were going to bake it, but tie it up a little tighter than you would like it normally. Then just toss it aside for a day or two and come back later and untie it. It may flex back towards its original shape a bit, but because it has been tied up tighter than you wanted it will flex back, hopefully to the desired width. What you have done is warped your stick into a new shape without baking!

Have fun!

The opinions expressed and recommendations in Stick Science are those of the individual writers and readers and in no way represent endorsement or suggestions from E-Lacrosse. Many of the reader tips and stick science columns call for use of various items that could be dangerous if used improperly. Ovens, Microwave ovens, knives, scissors, lighters and other potentially dangerous tools used in stick baking, dying and stringing should always be used very carefully and with a parent's permission.

Our totally baked DeBeer
Shockwave next to an
Indian box stick

A bit too long on this one

Two DeBeer Shockwaves
Top: Totally Baked
Bottom: Off the shelf

Ground balls can be harder
with a baked stick. Less
surface area contacts
the ground when scooping.

A reader comment (we print these and give a free Save The Dive T-Shirt when we think they are really good):

I prefer the boiling method of "baking" my stick. To boil your stick, first tie it in the desired shape. Then stop up your sink, and boil some water in a pot. Put the stick in the sink and pour in just enough boiling water to cover the stick. Let it sit there for a few minutes(5-10) and then turn on the cold water. When the water is cool enough to pick the stick up, your done. No annoying cooling times, or melted sticks due to excessive heat. - Abe Covello