Reader Tips I / Reader Tips II / Reader Tips III / Reader Tips IV / Reader Tips V
Reader Tips VI / Reader Tips VII / Reader Tips VIII / Reader Tips IX / Stick Tech

We picked nine reader tips for publication this month! And we're giving the authors E-Lacrosse Rage II Videos!

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!

(in no particular order)

Pocket Break-in Guide     Submitted by Zach Alpern

I string my own sticks, and pretty much all the sticks on my high school team. There are different ways to break in pockets, and most have to do with the type of stringing used.

I'd argue that a good pocket break-in starts with the stringing job. Most pockets' final shape is determined almost exclusively by the tightness of the strings, be it the sidewalls, shooting strings, traditional laces, or bottom string in mesh. This is why breaking in a pocket is so much more than just putting a ball and butterknife under the sidewall for a few days.

Hints for Monster Mesh/6 Diamond mesh:

The biggest problems I've found with large holed mesh have to do with the relative tightness of the mesh on the stick. For a smooth throw, as well as good hold, it is essential that the mesh at the top of the stick is tight. A well strung large-hole-mesh stick will throw smoothly without shooting strings before it is broken in. This is a good test of the pocket. With large-hole-mesh, soak the head in warm water before you put in the shooting strings. A pocket screw (DeBeer or Brine) is incredibly helpful at this point.

Stretching the mesh is key to a good break-in later. After the pocket dries, put in the shooters, throw around for a bit. Then soak again, to set the pocket. The break-in should be easy from this point on.

Hints for Soft Mesh:

There is only one key to remember with soft mesh: Don't play with it in games at first. Unlike other mesh, soft mesh actually shrinks as it breaks in. Older soft mesh is much harder than new soft mesh. This means making a deeper pocket during the break-in process, which almost invariably means an illegal pocket. Keep in mind that the pocket will shrink, and you can't go wrong with the break-in process. Don't be fooled into thinking that there is none, however!

Hints for Hard Mesh:

Like all mesh pockets, a good hard mesh pocket starts with the stringing job. The top of the pocket should be nice and tight, and the placement of a "slack" section, where the pocket will develop, is essential. This is done with the sidewalls, and varies from stick to stick. When breaking in the pocket, give the head a soak in water, and use a pocket screw if you have one. Stretch the mesh where you want the pocket to be. I like to keep the bottom string loose, so that the pocket is softer, and is better for vertical cradling. Also, with hard mesh, a short re-break-in period is needed after rainy games. The pocket will stiffen after being wet, and should be pounded in and thrown with after it dries.

Hints for Traditional Pockets/Custom Pockets:

Like other pockets, wetting the head will help to soften the strings and leathers for stretching. Pre-stretching the leathers is absolutely necessary, and is part of the reason factory strung pockets aren't very good. When a traditional pocket is broken in, the leathers stretch more than the pocket nylons. This is important to remember when stringing the pocket. Also, if the top of the pocket it too loose, the stick will have a great deal of whip, no matter what you do with the shooting strings. When breaking in the pocket, the most important thing to remember is to pound the pocket only where you want the pocket to be. If you punch it in right below the shooting strings, it will stay there- but will also throw straight down.

With special design pockets, the tightness of the strings matters even more than with standard traditional. The break-in process may be tedious, but in the end it's the only way to have a nice stick. Also remember that fancy pockets require maintenance fairly regularly. Keep the strings tightened correctly, and don't leave it unattended for long periods of time. More work means more performance.

General Tips and Reminders:

Wet your pocket before you try to stretch it out. As it dries, it will shrink slightly. This keeps the materials from breaking.

Take care of your stick. It's how you interact with the game- and your pocket is the most important part. Clean it out with water after rainy games, to get the gunk off.

It's your stick. It doesn't matter if your friends think it throws badly, as long as it works for you. Everyone's stick is different, but serves the same purpose. It's kind of like shoes- even with the exact same shoes, two people will break them in differently, to make them uniquely theirs.

Nothing breaks in a pocket like use. You want your pocket to throw well- so throw with it. You want it to hold the ball- cradle with it wet. You want it to shoot right- shoot more. Always be ready to adjust your pocket as you throw around, whether it's with friends or against a wall, or alone at the cage.

Dying with stringing left on    Submitted by L. Goel

Hey, I found out that if you are going to dye a head with a mesh or traditional pocket already in it make sure that none of the strings are very tight against the plastic, or one another for that matter, because when they move around the white part shows through.

Loosening Leathers    Submitted by Ryan

I have a tip for "loosening" up leathers run them under warm water and put them in the dryer for about 30 minutes.

E-Lacrosse Note: We found that this worked better when soaking the strings in the warm water and giving them a good stretch by hand between spending about fifteen minutes in the water and putting them in the dryer.

The Vintage Pocket    Submitted by Sean

This is a pocket I worked on. This is actually the first traditional head I've strung, but its sweeter than most I've seen. This stick has a great hold, the ball won't budge once its in the pocket. I like to call it the "Vintage Pocket" or the "Tor- Pita Pocket." It's made with 4 leathers, doubling the middle two for a more defined channel. Coils run off to the sidewalls, and a pair of spirals running down the middle.

Mesh Pocket Pounding    Submitted by Rob from Pomfret, Connecticut

I have found the best way to break in hard mesh in less than ten minutes. Take the spray nozzle on your sink, and spray the mesh pocket with hot water. After that, hold the head, and bludgeon the mesh with something. A pocket pounder or the butt of another stick work well. I hope this helps. It's worked out for me every time!

E-Lacrosse Note: We tried this and it worked just fine. We used a rubber mallet for the beating.

Legal width baking    Submitted by Danny Wernau, Holbrook, L.I., New York

When baking a stick, take a pencil and cut or sharpen it down to desired length (between 6 1/2 and 10 inches to keep it legal). Then, stick the eraser part on one side of the top near the sidewall holes, and then stick the sharp side through the other sidewall holes to keep the shape...then you can pich the bottom as much as you want without worrying about staying legal.

E-Lacrosse Note: You can't use this with every method. A pencil will burn in the oven and could cause a fire or just a messed up smell in your oven which your parents certainly won't appreciate.

Reverse Mesh-X     Submitted by Big Will

I recently was messing around with some monster mesh and found a great pocket which is, as far as I have seen, is totally original. The materials you will need is a whole bunch of stringing nylon, a peice of monster mesh, 2 leathers, and 2 flat nylon rope strips just like those found in the sure shot pocket by brine that are the size of a leather.
Step 1: Run both leathers through the outside holes. Then string sidewall strings.

Step 2: Cut the monster mesh in 2 3" wide pieces. Run the leathers through the mesh just like you would do in a corner pocket. Then pull the leathers through the bottom hole in your stick.

Step 3: Next, between the sidewall and outside leathers, string coils. There should be 6 sets of coils. The amout of coils on each level will depend on the shape of your head, just make it tight.

Step 4: Take the 2 nylon rope peices, and cut slits in them just like in a leather, and string them though the top middle holes. Then string them through the mesh like done in step 2. Pull them through the bottom holes and pull tight.

Step 5: Then, using the Y-coil technique at the top of your stick, string down between the two nylon rope pieces the spiral as found in the dog track pocket.

Step 6: String up your shooting strings!
This pocket is almost a reverse X-mesh pocket, but the purpose is to be able to catch and cradle with the feel of mesh, but have the shot power and accuracy of a traditional stick. It is quite complicated but in the end comes out to be a killer pocket.

Getting the whip out     Submitted by Kenny Silver

If anyone is having trouble with getting out whip on a mesh pocket, I have 2 tips.

  1. Make sure you have a tight nylon shooting string across the top.

  2. Try stringing the hockey laces traditional style.

  3. Make sure your shooting string are loose at the bottom and increase gradually as you go up through the stick until you reach the tigtest nylon.

Face off tips    Submitted by Corey

I have two tips to share in the Reader Tips Section. The two tips are for face-off specialists.

My cousin, who was a two-time All-American at Middlebury, showed me a move that he called the finisher. When you do a face-off, clamp on the ball as usual. Once you clamp on the ball and gain possession, leave your right hand where it is, but push forward with your left hand. If your head is flexible, the ball should get trapped in the back of your stick. Then push the ball between your legs.

My second tip is a method that my cousin along with Chris Cercy of Syracuse used. Cut a slit across the top of your mesh. Burn the ends so they don't fray. This will give you a distinct advantage when doing the clamp because the ball will squirt through the slit right into your pocket!

E-Lacrosse Note: This one we like because it's innovative and fits into the anything goes face-off mentality. We have no idea if it's legal but we bet that it's not, especially in your youth or High School league so we're not recommending it for your stick. We just wanted to show it to you for fun!

Hold off on box baking    An E-Lacrosse Extra

If you're thinking of baking or bending your stick into a good box stick, you may want to just wait a few weeks and buy the new STX Box Stick designed and used by Gary Gait! We don't even know what it's called yet but here are some pictures of the head they gave us. We threw an old soft mesh on there with two hockey laces and a tight shooter in the middle. We assume they come from the factory in hard mesh, and we want one of those too!

Thanks to all for participating. Keep sending your tips and we'll pick some more in a few months! Send them to!

January 26, 2002