Hundreds of readers have sent us stick tech stringing, dyeing and general lacrosse tips. We're giving ten of them free E-Lacrosse "Save the Dive" T-Shirts! We are also awarding some honorable mentions, as well, so there are many tips here to be absorbed and considered. You may want to hold off on using any dyeing tips for a week, as Pat's column "Get a Dye Job" will be out (we promise) by then. Pat gives a comprehensive look at the whole dyeing process and shows you some pretty cool tricks!
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 TEN
Paul Flohr: When putting in mesh, use a piece of nylon on top to pull the mesh tight.
This keeps the mesh from coming loose like it does when leather is used. Also, when a leather pocket is being strung cut the nylon into three pieces and knot them off at the holes in the leathers. This allows the pocket to form faster, and also the leathers will not bunch up like they normally do.
JMR: When looking into the pocket of the stick, always string "shooters" right to
left so that extra "flop" doesn't get in the way on face-offs for middies
Steve Paluch: First I want to say that the revolving Doerr pocket has to be the best thing
since sliced bread for me. I was in one of those stick slumps where no stick
I strung would work but now I strung the Doerr and its complete magic.
I have a tip about shafts. Light shafts are not always the best. When I shoot, I whip the
stick around so much, with a light shaft that the ball gets hung even without a actual
lip (whip) in my stick. But when a heavier shaft is put on the same head, it's fine.
I've come to the conclusion that with a lighter shaft you follow through too
much creating the ball to stay in the stick longer.
Colin Dees: In order to get the pocket a little more consistent on loose pockets like the Six Diamond, I put hockey grip tape under all the knots on the inside two leathers so you don't have to check them when it's breaking in. I also take a lighter and seal the entire sidewall string so it gets a little stiffer and so you don't get any bubbles that come out of the middle of them. also, mold the top nylon shooters stiff with a flame. That will keep them tight and the knots won't come undone.
Matthew Simpson: This is a real easy pocket that works great. The directions are looking into the pocket/ front of the head, for an already strung traditional stick.
Run the left most leather through the right middle bottom hole
Run the right most leather through the left middle bottom hole
Run the inside leathers through the outside bottom holes, (inside right leather through outside right hole, inside left leather through outside left hole.
By working the nylons a bit, you should be able to push them apart so that there is one or two large diamonds in the center of the stick and three or four small at the bottom, with the other one or two diamonds in and above the shooting strings.
Pull the outside leathers (the ones that should be crossed in the middle holes now) so that they are just loose enough to allow the ball to fall out when you hold the stick face down.
Loosen the middle leathers (the ones that go through the outside holes now) until your pocket is as deep as you like. (But keep it LEGAL!)
Tweak as you like until you have you have it set to your
The result is a somewhat channeled stick that helps throw straight. The "crossed" pattern and tight diamonds at the bottom help to push the ball into the center of the pocket and away from the throat.
I have used this pocket in every stick I have owned (a lot) and always loved it. It is really easy to do and does not take much time. It can also be used in conjunction with other custom stringings, but I prefer to use it on a regular strung out of the box stick.
Dan Africano: I had a problem with mesh, where hard mesh would never hold the ball well enough, and soft mesh would never throw well enough. I tried died soft mesh and found that it is the perfect cross between the two. it moves with the ball providing superb hold and it also keeps its form for an excellent throw as well. I suggest trying it.
Chris Detoy: My friend and I came up with a spin-off of the "Dog Track" pocket featured in the September issue. Everything is the same except for the stringing between the center two leathers. At the top and the bottom, you want to twist it like normal, but only one time at the bottom and MAYBE two times at the top. In the middle, just cross them once. This offers a more a forgiving pocket while still maintaining the
Channeling effect. When you catch and cradle, the strings expand, cushioning the ball, but when shooting, the ball hits the shooting strings where the nylon is twisted providing a consistent release. If you can keep the sidewalls and outer leathers tight, the whole thing works pretty well.
ShiraZ: I boxed an Octane a few weeks ago. This was done by using plastic ties (ty-its) to bring
the sidewalls closer together, much in the same position that your photographs show.
However, plastic ties have the advantage that they will not loosen or expand with heat and are, therefore, more reliable for retaining the desired head shape.
I placed the stick into a large basin of boiled water for a couple of hours. Every 30 minutes I discarded some of the old water and added more freshly boiled water. After about two hours I took the head out and placed it in a cold place (outside my bedroom window actually) at a temperature of about 8 degrees Celsius. Some people have been known to use a fridge or freezer, but that could damage the internal properties of the plastic, and some heads have even snapped due to the severe temperature change. The stick should remain there to equilibrate for a day or so. But the process is still not finished...
The next day I placed the head (still tied up) into the water again as described above for
the same amount of time. And then again in a cold place for another day. Only then, did I
cut the ties, and then left the head in the cold place for another day.
You may well wonder why I heated the stick twice. This was done to retain the shape of
the stick. Because heating in water does not reach higher temperatures as a
microwave/over/stove, the change in the plastic will not be as drastic, and so should be
done for longer and repeated so the head holds it shape permanently. On sticks I have
only "boiled" once, there is a lot of head expansion outwards days and even weeks after
the ties are cut.
Although it takes longer, I prefer to use this method to box my sticks because the strength
of the plastic is not significantly altered as it often is using higher temperature heat
methods, and so the stick still lasts as long as it normally might.
Kevin O'Brien: I have found a new way of dyeing a head. I play lacrosse for USC, and
wanted to dye my new head (an Octane) the school colors which are
maroon and black. I started out by dyeing the whole stick maroon. I
wanted the top of the head and the inside of the sidewalls to remain
maroon, so I put Elmer's glue on the inside of the sidewalls. Since I
was in a hurry, I put the stick in the black dye before the glue had
dried. Elmer's is water soluble anyway, so it resulted in a cool
looking tie-dye effect. I also strung it in a variation of the pita
pocket that i found in your Sept '98 issue.
Nick Petro: If you like the dogtrack pocket, here's an easier way to string it. First,
you don't need an empty head. All you need is a head strung traditional (5-8 pockets work easier), and a piece of nylon string about 3-5 feet (depending on the amount of diamonds. 3 for 5, 5 for 8, and you'll have to use trial and error to figure out the rest). To string the twist, tie the nylon to one of the top leathers (the original stringing alternates. tie it to the middle leather w/out a nylon already in it). Then wrap it around the original nylon once. After you do that making sure it forms a spiral design, wrap it around the leather as you would while stringing a traditional stick. Repeat this the length of the stick.
When breaking in a pocket, don't waste money on expensive pocket
stretchers! All you need is a screwdriver, a ball and a pocket. First, slide
the screwdriver under the sidewall. Then place the ball in the upper portion
of the pocket. Push the ball down slightly and you can turn the screwdriver
causing the ball to slide down in the pocket and into place.
David Travis: I have a stringing technique that drastically changed my goalie play. I have gone on to pass this knowledge on to players that I have coached, and have watched their game change too.
I have found that the STX goalmaster stick is the best. By far. However, the Brine Wall mesh kit, provides a bigger pocket, along with having much better mesh. Lacing the Brine Wall kit into an STX head, makes a great pocket.
The goalie can string the sidewalls extremely tight to the sides. I hated having open spaces between the wall, and the pocket. You can make it completely tight, and the pocket will be very deep.
Having a deeper pocket will allow the keeper to tie the shooting strings any way they like. For example, the keeper can make it tight for whip or loose, but they don't have that choice when they have to negotiate their pocket size with another stick.
I have seen this stick gobble up rebounds most others would let go. This pocket is so deep, the goalie (me included) could leave the restraining box without as much fear of getting stripped.
I have been playing lacrosse for about 10 years, and have coached
competitive high schools here in western Pennsylvania for about 4. This
is the single most important lacrosse innovation I have found. I swear
by it, and have recommended it to every goalie looking for a tip.
Robert G. Nelson aka. Knees: I have a good way on how to string mesh pockets. Using three hockey laces, insert three shooting strings at the top of the head. Skip a row of mesh between each shooting string and have the top string 2 rows of mesh down. Make your top string as tight as possible then have your middle one with medium tightness, and finally have your bottom one fairly loose. If your stick is throwing down then you need to loosen your top string slightly, then middle string, and then finally bottom string. If it is throwing up then slightly tighten each string starting with the top. If wanted you can find the middle of your bottom string and insert a V shaped shooting string. It should only go down at an angle six spaces of mesh on each side. The stick has no pocket if you put it too far down. The tightness of your V should be about as tight as your middle shooting string. I use hockey laces for all of my shooting strings because I think that it gives me a better throw and that I catch better with them in. My head is an edge, and you may have to string different heads differently.
Midwest Laxer: When you stringing a "traditional" pocket, use heavy duty or shooting
strings in place of the leathers for more flexibility and control of the ball when cradling and catching. I even have a pocket in which I used 12 pound fishing line. There are no rules against it and it works great. Try either. You will be amazed
David Hammond: The Willy Wonka - Do a wide traditional but replace the 2 inner leathers with regular shooting string (non-hockey lace) and it absorbs shock better and channels the ball.
A Common request: Many of my friends have asked me to string rock-it pocket for them but I do not know how. Could you post instructions on how?
ANSWER: Rockit - Pocket is one of our sponsors and one of the best stringing shops in the world! We would never give their secrets away and encourage you to just buy a Rockit - Pocket if you want one. It's cool knowing that your stick was strung by the very best. Some of our favorite sticks around the E-Lacrosse offices have Rockit - Pockets on them. The Brine Edge especially rocks with one! I'm sure the STX Proton does too, but we haven't tried one. Read our review of the Rockit - Pocket!
Brian Glaister: I've found that if you leave your stick out in the car on a hot day, and then go tie it tighter after it's hot and then let it cool, it holds it's shape a lot better than boiling or microwaving.
James Gotfredson: One of the best ways to pinch a head, and keep it legal, is to literally
bake it. Not in the mike, but in the oven. Using masking or cloth
trainers tape, wrap the middle, to tighten to the desired width,
checking to keep legal at the throat, and where they measure the 6.5".
Then crank the oven up to 400degrees and cook the stick until it
softens, about 7-10 minutes. Then take the stick out of the oven, and
dunk it in a sink full of cool water, not cold! Let it soak for a little
while, then you have a nice shaped stick. This way you don't have to worry about burning your hands on a
stove, or nuking it too much in the microwave.
NOTE!: Do this without the stringing, obviously, or you'll melt your
Nate Whitaker: I am 14 years old. I string sticks for fun and after I got my new octane, I
decided to experiment with my old viper. I purchased a traditional
packet and a soft mesh packet and I wove a leather down each side of the
stick just like the sides of a rockit pocket. Then, instead of making
the track used in the rockit pocket, I substituted it with the soft
mesh. Next, I just wove in the hockey lace shooting strings.
Zach: I have a good tip that works well for stringing almost any traditional pocket.
First, take a pocket stretcher and put it in the unstrung head. Then put it at
the desired pocket depth. Take the 2 middle leathers and pull them tight over
the pocket stretcher. Tape the leathers to the ball on the pocket stretcher.
Then string whatever pocket up tight. When you untape the leathers and take
out the pocket stretcher, you have a pocket that needs alot less break in time.
I find this method of stringing very effective and I use it all the time.
Glenn Nick: When stringing leather sticks, leathers must be cut at the bottom for nylons
to pass through as we all know. Many a stick had been ruined in this
frustrating process when leathers are cut completely through by slipping razor
blades. To aid in this process, there is a tool one may purchase from any
hardware store, such as home depot. It is a pair of cutting pliers that
instead of coming to a point at the top, they meet creating a "cut" just the
right size for nylon to slide through. The cutters are metal with royal blue rubber, and are about 4 inches in height at my store. They are lifesavers, and for a couple bucks well worth it.
Marty Thomas: I have been stringing sticks for a few years now. I am constantly searching for the "perfect pocket". I have strung everything. The best pocket I have found is similar to the 6x6 shown in stick science. You can achieve an awesome groove down the middle of an edge, stringing the 6x6, by tying off the two outside leathers through the larger holes between the middle leather holes. Then tie off your nylon strings that run parallel to the leathers through the small eyelets where the two outside leathers are strung (as opposed to tying them off to the sidewall like shown in the 6x6 column). From my experience this allows for a better "groove" down the middle of the stick.
Greg Grimm: I'll go along with Brian Carcaterra's way to string the top of a goalie stick. When you
are stringing a regular stick try to using two pieces of pocket lace instead
of leather in the top of the head, as well. You can also try using a single sidewall
string. I find that this creates a much better and smoother release then
Thanks to all for participating. Keep sending your tips and we'll pick another ten in a few months! Send them to email@example.com!
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.