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Be yourself




Learning how to string a lacrosse stick is a journey, I have been on mine for a little over 18 years now. When I started my journey you were unable to buy kits in my area, maybe they were available in the hotbeds of lacrosse, but not in Western Massachusetts. I would go to a store, buy a complete stick with a traditional pocket, pull the pocket apart and restring it. I did not have a website or person to learn from, only trail and error, I made a lot of mistakes and learned from them all. About two years into my journey stringing kits became available to me, a few at the store and I was introduced to the Great Atlantic Lacrosse catalog. In that catalog they had a custom pocket section and that is where I first saw what other people were doing with pockets, I studied and learned from the pictures and put a few tools in my toolbox of knowledge, new knots and the understanding that a pocket can be whatever you want it to be. Throughout my journey I have put new tools in my toolbox and have used them as needed, as heads and stringing supplies have changed over the years so has stringing technique and the application of them. Be yourself. I use many of the same knots mesh and string as everyone else, but it is how and where I apply them to the pocket that makes it “my pocket”. I have a style of stringing that fits me, how I play and what I want a pocket to do. Many people like my pocket stringing style, many don’t and I am perfectly comfortable with that, find someone that strings how you like your pockets. The best advice I can give any lacrosse player, is to string your own pocket, I do not mean for you to copy someones pattern, string your own, develop your own patterns, find your own way, your own style. Stringing your own pocket will cause a evolution in your game and your game will cause a evolution in your pocket. Enjoy the journey, embrace it.
The personalization of the lacrosse pocket is a aspect of this game that makes it special and unique. We are at risk of becoming too cookie cutter if we all use the exact same type of mesh with the exact same pattern and shooter set up. Do not be afraid to make mistakes, try something you have never seen before, see what happens when you use the same pattern in the same head with mesh of a different hardness or diamond size. String your own, know your pocket, know your game.

I want to hear about your Journey.

Enjoy The Journey,
Joe O’Neill #stringyourown
thebuckethelmetJeff BrunellescearleyMichael AllendfongeRyan Mulvaneyoglaxrat27

Comments

  • Love this thread. I'll spin a yarn (pun intended):

    My journey began with shooting strings. My neighborhood buddy was the local elementary-school authority on all things lacrosse, and he showed me how to string the U's and V's I saw on my dad's old lacrosse stick. My first attempts did not go very well, and soon we no longer hung out.

    A year or so later I got a hold of my first Great Atlantic catalog at a Bridgeport Barrage game (#BringBackBridgeport). It was like twenty glossy pages of Christmas. I'd never seen so much cool-looking gear before, and suddenly I realized why my dad's old Bacharach got so many troubled looks at practice. But what really got me were the pockets.

    I placed an order for a Warrior dura-mesh kit, which in those days came with a little pamphlet on how to string the "Powell Pocket" inside the package. To my surprise, my first one came out reasonably well, despite my inferior Brine Hi-Wall (the instructions showed an Evo) and previous mishaps with U-shooters. I went down the street, rubbed my newfound victory in my pompous neighbor's face, and went back to order another kit. My mom said no, so I unstrung my pocket and did it all over again.

    Such were the early weeks of the summer of '99 until one fated Gilman Lacrosse Day Camp. The camp director was an old, drill sergeant-esque former Michigan State (DI) player named--no joke--Coach Pain. (Or Payne, or Peters, or something. It was a long time ago. Just let me have this.) This camp was actually perhaps the most important development of my lacrosse career. Pain was an inspiration, and his teachings that summer on changing hands, correct dodging form, and what it means to become a top lacrosse player transformed me from a sub-par, in-house benchwarmer to a starting defenseman on my town's highly competitive Travel A team.

    To this day I regret not knowing more about the anonymous coach who singlehandedly changed the trajectory of my life--I truly wouldn't have become the player I did if it weren't for him--but I was nonetheless able to keep one important bit of concrete knowledge from that week. During a lunch break one day, Coach Pain gathered the camp around to teach us wide-eyed brats the art of the Pita pocket, which he used himself. I thought it was one of the coolest things I'd ever seen, and somehow his newly strung masterpiece ended up in my bag on the last day of camp.

    Whether he gifted it to me, put it in there mistakenly, or had at some point told me he was giving it to me--his old-school shouting was hard to translate--I don't remember. But I took it home, studied it, and eventually strung one up myself. It was a Brine Matrix, and the pocket had such a bag that shots literally would not release until you had done a 360-degree follow through, sending the ball soaring backwards. Still, I was the envy of the practice field for weeks afterward, making sure to further taunt my now-forlorn neighborhood nemesis.

    The rest, as they say, is history. I kept on stringing, eventually learned how to string a mean mesh pocket and a passable trad, switched positions to goalie, and enjoyed moderate success as a high school and college lacrosse player. I strung a lot of my teammates' sticks in that time, sometimes for money, sometimes for beer, sometimes--in the case of my goalie competition--for much, much more money. Not everyone liked my pockets, but many people did, and at the end of the day I was alright with that.
    jackmishstringershackMichael AllenRyan Mulvaney
  • stickmanlaxstickmanlax Antwerp,Belgium
    My journey with lacrosse started about 5 years ago, i'm 28 now so you could say i'm a late bloomer. 5 years ago a couple of guys started playing lacrosse in my country. I already knew about lacrosse as another 5 years before that i spend some time in Vancouver, watching the then Vancouver Ravens but never playing to game.

    My story with stringing started with messing around with the shooters and bottomstring.a Because lacrosse was just starting up here nobody really knew much about stringing. Hungry for advice i started looking online for tips and tricks. First decent tutorial i came across where the Youtube clips from EastCoastDyes.
    Today i string stick for almost all my teammates and other people when asked, i learned how to dye heads and i'm also learning how to string a decent traditional.(thanks to Connor from LAS) Out of curiosity i also started making my own waxmesh, simply because it was not readily available here.
    After many trial and error, after buying string in the hardwarestore and stringing the worst pita ever, after stringing restringing and more restringing of heads over and over again i've learned to string the perfect pocket for myself. (and other people don't complain)
    All of this i wouldn't have been able to do if it wasn't for all of you guys posting stuff online and i'm very gratefull for that.
    Now i post my stringing adventures on facebook and instagram and i get mostly positive responses from that.
    I can't wait to test something when i finally makes it across the ocean, like most recently i got my hands on some stringking mesh.
    What started 5 years ago as just a sport, has now developed into a passion for everything lacrosse related.

    That's my 2 cents.
    Thanks to the entire online community, you are a wealth of information for overseas based stringers.


    stringershackthebuckethelmetRyan Mulvaney
  • Piotr StalmachPiotr Stalmach Warsaw, Poland
    Lacrosse in Warsaw started out in 2008, I got our first gear in May. One strung head, one with only the topstring strung and one completely unstrung. Thank goodness for TLF and the old SDL tutorials and all the helpful people over there. Since I didn't have any mesh, I thought leather was the way to go and cut up an old belt and used some twine to string my first Pita. Horrible doesn't begin to describe it ;) But I followed through with some more decent string from the hardware store, and finished up those mesh pockets.
    Later that year we received 10 Brine Recruits from the ELF and those had to be restrung soon as well, so I had my hands full since nobody else really cared. I got in touch with Christian Arnold, then of 1lacrosse and he sent us some Aon heads, those were great but fell apart quickly and I got some stringing supplies with them as well. Then Spring came and Coach Arnold came by to #growthegame for us and ref the first tournament in Poland. I also got my first @stringersshack order around then and got to some serious stringing :) That's also probably when Mesh Wizard came to be. Since then I've been stringing, learning, restringing, relearning and working with many different US companies as well as teams and players around Europe. As the community grows and internet access is more abundant, stuff is really happening here. The more gear is sold, the bigger the stringing community needs to become and the more prominent figures will appear and further help #growthegame.
    But nothing is easy. Some teams have their own stringers, but especially startups have problems there, and it's not easy to judge what pocket a new player needs. That's a hard thing right there, to give someone the pocket they need without seeing them play, without having their old pocket on hand and without talking face to face, but it's a necessity most often.
    I string for most of my team. Some guys string their own pockets and good for them. I have my own style, sure. There's a certain way I like my pockets to look, and the pockets other people develop look differently, and that's great, diversity is great. I know for sure that I'd probably have to replicate those pockets 1:1 if I was asked to string "a similar one" ;)
    Traditional love is low in Europe I feel. There are some great trad stringers in Europe, Chris Wilson for one, growing the traditional love in the UK for one. I'm sure there are others and many just doing their thing locally that I haven't had the pleasure to talk to yet. I'm hoping they surface soon :)
    I've always liked saying that stick tech is an art, and that's what it is, contemporary, useable art! With all the great colorful products many mesh companies are making these days, custom dyed heads etc. the art aspect is growing every day. Sure, Connor has said there's a lot of Swag going on and not enough Swagger, but a stick can personal just as a tattoo is personal. They're both not for everyone and I could care less if my stick is all white or an inside-out checkerboard dye with argyle colored mesh as much for a tattoo, but that's just me.
    See you around Europe next year! :)
    Wizard Piotr
    stringershackstickmanlaxRyan Mulvaneyoglaxrat27
  • stickmanlaxstickmanlax Antwerp,Belgium
    Small shoutout to Meshwizardeu! He is my go-to supplier for mesh and trad-supplies. He is also doing great things for lacrosse with his blog. http://www.meshwizard.eu/blog/
    Haven't met him in person yet but something tells me he is a nice guy! ;)
    stringershackPiotr Stalmach
  • I started playing lacrosse four years and four teams ago in Reno after a miserable time playing baseball we got a flyer from the high Sierra lacrosse league. The first day of practice with my brand new soft mesh warrior outlaw and the cheapest pads money could buy I played lacrosse for the first time. I loved it even though I had no skill and sat on the bench all season. My second season was very similar to the first. It was not until my third year that I began to gain lax iq and skill. Next season I might be on varsity as a sophomore which is unheard off in Reno or start on JV in a very competitive league (competive not skilled)

    But back to stringing I just started stringing at the end of last season when my coach told me that It was insufficient for my new found level of play so he sent me home with the order to restring my stx x10 with Marc's mesh and show it to him at the beginning of the summer club season(try to put it as my profile picture if I can figure out how)he was pleased and now I string all my friends mesh stick I recently started traditional style and like the way it feels when you throw the ball so I will keep practicing and keep laxing
    stringershackRyan Mulvaney
  • elmoximelmoxim Hopedale, MA
    Moving backward, I'm a 43 year Dad, Coach, (slow) Player and I now understand why/how my grandmother was always knitting, and how it never interfered with talking to me or watching TV. I now will string a stick for no reason, I just like having something to do with my hands while on the couch!

    I'n the mid 80's in Eastern MA, you would buy your sticks strung but if you wanted to DYE you had to learn to string! Back then (until 5ish years ago) the Brine factory was 3 towns away, so we would put a head in the freezer and then smash it, then go to Brine with the "under warranty " broken head and get a new one..."white please!" After we dye them up "someone" needed to string a pocket! You bought the kit and followed the directions!

    I now wax my own mesh, try different patterns and pockets and shooter combos. I will change a pocket just because, and will almost have an OCD reaction when I see someone with a dirty, old pocket!! I find it easier to re-sting the pockets of my players (both High School and little dudes) since it's easier to coach if I know the equipment works! My stringing kit is in an old black doctor's bag, which is apropo based on when I need to grab it.

    While I make players supply their own materials, my wife would always say that I should charge for my stringing. I always felt uncomfortable doing that since it was my idea for them to get a new pocket in the first place, seemed self serving. BUT, I did realize that that meant my pockets had no "value", so what I started to do was "String for Beer"! I asked for a specific beer (a growler of Opa Opa IPA!) which means the parents had to go out of their way to a special (but close) store and pay (only $9.50) for ME so I would do something for THEM! Worked TOO well when a month ago I returned 11 empty growlers to the store! I have since put myself on the wagon ;) !

    Fast forward I just finished the "Summer of Traditional" where I strung no less than 12 trads, sometimes the same head twice! I found it unacceptable I couldn't (or was afraid) to do it. PS I'm good at those now too!

    I tell people who see a pocket, mesh or trad, as a mystery that it is just a series of knots, and I look differently at quality players who don't know how to work with their equipment at that level.

    In conclusion, and as testament to my addiction, while I was writing this I got an email from our thread leader Stringer Shack saying the multiple meshes I just ordered are on the way! Looking forward to trying the meshes and thanks for a reason to re-string a stick...or 3!!
    Ryan MulvaneyPiotr Stalmach
  • Ryan MulvaneyRyan Mulvaney Supreme Overlord Caldwell, ID
    My journey as a stringer started back when I was in high school. I started playing lacrosse with factory strung sticks and after a couple weeks I had to string a brand new pocket. Practices started in February and the midwest snow storms put a huge damper on practicing on grass. We were confined to practicing on the tennis courts at the park our practice field was located at. Top strings didn't stand a chance after a few GBs. I ended up buying warrior mesh kits and stringing the pocket exactly like the instruction pamphlet directed. It was pretty basic, there weren't as many knots and interlocking techniques as today. I got decent at stringing, but the only experimenting I did was with my shooters. I had some pretty crazy designs that were functional and some that were just esthetic (Does anybody remember the diamond shooter in the middle of the pocket?).

    I recently started getting into traditional because my favorite stick from high school was a traditional. I loved the way it functioned and it just looked cool. Nobody used traditional on my team and I kind of became an outcast. I've been stringing my own Pita Pockets over the summer and I've been finding out what works for me. I've tried a few crazy ideas out and they may not look the best right now, but they definitely work. I might post a few pics of my stringing adventures once I get some taken.
    jackmish
  • elmoximelmoxim Hopedale, MA
    @stringershack I was going to do a visit/tour this summer until I found out it's just an over priced steak house! (but with yummy, yummy beer!) I'll let them spend the hour+ (and gas money) to drive it to Hopedale!
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