Pull Strings In Major League Lacrosse?


Pull strings are placed in the throat of a stick, and they allow a player to have a deep (and possibly illegal), pocket that can be tightened after a goal is scored, or if their stick is about to be checked by a ref, with the simple pull of a string. Hence the name pull string. The NCAA specifically outlawed pull strings, and even went so far as to make it illegal for a player to adjust his stick after scoring a goal.

After this last weekend’s MLL games, a knowledgeable little bird hit me up on Twitter, and told me to look closely at the Denver – New York highlights. Someone in the MLL might be using a pull string!

Now, I’ve watched the video below at least 20 times, in HD, and on a full screen, and while I can’t say for sure that this player is using a pull string, I also can’t say he’s definitively not using one either. The goal is scored at the 2:07 mark, and the potential pull string action occurs at the 2:10 mark.

Watch it again and again, and try to decide if it’s a pull string or not. For me, the jury is still very much out on this one… I just can’t tell from the video. And even if it is a pull string, it’s clearly not a very big one… but I really can’t be sure either way.

Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 11.14.50 AM

This almost non-issue does bring up a much more interesting and general question, and that is: are Pull Strings actually illegal in Major League Lacrosse? Before this, I’d never even thought to ask…

I called up the league office, and learned that pull strings are, indeed, illegal in the MLL. Ok, so that was actually pretty simple. The league representative I spoke with also felt, as I did, that the video was inconclusive, but for all you MLL players out there trying to sneak pull strings… we’re watching, and clearly the league is as well! Not trying to rain on anyone’s parade or anything, but these are the pro ranks we’re talking about here, so players will be under the microscope.

Leave the cheating to washed up men’s league players, like yours truly, ok? Below you can find a few other interesting stick rules I learned about while discussing pull strings with the MLL office:

Strings can hang five inches down from the head, as opposed to only 2 inches of excess string in the college game.

Players can use High School, College, or Universal heads. And some of the face off heads barely look legal for box lacrosse! As long as the ball comes out on the tests, it’s pretty much fine it seems, although refs do measure sticks as well.

Players can not string their sticks with orange mesh, orange string, orange shooters, or orange leathers. It’s because the ball is orange! The stick in the middle, below, uses a light red. That’s walking the line. Heads and shafts, however, can be orange. Could you imagine if the NCAA made white strings, mesh, and shooters illegal, since they use a white ball?


If you have other Major League Lacrosse stick rule questions you want answered, drop them in the comments and we’ll either take them to the league and get some answers, or ask someone from the league to reply to you directly!

There has to be something you’re curious about!


  1. I wouldn’t be surprised to be honest, there’s always a little deception in every level of play. I would’ve guessed this to be more of an issue in fact. At this level most players I would guess have a very specific type of they prefer to use. I would hazard a guess more than you would expect play with illegal pockets. Although I imagine it would be hard to get away with since almost every game is televised or at least streamed at this point.

  2. I forget where I read this–probably on LAS–but someone once asked why youth, high school, and college players must deal with harsher pocket regulations than professional players. I have to agree it doesn’t make much sense.

    And pull string or not, it’s pretty obvious that many MLL pockets are far deeper than a ball’s height. Just look at this old Rabil photo. Even at 3/4 view, you can practically see the top of the ball under the far sidewall:

    I heard during the last Cannons broadcast that Rabil has tightened up his pocket this season to, and I quote, “allow him to be more of a feeder.” Translation: the biggest star in the game couldn’t even pass. But the stick was legal.

    They really need to tighten up those pocket rules. Pun really, really intended.

    PS: It just came to me, I read it on LAS’ Zen, Lacrosse, and the Art of Stringing. Love that blog.

  3. It seems obvious that after he scored, he intentionally reached towards the lower part of his head. It looks to me that he pulled a string. Can’t think of any other reason to intentionally touch that part of my stick except for a pull string.

  4. I LOVE PULLSTRINGS! i play middie and use a maverick spider and have never got caught

    I’m sorry but I can’t just say nothing about this. This attitude is one of the main problems with how rules are enforced as well as how players try to bend the rules as much as possible. There’s almost no enforcement for this kind of behavior, which leads to the attitude of “Well I’ll never get caught so why should I follow the rules”. Try to have more respect for yourself, your opponents, and the game and follow the rules. If you need to depend on breaking rules like this to perform, you should just hit the wall and work to improve.