The best lacrosse stick you’ll ever have? It’s out there, and you need to find it. Or do you?
There is an old video on YouTube, where Mike
I can’t find it online anywhere, but the general idea was that you didn’t always find the best lacrosse stick, sometimes it found you. In the end, there was really only one stick that was yours. You might have multiple sticks, but only one truly felt right in your hands.
Reece O’Connor DID find the video! Well done, sir! So just watch it…
(Check out more great videos over on Rhino Vision!)
The cool visual of a floating stick notwithstanding (an excellent use of fishing line!),
Now, you may be saying that I’m being a complete hypocrite here, because in the past I have argued that any good player should be able to pick up any stick and use it well. I have also said that by using multiple sticks, players will not get bogged down in the motion that works best with their ONE stick and will therefore become more diverse players.
So which is it? Do you have one best lacrosse stick, or do you use multiple sticks? Turns out it can actually be both. Using different sticks and pockets on a regular basis is one thing. Using “your stick”, commonly referred to as a “gamer”, every time you play competitively is another thing. I’ve refined my view, and know you can do them both, and you don’t even need to own multiple sticks yourself. How cool is that?
The Best Lacrosse Stick You’ll Ever Have
The overarching concept here is progressively improve your game stick, and to find the perfect pocket to suit your style of play. You start with whatever stick you have now, and ask yourself ONE question. Don’t worry, there will be more questions later.
Questions #1 – Does this stick allow me to do everything I want do as a player?
You are asking if the stick allows you to make every pass you need to make. You need to think about how the pocket works with ground balls, shooting, catching, and cradling. Think about how your stick functions in the rain, and the cold, or even extreme heat. Ask yourself about when you pick up your stick, does it need to be constantly fine-tuned, or is it good to go every time? The key here is confidence. Do you feel confident in your stick (apart from your skill set) when you have to perform a lacrosse action with it under pressure? Once you have thought about all that, then you can answer the original bolded question.
If the answer isn’t “Yes, this is the BEST lacrosse stick for me“, then your journey starts now. Very few people will be able to answer that way, so don’t feel bad. It’s all part of the process, and it can help you become a much improved player.
Now that you have admitted that your current stick isn’t perfect, it’s time to figure out what’s wrong with it. This is where playing with other sticks comes into play. When you shoot around with friends, trade sticks. First, it allows you to try a different set up or head. That’s always good, but there is also a hidden benefit here. By using a foreign stick, you will need to focus on fundamentals more, and that is always good for your game!
Once you have done this a couple times, and used a number of different sticks, you need to ask yourself another question:
Question #2 – Did I prefer any of my friends sticks over my own in the sense that they helped me answer YES to Question #1?
As long as your friends’ sticks were legal, and you answer YES to Question #2, you now know you need a new game stick officially. This does not mean you need to go out and buy a new stick (although you could). The best bet is to ask your friend where he got his stick, and see if they can restring your stick to be like his. Or maybe your friend strings sticks (stick stringers often have great sticks, duh), or maybe YOU string sticks. I don’t know, but figure it out! Find a way to get your friend’s pocket replicated in your stick. Use the same kind of mesh, same shooters, etc. Try to recreate their pocket in your stick.
Give this new pocket some time, and work with it. Keep an open mind, make sure you put in the extra practice to get your body mechanics fully adjusted. Once you have given this new stick some time, ask yourself Question #1 again. If the answer is still NO, find some new sticks to try.
Now, if NONE of your friends’ sticks were an improvement from your own. you may need to try something very different, and quite frankly, a little more risky, at least on the short-term. This is also true for people who have switched to a new stick, but still aren’t fully satisfied with the pocket.
A total restring is going to be required here, and if you can’t string your own sticks, you’re going to need to know what you like in a pocket, so you can explain what you want to someone else. Even if you do know how to string, you’re going to need to know what you want to do before you do it, right? So here is Question #3, which is really more like Questions #3-10, but whatever. Deep breaths. This is going to be a lot.
Question(s) #3 – The Nitty Gritty
Do you like hard mesh, soft mesh, or traditional? Which brand or type do you prefer? WHY? You need to know this answer first because you can not string if you don’t have materials, and all materials are NOT created equal. Hopefully, in your testing of friends sticks, you tried many different types of pockets AND mesh/traditional. Which did you like the best? This will affect release, channel, feel, and some many other important aspects of your game. This is not a decision to be taken lightly. Don’t buy into any one brand’s marketing. Buy into what you have used and enjoyed using. Period.
Do you like whip? Do you like hold? Do you like both? Neither? Don’t just answer with a robotic, 5 whip, 10 hold either. Think about what YOU really want and need to be a complete player. Maybe 1 out of 10 guys in college plays with a lot of whip. Are you really in that 10%? I’m only using whip as an example, but think about what you really need, not what you think you need, if that makes sense.
Do you want a high pocket? Mid? Low? Maybe an “all over” pocket? If those four terms are foreign to you, you need to play with more different sticks! Where do you cradle the ball? How do you shoot most often? Can you hit corners on command? Do your passes hit the ground sometimes? How did pocket placement impact any of the above and more? What position do you play? Does that matter? Some people say D-men should have a high pocket. Others argue for a low pocket. When I played D, I used a mid pocket. So what actually WORKS FOR YOU? That is much more important than what someone else says should work for you. Know thy own lacrosse needs!
Once you have figured out all of the above, string (or have someone else string) what you think will be your ideal pocket, but DO NOT PUT SHOOTERS IN!!!!! Take the stick outside, and play wall ball with it for 20 minutes. If at any point you can not throw hard, accurate passes with your shooter-less stick, then this is NOT the pocket for you. Shooting strings are a final touch, and if you need them to make your stick work, then your stick really doesn’t work. Maybe some college players or pros can get away with this, MAYBE, but it is doubtful. Your stick really should function pretty darn well without any shooters in it at all.
Of course I don’t expect your shooter-less pocket to be perfect (although it might be!), so if you want a little bit more tug, or pull, when you shoot, throw a tight high shooter into the stick. Maybe you want a lot more hold. Ok, throw three shooters in. Maybe you want more shooters because it will look better… STOP RIGHT THERE. Shooters are to be used for function only. If you use them to look cool or “normal” you are defeating the entire purpose of this exercise.
At this point, a couple of months have now passed, and you are likely using a totally different stick from the one you started out with. Now it’s time to start the cycle again… Does this stick allow me to do everything I want do as a player? If the answer is no, it’s time to start all over again.
At this point, I’m sure at least a couple of readers out there are asking, “what about that whole ‘stick finding you thing’? where does that come in?“, and it’s a fair question. A stick can find you at any time, and you need to be ready for this as well.
Let’s say you have a Warrior Evo, strung up with fancypants mesh, dyed to be the coolest, that your uncle got you for your birthday. Let’s also say that the stick just does not work for you. You need to find something for you, that works. And your friend has a back up stick. It’s an STX AV8, and the mesh in there is soft old mesh. You pick up the AV8 and it just works for you. The pocket is right, the feel is there. For some reason, it just clicks for you. Are you going to find a way to use that AV8? Or are you going to stick with the high end Evo? Seemingly this is an easy choice, but many people would actually stick with the Evo, and let their game suffer.
At the end of the day, it’s all just plastic and nylon, so don’t get too attached to the name or look of a product, and care only about how it performs… for YOU. Other kids hate the AV8? Well, you just scored 4 goals and led your team to victory, so what do they really know?
Another example of a stick finding you is even more random. You ask a kid at camp to string you a stick and it comes out weird a little ugly, but it somehow works. Do you restring the stick to make it pretty? Or do you leave it the way it is, because it works?
Or how about deciding that a certain type of head is your favorite head before you’ve used it, or before you’ve used another option? If your favorite head is a Clutch, but the best pocket you’ll ever have is in a Torque, what do you do? Do you stick to brand allegiance over functionality? The same can be said for a brand of mesh, or sidewall strings, or shooters. If you don’t keep an open mind, focused simply on what works, your stick will likely never find you, and if you want to find your stick, it will require a lot more work, likely with less payoff.
I believe that playing lacrosse with multiple sticks will make you a smarter, more skilled, more fundamentally sound player. I also believe that finding “your stick” can help elevate your play in games, as it increases confidence and ability. In order to truly find the latter, employ the former.