Very few old lacrosse heads will be ready to go when you pick them up. After sitting in someone’s garage or basement or under their bed for a number of years, the pocket will be gross, and more often than not, the stick will be dirty. To the untrained eye, the head may look “done,” but as long as there are no major cracks in the plastic, there is a very good chance that with a rehab, the old lacrosse head can still be rescued, made to look pretty, and turned into something functional once again!
How to Rehab an Old Lacrosse Head
Document Your Starting Point
If there’s an old pocket in the head, the first thing you want to do is take a couple photos of the stick. If you want to truly refurbish the head in a traditional refurb sense, you’ll want to put an original style pocket in it, so photos will help that process whether you string it or someone strings it for you. Maybe you’ll put a different pocket in the head, but a before and after is always a fun photo, so snag a few.
Determine the Pocket’s Fate
Next, you will want to pull that old pocket out. You really have two options here: take your time and try to find pieces of the pocket you want to reuse and recycle, or cut it out quickly and throw it away because it’s trash. Don’t bother keeping old trash materials, and don’t waste old materials that can be reused!
Clean the Head
So, the pocket has been removed, and it’s time to clean up that head. First off, check out the ball stop. Does it still exist? Is it salvageable? If it looks good to go, leave it in place. If it’s gross, falling off, or gone altogether, then peel off any remnants and get ready to clean the head with hot water, soap, and a toothbrush.
The plastic on old heads is usually still pretty tough, so you can use harsher tools, like a steel wool pad or a rough sponge, but not if the head has been dyed. Dye does not seep that deep into the plastic, and if you use a harsh abrasive tool, it can damage an old dye job. Taking your time with a toothbrush will usually result in an excellent outcome.
If you’re going to pinch your head, now is the time to do it. Warning: the plastic in old heads is obviously old, and this means it can be more brittle or corrupted in other ways. Always be careful pinching old heads. The best way to do this is to put the head in water as you bring it to a boil, then take the head out and pinch it using string. Then, put it back in the water, take it out, and let it sit for an hour or two as it cools into its new shape.
Dry off the head with a paper towel whether you pinched it or not. If you’re putting on a new ball stop, make sure the head is 100 percent dry before doing so. If you can’t find the correct ball stop, find some thin foam padding with adhesive on one side and custom cut your own ball stop. Many brand new heads are shipped with custom ball stops to start with, so taking the time to do this will make it feel like it is factory fresh!
Ready to Re-String
You’re now at the point in your old lacrosse head rehab where you get to re-string it. Whether you’re throwing something new in there or try to replicate an old pocket, take your time and expect some challenges. The geometry of a head from 15 years ago is different from a 25-year-old head, and when you go past that, things change even more.
Looking for inspiration? Check out some photos of college games from the era your head comes from. Even in the older days, there were some really amazing custom pockets out there!
Take Care of Your Equipment
Rehabbing an old lacrosse head and bringing it back to life is a lot of fun. Take your time, clean it up nice, and string something wonderful!
A great way to keep a lacrosse head working for years and years is with FlexForce. It’s designed to keep your head from pinching and can extend your equipment’s life so you don’t have to rehab an old lacrosse head to get your lax fix.
You don’t need to keep tuna cans or a softball on hand any longer – that’s what FlexForce is for.