Editor’s Note: This multi-part series Women’s Stringing Roundtable on #TheGopherProject will provide insight from experienced stringers and representatives from stringing manufacturers. Women’s pockets have always had more restrictions than men’s pockets. With the recent relaxing of the rules and allowing mesh, it will be interesting to see how the game evolves.
Mesh In Women’s Lacrosse – Part 1
In this, the first installment of the Women’s Stringing Roundtable, we are going to explore just how the changes of allowing mesh in women’s lacrosse has been impacting gameplay.
With the help of Robin Brown aka @Laxtractive, we selected a handful of our favorite women’s stringers and asked for their point of view. Let’s introduce the roundtable panel:
Katie Facciola (the one, the only Foss!)
With the introduction of mesh to the women’s game in September 17, how do you feel it has changed the sport?
Liz– I’m really not convinced that mesh stringing has changed the game, per se. By that, I mean we’re not seeing anything new with regards to performances from players strictly due to mesh. With that being said, I think a LOT more players are starting to pay attention to their stick (as well as manufacturers, stringers, coaches, etc). To me, that is the huge “win” of mesh being introduced into women’s lacrosse. It used to be that players barely knew how to tie their own shooting string let alone understand the ins and outs of their stick. While there is still a long way to go, I absolutely love that girls and women are trying out new styles and learning to adjust/string on their own.
Michael – I believe mesh gives women more options. The rules for stringing were very strict. With mesh, it has kind of set the game on fire for a bit as people scrambled to test the new limits.
Marisa– The involvement that girls have in the preference of their pocket has increased. I have more girls ask about different types of pockets and want to explore a different aspect of their equipment. I do believe that the game will become easier to learn for younger girls. The majority of the youth beginner sticks that I have seen are mesh and can be easier to learn with.
Kaylee– I think this will allow more players to string their own sticks and purchase beginner sticks that are strung better than what was previously available. I haven’t seen a dramatic change yet but I’ve had a lot of girls asking about the new mesh and showing more interest in how their pockets are strung.
Robin– By removing so many of the stringent, nit-picky stringing rules that were in place before, the mesh rule change has opened the doors for a ton of new possibilities in women’s lacrosse stringing. With a new material comes new abilities, and now players can execute a wider variety of stick work. For example, personally I feel that the full mesh pockets I have used are overall more consistently accurate. My favorite improvement though is being able to extend my arms farther back when shooting. I have a hard time believing that shooting speed can’t improve with these rule changes, not that I have an issue with it!
Aside from on-field performance, another change I’m seeing is an uptick in female-owned stringing accounts on Instagram. I believe this at least partially is due to the combination of simpler rules and easier materials to work with. Before the rule change, the rules were detailed down to how many “stitches” (aka interlocks) can go across each “thong” (aka vertical runner, like leather). Now there is much more flexibility so stringers do not need to reference over 20 poorly-worded, confusing guidelines. Also, since a full mesh pocket is so much less daunting to attempt than a full traditional, players are more inclined to try stringing their own pockets.
I am all for this rule change and hope to see even more relaxing of stringing rules in women’s lacrosse in the future. Ideally I think they should be understandable for a middle schooler to interpret.
Maesa– If strung correctly, I think it’s a game changer. Mesh can provide so much power, hold and whip behind a shot. I guess you can say it’s an unfair advantage. At the pro and college level, we see shots that are more like the men’s. Mesh definitely adds more power (effortless power, if that makes sense) and even more finesse to the game. And with the benefits of the mesh, players can become more confident with their skills because they know the ball will stay in their pocket. Therefore, hopefully more girls will continue with the sport. I think mesh drives companies to put out more women’s products.
From a stringing and coaching stand point, mesh or part mesh is really great for new players, less break in time and soft catch. It’s hard and frustrating to play the game without the ball and mesh helps ease that. But of course, strung right because some of the stuff out on shelves have mesh but no pocket or a very baggy low one. Mesh can also allow for some insane highlights at the high school, college, pro level, which in turn, the younger girls are able to try and do all the tricks and moves they see. Plus, those highlights get players to watch and be exposed to more lacrosse building their game IQ. That part of the game is huge and the younger generation of players will be more advanced than ever before.
Foss– I don’t think the game itself has changed at all. A lot of girls I know are pretty set in their ways. It’s rare for me to put mesh into a stick unless a player tells me to “do whatever I want’.