Stringing Patterns have plenty of upside, but there is also a downside to using a pre-set methodology for stringing your lacrosse stick. I tend to stay away from specific patterns, but I do use a lot of the same knots in the same places on different heads, and that is because of the pros and cons I’m going to list out below.
Are you a pattern guy? Do you string everything free hand? Or are you somewhere in between, like me?
Hit us up in the comments below after you read the article and tell us about your stringing style!
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The Pros of Stringing Patterns
If you want to replicate the current pocket you have exactly, a stringing pattern can certainly help you with that! By following the same set of knots, mesh hole placemement, shooting string set up, and more, you can recreate your current stick almost exactly. When you talk about consistency, this is a great approach.
Stringing patterns also allow less experienced stringers to string complex pockets, simply by following directions. UString, which provides stringing patterns for multiple heads using StringKing or Epoch Otter Mesh, will certainly show you how to string a great pocket. For a stringer out there who doesn’t consider himself an expert, a pattern shop like UString can be an amazing resource.
Finally, stringing patterns can help us to learn. If you string a high pocket and then string a low pocket, you begin to see big differences in knot placement, tension, and technique. You begin to understand how different knots do different things. You can “feel” the impact of different patterns and tension points. If you’re paying attention, and using patterns, you’re sure to learn a lot of general theory as well.
The Cons of Stringing Patterns
Stringing Patterns do a lot of good, as you can see above, but there can be a big drawback to using patterns exlculsively, and it has everything to do with the stringing materials we use.
If you have two pieces of the same kind of mesh, use a single spool of sidewall, and are stringing pockets in two of the exact same heads, you’re probably going to be just fine. Both pockets will come out the same, and you will have two sticks, both of which throw the exact same. If you use both sticks, and they break in at the same rate, you’ll have a carbon copy of your favorite pocket.
But if you change ONE element of the above ingredients you could get a slightly different end product, which is almost consistent, but not quite.
Unless you have two of the exact same heads, strictly using patterns to create a twin could be tough. Different heads have different shapes. A used Evo2 will not even have the same shape as a brand new Evo2. So how can you string the same pocket in two different heads? Using patterns, it would be extremely difficult.
And what about the mesh?
Using two different pieces of mesh can be a total disaster if you only use patterns. Different companies manufacture mesh using different weave patterns, different material combinations, AND different diamond sizes. Otter Mesh won’t act like Marc Mesh, which won’t act like Throne Mesh, which won’t act like hard mesh, which won’t act like ECD Mesh, which won’t act like JimaLax Money Mesh, which won’t act like StringKing. None of these meshes will act, stretch, feel, or break in the same. All of them are slightly different from one another. Even two pieces of mesh from the same company can act, feel, and break in differently.
So if the mesh isn’t the exact same, why would you tie it up the exact same way and expect it to function in the exact same manner? Different ingredients get you different dishes. Even slight changes can make a difference.
This is even true with sidewall and shooting strings. While this is probably the least important factor, it’s still a factor. Certain shooters snap or drag on the ball more, some less. Some sidewall is really thick, while some other offerings are much thinner. Maybe you used cross lace? Or top string? All of these changes will impact your pocket on some level.
And this is THE Con of Stringing Patterns: unless you are using the EXACT same materials, in the same head, your pockets won’t be the exact same, even if they are very similar.
The Answer To Problems With Stringing Patterns
I wouldn’t give up on Stringing Patterns altogether. You can learn a lot from them, and pick up some new tricks to add to your skill set. I also wouldn’t string completely free hand unless you really know what you are doing. Focus on the knots, where they are placed, and what results they give. Find a pocket you love, and look for where the tension is created. Look at the knots they use, then try to replicate the “FEEL” of that pocket using similar, but likely not exact, techniques, knots, tension, and spacing.
Allow the patterns to be your inspiration. Allow them to show you the way, and then hack your own path. You can learn a lot from patterns (as well as tutorials), but they don’t need to be followed exactly. Don’t be a slave to patterns! Learn from patterns, practice using them as guides, and learn what’s really going on. I guarantee it will result in better pockets and a lot more knowledge!