Thanks to Sean Christman for submitting the below pictures and question to LAS. Any opportunity to help a fellow stringer is a worthy one, especially when he also writes for LaxAlLStars.com! Here is the original question, and the photos:
I would appreciate any advice you could offer for break in! Can you help me out?
First, let me just break down what we have that I’d be taking into consideration when stringing this pocket: there are 5 diamonds, regular size thin leathers were used, the shooters are double rolled (compared to mine *see below*) and tension is spread pretty equally from top to bottom.
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The initial advice on breaking in the pocket is to make sure all the crosslace junctions secure around the leather and keep the diamonds even. To make sure of this, keep a careful eye on the diamonds as it breaks in and use your finger to scoot the junction back into an equalizing position if it shifts. Also, loosen the middle two leathers so the ball sits more in the middle, which will also help keep tension on the junction points so they can secure around the leather easier.
Preparation of your leathers prior to stringing aids in the break in process too, as the pocket will change less from the original stringing. I simply use hot water and stretch the leathers with my hands; the way I do my crosslace allows for the leather to stretch during the break in period without bunching between junctions. Billy and Connor from LAS use a few other methods:
Billy: ‘Since it’s winter time, I’ve been leaving my leathers over the heater at night to soften them up.’ We’ve both experienced how this works in a hot car when we drove across the country – softens them quite bit.
Connor: ‘I leave them soaking in baby oil after stretching and drying them with hot water and my hands, then I stretch them again and let them dry out. Basic, but it works.’ I’ve not added any additional agents besides water but I’m sure this makes the leather quite soft.
The double weaved shooters may present an issue with whip by creating too much snap with not enough drag, acting as a shelf the ball would need to climb over, especially when coupled with a lower diamond amount and thin leathers. The lower the diamond amount, the more stretchy the pocket will be. Unless a player is handy in flicking their wrists very consistently, the double weaved shooters might pose an issue as the thin leathers will break in and stretch a lot, while a thicker shooter will remain constant.
The next advice is to try to bring more tension to the top of the head when implementing the crosslace. Simply make sure that those diamonds are strung quite a bit tighter than the lower diamonds when first putting in the lace. This will create a natural ramp and resting place for the ball, respectively, then the shooters don’t need to do all of the work in how the ball sits and throws. Upon completion of crosslace, make sure to pound the pocket in while scooching the diamonds down from the top so the slack in the leather doesn’t happen between junctions.
And finally, keep monitoring the depth and shooter tension as it breaks in and adjust each to meet your shooting and throwing needs. Remember that traditional pockets can sometimes be shallow and have the same amount of hold as a mesh pocket and that shooters in traditional pockets can be tightened WAY more than those in mesh to create a release we like.
Check out more on my blog, Zen, Lacrosse, and the Art of Stringing.
Want a chance to win a Traditional Head? StylinString is giving one away!
This is also a pretty cool video from SS about their recent stringing trip to UVA: