Sean Christman has been tearing it up with Alphabetical 2014 NCAA D1 Previews, and his post on face off heads has proven to be an excellent resource. When Sean asked me to string him a traditional pocket for taking face offs I put some extra thought into it, because that’s what Sean does when he writes a story. It’s the least I could do!
The pocket I came up with is not a huge departure from how I string a Pita Pocket normally, but there are a couple of key differences, and I believe that these small changes will allow the pocket to a) perform well, and b) hold up to the abuse that face off work dishes out. Here are the three changes I focused on:
1) The entire middle track, and the higher outside interlocks on both sides, have been double locked. Instead of simply going under the leather and around the cross lace once, I did it twice. When I attached the knots from the other side I made sure my tension was even, completed the double knot, and pulled it tight.
The bottom portion of a pocket is used to grab the ball, right? But the top part is exposed, and takes a total beating. I doubled up all the knots so there would be more string to share the burden, and I also believe the double knots will keep the interlocks from slipping, even when they get caught on an opponent’s stick.
2) I put a low pocket in the stick. Since face off guys tend to grab the ball low in the throat of the head, I wanted the pocket to be relatively loose down low. The low pocket allows the leathers and cross lace to “bump in” at the throat, and it should be perfect for pinching, popping, and plunger-ing.
3) I didn’t use a saddle at the bottom. The middle leathers are usually kept together tightly with a saddle, but as the face off guy often likes the ball in the throat (where the saddle is), I wanted more flexibility in that part of the pocket. For this pocket, the bottom interlocks in the middle are just like the interlocks higher up in the pocket.