Mesh pockets are an increasingly popular form of pockets for lacrosse sticks/crosses. The popularity was first sparked around 1999 as college players began using them more and more in both the soft and hard mesh styles. Soft mesh is, normally, more for a beginner player requiring less strength to gain control whereas the hard mesh pocket is tougher to control but is of greater use to a more experienced player. There is a third, newer and less used, dura-mesh pocket.
The main attractions of mesh pockets are the ease of use, stringing, and maintenance. Traditional pockets require constant tightening and take quite a bit of wear whereas the mesh pocket is a single piece strung into the head. Some mesh pockets can easily last two to four years, something a traditional pocket could rarely, if ever, claim.
To begin stringing your head for a mesh pocket, open the mesh kit and stretch the mesh as you would the leathers from a traditional kit: simply grab the edges and pull. The string used for the top-string is a personal choice:
- Leather: slow wear but looser stringing
- Sidewall rope: faster wear on the mesh but tight stringing (can be doubled up)
- Nylon: tightest stringing but the least durable nearly requiring doubling up
The order from here is negotiable but might as well start with the top-strings. Fold the top row of the mesh and line it up along the top of the head. Skip a mesh hole, thread through the next, then through the scoop hole, and looped back under the string. Repeat as needed. Tighten the mesh carefully as you get to the last two holes.
When deciding whether to string your sidewall tight at the top or loose depends on whether you want a lot of whip in your stick or more of a pocket for easier cradling. The basic method is to weave the string through the holes and down the mesh creating a sort of downward spiral. Another method, perhaps easier, is to loop the string through the mesh as you go hole to hole in the plastic. This will, however, create a slightly looser pocket. The strings here should normally be, well, sidewall strings though nylons can be used as well.
Sidewall string or leather can be used for the bottom string. Leather is best if you have a throat on your head like a Bring Edge or Proton. Leathers should be strung through the large side holes while sidewall string should use the four smaller, central holes. Adjust the tightness and height on the mesh as desired.
The shooting strings should be the last part strung. The standard, factory method, and STX manual method, is to tie off the string on the sidewall, loop through the mesh, loop around the other sidewall, and return through alternating rows of mesh. The other method is a complete weave. String under the sidewall string and evenly weave the rows all the way across. Four strings are possible to be used here:
Many players are turning to mesh and away from the time honored traditional pocket. Factories, unless requested, regularly ship with mesh pockets. Personally, I started on traditional and prefer it every single time. The team of high school lacrosse players I coach play almost exclusively with mesh except one who swears by traditional. Best way to make a call: try them both and find out.