It took me all of two weeks to make the permanent switch from mesh to a traditional-pocket, specifically the Pita Pocket. I strung it up on a whim one day after deciding that I couldn’t call myself a real lacrosse player if A) I didn’t know how to string a traditional pocket, and B) I hadn’t ever played with a traditional pocket.
My First Time
I found a couple of images online that looked really detailed, and I was able to study them and string it from there. Needless to say, my first few tries weren’t pretty, and I unstrung and restrung the same head three times before I really liked it. However, about a week later I was studying up on my favorite Wahoo, and I saw that he used a Pita Pocket – not just your run of the mill traditional string job.
As you could guess by some of my tendencies mentioned already, I went home, unstrung my stick and restrung it with a Pita Pocket. A couple days of tweaking and messing with the head later, I was hooked. I immediately went to the local lacrosse shop and purchased some more leathers and cross-lace so I could give my LAS-themed stick a Pita Pocket as well.
After playing with the Pita for a few weeks, I was a loyal follower of the Pita Pocket Movement (#ThingsIMadeUp). Soon, I was busy recruiting others to join! I was able to convince a player I coach to switch over, and he loved it as well. Then, just the other day, the boss came rolling through the office with a new Revolution 2.0 X head he just received. Without even asking, I knew exactly what he wanted and obliged to his requests of a Pita Pocket.
This is the story of that pocket…
Striding Man’s New Pita Pocket
1. Preventive maintenance
I start out by soaking the leathers in really hot water mixed with conditioner for 10-15 minutes. I could be completely off my rocker, but I think the conditioner helps extend the life of the leathers. I ring out the leathers and stretch them out so there isn’t much give when it is finally strung.
2. Inserting the leathers
The next two steps I take when stringing the stick are to insert the leathers with the rough side facing out and I tie them all down tightly to the throat of the head. Then I string up the sidewall, I like to keep them very evenly spaced down the sidewall as pictured above.
3. Stringing the middle leathers
Once the sidewall is strung, I start on the middle two leathers. I find the middle of the crosslace and mark it with a pen so it ends up even for when I cut the lace and string up the next section. Starting at the top of the stick, string the lace from the back to the front, and then bring it back over the mark in the middle and twist it as it comes from the front to the back.
I twist it three times between each point where it’s connected to the leathers. I like to keep the crosslace holding the leathers tighter at the top and looser towards the bottom, I feel like this gives me more control and hold when I’m cradling. For the first six sections, I keep the leathers really tight to the head. Then as I head another section or two, depending on the head and the depth I want in the pocket, I evenly loosen it up enough to add in the next two.
Once I am done, I tie several half hitches at the bottom, then tie the toe laces together in a figure-eight knot so I can cut them and move onto the next step.
4. Stringing the leathers to the sidewall
Once I’m done with the middle section, I connect the outside leathers to the sidewall. If you look closely in the picture, you can see that each knot on the outside leathers is spaced between two of the knots on the inside leathers. When you finally connect it all together, this helps to create a nice, even diamond pattern.
For connecting the leathers to the sidewall, I used to do it all really tight, but I didn’t like how it broke in and how much space I had between the two sets of leathers once I connected them all together. As I move down the sidewall, I give it some tension with my hand so I can have an idea of where it will stretch to. This helps to keep both sidewalls even, as well as giving the stick a nice pocket.
It is important to note that the inside two leathers should have one more or as many sets of half-hitches as the outside leathers. This allows the pocket to be strung very evenly.
5. Connecting the leathers
Now for the fun part, stringing both sets of leathers together. I’ve heard it done several ways, one at a time, together, and even with a ball. I like to string the outer leathers to the inner ones at the same time. This lets me tweak it as I go down and keeps it really even the whole way.
I string the crosslace through the upper-most sidewall hole, in this case on that was on the scoop and then bring it through the outer leathers and into the middle section. As you can see in the picture, string each knot through the other knots so it is secure and won’t move around.
As you continue stringing, you can start to see the diamonds being created by the placement of each knot.
When you run out of space, tie one more set of half-hitches to the outside leathers and string it to the sidewall with a figure-eight knot.
The stick should actually have a little of a pocket already. You can really see the difference in the tension of the middle strings in the picture above. Towards the top of the stick it is much tighter, then as you get towards the pocket, it gets much looser. Here is another view of the completed stringing below.
6. The Shooting Strings
Shooting strings are a little different on traditional stringing than they are on mesh, at least in the sense that there isn’t an exact line of mesh holes that you string through. I like to string one hole at a time to make sure I get the shooters even and flat on the head. If you look in the picture below, you can see that I aimed between two main sets of knots on the stick.
I use three shooters and one crosslace at the very top. Other than the fact that I think two shooters just looks goofy, I feel like I’m able to really fine tune my pocket with three.
A slightly different view, this one allows you to see the stringing of the shooters a little better.
7. Breaking in the pocket
From here, I think it is very important to play with it A LOT right away. This allows you to break it in and really make all the little adjustments you need to. It goes without saying that a traditionally strung stick is going to have a little more maintenance than a normal mesh pocket. In the end though, I think the benefits of a traddy outweigh the negatives.
Before handing her over, I played around with the stick a little bit to make sure that it would have a chance at pleasing the boss. From what I’ve heard he is very pleased with pocket, I think we have another convert! I snagged a few more pictures of the stick after a weekend of him breaking it in. You can see from the pictures that the pocket has gotten a little bit deeper.
Once you’re past Step 7, there’s no looking back. As you begin using the head everyday, you’ll need to adjust the crosslaces and shooting strings from time to time to make sure that it continues to throw smoothly. Just like on any head, you’ll want to double check your sidewall string before gameday and take preventive measures so that none of the strings, crosslace or leathers break on you. It’s just about being smart with your stick – treat it like its your baby.
One last picture, you have to check out the pocket. One of the best parts about the traditionally strung sticks is that you don’t need a bag to have good hold. This pocket is pretty deep, but it doesn’t have too much whip and still has a ton of hold.
For another take on how to string up a Pita pocket, check out Connor Wilson’s Lacrosse Stringing Tutorial: Pita Pocket. Think your Pita pocket is better? It probably is and we want to see it! Send us your pics to firstname.lastname@example.org or through the LAS Tipline.