The lacrosse stick plays a crucial role in how well a player is able to perform during games. For this reason, it is imperative that players make a concerted effort to make their lacrosse stick better.
Players always ask how can I make my lacrosse stick better? There are plenty of different approaches that players can take to improve their lacrosse stick. Some of which are fast and easy, while others take a bit more time to fully implement. We will be diving into the nuts and bolts behind each of these methods so that you can construct the perfect lacrosse stick to complement your play style.
Fast and Easy Ways to Improve Your Lacrosse Stick Today
The lacrosse stick improvement methods in this section are things that you can do today to help unlock your true playing potential. Without further ado, let’s get right into it!
1.) Find a Tape Job That’s Right for Your Play Style
One way to revamp the feel of your lacrosse stick is to upgrade the tape job on the lacrosse shaft.
The Benefits of Taping Your Lacrosse Stick
Tape is a remarkable way to subconsciously keep track of where your hands are on the lacrosse shaft without having to physically look down at your stick. Players are able to detect the change in the feel of the handle, which helps tremendously when positioning your hands for a pass or shot.
In addition, tape has a much better grip relative to the sleek metal feel of the lacrosse shaft. Often times, players may find their hands slipping off of the handle due to the excessive pressure that is placed on their hands during the throwing motion. This slippage detracts from the potential power that a player is able to produce with their passes and shots.
The supplemental grip of tape provides players with the extra leverage needed to maximize their throwing strength. Needless to say, this can come in handy when a player needs to snap the ball to a teammate or sneak the ball past the goalkeeper.
Potential Tape Job Set Up
There are a variety of ways that players tape their lacrosse stick. The most standard approach that lacrosse players take is sectioning off the bottom third of the handle and the center of the handle with tape.
Players concentrate most of their pressure on the bottom hand during the throwing motion, which is why this hand almost always slips off. Taping the bottom third of the handle helps to counteract this phenomenon.
In addition, placing one thin strip of tape at the middle of the lacrosse handle assists players in positioning their top hand for a pass. This way, players need only feel for the tape to put their top hand in the correct position.
An example of a standard tape job is shown below for reference:
2.) Adjust the Bottom String to Achieve the Perfect Pocket Depth
Another way to easily improve your lacrosse stick is to modify the length of the bottom string. For those of you that do not know, the bottom string is the segment of nylon near the throat of the lacrosse head. It prevents the ball from flying out of the bottom of the pocket.
The length of the bottom string has a direct correlation with how deep the ball lies within the lacrosse pocket. As a general rule of thumb, the longer the length of the bottom string, the deeper the lacrosse pocket.
Deeper lacrosse pockets usually translate into more hold and more whip. The term “whip” refers to how low your lacrosse stick throws. A high whip lacrosse stick has the tendency to throw down to the ground whereas a low whip lacrosse stick has the tendency to throw high in the air. For more information on the concept of whip, check out my article A Full Breakdown of What Whip Actually Means in Lacrosse.
A large part of improving your lacrosse stick has to do with how your stick throws. It is a difficult process to find that delicate equilibrium between remarkable hold and moderate whip in a lacrosse stick.
Ball carriers want their pocket to have superior hold in order to withstand hard defensive checks. At the same time, players do not want their stick to throw the ball straight into the ground.
To improve your lacrosse stick, play around with the length of your bottom string to discover for yourself the perfect pocket depth where your lacrosse stick has exceptional hold and pinpoint throwing accuracy.
3.) Test the Donut End Cap Out for Yourself
Adding the donut end cap onto your lacrosse stick may be extremely beneficial to your game play.
As aforementioned, players have a propensity towards letting their bottom hand slip off during the throwing motion due to excessive pressure. The donut end cap protrudes out from the handle itself, forming a physical block that stops the bottom hand from sliding off.
An example of what a donut end cap looks like is provided below:
With this blockage in place, players have more leverage on their shot to work with since both hands maintain their position on the handle. This translates into more speed and velocity on the ball.
Moreover, some players just like the overall feel of having the donut end cap on their handle. It helps players know that their bottom hand is positioned where it needs to be for shooting, passing, and cradling.
4.) Experiment with a Different Shooting String Set Up
The next tip to improve your lacrosse stick is to experiment with the shooting string set up.
Many players are too afraid to venture out of their comfort zone and implement a new shooting set up into their lacrosse pocket. They grow to depend on their current setup even if it is poorly strung. The shooting string set up plays a massive role in how your lacrosse stick throws.
The shooting strings alter the point of release of the lacrosse pocket. By shifting the point of release earlier or later in the throw, you can ultimately adjust the whip on your lacrosse stick. If the accuracy of your lacrosse stick is consistently off the mark too high or too low, a new shooting string setup might be just what you need.
Some sample shooting string setups are provided below for your benefit:
5.) Pull the Slack out of the Top String
A quick way to enhance the accuracy of your lacrosse stick is to tighten up the top string of the lacrosse pocket.
The top string is responsible for fastening the mesh to the upper plastic of the lacrosse head. A top string that is strung taut inhibits the ball from clicking off of the plastic on its way out of the pocket. A loose top string, on the other hand, leaves a gap between the mesh and the plastic. As a result, the ball clicks off of the hard plastic during its release.
This can have significant repercussions on your overall throwing precision. The natural flight trajectory of the ball is altered when it clicks off of the plastic. Thus, the ball throws slightly lower than where you intended.
Tightening up the top string deems this effect negligible, which boosts the consistency of your lacrosse stick tremendously. If you notice that there is a significant rift between the top of the mesh and the plastic, I would highly recommend pulling out the extra slack in the top string to close this gap.
An example of what a fastened top string looks like is provided below:
6.) Get a Ball Stop that Exactly Fits Your Lacrosse Head
Sizing your ball stop to fit the exact specifications of your lacrosse head is another way to upgrade your lacrosse stick.
The ball stop is the cushion that prevents the ball from heavily contacting the plastic of your lacrosse head. The purpose of the ball stop is to help retain the ball during the catching process, particularly when the ball is rattling around the interior of the head.
The ball stop used to be more substantial in the earlier days of lacrosse when pockets were shallower and heads were not optimally designed for catching. If you have an older lacrosse head, fitting a suitable ball stop might make a noticeable difference in your catching ability.
If you have a newer lacrosse head, this change will be somewhat negligible. The way that newer lacrosse heads are manufactured, the ball does not bounce off of the plastic nearly as much. However, it may help to boost the aesthetic appeal of your lacrosse stick!
7.) Wipe Down Your Lacrosse Shaft
Another subtle way to sharpen up your lacrosse stick is to wipe down your lacrosse shaft.
Cleaning off some of the gunk from your lacrosse shaft not only refines the look of your lacrosse shaft, it helps to reestablish that sleek feel of the handle. This has understated benefits in terms of the quickness with which you are able to switch hands on your lacrosse stick.
Dodgers switch their hands on their lacrosse stick all the time, particularly for the split dodge. Removing some of the adhesive elements from the metal of the lacrosse shaft will help you transition your hands on the lacrosse handle a split second faster. This may not seem like much, but it makes a world of difference with stick protection, especially at the higher competitive tiers.
A split second delay in the transition of your hands during your dodge allows the defender a better opportunity to throw a successful check and disrupt your stick handling ability. Obviously, this is something you are going to want to avoid.
Time Consuming Fixes that Will Improve Your Lacrosse Stick in the Long Run
Next, we will analyze some revisions you can make to your lacrosse stick that require a bit more of a time investment. Although these modifications take more effort, they will definitely make a worthwhile difference in the general performance of your lacrosse stick.
8.) Invest in Weatherproof Performance Mesh
One proven method to elevate the consistency of your lacrosse stick is to restring your lacrosse stick with weatherproof performance mesh.
This type of mesh is better able to withstand the harsh elements of the weather, such as rain or snow. If you are located in an area where adverse weather is common, it is to your benefit to invest a little bit of extra money into performance mesh.
Performance mesh retains its pocket shape far better than your average piece of standard mesh. At first, I was not quite a believer in it myself. It was only when I tried my teammate’s performance mesh strung lacrosse stick that I finally bought in to the trend.
This is not to say that standard mesh will not do the job. Every solid lacrosse player can play just fine with standard mesh. However, performance mesh does provide that added consistency to help you lock in the accuracy of your throws every single time.
9.) Find the Right Sized Lacrosse Head for You
Moreover, it is important to consider the width of your lacrosse head. Believe it or not, the width of your lacrosse head has significant implications concerning the quality of your stick skills.
Generally, wider lacrosse heads are geared more toward defensive minded players. The extra width of the lacrosse head expands the catching surface area, which aids in intercepting passes from the offense. The wider lacrosse head also have a sturdier frame, which makes the head more durable and more capable of dishing out forceful checks.
In contrast, narrower lacrosse heads are aimed toward offensive minded players. With narrow lacrosse heads, the ball is much more likely to release straight down the center with every single throw. As a result, shooting accuracy and passing accuracy notably increases.
The narrower lacrosse head does reduce the catching surface area. However, offensive players are typically more skilled at catching anyways, so they are willing to take on that expense.
With this knowledge in mind, it is important for you to weigh these options and determine which type of lacrosse head is best for you. If you struggle with catching, go for a wider lacrosse head. If you just need that extra edge when it comes to throwing precision, go for a narrower lacrosse head.
10.) Determine How Heavy of a Lacrosse Shaft You Prefer
The weight of your lacrosse shaft is another area where you can improve your lacrosse stick.
Certain players prefer to play with a heavy lacrosse stick. I actually fall into this category myself. The reason I personally prefer a heavier shaft as opposed to a lightweight one is because I just like the feel of it. When I play with an extremely lightweight lacrosse shaft, I feel like I’m playing with a toy stick. There are definitely some lacrosse players out there that share this sentiment.
On the other end of the spectrum, there is a collection of players that prefer to play with a lightweight lacrosse shaft. The reduced weight allows players to maneuver their stick around more quickly and throw faster checks. Although this change in speed is hardly noticeable with the naked eye, it is certainly a factor to take into consideration.
If you want to take every measure to ensure that your lacrosse stick is the best it can be, you should test for yourself whether you lean towards heavy lacrosse shafts or lightweight lacrosse shafts.
11.) See Which Type of Handle Material Suits Your Play Style
In addition, the handle material itself can seriously influence the overall feel of your lacrosse stick.
Lacrosse shafts can be comprised from a number of various materials, such as titanium, aluminum, scandium, alloy, or composite. All of these different materials have their own distinct feel. A summary of the typical characteristics of these shaft materials is organized in the table below:
|Material||Type of Finish||Advantage|
|Titanium, Scandium||Slippery, sleek finish||Makes switching your hands for dodging extremely convenient.|
|Aluminum, alloy||Slightly tacky feel||Offers a smooth blend between a textured and slick feel.|
|Composite||Textured finish||Provides the most amount of grip, so tape is rarely needed.|
What type of finish that you prefer on your lacrosse shaft is ultimately up to you. The only way to discover what type of handle finish you like best is to try them out for yourself.
12.) Make the Extra Effort to String the Perfect Channel
The lacrosse channel is one of the most significant aspects of the lacrosse pocket.
The channel is the section of the pocket that guides the ball down the center of the lacrosse head during its release. Ideally, you want the channel to hug the ball just enough to force the ball down the middle track with every throw. This maximizes throwing consistency and accuracy.
A channel that is too tight will cause excessive friction with the ball on its way out, which prolongs the release and causes the ball to throw downward. Too loose of a channel and the ball will not glide down the center on a consistent basis. As a result, your throws will be slightly off kilter.
To find the perfect equilibrium between channel tightness and looseness, you need to have time and patience. You need to frequently tweak the knots on the sidewall pattern to form the channel just right. This process can be frustrating, but it is extremely worthwhile in the long run.
13.) Experiment with Pocket Placement
Another area where you can optimize your lacrosse stick for your specific play style is pocket placement. There are three broad classifications of pocket placement: the high pocket, the mid pocket, and the low pocket. These classifications are illustrated in the following picture:
The pocket placement is a major determinant of how quickly your lacrosse stick will throw. The higher the pocket is placed, the faster the ball will release. This is because the ball has less distance to travel when the pocket is positioned higher on the lacrosse head.
The drawback of a higher placed pocket is that it is rather challenging to string a consistent channel. As a result, players usually have to sacrifice accuracy in order to attain a quicker release.
Pockets that are placed lower on the lacrosse head have their own set of benefits as well. For one, players that frequently one handed cradle will have a much easier time doing so with a low pocket as opposed to a high pocket. Since the pocket already sits low on the lacrosse head, the ball is able to sit at this position when the stick is completely vertical.
Moreover, constructing an ideal channel is painless with low pockets since the stringer has more knots to work with. The biggest disadvantage of the low pocket is its slower release.
The mid pocket is considered the jack of all trades, master of none. It blends the strongest elements of the high pocket and the low pocket into a singular string job. It is essentially an all around pocket.
Only you truly know which type of pocket suits your play style best. If you want to take your lacrosse stick to the next level, it is necessary for you to experiment and figure out on your own what type of pocket placement you prefer.
14.) Play Around with Defined Pockets versus Baggy Pockets
Lastly, the definition of your lacrosse pocket is another possible area that can make your lacrosse stick better.
A defined lacrosse pocket precisely follows the contour of the ball. In this type of pocket, the mesh maintains a great deal of contact points with the ball. This kind of pocket retains its shape and has an extremely consistent release.
A baggy lacrosse pocket is less shapely and construed relative to its counterpart. This type of pocket has reduced contact with the ball. However, the ball is able to shift around in the pocket. This is beneficial for players that prefer to cradle one handed and like to have a bit of mobility in their pocket.
The contrast between a defined pocket and a baggy pocket is shown below:
The knots of the sidewall pattern determine how defined a lacrosse pocket will be. As a result, designing a defined or baggy pocket requires a considerable amount of time to accomplish.
Again, the only way to find out which type of pocket you prefer is trial and error. At the end of the day, you will never know how to improve your lacrosse stick if you don’t go out and experiment!