So you finally took the initiative to string a lacrosse head on your own. Great! The first hurdle that you have to climb is figuring out what materials you actually need to string a lacrosse head.
The essential materials for stringing a lacrosse head are listed below:
- Unstrung Lacrosse Head
- 22-24″ Top String
- 22-24″ Side Wall Strings (2)
- 6-8″ Bottom String
- Shooting Strings
- Pliers (optional)
Now that you know what these required stringing materials are, I assume you want to know what these materials actually look like. I provided pictures for each of the stringing components listed above so that you know what to look for when actually purchasing these materials. Keep reading further to take a look at these detailed images.
Appearance & Function of the Materials Needed to String a Lacrosse Head
In this section, I will provide a definitive explanation of the physical characteristics and function of each of the materials you need to string your lacrosse head. The subsequent descriptions and images will help you to easily identify the signature characteristics of each of these items prior to purchase.
1.) Unstrung Lacrosse Head
Description: The unstrung lacrosse head is comprised of plastic, enclosing an open face where the pocket will ultimately be. Furthermore, there are a succession of deliberate holes along precise sections in the plastic material. This is totally normal.
Lacrosse heads can either be bought pre-strung or unstrung. If your lacrosse head is currently in the pre-strung form, you will have to strip the strings off until your head resembles the image above.
Be mindful when severing the stringing materials from the lacrosse head, as you may wish to reuse certain materials later down the road.
Function: The unstrung lacrosse head supplies the framework for the eventual lacrosse pocket. The holes fabricated along the plastic of the head serve as anchoring points for where the mesh will be fastened to the plastic head.
Description: The mesh is the nylon material that has a series of diamond configurations throughout the entire structure. These diamond configurations vary depending on what type of mesh you choose to implement into your lacrosse pocket. Certain mesh diamond structures may appear larger, whereas other mesh diamond structures may appear smaller.
The most common type of mesh is 10 diamond mesh. It acquired its name because the maximum amount of diamonds per row in the mesh is ten.
The number of diamonds alternates every row. The first row consists of ten diamonds, the second row consists of nine diamonds, the third row consists of ten diamonds, and so on. This type of mesh comes equipped with fifteen “ten diamond” rows.
Function: The mesh forms the foundation of the lacrosse pocket. This is the portion of the pocket where the ball actually sits in the lacrosse head. The diamond configurations of the nylon material influence how the ball is retained and thrown from the pocket. Particular mesh structures and mesh materials affect ball retainment and throwing capability to varying degrees.
3.) 22-24″ Top String
Description: The top string is a 22-24 inch thin strand of nylon string. The top string occasionally has a plastic tip on the end of the nylon strand. Otherwise, it is standard for the end of the nylon strand to be burnt.
Take care that the top string is at least 22 inches prior to stringing your lacrosse head. If you use a string that does not meet this length requirement, you may find halfway through the stringing process that you do not have enough material to finish up the job. It is far better to have excess length on the top string than not enough.
Occasionally, two nylon top strings are needed for more advanced top string techniques. For stringing novices, I would recommend first mastering the basic fundamental top string. As you progress along your stringing journey, then I would begin to experiment with more advanced stringing techniques that require the use of two top strings.
Function: The top string secures the top of the mesh to the top of the lacrosse head, hence the term top string. The top string must be extremely taut in order to fasten the mesh tightly to the head. If the top string is too loose, the ball will click off the plastic part of the lacrosse head and reduce accuracy.
As previously mentioned, certain top string techniques require two separate nylon strings. The theory is that the use of two nylon strings better fastens the mesh to the top of the lacrosse head, resulting in improved accuracy.
4.) Side Wall Strings (2)
Description: Just like the top string, the sidewall strings are 22-24 inches in length. As opposed to the top string, there are two side wall strings rather than just one. Certain side wall strings also come fitted with a plastic tip, whereas others just come fitted with a burnt tip.
Again, make sure these sidewall strings meet the length requirement. You do not want to have to restart the sidewall stringing process midway through.
Function: The primary function of the side wall strings is to securely fasten the sides of the mesh to the lacrosse head.
The secondary function of the side wall strings is to allow for complete pocket customization. There are an array of knots that can be used to make your own unique side wall stringing pattern.
Each type of knot influences the pocket in a different way. For example, certain knots allow the ball to sit deeper within the pocket. Other knots make the pocket shallower. The sidewall pattern that a stringer elects to use can help to accentuate particular play styles. For this reason, many stringers in the lacrosse community consider the side wall strands to be the most important aspect of the pocket.
5.) Bottom String
Description: The bottom string is the shortest of the thin nylon strings needed to string a lacrosse pocket. The length of the bottom string is typically 6-8 inches.
It is common for stringing novices to confuse the bottom string with the top string and the side wall strings despite the difference in length. This is why I harped on utilizing the correct length for the top string and the side wall string before. If you mistakenly use the bottom string as the top string or the side wall string, it will cause problems later on.
Function: The main purpose of the bottom string is to secure the bottom of the mesh to the lacrosse head. Without the presence of the bottom string, the ball will simply drop out of the pocket to the ground.
Furthermore, how tight or loose the bottom string is a large determinant of how deep the ball will sit within the lacrosse pocket. A loose bottom string increases the depth of the lacrosse pocket, whereas a tight bottom string results in a shallower lacrosse pocket. It is crucial that you find the middle ground between loose and tight to ensure that the depth of your lacrosse pocket falls within the legal limits.
6.) Shooting Strings
Description: Lacrosse shooting strings can be comprised of nylon laces, synthetic, or cotton. These strings in particular are much wider than the thin nylon strands used for the top string, sidewall strings, and bottom string.
Generally, shooting strings are roughly the same length as the side wall, measuring anywhere from 22-24 inches. The length that players like to cut their shooting strings is highly variable relative to the fixed length of the top string or the sidewall strings.
Certain players prefer to keep their shooting strings lengthy to leave room for adjustment in the future. Other players prefer to cut their shooting strings short to prevent the ends from flailing around and disrupting their game play.
Function: The basic function of the shooting strings is to influence pocket hold and throwing accuracy. The placement and tightness of the shooting strings plays an integral role in how well the ball will stay in your pocket.
As a general rule of thumb, the lower the shooting strings are placed, the more pocket hold you will have. This also applies to the level of tightness of the shooting strings. The tighter the shooting strings are tied, the greater the pocket hold.
The degree to which your lacrosse pocket is able to hold onto the ball influences how high or low your lacrosse stick will throw. A greater degree of pocket hold prolongs the amount of time for the ball to completely release from the stick. The additional time of the ball remaining in the pocket translates into a lacrosse stick that throws lower.
For instance, say that your lacrosse stick is passing and shooting lower than you prefer. A quick fix to this problem would be to loosen up your shooting strings to reduce the hold of your pocket. This allows for an earlier throwing release, which translates into your lacrosse stick passing and shooting higher.
Description: Just a regular old pair of scissors will do.
Function: The scissors are used to clean up all of the loose string ends once the lacrosse pocket is finished. Loose lacrosse strings tend to thrash around during game play, especially when you are cradling. Most players choose to cut these strings short to avoid this problem.
Be careful not to cut the strings too short. It is better to leave a bit of extra wiggle room just in case you want to adjust some knots in the future.
Description: Any average lighter will work.
Function: The lighter is also used for cleanup purposes once the pocket is finished. After cutting the strings, most players burn the ends. This is to prevent the strand ends from frazzling.
The frazzling is more of a pet peeve than anything else. The majority of players do not find the frayed ends of lacrosse strings aesthetically appealing.
Description: A normal toolbox pair of pliers will work.
Function: Pliers help stringers to feed the string into hard to reach places. This was more of necessity in the early days of stringing when all of the holes on the lacrosse head were tiny. Nowadays, lacrosse companies have enlarged the openings on their lacrosse heads to better cater to stringers.
Description of the Various Types of Stringing Materials
As aforementioned there are distinct classifications for several of the stringing materials listed above. Each of these particular subcategories have their advantages and disadvantages. These strengths and weaknesses will be discussed below.
There is an assortment of different lacrosse meshes that players have the benefit of choosing from. But what do these different meshes do?
Standard Hard Mesh: For years this mesh has been the go to choice for lacrosse players everywhere. This mesh is characterized by its nylon material and ten diamond rows.
This universal type of mesh requires a bit of a break in period, however, it is pretty consistent once it reaches game ready status. Standard hard mesh is also one of the cheaper options on this list.
Performance Mesh: Performance mesh is advertised as a superior form of hard mesh produced from higher-caliber materials.
This type of lacrosse mesh took the lacrosse world by storm after its initial release by StringKing. Since then, nearly every major lacrosse company has adapted their own version of performance mesh. Due to its supposed higher-caliber ingredients, performance mesh is a bit on the pricier side.
Soft Mesh: Soft mesh is exactly as it sounds. This type of mesh is softer than your traditional hard mesh. The main attraction of this mesh is that it comes game ready right out of the packaging. There is little to no break in period with this kind of lacrosse mesh.
The main problems with this mesh are its durability and consistency. The soft material used to manufacture this kind of mesh is not meant to stand up to season after season of abuse. Not to mention that soft mesh does not bode well with adverse weather.
6 Diamond Mesh: This mesh is defined by its nylon material and six diamond rows. Since there are so few diamonds per row, the mesh diamonds are substantially larger in this kind of mesh.
Certain lacrosse players prefer 6 diamond mesh because it offers a better feel when the ball is in the stick. This kind of mesh also has a relatively speedy break in period due to the large size of its diamonds.
The main drawback is that an advanced stringer is required to adequately integrate 6 diamond mesh into a lacrosse pocket.
Wax Mesh: This type of mesh has wax infused into the nylon material. The waxy material is meant to better stand up to the brutal elements of nature, such as rain or dirt.
This type of mesh was popular for a time when East Coast Dyes was first on the come up. Now this mesh has taken a backseat to performance mesh in popularity.
My Personal Recommendation: My personal favorite mesh is performance mesh. If you do decide to go the performance mesh route, be certain that you do your research before investing a substantial amount of cash.
There are two common types of nylon to apply to your lacrosse pocket. What is the difference between these stringing materials?
Standard Sidewall String: This type of string is the typical kind of nylon utilized for you standard lacrosse pocket. The thickness of this string falls within the middle of the spectrum.
Crosslace: This type of string is commonly used for traditional pocket stringing jobs. This string is thinner than your average sidewall or top string. Although it is easier to thread this string through the holes on the lacrosse head, it comes at the expense of durability.
My Personal Recommendation: I would highly suggest working with standard sidewall string to create your lacrosse pocket. Although it may be tempting to use crosslace to ease the stringing process, the reduced sturdiness of the nylon strands is not worth it in my opinion.
There are three predominant materials used to produce shooting strings. These three different types of shooting strings are listed below.
Nylon Laces: The nylon lace is essentially a thicker version of the sidewall string. This type of shooting string is regularly used to move up the catch point of the pocket, forcing an earlier throwing release.
Additionally, nylon laces provide a characteristic snappy release. The ball snaps off of the nylon lace on its way out so that the player is able to “feel” every pass or shot they take.
Synthetic: The synthetic lace resembles a standard hockey lace, except it is made with synthetic material. Synthetic lace lie flat against the mesh. For this reason, there is no snappy release associated with these types of shooting strings. The throwing release is entirely smooth throughout.
Cotton: Cotton lace also resembles a standard hockey lace, except it is made with cotton material. Like synthetic lace, cotton rests flat on the mesh which results in a smooth release.
My Personal Recommendation: I almost always use cotton lace to string my lacrosse heads. I prefer to have a smoother release rather than a snappy release. Cotton laces are my preferred type of shooting lace over synthetic laces because I have had durability issues with synthetic laces in the past.
The Convenience of String Kits
Many lacrosse retailers sell all of the materials you need to get started on stringing your lacrosse head in one combined package. These string kits include all off the strings that you need at all of the correct lengths. So if the prospect of purchasing all of these stringing materials is too confusing, I would recommend buying a lacrosse string kit.
The underlying flaw behind this method is that you are not able to customize the mesh and stringing color way exactly to your liking. For this reason, you may want to skip out on the string kit if customizability is high on your list of stringing priorities.
Where to Purchase Lacrosse Head Stringing Materials
Every online major lacrosse retailer sells lacrosse head stringing materials. Here is a list of some reputable lacrosse sites to purchase lacrosse head stringing materials from:
- Stylin Strings
- Lacrosse Monkey
- Lacrosse Unlimited
The Average Price of Lacrosse Head Stringing Materials
I collected price data on lacrosse head stringing materials from a few of the reputable online lacrosse retailers listed above. I compiled the data findings into the table below:
|Stringing Material||Price Range||Source|
|Lacrosse String Kit||$20-35||stylinstrings.com|
|26″ Piece of Top/Sidewall/Bottom String||$1||sportstop.com|
|Shooting Lace (3 Pack)||$4||lacrossemonkey.com|
Is It Worth It To Buy Stringing Material In Bulk?
At first, I would recommend only buying the necessary materials to string one lacrosse head. Stringing a lacrosse head can be a tricky endeavor. For this reason, some stringers give in to frustration and forego their stringing aspirations in the middle of their first try.
I would get a few stringing experiences under your belt prior to investing a large sum of money into excess stringing supplies. If you know for sure that you will be stringing lacrosse heads in the future for yourself and your teammates, then it would make much more sense to go ahead and buy in bulk. Stringing material price does drop markedly when you purchase them in the form of spools.