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#StringingHacks: How to Optimize Your Pocket for Your Position
Stringing wasn’t always a priority for Will Madrid. In his early years as a defenseman, Will used a factory-strung stick to protect his team’s net.
It wasn’t until his college coach encouraged him to string his pocket a little differently, based on his playing style and the demands of his position, that he realized stringing was a game-changer -- literally.
“The modifications were like night and day. If I had known years before, the game would have been so much easier.”
Yup, that’s the voice of a stringing atheist turned stringing nerd #preach.
After discovering the massive impact of stringing, Will started learning everything he could. He’d practice on pocket after pocket, learning all the nuances based on type of stick, player and position. Pretty soon, he was stringing sticks for the whole team. He started hosting classes and clinics, and today he’s one of the top stringing experts at STX.
We chatted with the string doctor himself to get the scoop on his magic touch. Here are our biggest takeaways, broken down by position – helping you to dominate and #PlayHuge no matter where you line up on the field:
As a defenseman, playing with a long shaft is a completely different ballgame. You’re constantly battling for ground balls to disrupt the oncoming attack. Because of this, you want to make sure you have a pocket that will help you win the ball every time.
That means you need a high pocket – its deepest point should be closer to the scoop, allowing you to move in swiftly and gain control of the ground ball. Not only will this approach help you to dominate the loose ball, but it will put greater accuracy behind your pass, creating the opportunity for a counter-attack.
For these pockets, I recommend sidewall strings that go from the scoop tip to the throat of the stick. Keeping the top string consistent, create slack by either combining diamonds and stacking them on top of each other sooner, or using more sidewall holes to create a deeper pocket with more mesh in that area. The distance from throat to pocket should be between 6 ½ to 8 inches.
As a midfielder, you want to have a more versatile pocket. While you still need a high pocket to facilitate ground ball play, you also need to be prepared for vertical play more than any other position on the field.
To create a versatile pocket, it should be dropped ½ inch to an inch closer in comparison to a defenseman’s pocket – around 5 to 6 inches from the throat. Tighten the mesh by pulling it ½ inch to 1 ½ inches further down the head, creating a more defined channel for scooping ground balls, while still maintaining accuracy for passing and shooting.
As an attacker, the pocket requires a little more imagination. If you’re the dodging attackman, you'll take more checks than others. To combat this additional pressure, you want to deploy a pocket that is closer to the throat (4 to 5 ½ inches), giving the ball a secure resting place. With the low point closer to the throat, the ball has a better chance of staying in the pocket, even against the long shaft of a defenseman.
If you’re a crease attackman who spends most of his time in front of the cage, you want a pocket that’s shallow and closer to the middle of the head. This will allow you to move the ball out of your pocket with greater speed and momentum, into the back of the opponent’s net (you don’t want the ball lodged in your pocket so deep that a defender has time to disrupt the play!).
Last but certainly not least – the outside shooting attackman. Like the defenseman, you want a higher pocket. However, compared to a defenseman’s pocket, you want to add additional whip. By adding whip, you’ll have a harder shot on target, making it more difficult for the goalie to stop the ball.
Looking for some stringing inspiration? MLL athletes share their preferred stringing styles here.