Update: Previously, we had made an error when installing the pocket.  This error didn’t really effect the performance of the pocket but was worth noting.  Make sure the pocket is installed behind the scoop, not in front as I had done.

Correct way:

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To ensure that the pocket is properly installed, press forward on the tabs on the front of the pocket so they touch the scoop on the head.

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For years, one of the biggest issues for kids first starting to play lacrosse were bad pockets in their sticks. Lots of kids start playing lacrosse using a factory strung stick because thats all they know, thats all their parents would buy them because maybe they didn’t know the difference, the kids don’t know how to string their own sticks or they don’t want to pay to get it restrung, which could be expensive depending on where you go.  Everyone who’s played for a while knows how important your sticks’ pocket is, but just starting out, many kids get frustrated when they can’t grasp the fundamentals and just stop playing.  Although it could be hard to pick up these fundamentals, for some kids, the terrible factory strung sticks are to blame.  Michael from Phantom Lacrosse, a new company thats thinking outside the box, came up with something completely new that could fix this issue for youth players just picking up the game.

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Michael came up with the Phantom Pocket when he took the sidewalls out of his already broken in traditional pocket and felt the ball with the floating sidewalls and how it worked well.  He took this through several rounds of prototyping to get it to a product he trusted would fix the issue of bad pockets for beginners, letting the player focus on honing in their skills and fundamentals without being held back because of the bad pocket in their sticks.

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The Phantom Pocket is made of a soft plastic material with three stiffer “ribs” going down the middle. Michael sent one of the prototypes to me to test out, so I put it in a Gait Torque 3.  The Phantom Pocket fits in any head. Installation was super easy and took me less than five minutes. The pocket is held to the top of the head with four included small bungies that go through the top string holes and attach to itself then gets tied down to the four bottom string holes easily as well.

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Installation:

Step 1: Place the Phantom pocket in the head and feed the first bungie cord through the front of the first top string hole.

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Step 2: Attach the bungie to it’s connected stopper

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Step 3: Repeat steps 1 and 2 for all four top connectors.

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Step 4: Feed the bottom string through the two outside bottom holes of the pocket

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Step 5: Feed the string through the outside holes of the head as well

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Step 6: Loop the strings back in through the middle holes of the head and pocket

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Step 7: Pull the string tight and tie it off

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Performance

When I put a brand new ball in the pocket and started playing wall ball with it, the Phantom Pocket felt unlike any other stick I’ve ever tried, but still familiar as all of my regular motions performed exactly as I expected.  The Phantom Pocket is technically both a high pocket and a low pocket, depending on if you’re cradling two handed (high pocket) or one handed (low), but favors the high pocket placement.

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Throwing with the pocket was very consistent. Every pass or shot threw the same.  The pocket has channel tightly all the way from the scoop to the throat of the stick, giving the ball a nice path to roll in. Catching with it felt decent, but not the best, which was expected since it is made of a plastic material. With hard passes it felt like it could give a tiny bit of a “rebound” but since the pocket is marketed to kids just starting to play, this shouldn’t be an issue.

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Since it is made of a plastic material the pocket has a good grip on the ball although it does slide around in the pocket a bit. The high pocket placement along with the shape of the pocket give a good enough amount of hold on the ball to still be able to do more advanced moves like a toe drag as well as standard dodges.

After testing the pocket a bit with a new ball, I grabbed a greaser out of my garage (this thing was as shiny as greasers get, I think its the standard one I left outside during my ECD Mint review a few months ago) and tested that out with the Phantom Pocket.  The pocket still threw the greaser quite accurately every time but the hold noticeably got worse.  The pocket also performed well with water on it, again still throwing accurately.

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In today’s lacrosse market where there hasn’t really been much innovation (besides the Warrior Warp that I still haven’t tried), there hasn’t been any completely new thing since mesh came around in the early 90s.  I love how Phantom is trying to come up with new things to help grow the game of lacrosse.  The Phantom Pocket performed quite well, and when it is available at the end of the year, I think its definitely a better option than a factory strung stick for young players just starting to play the game of lacrosse.  Another big advantage to the Phantom Pocket is that kids could have a few of them and know that they are all going to perform the same, performing consistently every time they use it, without the need for adjustment.  At the price of just $30, it’s cheaper than getting a head strung with new mesh, which helps parents who don’t want to invest much money into a stick when their kids first start playing.  I wouldn’t personally use the Phantom Pocket or recommend it to advanced players who have been playing the game for a while, but it is a good option for players just learning the game, which is what it was intended for.  This thing isn’t going to “kill stringing and ruin the customization of sticks”, it’s really just a good option to help kids learning the game of lacrosse, which leads to growing the game that we all love.

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