You can tell a lot about a laxer by the way he strings his pocket. Is he more worried about ripping a corner or protecting a ball? Is he probably an attackman, a middie, a defenseman?
A high pocket is the best place for a middie to mold their pocket. A middie typically carries his stick parallel to the ground. Therefore, a high pocket allows for the ball to sit easily when a middie runs with the ball. Also, a high pocket enables a quick release. Meaning, the ball will catapult out of the head due to less drag. It is a true shooter’s pocket.
“I use a high pocket because I am mainly a shooter,” said Princeton midfielder and All-American Mark Kovler. “I don’t carry the ball too much so I like the pocket right under the shooting strings so the ball releases from the stick fast. This gives the goalie less time to react and see the ball before it leaves my stick.”
A high-set pocket is also perfect for any defensemen. Defensemen do well with high pockets because it is easier to scoop a groundball. The high set pocket also allows for the ball carrier to feel comfortable when extending his arms to throw or shoot.
Another reason why middies and defensemen prefer high set pockets is because it simply makes ball control easier. It makes scooping groundballs easier. It gives better hold and makes throwing fakes easier. It makes shooting with a quick release easier.
All Ivy-League attackman Craig Andrzejewski said he prefers “to use a pocket where the ball can sit real high in the stick when I bring it back far to shoot. If you have a low pocket the ball will slip out on you before the shot and go over the cage.”
One huge downfall, however, is that a high pocket tends to decrease in depth towards the throat of the head. This can be a problem when you attempt to cradle one-handed.
Low pockets are always perfect for ball carriers, i.e. attackmen. One benefit of a low pocket is that it is much easier to cradle one-handed. A low pocket rewards the player with exceptional ball control and protection. The low placement ensures an accurate pass off a dodge to your cutting teammate. There is no wasted time with extending your arms back to throw like you would with a higher pocket. Plus, the risk a high pocket player takes is much larger due to the chance of the ball sailing over another person’s head.
“I like a low to mid pocket with a good amount of whip,” said Joe Walters, attackman for Team USA and the Toronto Nationals. “A pet peeve of mine is pockets that do not have a natural channel, i.e. pockets where the ball rolls around. All of my sticks have a natural channel in the mesh, where no shooting strings are really necessary. Having this channel and whip allows me to have great hold and also helps with shot velocity. The low/mid pocket helps with having a quick release. Also, my pockets are not very deep, which also helps with quick release.”
As mentioned above, a low pocket offers optimal ball protection, so you don’t have to look back to see if the ball is on the ground. Thus, you’ll have more confidence running through titanium checks to the goal.
You should also be aware of certain heads that allow a better low pocket. They are typically narrow and oftentimes canted or off-set. Before the Brine Edge came out in the mid-90’s many players had mid-to-high pockets. That was simply due to the fact that it was incredibly hard to find a head where the ball could sit low. In our opinion, the low pocket has revolutionized the clutch player.
Of course, sometimes the pocket, just like the player, can evolve. Former Maryland defenseman and current Tornoto National Joe Cinosky started his career with a middle pocket that has drifted north as his game has evolved.
“The first stick that I ever had was an STX Excalibur with a navy blue DeBeer C405 shaft and one of the guys who worked at the store actually strung my stick for me on the spot. He strung the stick so the pocket was in the middle, hands down the best stick I ever had. As my game evolved so did my pocket and eventually I made the transition to a high pocket with a whole bunch of whip.”
What do you think? We want to hear from LacrossePlayground.com readers on where they prefer their pockets. Are you a high-, mid-, or low- pocket kind of player?