The lacrosse stick you play with now is an entirely different piece of equipment from the original sticks. One type of lacrosse stick had a pocket that “was made of charred wood that was scooped out and shaped, forming a closed pocket just large enough to hold the ball” (livestrong.com). That was improved upon with leather strips, which were strung together with catgut, or another tough fiber. These leather strips created the familiar pocket that all players see today in their modern mesh sticks, but how did the game transition from old-school stringing techniques to new-school mesh? The answer may blend a little fact and fiction.
The story I learned starts with a Navy ensign stuck working laundry duty. Many of his fellow sailors brought lacrosse sticks onto the carrier. They played catch and had pickup games on the main deck whenever they were off-duty, but they quickly developed a problem. Anytime they played in the rain, their leather and catgut pockets shrunk. This caused a lot of consternation because the men spent all of their free time re-stringing their sticks.
While on duty in the laundry room, this Navy ensign was throwing mesh bag after mesh bag into the washing machines. When suddenly he had a light-bulb moment. He “borrowed” a mesh bag and went to his bunk. He replaced the leathers and catgut with mesh cut from the laundry bag, and before he knew it, he had invented the first mesh lacrosse stick! The mesh did not shrink as drastically in the rain, so the sailors did not have to re-string their sticks after a catch. Now, I have no idea if that story is true or not, but it certainly sounds plausible.
Regardless of the story’s veracity, modern mesh pockets became the rage in the early 1990s. They were easier to maintain, but not as easy to throw with. Manufacturer’s quickly compensated. Creating harder mesh pockets that held their shape similar to a traditionally-strung stick. I will attest that many youth players when I started the game had leather and nylon sticks strung in the traditional manner. Now a traditional stick is a rarity, which I find sad. While a mesh stick is far easier to string, a traditional stick takes a lot of time an effort just to make it decent. If you feel the desire to string a traditional stick, the best guide is here: www.e-lacrosse.com/stech41.html. Good luck though, it takes patience to get right.
Also, if you want quality mesh check out www.jimalax.com. I used these guys for years and they never fail to give a solid product.
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