Hey guys, John here from Space Coast Stringing. Just a quick introduction: I’ve grown up on the East Coast of Florida, home of some of the newer Lacrosse programs (and the Space Program, hence the name “Space Coast”). I helped start the club team at Satellite High School my sophomore year along with some buddies from the football team, which developed into a full varsity sport the next year. Our program has had its ups and downs since then but it’s cool to see how much the sport has grown since I started playing.
I got settled into goalkeeper because of a pre-existing knee injury from football. This turned out to be a huge blessing because despite the mass of welts and bruises on the entire front of my body after every practice, I enjoyed it. That summer some guys I knew from other High School teams invited me to join the club team they were starting up, the Brevard Jays.
That team was probably the best team I ever played on because we were so excited to play, we didn’t worry about winning or losing. Yeah, winning was awesome, but we were just happy to be throwing around with each other. That summer really gave me the confidence, and the peace of mind to be an effective goalkeeper and leader on my team. It’s important to remember that summer ball is the time to learn and have fun. For me, summer ball was the time that I learned it was ok to let a goal in; I just needed to work harder and stop the next one. It’s so vital for new goalies to learn this since you’ve probably got 12 more games that weekend to focus on, not one goal to worry about.
To prepare I decided to invest in a quality goalie stick. There were no lacrosse retailers within 12 hours of where I lived and I was on a tight budget, so I turned to the Lacrosse Forums (shout out to all you TLFers out there) to find a quality stick at a good price. After a lot of searching and haggling, a former goalie from Loyola, Alex Peaty, gave me a deal on an all black STX Eclipse (affectionately named “the black hole” by my teammates). I remember my first practice with that stick, it was like a whole new game. I went from using a goal master with the factory pocket, to a 3 ball deep, professionally strung, college quality stick. It was like night and day. No one in the area really knew how to string so I, always a gear head in whatever sport or hobby, took it upon myself to learn how to string from the knots and tricks Alex used on that eclipse.
That turned into a passion for stringing. Since then, I have strung hundred of heads for players all over the country, even today still using those little tricks from my pockets.
Fast-forward a few years. My senior year, I blew out my knee again in the middle of a game. Of course, I was stupid and played through it, hurting it further. I was forced to hang up my cup for good after that season, but happily attended Harding University (the same place Neil and George met, small world) to further my education and my faith. Yeah, it sucked I couldn’t play anymore, but you’ve just got to take life as it comes and use every circumstance to the fullest.
That brings us to why I am here; today, I have a 2016 version of that stick that really changed the game for me. I’m going to teach you a few tricks I learned from that first stringing I got. We start with the head; the STX Eclipse, the head I learned to string on. This is, in my humble opinion, the best goalie head in the game. The history and heritage behind it, the size and stiffness, and the quality pockets it yields are just a few reasons why the eclipse is the head of choice from youth keepers to John Galloway himself.
This beauty is paired with some 12 diamond East Coast mesh. It’s really awesome to see how big these guys have gotten. I remember when they were just a couple of guys making some sweet dyes on TLF, and now look at them! Anyway, when stringing a goalie head, there are a few issues you’re going to have to face; one is the battle between wanting a shallower, channeled pocket for hold and accuracy, and a deeper, baggier pocket which limits rebounds. There are a few ways you can solve this and they all have to do with how it’s strung. The first is the top string. I like to keep the top of the mesh as tight as possible. This keeps it from lipping and produces a consistent throw. By only using 9 out of the 11 top diamonds, you can really get that thing taut. This will also help develop the channel as you string diagonally to get to the main 12D row. Now onto the sidewall. The secret here is a combination between tension and knots used. To develop a channel in any pocket, you want to keep the corners tight by pulling the mesh down, creating something like a “V”, leaving the middle area loose; this where the ball will track.
There are 3 or 4 knots most people use; interlocks (I), knots (K), special interlocks (SI), and 1’s (1, 2, 3 etc.). Each pulls down the mesh in a different way, and by understanding how each works in a pattern, you can string a solid pocket in any head. We’re going to start out with K’s to pull the top few diamonds really tight. This will start our channel. After a few K’s, we start with the 1SI’s. We’re going to do these down the rest of the head all the way to the bottom. I’ve started using these double interlock SI’s (DSIS) in order to really keep the mesh tight against the plastic, this is really going to help form the shape of the channel as it breaks in!
This brings us to our final channel variable, the bottom string. A tight bottom string will pull the mesh down, the tension adding to the shape of the pocket and helping aid the channel formation. It’s that simple! A long bottom string might give you a deeper pocket, but it will often cause your pocket to bag out into a bowl which destroys your channel.
Now shooters; a well strung pocket really doesn’t need that much adjusting from shooters, so I like to keep mine pretty loose so you get a consistent, smooth, hook-free throw. For this stringing, I used a StringKing Grizzly sidewall/shooter kit. It’s also cool to see how far these guys have come, they sent me one of their first pieces of mesh over 4 years ago and now they’re making their own heads and shafts! A nylon and 2 straights is all she needs, and the Black Hole V.2 is ready to make some saves and throw some outlets.
I have this beauty sitting on a TRUE LZ 6.0. This thing is wicked light and has a really cool flex that I think can help goalies absorb some of the energy from a shot. When you think about the physics of being a goalie, the energy of the shot has to go somewhere, or it will rebound out. Soft hands and a deep pocket can help limit rebounds, and having a shaft that can flex with the shot can also absorb some of that impact, eliminating rebounds! Go check out all of these guys, they’re making some rad products!
There you have it, my summer stick. Hope that you’ve enjoyed this, and don’t forget to follow all of these people on Instagram and Twitter!