Breaking In Your Stick: How to Soften Lacrosse Mesh Effectively

many lacrosse sticks with fresh mesh raised in the air

Learning how to soften lacrosse mesh can feel like a daunting task.

The challenge of this might seem intimidating, particularly for those just starting out in lacrosse.

But here’s the thing – mastering this skill is crucial for any serious player. It directly impacts your control over the lacrosse ball and overall performance on the field.

In fact, understanding how to soften lacrosse mesh, can be what separates an average player from a standout one.

The Basics of Lacrosse Mesh and Its Importance

When it comes to the game of lacrosse, one element that often gets overlooked is the mesh. It’s a vital component that forms the pocket in your stick where you catch, carry, and release the ball during gameplay.

A Closer Look at Soft Vs. Hard Meshes

In essence, there are two main categories when we talk about lacrosse meshes – soft mesh and hard mesh. The former provides flexibility right out of its packaging, allowing for quick break-in time but requires regular maintenance to keep it functional.

Hard lacrosse mesh, on the other hand, stands firm with excellent durability over time, though it takes longer to soften up initially.

Diving into Wax And Goalie Meshes

Beyond these basic options, there are specialized versions such as waxed meshes which have been treated with a coating, providing them with added weather resistance while also maintaining good hold on ball control effectively during gameplay.

  1. This type is ideal if you frequently play under varying weather conditions.

  2. Moving onto goalie meshes, they are designed specifically for goalkeepers’ sticks, offering larger diamond sizes and enabling better shot-stopping capabilities.

Enhancing Your Game: How to Soften Lacrosse Mesh Effectively

If you’re seeking to upgrade your lacrosse performance, one thing that can help is making the mesh on your stick softer. Softening the mesh can greatly enhance your ball control and accuracy.

Fabric Softener: An Unconventional Tool for Softening Mesh

The process is simple yet effective – mix fabric softener with warm water. Soak your stiff or rigid mesh in this solution for about half an hour to make it more pliable without causing any damage.

Rinse the entire lacrosse mesh thoroughly under cold water to remove any traces of fabric softener, then allow it to air dry naturally. Avoid wringing or twisting the mesh, as this could compromise its structure.

Busting Tough Threads with the Press & Pound Method

You may be wondering how to soften those hard threads. Enter the “press & pound method.” This technique involves using tools like a pocket pounder or even just your trusty old lacrosse netting.

The method focuses on gently pressing down specific areas within the diamond-shaped holes, resulting in increased flexibility over time. It also helps create the perfect custom pocket shape you desire. However, remember to be patient when working with both hard and soft meshes – rushing the process may leave you with unplayable nets. That is one way to ensure that you waste your money on a new stick!

Understanding Pocket Shape and Its Impact on Gameplay

Your pocket shape can make or break your game. It’s where the lacrosse ball calls home when it’s nestled in your lacrosse stick, dictating how you control, catch, and shoot.

The Role of Pocket Depth

A deep pocket? That gives you a better hold as there’s more surface area for the ball to cling onto. This is ideal if quick dodges are part of your gameplay – there is less chance of dropping that precious cargo mid-move. But be warned: too much depth could throw off accuracy due to increased whip (the angle at which a lacrosse stick throws). So finding balance is key.

If speed over control rings true with you, then shallow mesh pockets might just be up your alley. They offer quicker release times but do compromise on retention.

Pocket shapes aren’t about one-size-fits-all solutions – they should sync with both style and position played. Offensive players may lean towards low-pocket designs enabling fast releases, while defensive counterparts often opt for high pockets offering superior hold during those long passes.

Remember this golden rule: practice makes perfect. Don’t hesitate to experiment until discovering what suits you best, because mastering any type requires time spent hands-on with different configurations.

Decoding the Differences: Hard vs Soft Lacrosse Meshes

Picking between hard and soft lacrosse meshes can seem like a daunting task. However, understanding their unique characteristics makes this decision less intimidating.

The Long-Lasting Charm of Hard Lacrosse Mesh

Hard lacrosse mesh is known for its durability. It might take longer to break in compared to softer ones, but it’s well worth the wait as it offers longevity on the field. This means your pocket will keep its shape longer, ensuring consistent performance during games once the mesh finally softens.

Beyond that, hard mesh also has an upper hand when dealing with changing weather conditions – something not all types of lacrosse mesh can boast about. The catch? Some players find molding their ideal pocket shape somewhat challenging due to initial stiffness.

Ease-of-use Meets Maintenance Needs: Soft Lacrosse Meshes

If you’re looking for immediate playability from your stick or are just starting out in lacrosse, then soft mesh could be more up your alley, thanks to the easier breaking-in process it offers. Their flexibility provides greater ball control right off the bat too.

  1. Soft mesh requires maintenance though, since they lose tension faster than their harder counterparts.

  2. A drastic reaction under different weather conditions may make soft mesh unpredictable during gameplay if not properly maintained.

Maintaining Your Lacrosse Mesh Over Time

Keeping your lacrosse mesh in peak condition is no small feat, but it’s a task that pays off big time. Regular upkeep not only lengthens the lifespan of your mesh but also guarantees steady ball control and passing precision.

Cleaning Your Lacrosse Mesh: The Right Way to Do It

The journey towards maintaining an efficient lacrosse stringing job starts with regular cleaning. A buildup of dirt, grime or moisture can cause the fibers to become less elastic and responsive over time. Mild soap combined with gentle washing will get rid of these contaminants without damaging the material.

Drying after washing is equally important for preserving your netting quality – heat sources or direct sunlight are a strict no-no as they could cause shrinkage or make the threads brittle. Instead, opt for air drying in a well-ventilated space until completely dry.

Paying Close Attention To Wear Signs: Spot Them Early.

A crucial part of maintenance involves regularly inspecting your lacrosse head stringing job for signs such as frayed threads or loose knots which may indicate potential issues needing immediate attention before gameplay gets affected negatively.

If, despite all efforts at care and preservation, you start noticing significant damage on East Coast Dyes (ECD) products used previously, or if performance begins declining, then consider restringing might be necessary sooner rather than later.

Common Pitfalls When Softening Lacrosse Mesh

Softening lacrosse mesh is a delicate operation that must be handled with care. It’s not uncommon for people just starting out, eager to have their equipment ready for use, to make some common mistakes.

The Downside of Rushing the Process

A prevalent misstep in this procedure is hastiness. The softening process demands patience and attention; rushing it could lead you down an undesirable path. If hurried, there’s a risk of damaging your net or ending up with unevenly softened mesh, which can adversely impact ball control. It is a slow process for good reason!

Pounding out pockets with excessive force in pursuit of immediate results should be avoided at all costs. Overzealous pounding might damage the gently woven fibers nestled within your lacrosse pocket and permanently distort its shape, negatively affecting how well you handle the lacrosse ball during games.

Another often overlooked aspect by many players when attempting to soften their nets is ensuring enough drying time before usage. Jumping into play with a wet or dampened net may cause shrinkage once dried off post-gameplay, leading to inconsistencies in field performance due to altered playing conditions.

Common FAQs How to Soften Lacrosse Mesh

Can I use heat (e.g., from a hairdryer) to soften the mesh?

Using heat, like from a hairdryer, is a common method to speed up the break-in process and soften lacrosse mesh. Here’s how to do it safely:

  1. Clean the Mesh First: Before applying heat, ensure the mesh is clean. Dirt or debris can cause uneven heating.

  2. Low to Medium Heat: Always start with a low to medium heat setting to avoid damaging or melting the mesh. Remember, lacrosse mesh, especially if it’s made of nylon or similar materials, can melt or become deformed if exposed to high heat.

  3. Keep it Moving: Don’t focus the hairdryer on one spot for too long. Instead, move it around to evenly distribute the heat. This will help avoid any hot spots that could damage the mesh.

  4. Check Regularly: Periodically touch the mesh to ensure it’s not getting too hot. It should be warm, not scalding.

  5. Combine with Manual Breaking-In: While the mesh is warm, you can also manually manipulate it to help break it in. Using a lacrosse ball to work in the pocket can be effective during this process.

  6. Let it Cool: Once you’ve achieved the desired softness, let the mesh cool down naturally. This will help it retain its new shape and flexibility.

While using a hairdryer can be effective, always be cautious. There’s a fine line between softening the mesh and damaging it. Always start with the least aggressive method (like simply playing with it or using a lacrosse ball) before resorting to heat or other methods.

What material are most mesh fibers made of?

Nylon and other polymers are the most used materials for lacrosse mesh fibers. Performance attributes like as durability, water resistance, and ease of break-in can be affected by the grade and kind of nylon mesh used. Mesh with a variety of coatings has been developed thanks to advancements in materials and technology, with the goals of increasing performance under specific conditions, decreasing weight, and increasing longevity.

Does softening the mesh alter its rebound or throwing characteristics?

Softening lacrosse mesh can alter its rebound and throwing characteristics. Here’s how:

  1. Increased rebound control: Softening the mesh can increase rebound control, allowing the lacrosse ball to retain in the pocket for longer periods. This can be advantageous for goalies who want to have better control over rebounds.

  2. Easier stringing: Soft mesh is generally easier to string than hard mesh. This means that when you soften the mesh, it becomes more pliable and easier to manipulate during the stringing process.

  3. Improved ball retention: Softer mesh can provide better catchability and ball control, longer retention, and easier passing. This can be beneficial for players who want to have a better grip on the ball and maintain control during gameplay.

  4. Elasticity and pocket shape: Some types of soft mesh, like Brine’s soft mesh, promote elasticity in the pocket, which can prevent rebound opportunities. This means that the mesh can help reduce the chances of the ball bouncing out of the pocket during play.

It’s important to note that while softening the mesh can have these effects, it may also come with some trade-offs. For example, softer mesh may be easier to break in and string, but it may not offer the same level of durability as harder mesh. Additionally, the specific characteristics of the mesh, such as the material and construction, can also impact its performance.

Can all positions benefit from a soft lacrosse mesh, or is it position-specific?

Different positions in lacrosse might have varied preferences when it comes to the type of mesh used, based on the unique requirements of their role:

  • Attack and Midfield: Players in these positions often prefer a softer mesh because it provides a quicker release and better ball feel. A soft mesh allows for a deeper pocket when cradling the lacrosse ball, which can be beneficial for maintaining possession while dodging defenders. However, the depth can be a double-edged sword, as it might also lead to less accuracy in quick-stick situations or when releasing the ball rapidly.

  • Defense: Defensive players might opt for a harder mesh due to its durability and consistency. They’re less concerned with rapid ball-handling maneuvers and more focused on checks, clearances, and long passes. A harder mesh can offer a more consistent release for long passes.

  • Goalies: Goalie mesh is distinct and typically much larger. It can come in both soft and hard varieties. Soft goalie mesh provides a deeper pocket which can help with catching and control, but might slow down the clearing passes. Hard goalie mesh offers more rebound but can provide a more consistent release for passes.

That being said, the choice between soft and stiff mesh largely comes down to personal preference. Some players might find that they prefer the consistency of a harder mesh, while others might value the feel and quick release of a softer mesh.

Are there any potential downsides to having too soft a mesh?

Yes, there are some potential downsides to having a mesh that’s too soft:

  • Inconsistency: A very soft mesh might lead to inconsistency in throwing, especially if the pocket depth changes drastically during play.

  • Reduced Accuracy: A super soft pocket can sometimes cause the lacrosse ball to whip more than expected, leading to a reduced shot or pass accuracy.

  • Maintenance: Softer meshes might require more maintenance to keep the pocket’s shape, especially if they stretch out over time.

  • Weather Vulnerability: Soft meshes, especially those without weatherproofing treatments, can become too baggy or inconsistent in wet conditions.

  • Durability Concerns: In some cases, softer meshes might not last as long as harder meshes, especially if they are exposed to rigorous play and adverse weather conditions frequently.

Again, much of this boils down to personal preference and play style. It’s essential to find a balance that works for your individual needs and the specific playing conditions.

Should i play wall ball to help soften my lacrosse mesh?

Absolutely! Playing wall ball is one of the most recommended and effective ways to soften and break in your lacrosse mesh. In fact, not only does it help soften the mesh, but it also helps to form a natural pocket based on your throwing and catching style.

When you play wall ball, the repeated impact of the ball against the mesh helps to loosen up the fibers, making the mesh more pliable over time. The act of catching and throwing helps to create a natural pocket where the ball sits best for your style of play.

Here are some tips when using a wall rebound exercise to soften lacrosse mesh:

  1. Start Slowly: Especially with a new lacrosse stick or freshly restrung head, begin with softer throws to avoid too much whip or inaccuracy.

  2. Vary Your Throws: To get an even break-in, vary the angles and types of throws. Include underhand, sidearm, and overhand throws.

  3. Consistency is Key: Regular wall ball sessions will not only help in breaking in your mesh faster but will also improve your stick skills.

  4. Weather Conditions: Be cautious in very wet conditions. If the mesh gets overly saturated, it might stretch out more than desired. After playing in wet conditions, reshape the pocket to your preference and let it dry naturally.

  5. Maintenance: After each session, inspect the mesh for any signs of wear or tear. Occasionally, adjust and reshape the pocket to ensure it maintains its desired shape.

Remember, while softening the mesh is one goal, improving your skills is another significant benefit of wall ball. So, as you work to break in your stick, you’ll also be becoming a better player!

Wrapping Up On How To Soften Lacrosse Mesh

If you’re into lacrosse, you’ll know that having the right soft mesh can make all the difference in your game. But how do we go about softening our hard lacrosse mesh? The key is to take your time with the process – rushing it could result in unplayable nets.

Choosing Your Softener Wisely

You have several options when it comes to choosing a softening liquid for your lax netting – fabric softener, paint thinner, or even just warm water. Each has its pros and cons depending on what kind of material makes up your mesh pocket.

  1. Fabric softeners are great at breaking tough threads without damaging them.

  2. Paint thinners work quickly but need careful handling due to their strong chemical composition.

  3. Warm water provides gentle treatment suitable for delicate meshes made from materials like woven leather.

Pounding Out The Pockets: Patience Is Key Here

In addition to applying the right solution onto the woven threads, pounding out pockets plays an essential role as well in achieving desired results. However, using excessive force here is one common mistake people often make during this step.

Remember – softly pound away with either tools like a pocket pounder, or simply by engaging in wall rebound exercises with regular usage of a stick handle.

By keeping these points in mind while attempting to soften mesh, you will ensure successful outcomes every single time.

Now that you have the information, it’s time to put it into action! At The Lacrosse Zone, we are committed to helping you improve your skills in every aspect of the game, including mastering techniques like how to soften lacrosse mesh. Check out our other resources for more expert advice on enhancing your gameplay today!

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