As a player, your lacrosse stick is possibly your most important piece of equipment. If your stick doesn't give you the right ball feel, hold, whip, or throw the way you need it to, you won't be able to showcase your talent and help your team win. Many players spend significant time deciding which head to get, but neglect what is really important: the material used to string up the pocket. Your stringing material affects the way your stick shoots, throws, catches, and holds. Don't just grab any stringing kit when you buy your new head. Instead, consider the following and get the kit that will help you excel.
Soft mesh is a basic mesh with no wax coating. This means that the mesh requires no break-in and will be game-ready the moment you string it up. Because soft mesh is so soft and hangs like a bag from the head of the stick, it makes for easy catching. As long as the ball hits the mesh, it will nestle itself down nicely into your pocket. This makes soft mesh an ideal mesh for beginning players. Soft mesh also has a lot of hold and whip, making it popular with indoor players, as well.
Hard mesh is a stiffer mesh that usually has some kind of wax coating. Because of the stiffness of the mesh, you'll need to throw and catch a lot of balls to break-in your pocket once it's strung. However, the mesh will hold its shape and give you a much more consistent pocket than soft mesh. Hard mesh is also much more weather-resistant than soft mesh, so your pocket won't lose it shape or become illegal in wet conditions. Hard mesh comes in different sizes, measured by how many diamonds it has across each row. The general rule of thumb is that the more diamonds a mesh has, the less hold and smoother release it has. So a ten-diamond mesh would have a smooth release but offer little hold, while a six-diamond mesh would offer superior hold and a less-consistent release.
Traditional stringing consists of leather strips strung vertically in the lacrosse head connected by cross-lace that creates a sort of webbing to form a pocket. The traditional pocket combines the soft smoothness of soft mesh with the pocket consistency of hard mesh. The stringing itself can be a lot more time consuming or expensive, though, and the leather runners have a tendency to stretch when they get wet, making it less-than-ideal for wet weather.
Whether you're a beginner looking for your first new stick or a seasoned veteran, choosing the right material for your pocket will help you take your game to the next level. Try out some different sticks at your local lacrosse store, like Breakaway Lacrosse, and find the stringing that works for you.