Your jeans have pockets, pool tables have pockets and so do lacrosse sticks. The pocket refers to the strung area around the head of the stick; in women’s lacrosse, the pocket is a lot shallower than for men. This requires you to handle the ball with more finesse -- and to avoid picking up your brother or boyfriend’s stick for any kind of refereed match to avoid the risk of a one-minute suspension.
If you are playing in the field, your pocket needs to be strung with traditional materials; a mesh pocket made of prefabricated nylon webbing is not allowed for field players, U.S. Lacrosse notes. So obtain a stick with an approved pocket or string your own head with four or five leather or synthetic thongs running longitudinally. Add eight to 12 stitches of cross-lacing, typically of nylon laces, and a maximum of two shooting/throwing strings, usually hockey skate laces.
Be prepared for a pregame stick check to see that you don’t have extra thongs -- as well the possibility of a challenge by the rival coach or opposing players during the game asking the umpire to have a quick look-see of your pocket and stringing. After soggy days, stuff your pocket with a ball of newspaper so that it retains its shape as it dries.
The pocket has to be sufficiently shallow so that the top of the ball peeks above the top of the wooden or plastic sidewall when you hold the stick horizontally and even as you press on the ball lightly. The pocket also needs to allow the ball to move freely laterally and longitudinally within the entire pocket, note the official rules for women’s and girl’s lacrosse. The goal of these rules is to allow an opponent to be able to dislodge the ball from a stick without “an excessively forceful check,” U.S. Lacrosse states.
Width and Shape
The pocket can be at the most 15 to 16 centimeters -- no more than 6 inches -- in terms of the inside width at the top of a wooden stick, typically preferred by female players, and 16 centimeters for a molded-head stick, which can be made of plastic, composites and various synthetics. The pocket needs to be roughly triangular in shape with an inside width tapering to around 7 centimeters or 2 3/4 inches at the bottom quarter of the head, near the throat. The length can range from 25.4 to 30.5 centimeters, or 10 to 12 inches, for molded heads.
You can work with a mesh pocket if you are standing in the goal. You are also allowed six or seven longitudinal thongs, again of leather or synthetics, as well as cross lacing. If you have some cute, colorful shoelaces, these can be perfectly legal as shooting/throw strings. Just do not change your stick with a field player, as her stick will then not meet specifications, U.S. Lacrosse points out. While the ball needs to be able to move freely within the pocket, it can nestle deeply as compared to the field stick; it doesn’t need to peek above the sidewalls of a horizontally held stick. Make your pocket as deep as you want, remembering that you still want it shallow enough for a quick outlet pass to a streaking teammate.
An award-winning writer and editor, Rogue Parrish has worked at the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun and at newspapers from England to Alaska. This world adventurer and travel book author, who graduates summa cum laude in journalism from the University of Maryland, specializes in travel and food -- as well as sports and fitness. She's also a property manager and writes on DIY projects.