by Matt Zash | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online | Zash Archive
I play defense for my middle school lacrosse team. I currently am using hard mesh but was wondering if I should switch to soft because of the easier ability to catch. If you could email me back when you have the time that would be greatly appreciated.
-- Sean Bloos, Waxhaw, N.C. (Age 13)
Hard mesh usually breaks in and gets much softer within a few practice sessions, so don't be so quick to switch. You might want to explore some "break in" options before undergoing plastic surgery. Here's a tip or three that could save you some extra cash.
1. Before using a new strung head, I work the pocket over with the barrel end of a Louisville Slugger. This softens and stretches the mesh. If the mesh is still too tough, I'll add a little water to the pocket to stretch it out. Beware: if you soak the pocket, you will experience the same effect as if you played in a downpour. The next morning you will have zero pocket.
2. Some of my old teammates at Duke rubbed shaving cream into their mesh and let it sit overnight. This achieved drastic results, and should be used as a second to last resort.
3. Experiment a little. If your last option is to gut your head and put in soft mesh, you might as well try a few things. Who knows, you might find a far better method than anything I've come up with. I've heard of someone using paint thinner to break down the fibers. I don't know how that worked out. Just please keep it safe.