|Rock-it Pocket News
THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS (02/18/13)
THE SPIDER AND THE HAWK
I spent most of the last weeks with a ‘Spider’, the pocket we (RP) have been trying to get ready for the Valentine’s day Spider ‘launch’. We got it up on facebook and our computer froze. That’s all I know, and then I sort of left that current, most important process like a bad habit, and I spent the whole weekend ‘nesting’ with a Hawk, and she is a pretty insistent little ‘mistress’, I must say. Meanwhile I am confident that The Spider is almost comfortable with and in its new web at this point, and at any rate it is ON the web now. The Hawk is not quite ready for flight just yet.
THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS (Laugh-In)
I learned one new stringing thing this week, and thought a lot about another that I already knew but have pondered incessantly lately.
DUMBASS SYNDROME (again)
I was always a bit of a ‘hole hater’ as far as lots of holes in the lacrosse head for extra stringing potential, etc. goes. I guess I always just thought it was a way for normal folks like me and kids to get perhaps more confused than they might already be. Now that I have strung a bunch of different ones (head models) kind of back to back I realize that we (stringers) are in truth, free to use or skip any hole we choose, and holes remove weight as a fact, so in the end I am a ‘whatever floats your boat hole’ kind of guy. Just give me nice holes for my leathers, and if you don’t, I will make them become that anyway. I do not care or suppose that one thing is perfection for all.
THE GRASSHOPPER SYNDROME
The thing I already knew, or should I say always believed but thought about incessantly this past week was that each different head model will tell you how to pocket it, that is if you listen closely and look even closer. That also does not mean you can’t have whatever sort of conglomeration that might suit any given player. Yes, that’s right. It’s all-good.
That’s it. I have but nine, well, actually 8 days remaining until I begin my next most important project wherein I will attempt to ‘stretch my coaching legs’ SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDWEST. I have known about this adventure forever, and I had all the intentions to get all my ‘shopping’ done and ‘presents’ wrapped early, but, and like Christmas, all of a sudden there it is, and I mean right there, and, how late do the brain-stores stay open?
LET’S GET BIZZY (Arsenio Hall)
Well, it’s here. It is lacrosse season. It is not about to start. No more getting ready to get ready. I had the pleasure today of being around and watching my ‘Alma Mother’ CSU Lacrosse team play an early season ‘home’ game in Loveland, a mere 15 miles or so from the Actual home Fort. It was a pretty lovely February afternoon, and I got most all of the hugs I could possibly need or even want. I love that part.
THE WILD WEST LIVES
It was a very interesting game. It sounds a little weird, but if a high level college game that you win 5-4, one in which you trailed 4-1 in the second half with no momentum going on, can ever be described as any kind of ‘easy’, this one might fit. After it was 4-1 for the bad guys from the other side of the Rockies, the LaxRams just surged, and moved through the task at hand, and well before the end the ‘Fish’ blew a hole in the (Mustang?) defense just the way Coach drew up and then called. The wannabe’s never really got another good look at the Ram cage after that, and, when all was said and done, it just looked like the Rammies rode altogether, family style, and off into the sunset, already thinking about the next challenges. It did not look like, “Phew, we made a clean getaway” or anything like that. Not exactly business as usual, but it was in fact business as usual just the same. However, 60 minute 5-4’s will age you faster than being president did for Abe Lincoln, I can tell you that.
BENCH ME COACH, PLEASE!
I have just one ‘Grumpy Old Man’ thing. Well, maybe a couple, but one will do for now, We need a lot more bench. I do not mean depth. There are plenty of gold numbers out there that can play golden enough for me to be sure. I am talking about the 11th man or whatever. Pro-activity on the sideline can never have a statistical number directly associated to it, but I am saying some rookie Rammie needs to give Matt Hamm or Sean Byrne a call to talk over some CSU ‘family business’. That’s all I got, well for now.
The other day my 13 year-old, Jordan looks me right in the eye, and he can do that now, and he asks, “What do people think when they see me (bopping madly up and down to the music in the car)? My response was something to the affect that they would think you are a normal, healthy, maybe even happy kid. But then I wondered, what do they think of the sixty something, geriatric styled geek sitting next to him and trying to ‘keep up’?
Jordan just turned 13 as I said, and over the last year he has decided to play organized lacrosse for the first time. That pleases me so much. That might surprise some, that this will be his first lacrosse team, but the much more attractive side of my kids’ family is from Peru, and futbol isn’t a sport, it is, of course, the sport in every other country in the world. Well, except Canada, eh? Yeah, maybe Jordan is starting late, especially in light of the fact that he is ‘my’ son. Obviously he has been exposed to lacrosse from his birth onward but I have never pushed it on either he or George.
I also know that he will be playing with kids who have played much more than he, but there are no expectations for him at/on his entry level team either. This (Jordan’s) less experience factor does not worry me. It is never too late to start. I am living proof of that, and the fact is that he could pretty much play whatever game he might choose, and I’m thinking that coach would be glad to have him.
BOY IS MY FACE GREEN
I confess that somewhere deep in me I want very much to have the chance to coach one of my son’s teams. The sport mattered to everyone else (as in HE knows nothing about soccer, OH MY GOD), but to me it’s all the same. Coaching is helping ‘them’, whatever them is, to get better, and they must have fun doing it. I perhaps don’t know all the proper training techniques for pretty much any sport, but I know I can coach and somehow help any player or team of any type or game, at least one that has a mission in mind.
When Jordan confirmed his desire to play lax I signed him right up. They asked me if I would be interested in helping out with coaching, and I said yes, that I would, but it was a little late in the game, and when the official email came out for all to see, and with all the coaching positions directed, I apparently couldn’t make the coaching cut, and I was listed as the third assistant for Jordan’s ‘Blue’ or whatever team. I was not shocked but I was disappointed. I am glad that his team has sufficient coaching.
I YAM WHAT I YAM (Popeye) FIND ANOTHER WAY TO GO GREEN
I politely (not so much) declined the invitation and the free green jacket that comes with being assistant coach. I am either too young or too old to just shag balls as a coach. As a father I do not need to spend every available minute watching him do the most necessary drills, etc. I do not have time, nor is that where the thrill comes for me. I connect with him constantly. That is what excites me. Well, that, and knowing he wants me to coach him. I adore him, and I know I can most contribute to this team if I can in any way help Jordan in the seeking of the sound of his own joyful lacrosse noise. I already have to constantly remind myself that he is barely a teenager.
Besides, I already have lots of ‘green jackets’ in my closet.
BY GEORGE, I THINK HE’S GOT IT!
My nine year-old, George is just beginning to play ‘organized’ basketball for the first time with his 4th grade team. I can’t believe how much fun it is to watch these kids play, unlike some other things….. like, say….girl’s basketball, for example. Truthfully, watching young ladies playing actual basketball games has always made me think a little about Hairy Carry, and I don’t mean the baseball guy.
So, my question is, if no one keeps any kind of score for these 4th grade boys b-ball games, then why are all these people sitting there with notebooks and pens/pencils poised at all times. Am I missing some part of the message?
A STRINGER'S JOURNAL - "SPIDER POCKET" part 2 (02/13/13)
THE FOOL ON THE HILL (The BEATLES)
In the summer of 2000 I built the Rock-it Pocket ‘dream’ home/factory building on my 35 acres that overlook Ft. Collins, Colorado. We are still here, thank you. It is an edifice complete with stringing stations for the stringers, and resplendent with a concrete angled throw wall inside. In light of all this I have somehow managed to hole myself up recently in the ground level basement in my home/ living house with a boom box and an old Zeiliss table vice I had laying around for about 35 years and no one ever uses. The room that was to be my boys’ ‘man-cave’ has quickly evolved into MY ‘man cave’. Sorry boys, you’ll have to use the tower. I stand, I string, right here, right now. It is pretty much the only room in our house WITHOUT a view. Fits me well.
I’VE GOT BLISTERS ON MY FINGERS! (John Lennon as a BEATLE)
Something has changed in me fundamentally, almost monumentally it would seem, and in the last month or so I have (re)gone pocket crazy. There is no real explanation other than the fact that what was happening to me seemed at first a little distant, and yet somehow totally (almost) familiar at the same time. I have strung more complete lacrosse stick pockets start to finish in the last month than I probably had in several years combined. My fingers and hands were a little weak and perhaps rusty at the start, or is that crusty? I feel like I pull on that string a little harder as time goes on, and that I get a little better (at actually stringing) every day.
PARTY LIKE IT’S 2013
Anyway, I did not foresee this stringing, pocket thinking frenzy thing. It would be naïve or even stupid for me to think that the original momentum or force that came over me wasn’t triggered by new 2013 pocket rules (NCAA), but I guess this has been lurking someplace deeper, too. I feel freer and more excited than I have in a while, and my pocket mind will not sleep right now. I know I am relishing new pocket challenges. Bring them on.
MAN IN THE POCKET MIRROR
So, I have strung as many sticks in a month as our stringer dudes can do in probably a little more than a day. I spend hours on every pocket. This is not production line stuff. I NEVER was that fast doing Rock-it Pockets anyway. Our stringers are faster and better than me. Speed was not ever my focus. My son Mike mostly runs Rock-it Pocket these days, and every once in a while he lets me feel like I’m still in charge, too. He is the face book/web site mechanic Rock-it Pocket dude, especially now that Dylan moved home to Seattle. Mike regularly scours the internet and sometimes he shows me these Rock-it Pocket copies that kids around the country do. Some of them are just amazing. How do they do that? I am the ‘inventor’, and to this day it remains an adventure for me to make the left side exactly the same as the right on a single lacrosse head. I am not capable of copying anything, and I ain’t that great at following directions or instructions either. Everyone always wants me to get upset about it (copiers), but truthfully my first response remains ‘flattered’, and not fired up. My patent has been a very good watchdog for a very long time.
BOY’S GOTTA HAVE A DREAM (reprise)
I am currently working on the research and development part of what I think I am calling the ‘Spider’ pocket. It is a Rock-it Pocket, no doubt, but I am trying to build a totally legal (whatever division), really high pocket, one that hugs the ball up top and allows it to rock the ball up there. It is deepest in the highest part of the head. I have taken out a great deal of pocket weight, and the numbers are very close to hard mesh when both are put on a scale. It will also play lighter than any previous Rock-it Pocket just because I have opened up so much of the headspace, eliminating some of the air drag I would think, and that would go right along with the ‘lighter factor’ of less material. I want this ‘Spider’ to pocket itself in a web as high and deep as possible, yes, and/but also with as little or as much whip as the player might want. If he wants it to touch plastic on release, it’s a tiny tweak to go any way he wants.
YOU MUST WHIP IT, WHIP IT GOOD (Devo)
High pockets can tend to be temperamental and very ‘whippy’. I tried to make it so that if a player wanted a high pocket, a ton of hold, and with virtually no whip as well, then he could with the Spider style. He can have deep hold and a quick release, too. The Spider can do that. If he wants more ‘whip’, that can always be easily added.
At any rate I am trying to Keep-It-Simple-(for I am)-Stupid, and with an emphasis on less stringing material for any and all referees to have to fuss over and inspect.
THIS IS NOT A DOG
The Spider rocks the ball IN the pocket up top and right in the channel. The ball doesn’t move side to side. The Spider is different from the ‘Dog’. There are no hockey laces in the Spider. That’s right, everybody take a deep breath…there are no hockey laces. Laces are usually very lightweight and all, but at the same time they have a lot of surface area if you think about it. Truthfully, I have never been that crazy about them (hockey laces). Well, I am sure they are great for lacing up hockey skates.
The spider captures the ball in its web. It (ball) will never touch plastic when cradled. The Dog on the other hand has a lot of hockey lace and will roll side to side a little, which is something many players in fact do like.
I hear the Spider ‘coming out party’ starts on Valentine’s Day. The problem is that right now I am the only one who can actually string this ‘Spider’ style, and we all know how that slows down things.
HEAH COME DA JUDGE (Flip Wilson)
PAGE 2 (Paul Harvey)
The boys in the back (our very professional pocket technicians) will get it quick. Ultimately the Player will be the Judge…… I’m happy.
I leave to go on my ‘guest’ coaching expedition in 17 days. Can’t wait to preach to (and work again with) one of my favorite choirboys. CAN’T WAIT.
A STRINGER'S JOURNAL - "SPIDER POCKET" part 1 (02/06/13)
THE STRINGER MAKES THE POCKET SING
All of this rule making that has been and is still ongoing with last second balks, back-ups, etc. certainly has the world of lacrosse spinning around. Anyway, I am totally energized by this process. Can’t wait now to see what they come up with next. My continuing thought is that stringers are not stupid (except perhaps this one right here):). IT (lax head) is just a fairly generic piece of plastic when all is said and done. The magic is what you put inside of it, and the entire 4” string placement and the wider throats for X models, etc. will not keep the stringer man from somehow finding his pocket home in whatever kind of stickhead you might make him use.
I CAN’T GO FOR THAT, NO CAN DO (Hall and Oates)
Rock-it Pocket was at the convention in Philly a few weeks ago. A few years ago it was quite different, but it’s still pretty cool, and lots if no longer all the people go. One group that is mightily represented at the big convention is the ones that wear stripes during games (officials). They all hang like family at these deals and when you (I) bump into them they all always have something to say (to me). I enjoy these little impromptus, but I digress. At one point a small ‘pocket’ (get it?) of zebras (should that be all CAPS?) hovered around our table to inform us that the Rock-it pocket would be illegal for NCAA use for the 2013 college season. Apparently we have been committing the sacred sin of using one string to climb up the sidewall, and then, we have the audacity to come back down with the same one, wrapping over the string that was going up. Uh Oh, no can do no more! They (stripes) were all in a tizzy as they carefully inspected our pocket and eagerly gave us the ‘bad’ news. Well, I knew they couldn’t make me put it under the table and make me sit for a minute or three right there in Philadelphia, so I remained calm, trying to pretend that this was no ‘big news’ for me.
THERE IS A HOLE IN THE BUCKET, DEAR LIZA, DEAR LIZA (Harry Belafonte)
It was not hard to make that change. Maybe one note to change the tune. The 4” thing is a little trickier. We have put a bunch of collective stringing knowledge together. The “SPIDER” Rock-it pocket is coming………It will have no restickshuns. It will be legal every which way you can. No worries. Remember, I have never been motivated to cheat. It does not appeal to me, and those who say, “If you’re not cheating you are not trying”, are, in my humble opinion, wrong. However, boy do I love to flirt with her (cheating). There must always be some reason for whatever restriction they put on stick or pocket.
THE GREAT COACHING EXPERIMENT
I am preparing for a great new coaching expedition. One of my players from CSU yore is flying me in for two weeks with his High school program (4 teams) he now runs as head coach. He has been trying to get me out there for years, and I have a little coaching time available this year. I think he expects me to come in and make them somehow greater for it all. No pressure there. He is the only one there that has ever even met me, and he hasn’t seen me in years. If that isn’t blind faith I don’t know what is. LET’S GO!
KISS ME KONCEPT? - KEEP IT SIMPLE (please, for I Am) STUPID (12/10/12)
I have been actively making and selling Rock-it Pockets for more than 25 years, although I admit that now I tinker more than I jump into the pocket production line, but that is pretty much exactly where I want to be. I have been stringing/building/inserting/repairing/thinking about pockets and working on sticks for more than 40 years. I am not the only person who has pondered the ways that pockets and sticks are crafted or manufactured. I do not claim to have put pocket lightning or magic in a bottle. For one thing, one stick DOES NOT fit all, either in size or character. The issues and choices that come along with a pole that is six feet long, for example, are far different from one that is 40 point nothing inches in length, a mere 6 inches wide at the top (widest point on head), and weighing in at next to nothing. The lightest sticks now are so light that sometimes you can hardly believe/feel that the ball is even really in the pocket. The pocket can also be a fickled mistress from time to time, no doubt.
However, I would add that at this later point in my life I can tell pretty much how a pocket will perform just by looking at its pocket shape, and I certainly can do that with all the different Rock-it Pocket styles as well as the mesh that we send out from here. I am far from a physicist, but I do get some stuff about ball spin and how a simple something like a sense of gravity can become a player’s best friend.
DEAR MR.(s) RULEMAKERS
It is not my intention to be critical of any of the new NCAA rulebook rules, in large part simply because I have always liked the way this sport has governed itself and updated the game. I have trust. Changes to the rulebook have been huge in the evolution (no industry pun intended) of modern lacrosse, as rule makers have sought to slow down the Rule Breakers as well as to make it a better overall game.
Several years ago the NCAA Lacrosse rules committee, executive branch, decided that it had gotten too difficult for defending players to dislodge lacrosse ball from lacrosse stick. The solution came down as the 2010 Great ‘Depinching’ of (American) lacrosse heads, which made the seasons surrounding 2010 more confusing for any and all lacrosse players than any previous period in the history of plastic heads. I think when I started using plastic (1972?) there were like two head models for plastic, and both Brine and STX each had one. Add The Bacharach Rasin Company of Baltimore and that was pretty much the entire lacrosse industry.
PAY IT FORWARD – and that’s no joke –
The rules were tweaked to where the throat minimum measurement had to be more (wider), which would in theory make it a little harder to ‘trap’ and hold the ball in the stick All of a sudden because of this, and not very far into the new millennium, there were well over 100 heads for players to choose from. It was hard to get a grip on it all lacrosse America as 2010 approached. Even little old pocket makers like me struggled with overload. Everyone had a few years to prepare for this monumental change.
Well, the pocket making craft has been handed down through generations of lacrosse player. There are many clever foxes on both sides of the border, eh..?
There are tons of smart guys always trying to reinvent the pocket because the pocket is the holy grail of this sport, and ultimately the narrower that a head is, the easier it is to get ‘what you want’ out of any kind of a pocket. Smart pocket stringers know how to pinch by turning the pocket inside toward the ball to help make a smaller holding area. So, there was all that 2010 jazz, and then there was no real noise. They still couldn’t knock the ball out of the sticks…. I could have told them all that in 2007 or whatever, but nobody asked me.
The new for 2013, 4 inch rule for cross strings is the next legislative step, which will now and once again attempt to make it more difficult to entrap the little, white orb from its cozy home place, and easier to dislodge and kick ball to curb. Also new for 2013 is the TURNOVER TEST, where one (ref) is to place ball in the back of a pocket pushed out and with the head flipped over and horizontal. That person then turns it back over, and gravity has to work in a way that makes the ball freely fall to the ground.
The new stringing rules don’t really impact the Rock-it Pocket structure very much, but is way more fun (for me) to do this than the 2010 “now there are a million heads and head makers to confuse me” thing that has seemed to have somewhat settled down as 2013 nears.
EENIE, MEANI, MYKNEE, AND MO’
All the players of lacrosse are different, especially if you break it down by position. Long pole might be most affected by the 4” maximum/no horseshoe lace place when all is said and done. That result seems like punishment and makes no sense to me because for the most part those guys (long poles) need all the help they can get to keep the ball in their stick and off the ground, and the flip side of that is that long poles don’t have to deal with the same kind of whip, etc. anyways.
ODE TO TAYLOR SWIFT
College attackmen almost ALL use some kind of X6 head model, which means the scoop cross measurement can be as small as 6 inches instead of the 6.5 inches of the past. This was a concession to collegians that came along with all the head twisting of 2010, and which gave players the ability to keep the head narrow all the way up and down. Defensemen pretty much universally DO NOT use X6’s. Anyway, so now, the ball can get stuck easily in the backs of these pockets on the 6 inch wide heads, but the thing is that the only ones who ever gain an advantage by having the ball on the wrong side of the pocket are the face-off guys, and they use heads as narrow as possible, of course. Why do all players need to be subject to the flip over constraints? Attack and long poles NEVER have the ball there…., like ever. We will have to see how they call it on field.
The different measurements and all that stuff make manufacturers drool while everyone else gets hypertension and obsessed over compliance. Why not just make rules that fit? It is not always a number. As in face off guys should never have the ball get stuck ANYWHERE! Besides it looks really stupid when a guy is running down the field shaking his stick to get the ball out of the back of it. To the naked fan it probably looks like the guy had his stick on backwards.
NEW POCKET RULES - 2013 NCAA (10/12/12)
My intention is to do an extensive article talking about the new rules for pockets that will go in to affect for the 2013 NCAA college lacrosse season. I want to put something up now to address the issue and possible player concerns.
First of all, the NCAA rulebook does not apply to all levels. Make sure you ‘know where you are’ in terms of what your specifications need to be. Most high school play is not going to change, at least not this year.
The new rules include a maximum measurement for the distance from top of scoop on plastic to top of LOWEST shooting string (throw string) in the pocket.
The intention is to make it ‘easier’ for the ball to be dislodged from the ball carrier’s pocket. The target of rule makers would seem to be the “horseshoe” shaped lace that players often use with mesh pockets to get more hold on the ball.
At Rock-it Pocket we only do mesh pockets with a horseshoe lace by specific request. The Rock-it Pockets (leather) are mostly all already built inside legal for the new specs. The exception might be the ‘Bam’, and we might have to rearrange the two laces we use on the Bam.
If you order a pocket from Rock-it Pocket we always make sure it is legal. Another aspect of the rule changes includes eliminating the ball getting stuck in the backside of your pocket (face off especially, but they will check all). We have always adjusted our sidewalls and the strings in the sidewall so the ball WILL NOT get stuck between the walls, and on either side, so that is something that you can count on from us.
I guess I didn’t realize how many long poles use the horseshoe lace and this rule change might play havoc more with long poles than anyone, and I do not think that was their (rule makers) intention.
For those NCAAers that currently have and play with a Rock-it Pocket and might be worried about how close to 4 inches that bottom string is on their stick, we can help walk you through the path to fix things and calm your nerves. Most (not all) Rock-it Pockets have 3 shooting strings and a hockey lace as a 4th on the lower side of throw strings. One could just remove the bottom lace and either move it or just remove it. The pocket will easily tweak into just the way you like it without much change or adjustment.
You can call us at Rock-it Pocket for more specific details. As a person with pocket passion, I have never really been motivated to cheat, either as a face off guy, or a pocket guy, or even as a coach. I have, however, always wanted to stretch the envelope of what IS LEGAL. When I first heard of the potential 2013 stringing changes, it was not scary, but rather fun to think about. As it turns out, the challenges for us should be minimal, but it still motivated me to do some new stuff, and I am currently working on something that might be called a ‘hybrid’ for the RP pocket line. Look for some new pocket and color designs that we will offer for the coming season.
For now, happy hunting (Colorado), and if you are over 12, get two lacrosse sticks ready for the upcoming lacrosse season.
Rock-it Pocket Factory:
5609 Bighorn Crossing
Fort Collins, CO 80526
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