Everyone is going with the STX Eclipse 2 head these days so one of the only variances among the stick heads is the shooting string setup.
Shooting strings in a goalie stick are sometimes an afterthought when stringing up a goalie head. But they impact your throwing ability heavily and the overall performance of the pocket.
Between nylons and hockey laces, straight across and U’s, high and low placement there are lot of options.
So what’s the ideal setup of shooting strings for a goalie head?
What’s the purpose of shootings strings?
Before we discuss the ideal shooting string setup let me clarify the purpose of the shooting strings in the goalie pocket in the first place.
Without shooting strings when you attempt to throw, the ball would travel up the mesh and make contact with the top lip of the plastic. “Click” off the plastic as we like say.
This click is not good. You do not want the click. It creates inconsistence outlet passes and it also hampers the distance you’re able to throw accurately.
Therefore the shooting strings in a goalie stick serve to tighten the top of the mesh and create a release out of the stick that is both smooth and consistent every time.
At the same time, you don’t want the shooters wound so tight that the ball “floats”. Meaning you can’t really feel the release point. That is also bad as you have no idea where the ball is going.
An ideal shooting string setup allows the ball to zip out the pocket.
When you have a look at a picture of a goalie with a release in motion you can really see what the shooting strings do:
See how the shooters “grip” the ball and provide a smooth release that’s not off the top of plastic.
The tighter the shooters the more grip or whip you will have. Attackman may want whip because it helps improve their hold and increase shot speed but it is definitely a burden in the passing game.
As a goalies, our two main purposes are:
making outlet passes
We can’t afford any burden in the passing game. So you don’t want any whip in your stick in my opinion.
Nylon vs. Cotton Strings In Goalie Heads
For shooting string options you essentially have two choices in material: nylon (same material as the side laces) or cotton (ice hockey laces).
I guess the world of choices is really unlimited. You could put a wet spaghetti noodle in there but for pure function: it’s nylon and cotton hockey laces.
Nylon is harder. The ball is going to hit off them harder. As a result, most uses of nylon have it closest to the top so that it creates a strong release.
The hockey laces are softer and won’t “grab” the ball as much as it travels up the mesh.
They are however extremely important for creating a smooth release. Without them the ball would travel up the mesh really fast and get yanked down by the tight nylon creating a stick that throws right into the ground.
Many goalie string stick setups looks like this with cotton laces and a nylon at the top:
Some goalies choose to bypass the nylon string at the top and go with only cotton shooters.
In additional to the material you can also tie the strings in various degrees of tightness and designs such as rolled, barreled, or weaved.
Here’s an older from ECD Greg discussing the theory of each stringing style in attack heads. But same theory applies for goalie shooters:
Tightly wound shooters again are going grip the ball more. If you’re going to use varying levelness of tightness the bottom strings should be looser and get tighter as you move towards the top of the head.
Shooting String Shape
After determining the material, the next question is in what shape do you put your shooting strings?
The basic shape is to put your shooting strings straight across. Following the row the diamonds.
Spacing of the shooters is all about the feel of the release. Too high and I think the shooters don’t help control that release enough. Too low and they grip too much and perhaps create that dreaded feelingless release.
Just right and you’re zipping 30 yard dimes and sipping sweet champagne while your team scores a fastbreak goal.
Different Goalie Shooting String Combinations
Given the combination of:
nylons and hockey laces
straight across vs. U’s
positioning within the particular row of diamonds
You can imagine there’s quite a few possibilities of shooting string combinations for us goalies.
So explore some different sticks in terms of their shooting string setup.
2 Nylons / 2 Hockey Laces, All Straight Across, Each spaced a row apart
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