Complete Guide to Lacrosse Goalie Shooting Strings | Lax Goalie Rat

Complete Guide to Lacrosse Goalie Shooting Strings

A few weeks back I wrote a post analyzing the stick setups of the PLL starters.

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?

Let’s go.

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:

  1. making saves
  2. 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:

 

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This @stxwlax @stxmlax Eclipse 2 is heading to my friend @liesfordummies ————————————————————————— Dyed with @laxdipdye .Strung with @ecdlax Hero 12 D semi hard with strings and shooters from @universallax ————————————————————————— The language on the scoop is Icelandic. It is supposed to say “Diamonds are made under pressure” ————————————————————————— How did I do? ————————————————————————— #stxmlax #stx #stxwlax #eclipse2 #stxeclipse2 #goalielove #ecdlax #ecdnation #hero12d #lax #lacrosse #boyslax #boyslacrosse #girlslax #girlslacrosse #wlax #womenslax #womenscollegelacrosse #laxgirls #universallax #nothingwrongwithstandingout #ecdnation

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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.

The other option is to string it in the shape of a U.

 

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Sometimes called a V depending on how flat (or lack thereof) you put the top.

 

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Hey guys, this STX Eclipse II is for sale! DM me if interested. #stxeclipse2 #lacrosse #lax #ysgoalie

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U’s and V’s are setup to follow the natural channel of the pocket.

People ask me all the time: what’s the best shape for goalie shooting strings?

I typically responded with it’s all preference. Each stringing type offers a different release, a different feel so it’s about finding what feels best for you.

So a shooting string is all about your personal preference.

But the more I watch these Premier League Lacrosse goalies the more I wonder if U’s are not the definitive way go.

Purely for controlling rebounds.

Now the best method to control rebounds is soft hands combined with a well strung pocket. In fact, I wrote an entire post on rebound control to discusses those methods.

But all things being equal, I believe U’s control rebounds better than straight across shooting strings.

They outlawed U’s in attackmen’s heads because the level of hold was too high so why not take advantage and put them in your goalie stick?

One of the great things about the PLL is the cool slow motion footage of their cameras.

Check out this save by Atlas goalie Jack Concannon which demonstrates my point about the U’s. See them “grip” the ball as it begins to slide up his mesh.

Instead of popping out of the stick, the rebound is controlled and the Atlas are on their way to a break.

If stringing is mainly about personal preference,  right now my preference is U’s for the hockey laces.

I think it’s safe to say you want that top nylon straight across always to control that release. But that said, I’m sure someone will send me a picture with a U nylon.

Goalie Shooting String Spacing

The final variable when it comes to goalie shooting strings setup is spacing.

Both the spacing between each shooting string and the spacing in the mesh (closer to the top vs. closer to the pocket).

Here’s an example with 2 hockey laces strung very close to the top:

 

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Here’s an example where the shooting strings are closer to the pocket:

 

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Like the Goldielocks and the 3 bears, I like my shooting strings just right. Not too close to the top and not too low.

Typically this means starting at the 3rd row of diamonds from the top. Depending on the number of total strings sometimes that means starting on the 2nd row of diamonds.

 

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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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When you realize @joelocascio5 still shoots the ball 120 mph… 🐍

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2 Loose Cotton Strings Towards the Top

 

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One Nylon and one U Shooter

3 Cottons and a Nylon – All Straight Across

Plus a no look pass from Blaze Riorden?

2 Cottons and a Nylon – All Straight Across

3 Cotton – 2 Straight Across, 1 in a U

 

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2 Cotton V’s and 1 Nylon

 

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2 Cotton V’s and 2 Nylons

 

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Conclusion

While sometimes shooting strings in a goalie stick can be seem like afterthought, they’re actually really important for controlling how a goalie stick throws.

With type of material, shape of design, and number of shootings strings, there are infinite ways to string up the shooters into your new goalie head.

Ultimately, then its a personal preference on how you like your goalie head to perform. If you have a stick setup that throws dimes, nobody can knock that.

But in watching slow mo PLL highlights my current belief is U’s are the way to go.

Until next time! Coach Damon

Role call! What’s your goalie shooting string setup? Leave me a comment down below. Anything else you’d add to this goalie shooting strings guide? 

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13 thoughts on “Complete Guide to Lacrosse Goalie Shooting Strings

  1. I think shooting string setup and “feel” is extremely subjective. I don’t believe it is correcto say what is good or bad, as long as the player likes how it throws and can throw effectively. I’m mainly pointing out the comment about the “click” being not good. I, along with plenty of other, like the feeling of the release and the ball slight coming off of the plastic at the top because it can tell us where the ball is going. What I think you might be referring to is more of a “hang” or “thud” feeling a stick can have when the top of the mesh is too loose and the ball can get hung up of the bottom edge of the top lip.

    Saying a player’s preference is wrong and not good can be very misleading and confusing, causing them to throw something that may not be a goof fit or feel for them, but they do so because it’s “right”, especially in younger players. I’m not sure if personal preference is emphasized enough in this piece, but to each his own!

    1. Hey Jordan! Thanks for that comment. I do mention several times in the post that it really is a personal preference and I believe that. But having played with a stick that clicked on the release vs. one that didn’t, the latter threw way better. So that’s my preference.

  2. I was just doing research for my first goalie stringing, and the email showed up for your post. Thank you for saving me countless hours of research and struggle. I’m running 2 cotton U and a nylon, not too high or low. Passes like a dream!

    1. That’s awesome Bailey! Glad this post helped!

      Reminds of this one time I was writing an essay for school on separation of church and state when these Jehovah Witnesses rang the doorbell and gave me a brochure titled “Separate of Church and State”. We talked for a long time. They kept coming back to my house and each time my parents had to explain I went away for college hahaha.

  3. If I ran 2 u and a nylon would it be good control for clears? Also, what mesh would recommend for a eclipse 2

  4. For my daughters head and mine I do quad sidewalls and Huron top strings with 1 nylon….1 cotton shooter…very technical string job…..BUT the hold …and shooting groove are on point…if I could post the pics I would …..it’s been kind of a thing around here now……I’m being hit up to string these girls heads because no one focuses on goalie heads……us goalies are always getting shafted..

  5. Shooting strings don’t control rebound, even in a U configuration. The purpose of a U is not to control rebounds, but to match the natural channel formed by the pocket.

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