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With the start of a new season I have to brace myself for some horror! Each year I see sticks that haven't been touched for six months! This alone is unforgivable but not my main point of contention today. I've seen all kinds of ugliness from heads being warped because they were jammed under something at a funny angle or even cases when the mesh seemed to explode after the first catch because it had rotted out in the off season! Your stick is unique to you and you need to respect it! Part of respecting it means taking proper daily and weekly care of your head and mesh. Out here we play on a lot of muddy fields and it's important to CLEAN your head after practice. If left dirty, that mud will dry and most of it will flake off after a few passes but what you don't see are the tiny, sharp particles that are hiding in between your woven shooting strings and sidewall laces. As the stringer of MANY sticks, I hate to see a good pocket die young. Allowing those sharp little pieces to remain, they slowly start slicing and chewing their way through all of your(or my) stringing efforts.

I keep an old 10 gallon bucket outside by the garden hose and after a muddy practice I fill the bucket and dunk the head. Let it soak for a bit and then stir it around to help remove the smaller particles. Then I rub my fingers over the shooting strings to do a better job of cleaning. There's nothing more embarrassing than running in on a break away and sending the shot 15 feet over the goal because your mesh is self destructing! After I'm satisfied it's cleaner, I use an old T-shirt to dry out the mesh as well as I can. I then wad up an old towel and force it into the pocket to help it dry more over night. DO NOT leave it over or near a heater to dry it faster! This can shorten the life of the mesh and cause things to tighten up a lot. The same applies to your gloves! The leather will dry too quickly and eventually(or rapidly) stiffen and crack which will lead to the self destruction of your gloves!

Also, whenever you get the chance, how about using a can or two of Febreeze on your gear? Some of you guys smell pretty horrible so make sure you take care of your gear and start smelling better for your coaches!