By Sean Nelson
Editor Field Hockey Review
Just starting field hockey or need a new stick? There are so many different options that finding the right stick for you can be a daunting task, writes Sean Nelson, editor of Field Hockey Review
Money: Unless you are playing at a high level, you’re probably not going to get your money’s worth with a $400 (£250) stick but, on the other hand, a flimsy stick might hold your game back. A decent entry level hockey stick can cost anywhere from $70-$150 (£45-£100) with the top tier at $250+(£160) .
Position: Another important factor to keep in mind is your position and personal play style. Backs tend to prefer a heavier, more solid stick for traps and tackles while forwards typically go for a lightweight design for skill and speed with midfielders somewhere in the middle.
Bow: Another important design feature of the field hockey stick is the bow (see diagram below) This is the curvature of the stick that help in overheads and drag flicks. Some sticks designed for drag flicking, for example, have a pronounced bow low on the stick to help sling the ball faster during this tricky move.
However, these skills are usually the preserve of more experienced players so it would be wise to steer clear of sticks with a large or low bow and go for a flat or regular bow.
Materials: Modern sticks can be classed into two main material categories: wooden-core and composite-core with both having their own set of pros and cons. Composite hockey sticks are made from a mix of kevlar, carbon and fibreglass,. These have a high strength-to-weight ratio, are more rigid and hit harder. Wooden-core sticks offer a softer touch and feel to the ball. The more forgiving nature of the wooden-core stick would make it ideal for beginner and intermediate players looking to hone their skills as well as the bonus of often being cheaper that their composite counterparts.
Size: A common belief is that the stick should sit a couple inches below the waistline. Others favour a longer stick. Slightly larger sticks offer the obvious advantage of a larger surface area and longer reach but can be too big or too heavy. A shorter stick can be more comfortable while also encouraging the player to get lower to the ground. Adult stick lengths vary from 33-37 inches depending on personal height and preference and there really is no wrong choice, it is important to find what works. (In the UK most adult sticks are sold in either 36.5 or 37.5 so perhaps not that much choice when it comes to selecting. Basically, either short or tall!)
Feel: The final and most important thing to look for when buying a new stick is the overall feel. Try to test a range of sticks to find one that you feel works and are comfortable. Borrow a stick from a team mate or test out as much as you can in the shop.
Good luck with finding your perfect match!