A beginner’s guide to choosing a field hockey stick

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.

bow of a stick

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!

Hockey stick review: Grays GX8000 Midbow

GRAYS GX 8000 Mid Bow Hockey Stick

2014_Grays_GX8000_MidBow_HS_Micro_Composite_Hockey_Stick

I wanted to try a heavier, straighter stick so I thought I’d test out the GX8000 Mid Bow from Grays in a medium weight. I’m a devoted Grays stick fan so decided to choose from their range.

Yes it makes a massive difference compared to my previous light Grays Dynabow and Jumbow sticks. My hit is much, much more powerful, presumably because there’s more weight behind the hit. However, I feel this is at the expense of ease of stick skills, 3D and backstick shots.

The spec actually says this stick is good for these but I have to disagree and I prefer the lighter sticks for the 3D and the Jumbow for tomahawk shots.

Unfortunately, you have to buy a stick before you can really find out whether it works for you or not. No stick can do everything so it’s always a compromise between bow shape and weight and so far I haven’t found the perfect answer.

Crucially, what’s also not evident until you get this stick in your hand is that it has a ridge effect on the shaft which I loathe – and wouldn’t have chosen if I’d seen it in the flesh. If you are thinking of buying I advise you to enlarge the sales image and take a close look at the shaft of this stick. In the hand I found it  uncomfortable and more difficult to turn in your lower hand to do stick work with.

This Grays GX8000 Midbow also seems to slap hit better – with more power. Again maybe it’s having more weight behind the impact. The spec does say it’s good for slapping.

Update: Spotted a team mate using this same stick on Saturday. She agreed it was less easy to turn the stick in your hand with the ridges. However, she felt it had dramatically improved her jinking and lifting off the ball (she is a defender) and agreed it was fantastic for hard hitting.

My verdict: Uncomfortable to handle, really hate the wide ridged feel, and not the best for nippy stick skills in my opinion because the stick feels harder to turn in your hand. Amazing for supercharging your hits and slap hits.  

Here’s what they say about it on the Barrington Sports website…

GX 8000 Mid-Bow HS
New Mid-Bow HS model for 2013
Featuring new Tri-Tec carbon construction
New IFA on the surface of the head to improve control
New Energy Reduction Handle construction
Featuring new Abrasion Resistant heel protection and PP Enhanced Low Backhand Zone

MICRO Headshape
Excellent head profile for both drag flicking and 3 D skills.
Ideal head thickness for hitting, combined with thinner toe profile ideal for skills of lifting the ball using 3D one handed skills.

MID-BOW
The Mid-Bow blade profile shape has been repositioned more in the mid section of the blade at 30cm from the base of the head. The curve height is 24.75mm. The uniform bow is shaped and contoured continuously along the handle to the head and is especially contoured to improve the angle at which the stick head comes into contact with the ball – it will help give players the technical edge in performing todays 3D hockey skills. Easily identifiable by its own unique new graphical design, the Mid – Bow blade profile continues to become increasingly popular amongst a new generation of players who have learned their skills exclusively on synthetic pitches.
– Help control flat, sweep and slap hitting techniques.
– Help extend the reach zone over which you can dribble the ball freely using both forehand and backhand.
– Improve the first touch control when stopping the ball at full stretch.