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Choosing the Right Field Hockey Stick

Choosing the Right Field Hockey Stick
May 27, 2019 RAGE Custom
In Info
We are not saying that choosing a field hockey stick is hard but it's definitely confusing!

It wouldn’t be so confusing, if

  • Brands agreed on simple terms instead of using gimmicky jargon & otherworldly scientific claims to differentiate themselves and appear unique.
  • Retailers weren’t putting out a stream of content designed to justify their stocking decisions/limitations. After all, if they can convince you to buy a 37.5 Light stick which they carry instead of a 38.5” medium which they don’t, wouldn’t that be perfect 😉
  • Some players/coaches, sponsored or just set in their ways giving their seal of approval to the narrative set by the above-mentioned field hockey brands & retailers.

WAIT A MINUTE… You must be wondering if that is the case wouldn’t this AWESOME post just be another marketing spiel to get you to buy from us?

The answer is an emphatic Yes! BUT there is a difference. Our business model!

We are not stuck with 100s of toxic green banana head 36.5 light sticks that we just have to dump somehow. Our customizable products are made on order, so what makes us different is the number of choices we offer and it actually doesn’t matter what you choose at the end of the day since it’s still a sale for us 🙂

So, we don’t have a vested interest in steering you towards a particular kind of stick. Our job here is to make it easy for you to make a decision and this post is all about giving you a comprehensive guide to “what’s what” and letting you choose.

Just so you know, we wanted to be thorough so anyone who’s new to field hockey or buying for someone else gets detailed information. If you are already an experienced field hockey player here’s a list of topics that we will be covering in this post, so you can jump directly to what you are interested in.

Wooden vs Composite Field Hockey Sticks – The age-old debate (since 1994 but really 1998)

Field Hockey Stick Lengths – Choosing the length that’s RIGHT for you

Field Hockey Stick Weights – Super Light to Super Heavy & everything in between

Field Hockey Stick Bows – aka. Bends aka. Curves…

Field Hockey Stick Head Shapes – The evolution of the different types & their differences

Indoor Field Hockey Sticks – A different kind of stick specifically designed for Indoor Field Hockey

Goalie Field Hockey Sticks – Options for field hockey goalkeepers

Wooden vs Composite Field Hockey Sticks

Let’s get this one out of the way first… A few decades ago, players were playing world cups & Olympic games with wooden sticks just fine. But as with everything else technology caught up & after some experimentation with aluminium & hybrid (wooden shaft, composite head) sticks… full composite sticks received the go-ahead from FIH and more importantly adoption by the masses.

So what made composite sticks edge out wooden sticks?

From a business point of view, brands & the factories that they buy from could offer consistent & faster production cycles. With wooden sticks just like with cricket bats today, each stick was naturally slightly different. Which meant that when you were investing in a high-performance (expensive) stick, you had to test out a few different sticks to find the one that felt good to you.

The game itself was evolving, so moulds could be created with more precision & accuracy which wasn’t possible with wooden sticks.

Also with artificial turf becoming more mainstream, wooden sticks tended to scuff up rather quickly and once the wood was exposed to water, the heads used to bloat, become heavy and eventually break. Kevlar strips helped but were not a perfect solution.

Lastly, technically speaking wooden sticks were being reinforced with carbon & glass fiber dipped in epoxy. So while you had reinforcement, the sticks were not taking full advantage of what these high-performance thermosetting plastics were truly capable of. The weakest link was the wood itself and its structural inconsistency meant that basically any random stick could fail and quality control wasn’t always possible. With full composite sticks, the structural integrity is much better & controllable leading to more consistent results and improving formulations have made the composite field hockey sticks better & lasting longer.

Wooden field hockey sticks are still popular & in fact, recommended by coaches for young players starting out. Reasons being that wooden sticks are less expensive, so while someone is learning the ropes, going through a couple of sticks is not a problem.
Recently wooden indoor sticks are gaining their popularity back but the regular outdoor version is mostly dominated by composite field hockey sticks.

So what to choose?

Wooden if you are just starting out but junior composite if the field you play/practice at is artificial.
Composite if you have a couple of years of experience. As you grow stronger & more confident in your game you can get composite sticks with a higher percentage of carbon.

Field Hockey Stick Lengths

There is a lot of misinformation about this topic! And choosing the correct length that suits you and your game is very important, so much so that an entire blog post could be written about it.

So that’s exactly what we did 🙂 You can check our detailed, slightly controversial but extremely informative post about this topic at:

The REAL Field Hockey Stick Sizing Guide

One point that we’d like to add here is that the majority of people who play field hockey do so for fun & because they enjoy the game. Playing with the wrong length field hockey stick; if you are shorter, taller or older can lead to bad posture or worse, back pain/injury.

So we definitely recommend that you check out the above link if you are new to the game or even if you have been playing for a number of years, as what we have to say about this very important topic might be new for you.

Field Hockey Stick Weights

As players develop their skills, gain experience and play certain positions on the field, multiple factors need to be taken into consideration when choosing the weight of the stick that’s right for you. There are primarily three main factors i.e. Position, Style, and Strength. The final decision often comes down to personal preference, but these parameters are key when it comes to increasing your chances of success on the field. This is why knowing a little more about them is important.    

Position

Each position comes with its own set of demands. Attackers and forwards tend to focus on having control of the ball and being quick in order to beat defenders and take quicker and more accurate shots. These are some of the reasons why forwards usually want a lighter stick as opposed to a heavy one. Defenders, on the other hand, prefer sticks which are heavier. This is due to their need to execute strong tackles and powerful clearances in an effort to best their opponents. Midfielders make this decision on a more individual basis. They do so while keeping their playing style in mind since the role of a midfielder can vary depending on where they are placed within the game.  

Playing Style

No two defenders are the same. Everyone has their own strategies and strengths. Some require more power behind their shot and others need to make sure their block tackle is stronger. This is why players usually can’t decide upon the ideal stick weight for them based solely on their playing position. Rather than position, it depends more on one’s own distinct playing style and that is what helps guide them in making this decision.   

Strength

A benefit of composite sticks is that you can go pretty light while still retaining power & structural integrity of the stick. For most players, going with a lighter stick proves to be the smarter choice, keeping in mind the constraints you may come across while handling a stick that ends up being too heavy for you.

It’s slightly counter-intuitive but coaches can sometimes recommend a heavier stick for players that might not have as much upper body strength, as a heavier stick helps with shot making & passes. We recommend heavier sticks especially for older players who do not want to overextend themselves and just let the stick flow through to complete the hits & passes.

These are the three main factors to consider. At the end of the day your individual preferences, skill level and personal ability to control your stick will be a part of the final decision-making process.

Field Hockey Stick Weight Chart

Once you have decided on whether the stick you want is heavy or light, you will need to learn a little more about the typical weight range of field hockey sticks.

When composite sticks weren’t as common in field hockey, the length of the stick would often dictate how heavy it was. But now, manufacturers (that’s us!) have adopted more complex means of production which allows them to make changes with regard to the material makeup of the field hockey sticks that they produce.

Depending upon the brand, field hockey sticks are available in multiple different weight classes. All things considered, typical field hockey stick weight ranges are not universal but what we offer is round about the same as what you’ll find in the market:

Outdoor Field Hockey Sticks

Super Light (520-535 grams)

AKA Ultra Light or Extra Light. Regardless of what name they’re given, these sticks are the lightest ones available and are known to exhibit maximum control and have the quickest hits. It is however recommended that Super Light is selected when the sticks are at least 70% carbon or above to maintain structural integrity.

Light (535-560 grams)

Light field hockey sticks are mostly preferred by attackers and forwards because they allow the player to have the right balance between control and power. This weight proves to be popular amongst many players and this weight is set as the default option on all our sticks.

Medium (565-590 grams)

Although light sticks are popular amongst players, medium weight field hockey sticks continue to be the second most popular weight. This is probably because their weight is acceptable for all players regardless of the position they play.

Heavy (595-620 grams)

If it’s tackles and powerful hits that you’re shooting for, a heavy stick might be the best option for you. For older players, the heavier weight makes passing and hitting easier. It is however recommended that you select the Heavyweight option for wooden sticks or sticks that are less than 70% carbon because achieving this weight is quite difficult with a higher percentage of carbon.

Super Heavy (625-660 grams)

Just because we can 🙂 Since we do custom field hockey sticks, we get all kinds of requests. Having a Super Heavy stick is one such request that we get from time to time & so we thought about making it a permanent option. However, we recommend that the sticks are either less than 50% carbon or preferably wooden for us to be able to achieve this weight range.

Indoor Field Hockey Sticks

Light (480-520 grams)

Considering the fact that hitting isn’t allowed in indoor hockey, indoor field hockey sticks are built to provide maximum control and thus are not designed to hit. This stick is strictly intended for indoor field hockey and anyone who plans on using it for any other variation of the sport needs to reconsider.

Junior Field Hockey Sticks

We offer Super Light and Light for junior sticks.

Goalie Field Hockey Sticks

We offer Light, Medium, Heavy and Super Heavy for Goalie Sticks.

Field Hockey Stick Bows

The bow, also known as bend or curve is the curvature on the playing surface from the bottom of the stick to the top of its handle. It is measured by placing the stick face down on any flat surface and using a measuring tool to account for the maximum distance between the flat surface and the stick.

Today, every field hockey stick produced has some degree of curvature. It is very unusual for any field hockey stick to have a bow which falls below 15mm in measurement. The most common measurements are 20-25mm and so most sticks fall within this bow range. Youth field hockey sticks fall into a slightly lower measurement range, 15-20mm. Since most sticks have the same amount of bow, the location of the bow plays a more important role in distinguishing them from one another.

But why should one care about the bow of a field hockey stick, you might ask. Well, the answer is because the bow is an aspect of the stick’s shape which affects nearly every aspect of your game. The bow is actually limited to being less than 25mm because its influence is so pronounced. Let’s talk about exactly how the bow affects you and your in-game performance.

Flicking

The bow is partially responsible for allowing field hockey players to generate additional speed whilst they flick the ball. As the ball continues to travel along the stick, a slingshot-like effect causes it to accelerate and thus allows it to travel faster in comparison to the head of the stick. These effects are more pronounced depending upon the placement of the bow. If it is lower on the stick, a greater angle is created and the ball travels faster. This quality of the stick is incorporated within the game as players develop a shooting technique called drag flicking to make passes along the ground. They also use it to scoop the ball over the heads of their opponents. Prior to the FIH bow limit ruling, larger bows created additional speed and that caused a safety risk which is why the rules of the game were amended so that the bow could no longer exceed 25mm, so as to avoid any injuries or mishaps during the game.

Trapping

While receiving passes, the bow provides more control over the ball in order to prevent it from jumping up the stick. Along with creating speed while flicking, the same curve allows a greater degree of control over the ball for trapping. Since bows are present on all sticks, it shouldn’t affect your choice of the stick as far as trapping is concerned.

Passing and Hitting

As far as passing and hitting are concerned, a field hockey stick with a greater bow causes the ball to lift more when compared to a stick with a lesser bow. This is caused due to the fact that a greater angle is created when the stick comes into contact with the ball. As the position of the bow on the stick falls lower, this angle continues to increase. This is why late bow or low bow sticks are primarily recommended for more experienced players.

Now that you’ve developed a better understanding of how the bow actually affects your game, you can either jump to specifically the Mould Shapes (Bows & head shapes) that we offer or you can read on for more general information about the terms and variations prevailing in the market today.

Standard Bow aka Regular Bow or Classic Bow

Most field hockey sticks consist of a standard bow with a consistent bend throughout. The middle section is where the highest point of the stick’s bend falls. For most players, this is the stick that works considering how easy it is to control while hitting. All youth players usually start off with a standard bow. Once you’ve honed your skills and are looking to move further and get greater range on your aerial passes or increase your speed during drag flicks, that is when you should look towards other options.

Control Bow aka Mega Bow or Medium Bow

While offering greater speed on flicks, a control bow also allows the ball to lift easier when hitting. This feature is a bit unnecessary as far as beginners are concerned. Once a player is transitioning from a standard bow to a control bow, they will need to get some hitting practice because the ball will interact differently with a stick that has a different bow. For players that are looking to build their skills and move on from a standard bow, a control bow is hands down the best option as it will allow them to take their game to the next level.

Low bow aka Late Bow or Extreme Late Bow

Designed especially for drag flicking, a low bow improves speed while flicking and simultaneously increases the distance on aerials. By placing the bow so low, a very extreme angle is created which allows the ball to accelerate at maximum speed. To begin with, during the learning process, players will tend to lift the ball dangerously. This is why caution is to be practiced and players should make sure not to hit towards other players. At least not until they feel completely confident and have more control over their new stick.

Being aware of different stick bows allows players to know what to buy and what not to buy. For players who are just starting out and are relatively less skilled, could benefit from understanding that stick with more bow or a lower bow affect ball control and thus the overall quality of your game. As you continue to learn and your skills continue to grow more advanced, your bow can get lower and you can then watch the difference it makes.  

Field Hockey Stick Head Shapes

A field hockey stick’s head shape serves an essential purpose as it influences so many aspects such as hitting, receiving and ball control. Heads which are smaller exhibit more maneuverability while reducing power, hitting surface and reverse stick control. And larger heads provide more power, greater control on the reverse and increase the hitting area but they reduce the stick’s maneuverability. When compared, larger stick heads are used by a vast majority of players as the pros outweigh the cons.

Check out our Mould Shapes post to learn more about the particular head shapes we offer or read on for more generic details about the options that you might come across elsewhere.

Field hockey sticks are available in four shapes, each with their own merits. But which one is the best for you?

Shorti Head (Wooden Sticks)

Before composite field hockey sticks were being manufactured in the early 90s, the Shorti stick head was quite popular. Since it has a very small surface area, it doesn’t come as a surprise that it is the shortest of the stick head designs. The smaller design lets players improve their dribbling speed because it allows them to turn their stick over quicker. Once composite sticks entered the market and began gaining popularity, the demand for a head style that was larger started to increase.

Midi Head (Composite & Wooden Sticks)

A modern alternative exists within the market with regards to the Shorti head. This alternative is the Midi stick head. It is the smallest commercially prevalent stick head design being used in games today and provides players with more control and maneuverability. Although the hitting sweet spot is small, it is manageable for most players who are moderately experienced.

Maxi Head (Composite & Wooden Sticks)

If you go out to buy a field hockey stick today, odds are it will have Maxi head. Ever since composite sticks became more common, the Maxi head has become the most popular head design. It provided more power, improved hitting consistency, made trapping easier, and gave more reverse side control. If you’re questioning which head you should choose, the Maxi stick is your safest bet.

Hook Head or J Hook

The largest stick head type is J Hook or Hook head. Although this style is popular amongst players, it isn’t as widely used as the Maxi head. For players who need to control their reverse pulls by having more surface area, this head serves the purpose very effectively. Players who play upright benefit from this head shape but it doesn’t allow the best performance when it comes to quick stick handling. Conversely, the increased surface area does allow for better hitting and receiving. This isn’t the stick head for everyone, but if it corresponds to your playing style, it’s definitely worth a try.

For most players, there really isn’t much need to get too wrapped up in head shapes because the effects they have are more geared towards seasoned players. Once you get to a point where you have more experience and develop your own distinct style while playing a specific position, knowledge regarding head shapes can give you an edge and allow you to further enhance your game.

Below are some honorable mentions that have crept into the field hockey vernacular and our Head Shapes topic wouldn’t be complete if we covered them.

Field Hockey Stick Scoop or Head Bend

A field hockey stick’s scoop refers to a bend in front of the stick that creates a concave depression on the head that can extend to the stick’s shaft as well. The scoop can be a maximum of 4 mm and is useful for controlling the ball while dribbling, as well as keeping the ball on the stick for aerials and drag flicking. Although this aspect has its positive features, there are disadvantages. A scoop can make hitting and trapping the ball slightly less predictable by not having a completely flat surface. It can be hard to get used to not having a flat stick face and so many players avoid this feature, but if you think your game might benefit from it, try it.

Field Hockey Stick Power Hook/Banana Toe

Manufacturers try to develop new stick innovations in order to give players an edge. One of such promised innovations is the power hook or banana toe. A power hook is a curve in the toe, on the head, which reduces the need to turn over the stick when pulling the reverse side while dribbling. This can improve the speed of dribbling. The power hook can overcome a problem which beginners often face where they under-rotate on the reverse side. But there are some drawbacks when using a stick which doesn’t have a stick face that is completely flat. These drawbacks include a lack of predictability while trapping and hitting and a smaller hitting sweet spot which reduces the power of the hit and interferes while drag flicking. This stick is only recommended for experienced players who are familiar with their individual styles.

Indoor field hockey sticks

As the name suggests, indoor field hockey sticks should only be used for indoor field hockey because they are not designed to be used in the outdoor version of the game. As hitting is prohibited indoors, indoor field hockey sticks are not designed to hit. They are thin and lightweight which enhances the player’s ability to dribble faster and have more control. Usually, it also features a shorter hook for speed and control which is a bit more rounded at the bottom to facilitate the presence of a hard surface. These sticks are also made of a softer material meaning lower carbon content and often have wood in the mix too.

Beginner Indoor Field Hockey Sticks

There isn’t a big difference between beginner indoor field hockey sticks and more advanced sticks. The most important detail is the bow of the stick. Beginner sticks have a standard or control bow that makes it easier to keep the ball on the ground because lifting the ball except shooting is illegal. When starting, sticks containing wood are perfectly acceptable, but most players end up using a composite stick if they stay with the sport for a long time.

Advanced Indoor Field Hockey Sticks

Since advanced indoor field hockey sticks tend to be composite based instead of wooden, they can have an extreme bow and also display a greater degree of durability. In order to increase the ball’s speed while flicking passes along the ground and shooting balls in the air, the bow’s position on this stick is usually set lower. This also makes dribbling more difficult as keeping the ball on the ground becomes tougher which is something that should be kept in mind for beginners, considering this particular stick would not suit them.

Can I Use An Indoor Field Hockey Stick Outdoors?

Well, technically yes but it’s definitely NOT recommended. As far as outdoor field hockey is concerned, indoor sticks aren’t strictly prohibited. As a matter of fact, if you look up the rule books for both indoor and outdoor field hockey, you’ll find that the stick specifications are identical. As stated in both books, “The FIH (International Hockey Federation) reserves the right to prohibit any stick which, in the opinion of the FIH Rules Committee, is unsafe or likely to have a detrimental impact on playing the game.” Keeping this information in mind, indoor field hockey sticks are not purpose-built to hit with, which is why there is a distinct possibility of them breaking during hits. This could serve as grounds for disqualification for use within outdoor leagues and tournaments. Regardless of whether it is permissible or legal within the game, using a stick which wasn’t designed for the purpose you want to use it for, will have detrimental effects on your game, regardless.  

Can I Use an Outdoor Field Hockey Stick Indoors?

As previously stated, the respective rule books specify the same stick requirements for both indoor and outdoor field hockey. This being said, if the stick is deemed unsafe or potentially problematic within the context of the game, the committee can disallow it at any point. Although, technically this is an option but in actuality, most tournaments and leagues hosting experienced players exclude outdoor field hockey sticks, thus considering them to be illegal. Most recreational and youth-centric leagues will, however, allow these sticks in an effort to promote the game. So, in certain circumstances, it will definitely be allowed but it won’t always be the best decision keeping in mind that the stick was not designed for this purpose.

Field Hockey Goalie Sticks

Goalkeeping is a unique role within the game as compared to the others which is why it makes sense to have a stick which is designed while keeping its specific requirements in mind. The most prominent variation between a field hockey goalie stick and a regular one pertains to the presence of an unusual curve of the shaft of the goalie stick. This curve facilitates more coverage when the blocking position is assumed while placing the stick on the ground. Apart from this, goalie sticks are also weighted differently than standard sticks, they’re thinner on the shaft and wider on the face. All of these adaptations and features are responsible for the increase in maneuverability and agility during stick saves which comes in handy if you ever decide to play in the cage.

Advanced Field Hockey Goalie Sticks

For more experienced goalies, advanced field hockey goalie sticks are designed to cater to their specific requirements and preferences. An example of this is the incorporation of more carbon during the manufacturing process, which allows the stick to perform better during clearances while also making the stick lighter. Other preferences include having a heavier weight or thicker grip. These sticks are not for everyone as the specifications present are designed for more advanced players who already have a handle on basic game maneuvers.

In Conclusion

So, as we’ve established, field hockey sticks can be found in plenty of shapes and sizes and we sincerely hope that if you are new to the game or buying for someone else that you found the information provided within this article useful.

If you have any general comment, please join in the discussion below or if you still have any questions or need specific help in choosing the right field hockey stick, feel free to Contact Us