Article by Christian Monson
Getting your first hockey stick is an exciting experience. The grip is new and springy in your hands, and the wood head is glossy with wax. Before you can reach that point, though, you have to choose the right stick. That means getting the right design, construction and length for you.
The great thing about field hockey is its accessibility. You can play on grass or concrete, in a gym or on the street. With this kind of flexibility, it’s no surprise that equipment comes in so many shapes and sizes.
It won’t take too long to familiarize yourself with all the variables you can choose from. After that you can pick the stick that’ll teach you how to play.
Hockey stick basics
According to the official rules of field hockey, sticks are composed of three parts: the head, the handle and the splice.
The handle is the top part of the stick that tapers off to the grip. This is connected to the head by the splice. The bottom part of the stick that you use to strike the ball is called the head. Unlike ice hockey sticks, the head of a field hockey stick is rounded more like a J. The exact shape can vary significantly, but we’ll discuss that later.
Originally, all hockey sticks were pretty uniform, but when the sport began to gain popularity in British India, players started to experiment with different designs. This meant changing head lengths and handle curvatures.
Now there are a number of different designs and combinations to choose from.
Head shape is one of the most important things when it comes to choosing your stick. They vary dramatically from softly sloping to a full hook. There are four main classifications.
English Style – English style is the original head design. The head is long and not very rounded. It has mostly been phased out, and it’s probably not a good choice for someone just learning the game.
Midi – Midi heads are, as you might guess, middle sized. Because they allow speed without sacrificing too much hitting surface, they’re the go-to for beginners.
Ultra Short – The ultra-short design maximizes agility. It’s the primary choice for offensive players who have great ball control. Wait until you have enough experience to specialize in a position before you go for one of these.
Power Hook – Power hooks are popular with professional players, but they can be difficult to use. As a beginner, go with a flatter head since it’ll make ball control easier.
There is also a variant of the power hook called the power hook recurve. On this stick, the head bends back away from the shaft before turning into the hook.
Hockey stick handles were traditionally flat, but it’s becoming more and more common to add a slight curve known as a bow. This bow increases the power of your shots.
In 2006 the official Rules of Hockey banned bows greater than 25 mm, but you can find bowed sticks within that range. Additionally, where the bow is located on the handle can be different from stick to stick.
To start out, go with a flat stick. When you have better ball control, you can add a bow to start working on your shots.
The material–or combination of materials–can make a big difference when it comes to the play and feel of your stick.
Hockey sticks were traditionally made of wood. A lot of effort was put into finding wood that was strong but flexible, and the trees they used changed over the years.
You can still get sticks made of wood, but it’s not common. If you’re just starting out, wood can be a good option because it’s cheaper. In the future, you’ll probably want to move up to a stronger material, though.
Aluminum sticks are durable and unlikely to break. Unfortunately, aluminum sticks are usually quite heavy.
Aluminum sticks can also cause injury. As a result, they’ve been banned in the official rules. Needless to say, they’re not great for beginners. You don’t need anything that durable, either, since you’ll most likely move up to better sticks later on.
Carbon fiber is the material of choice for professionals and avid players. It combines the strength of aluminum with the light weight of wood. It also has a natural feel that helps with performance.
The downside of carbon fiber is its high price. It’s usually impractical for beginners.
Length is one of the most important things to pay attention to when purchasing a hockey stick. I’ve prepared a chart so you can find the size you need. Children especially need a stick appropriate for their height.
What kind of stick is best for beginners?
You don’t want to shell out too much money for your first hockey stick. You’re inevitably going to want to change in the future, and let’s be honest, there’s a good chance you’ll break it. You don’t need the most expensive model, but you can still find something of quality that’ll facilitate learning the game.
You can put all this together to figure out the ideal stick for beginners. I recommend a basic wooden stick with a midi head. It should be well crafted, but it shouldn’t break the bank. Take a look at these reasonably priced by decent quality hockey sticks…
- Slazenger Kids Ikon Hockey Stick
- GRAYS Blast Ultrabow Micro Junior Hockey Stick
- GRAYS GX2000 Dynabow Micro Junior Hockey Stick
- GRAYS Blast Ultrabow Micro Hockey Stick
- KOOKABURRA Unisex’s Adult Phyton Hockey Stick
- BYTE HX2 Composite Hockey Stick
Hockey sticks are one of the most variable pieces of sporting equipment. You can create so many different combinations of materials and designs that it can be hard to choose.
As a beginner, keep it simple. First, you need to learn how to use the stick before you can figure out the specifications that suit you. With my recommendations, you know you’ll be getting a quality hockey stick at a great value. Then you can focus on learning the game.