It would be difficult to argue that the most important piece of hockey equipment is your stick, so it’s vital that you get the right size.
Here’s how you find the perfect one for you.
What size hockey stick do I need?
There are a few theories on how to measure hockey stick size. The most popular is that you measure from the floor to the hip bone. This works as a rough guide for buying online kids’ sticks.
The best way is to pick up a stick and use it in the store. For children, if it’s their first ever stick use the hip measurement as a starting point. Then take a ball from the display and either pass between the child and yourself or if they are confident enough ask them to do a bit of dribbling or a “v drag”.
It is normal for a child to try and get an adult stick as quickly as they can. This is because the adult range tends to open up more in the way of composition, shape and graphics. However, it can have a negative impact on the development of the child.
You’ll know just from looking whether you’re in the right sort of area size wise. Generally, adults will use a 36.5 inch stick, some prefer 37.5. 38.5" are now beginning to emerge and can be purchased online for the most advanced models.
Why would you go up a size as an adult?
The longer the stick, the bigger the reach. Tacking becomes easier and you can run in a more upright position. A famous Dutch player, who is 5'6" uses a 38.5" stick as it allows her to run more easily with the ball although it does mean she has to adjust her hands to control the ball when it is closer to her feet.
Changing stick size is a fairly easy process for most adults. The essential thing is that you take time to adjust. Arrive early at training and spend a few minutes hitting the ball into the fence or a goal, push and stop with a friend. This will refine the motor skills you need when playing.
What is a hockey stick made from?
Long gone are the days you would find most field hockey sticks made of wood. Sticks are made of wood, carbon, kevlar, fibreglass, aramite and there are always new innovations emerging.
Basic hockey sticks, and most for children as they begin, are made out of wood. Many are reinforced with carbon fibre but the bulk of the stick is wooden. This makes the stick softer on the hands when you receive and pass the ball but reduces power when striking. They tend to be a lot cheaper and a good place to start out when you first take up the game. Great for beginners.
Fireglass - Found in mid range sticks you get more power than wood, without losing much comfort. Often the amount of fibreglass will vary from 30-70% in a midrange stick. Great for developing players, often as a second stick once you settle into the sport.
The thinking goes that the more carbon you have, the more power you are transferring into the ball. This is true, but carbon isn’t everything. The higher the carbon element the harder it is to control the ball at speed. That’s why our top stick is not 100% carbon. In fact, very few field hockey sticks are genuinely 100% carbon. A full carbon stick has a shorter life expectancy but you will see increased power as the pay off. Great for more experienced players and those looking to do a high volume of striking.
Kevlar & Aramite
These are used to reinforce the sticks. They are becoming less and less common in terms of a priority for players but worth keeping in mind.
When making a decision on what composition to use, consider how confident you are in your skills and what you want to do with your next stick. The more carbon the harder you can hit the ball, but the more skillful you need to be.
What is the bend or bow of a hockey stick?
The bend or bow in the stick is something you can learn to play with. The more you play with it the better you will become.
Think about how you play the game, and how you want to play the game in the future when deciding what sort of bow to look for.
Isn’t a hockey stick just a straight piece of wood!? Nope!
In fact a straight stick would be awful to play with! You’ve got standard bow bows, mid bows, extra low bows and everything in between!
So what does it all mean?
This is probably the closest to the straight stick you may be thinking of. This suits absolute beginners first entering the game. Within a season or two most would expect to move on to a mid bow.
This tends to suit beginners and people moving toward intermediate level as the basic skills can be learnt and applied easily. Receiving and giving passes will generally be easy, as will shooting. Lifting the ball and slinging it in a pass is a bit easier with a mid bow.
The position of the bend in the stick is vital. For people who are looking to drag flick and lift the ball overhead in a long distance, a low bow is very helpful. But this makes other skills harder, hitting and stopping the ball can become more difficult. The sharper the bend the harder reverse stick striking becomes. Great for experienced players.
Extra Low Bow
Often reserved for the most skillful of players this will aid “3D” skills, whereby the ball is played below knee height but off the ground while dribbling. It is great for drag flicks and lifting the ball long distances but stopping and hitting become even harder. Great for goalscorers and advanced players.
Ultimately the bend or bow in the stick is something you can learn to play with. The more you play with it the better you will become. In store you can try the sticks out and ask for advice. Think about how you play the game, and how you want to play the game in the future when deciding what sort of bow to look for. If you want to be a no nonsense player with great basics a mid bow is probably for you. If you are a jack of all traits and a master of some low bow. If you are all about the flair and goalscoring generally an extra low bow will be best!
1) Does the stick interfere with the body? Children are often keen to get a bigger stick - they won’t always need one. If it is too big the handle will jab them in the stomach when they use it.
2) Are they bending over too far? Hockey is played in a squat position, or as some call it “The Toilet Seat Position”. They should have a straight back when playing with minimal bend of the spine. If they are having to bend over too much it will be obvious.
3) Is it comfortable? This is the most important part. If the player can use the stick without difficulty then you are on to a winner!
About The Author
Simon Webb, UK Field Hockey Leader:
The Hockey Family is a concept I believe in wholeheartedly. I’ve played hockey all over the world and the bond we share is unique. It’s a sport of respect, fun, athleticism and equality. I’ve been lucky to manage at international and national level, umpire regional competitive games and national league friendlies, volunteer in European and Olympic competitions, be a journalist & photographer.
By being part of the Decathlon Field Hockey Project I am so happy to help millions of people enjoy the sport I love and live! Nothing thrills me more than to hear stories of hockey so please get in contact!