It would be difficult to argue that the most important piece of hockey equipment is your hockey stick, so it’s important to make sure you get the perfect size to suit you.
What size Hockey Stick do I need?
There are a few theories on how to measure a hockey stick's size. The most popular way of measuring it is 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 dribble or try a “v drag”.
It's not unusual for your child to want to upgrade to an adult stick before they are ready as the adult range tends to open up more in the way of composition, shape and graphics. However, this could have a negative impact on the development of your child, encouraging incorrect body posturing.
You’ll know just from observing whether your child is in the right area size-wise. Generally, adults will use a 36.5-inch stick, while some prefer 37.5-inch sticks. 38.5"-inch sticks are now beginning to become popular and can be purchased online for those looking for more 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 by using a longer stick and it shows in the performance. A famous 5'6" Dutch player uses a 38.5"-inch stick as it allows her to run more easily with the ball although this means adjusting her hands regularly to control the ball when it is closer to her feet.
Changing stick sizes is a fairly easy process for most adults. It's important to take time to adjust and learn the basics. Arrive early at training and spend a few minutes hitting the ball into the fence or a goal, and 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 when hockey sticks made of wood reigned supreme. Today, sticks are made of wood, carbon, kevlar, fibreglass and aramite and there are always new innovations emerging.
Basic hockey sticks often made for children 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-made. A full carbon stick has a shorter life expectancy but you will see increased power as the payoff and is popular among more experienced players and those looking to do a high volume of striking.
Kevlar & Aramite
These are used to reinforce the sticks and are becoming less common.
When making a decision on what composition to use, consider how confident you are in your skills and what you want to work and focus on with your next stick. The more carbon, the harder you can hit the ball, but the more skilful 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 and 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.
A hockey stick isn't just a straight piece of wood, 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 the intermediate level as the basic skills can be learnt and applied relatively easily. Receiving and giving passes will generally become easier, as will shooting. Lifting the ball and slinging it in a pass is also slightly 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 does the job for you. But this makes other skills harder; hitting and stopping the ball can become more difficult and affect your overall performance. The sharper the bend, the harder reverse stick striking becomes. No wonder this is 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 level but off the ground while dribbling. It is great for drag flicks and lifting the ball over long distances but stopping and hitting become even harder. This is a great choice 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 in person and get some advice from some of our experts. Think about how you play the game, and how you want to play the game in the future when deciding on what sort of bow you're looking for. If you want to be a no nonsense player with great basics, a mid-bow will most likely be a great fit for you. If you are a jack of all traits and a master of some, get the low bow while if you're all about the flair and goalscoring - an extra low bow will work best!
1) Does the stick interfere with the body? Children are often keen on upgrading to a bigger stick when they won’t always need one. If it is too big, the handle will jab them in the stomach when they use it and make for uncomfortable play.
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 a minimal bend of the spine. If they are having to bend over too much, it'll be clear from a quick glance.
3) Is it comfortable? If the player can use the stick without difficulty then you are onto 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 it the international and national level, umpire regional competitive games and national league friendlies, volunteer in European and Olympic competitions, and have contributed to the sport as 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!"