A field hockey player trying to find the right stick is like Harry Potter choosing the right wand. The weight, bow, and the curve of a stick are all attributes that players must consider when purchasing sticks. But what about indoor versus outdoor use?
Using an indoor hockey stick for outdoor play is not recommended. This is because an outdoor field hockey pitch is almost double the size of an indoor field; the sticks used for outdoor play are heavier to accomplish farther passes and sharper shots at greater distances.
Despite their differences in weight, the overall design of a hockey stick does not change whether you play indoors or outdoors. However, improvements to the sticks in different areas can benefit outdoor and indoor field hockey players in different ways. In the remainder of this article, we’ll discuss the various parts of a field hockey stick and the differences between indoor and outdoor versions that make their use exclusive to each playing field.
Parts of a Field Hockey Stick
Before going into the differences between indoor and outdoor field hockey sticks, it’s essential to understand the components involved.
- Grip – This is the part of the stick held in your hands. Players use different types and wrap to customize the feel of their grasp.
- Cradle – This is the portion of the stick where the controlling hand rests. It is right above the end of the grip and the beginning of the bow.
- Head –The curved head of the hockey stick has a flat side and a rounded side. This is the portion of the stick that touches the ground and is the primary area to strike the ball.
- Toe – This is the tip of the head that curves upward. The toe of the stick is used in skilled ball handling. There are four different types of toe design:
- Shorti – This is the shortest and thinnest toe design; it is used for fast, agile ball handling. This toe shape has the smallest striking area, making it difficult for beginning players. It is a typical curve shape for strikers and indoor players.
- Midi – This is the most common toe shape. It provides balanced performance for pushes and ball handling with an average size striking area; this is the best toe for beginners.
- Maxi – The maxi has a large striking surface, used for powerful drag-flicks and reverse ball handling. This is a toe design that is good for defensive players but is becoming more popular for playmakers who look to inject the ball into the scoring circle.
- Hook – Also known as the “J-shape.” This offers the largest striking surface. It is a toe shape that revolutionized the customization of hockey sticks but is not as popular anymore because of the added weight.
- Heel – The heel is the right below the toe; it is the curved part of the head that connects to the toe. There are different widths and angle combinations that players use to improve ball handling.
- Scoop – A small indentation at the beginning of the head. The scoop is used to cradle the ball when maneuvering pushes, drags, and turns. The scoop is crucial for skilled ball-handling players that are forward attackers.
- Bow – The bow of a stick is between the cradle and the head. When a stick is laid flat on the ground, this part of the stick bows off the ground. It is used for lifts, aerials, and drag flicks. There are two different bow types:
- Mid bow – The highest point of the curve is in the middle of the bow; this is a standard bow that is used from beginners to intermediate players.
- Low bow – This bow is used by more elite players that have strong stick handling skills. A low bow is where the curve’s highest point is closer to the head of the stick; this improves aerials and lifts.
Indoor vs. Outdoor Field Hockey Sticks
The game of field hockey is relatively the same, whether it is played indoors or outdoors. The equipment and tactics are identical, as well. The only differences you’ll notice are field size, the number of players, and the rules. To accommodate these differences, you’ll find that indoor and outdoor hockey sticks—as well as other equipment—are not only made with different weights but other slight changes in features.
Indoor Field Hockey Sticks
With indoor field hockey, the ball is lighter, the pitch is smaller (enclosed by boards), and indoor rules prohibit aerials. Because lifts and aerials are prohibited during indoor play, the bows of the sticks used are not as curved as outdoor sticks. The mid bow is the most predominant curve type you will find.
Because the focus of indoor hockey is speed and ball management, stick skills and dribbling are paramount for players. To accommodate this, indoor sticks are lighter and thinner than outdoor sticks; the material the sticks are made from contributes to this.
Indoor sticks are predominately made of fiberglass and carbon fiber. These composite materials are light, durable materials that reduce uncomfortable vibrations. Given the restrictions to backswing and aerials, there is no need for super sturdy sticks indoors. However, there are some exceptions like Gray’s affordable indoor sticks that is wood reinforced with fiberglass.
Outdoor Field Hockey Sticks
Since lifts and aerials are only allowed in outdoor hockey, the sticks used in games have different specifications, depending upon the desired usage. The key differences you will see are in the curve of the bow and its overall weight.
A longer and more aggressive bow on an outdoor hockey stick allows players to lift the ball for aerial plays. Aerials are most used by forwards and attackers that need to create separation from a defender to either complete a pass or find a clear shot to the net.
More power needs to be generated in outdoor hockey because the ball is heavier; therefore, the hockey stick is built heavier and more durable to handle the impact with it. Outdoor hockey sticks are typically made from wood, composites, or a combination of both.
Recommended Outdoor Field Hockey Sticks
If you only own an indoor field hockey stick and want to play an outdoor game, it is highly recommended that you invest in an outdoor stick to avoid damage to the indoor stick and significantly improve your game. The following are some of the highest-rated outdoor stick options on the market:
This is a durable carbon composite stick with a shallow bow, specializing in drag-flicks. The professional level stiffness delivers a hard strike. This is an excellent stick for above-average players who are looking to upgrade to a pro-level stick. However, due to its quality, the price tag is a bit higher compared to other options.
The extremely low bow of the Malik Platinum offers superior advantages for drag-flicks and ball handling. Ideal for aggressive forwards and attackers. This stick comes with a hefty price tag but can deliver the goods in the scoring zone.
Best for elite players, and touted by the pros, the STX Surgeon is considered the peak of performance for goal scorers. Its low bow with control channel design gives players unique aerial advantages. The maxi toe gives skilled ball handlers plenty of room to drag and turn their opponents to the turf. Even though this is the most expensive stick in the list, it delivers the best performance.
Using an outdoor field hockey stick for an indoor game can be permitted depending upon the league’s rules, but using an indoor stick for an outdoor match is not recommended. The slight differences in the pitch size, number of players, rules, and ball weight make it necessary to use sticks specifically designed for outdoor play.
If you want to start playing outdoor field hockey, there’s nothing wrong with making a good investment in an outdoor stick. Several options are relatively affordable and can match your experience level.