The right field hockey stick can be the difference between easy, almost effortless handling and missing a shot because your stick is too heavy. How do you choose a stick to take your field hockey game to the next level?
Here are some tips for buying the right field hockey stick:
- Select a stick that matches your experience level
- Pick a durable material
- Consider the bow and toe designs
- Measure your height and use a stick that’s commensurate
- Avoid sticks that are too heavy
This post will make buying a field hockey stick easy, even if this will be your first one. Ahead, we’ll talk about field hockey stick materials, how the properties of a field hockey stick are different by skill level, and where your height configures into the whole thing.
Let’s get started!
Field Hockey Sticks by Experience Level
Are you brand-new to field hockey or have you played several seasons already? One of the considerations in selecting a field hockey stick is your level of experience.
Please don’t pretend that you’re more advanced in field hockey than you are at current. You’re only doing yourself a disservice, trust us. Also, don’t buy a stick for how you hope to play next season or six months from now. Instead, you need a stick that supports your skill level right here, right now.
It varies by manufacturer, but field hockey sticks that are categorized by experience level are usually in one of four classes: beginner, intermediate, expert, and elite. Let’s take a closer look at the differences between these sticks now.
A beginner-friendly stick will help you learn the basics of field hockey. These sticks aren’t very powerful, but that’s okay. They don’t need to be. You’re trying to develop your technical skills. Power will come later once you gain more technique.
Most beginner field hockey sticks are wood or fiberglass, as both materials are low on power but durable enough that even totally green players won’t damage their sticks. You also get a high degree of control, which you need at your skill level.
The second level of field hockey stick, so to speak, is the intermediate stick. Some brands refer to them as competitive sticks.
An intermediate field hockey stick is more flexible than a beginner’s stick, so you don’t have to sacrifice control of the ball. These sticks also introduce power into the equation so you can begin focusing on long-distance shots that will help you score goals.
Competitive field hockey sticks contain maybe 20 percent carbon to reduce vibrations. These sticks are still plenty durable, so they’re ideal for players who have learned most of the basics but are still not seasoned experts.
If you’ve been playing field hockey for a while, you’ll soon graduate to an expert stick, which is also known as an advanced stick. Flexibility and power are the driving factors of these field hockey sticks.
By increasing the carbon content even further than an intermediate stick, an expert field hockey stick lowers the rate of vibrations more efficiently. You can also experiment with even more power than you’d find in a competitive field hockey stick.
Once you feel like a master of the game, you can play with an elite field hockey stick. These are the crème de la crème of field hockey sticks, but they’re also the least forgiving. You must be very confident in your technique to effectively use an elite stick.
These field hockey sticks drive up the amount of carbon so it’s between 70 and 100 percent. You’ll have the most power out of an elite stick while still maintaining a modicum of flexibility, at least of sticks that aren’t 100 percent carbon.
Field Hockey Stick Materials
While we touched on field hockey stick materials in the last section, we want to discuss them in more detail now. Depending on how you like to play the game, you’ll want a stick made of a certain material or even a combination of materials.
A type of fiber, Aramid or aromatic polyamide fibers are both durable and heat-resistant. Outside of sports such as field hockey, Aramid is a trusted material for military and aerospace applications such as reinforcing marine hulls or making body armor.
As you can guess then, Aramid makes for a very strong field hockey stick material. The ability of your stick to absorb shocks increases incrementally with an Aramid stick. When you play, you’ll enjoy a greater degree of power as well as more stick feel so you can play intuitively.
The classic hockey stick material, wood is very forgiving. That’s due to how very flexible a wooden field hockey stick is. The lack of stiffness does mean sacrificing power, which is why wood is only used for beginner and intermediate field hockey sticks and not advanced or elite ones.
A popular field hockey stick material, especially when added to composites such as carbon, fiberglass is strong and hard to damage. You get more power when hitting with a fiberglass stick than you do wood.
The performance abilities of a fiberglass field hockey stick make it a popular material, as does the high-end feel without it being overly expensive. They’re lightweight enough that you can easily handle a fiberglass stick, and they’re somewhat forgiving (just not as much as wooden sticks).
The last field hockey stick material is carbon. As you might have noticed from the last section, manufacturers add carbon to field hockey sticks to increase their degree of stiffness. More stiffness lends you a greater amount of power, but these are the least forgiving field hockey sticks you can select.
Although having more power is great, carbon is heavy too. Sticks with more than 70 percent carbon are going to be unwieldy if you’re not used to their weight, which will likely impact your playing.
Outside of the material you select for your field hockey stick, you can always reinforce the stick further with tape. Ceramic tape uses woven fibers to lessen the vibrations you feel when your stick connects with the ball.
Kevlar tape also reduces shock absorption while carbon fiber tape can make a flexible field hockey stick stiffer.
Field Hockey Bow Design Options
In field hockey, every stick has a bow. This is the part of your stick that curves between the toe (which we’ll talk more about shortly) and the handle.
Although the differences are sometimes subtle, there are indeed differences between the various bow designs. Yours can be a late bow, a control bow, or a regular bow. Here’s an overview of each.
A late bow or extreme bow has the most pronounced curve, as the bow is up to 25 millimeters. Intended for expert and elite field hockey players, the late bow will assist you when making aerial shots, drag flicking, and lifting. You’ll also appreciate the excellent control you get out of a late bow.
A control bow is slightly shorter, between 22 and 23 millimeters. The curve of the bow (which is also called a low bow) is suitable for advanced players but not elites. You’ll be able to drag-flick and lift the ball easily, although not as much as you could with a late bow.
The smallest bow is the regular bow or classic bow, which might be 20 millimeters or 22 millimeters. The stick’s center is where the curve of this bow is the most pronounced. A regular bow delivers an optimal amount of power and control, so it’s no wonder that many field hockey players prefer it so much.
Field Hockey Toe Design Options
As we said we would, let’s talk more about the toe. A field hockey stick’s toe is the rounded end of the stick. The shape and style of the toe will influence your abilities, so let’s present an overview of your field hockey stick toe options.
A hook toe is shaped like a J. It’s more expansive so it’s easier to catch the ball as it rolls across the field. Most hook toes have a multi-piece head that augments your sense of control when playing.
Many field hockey players use shorties, especially if they favor an offensive style. A shorty toe promotes control, maneuvering, and balance while allowing you to turn the ball as you need to.
For the field hockey players in the midfield, there’s the appropriately-named midi toe. Slightly longer and bigger than shorties, a midi toe enables you to reverse-play, receive, and flick the ball. This toe style is also good for beginner players.
The last field hockey toe style is the maxi, which defensive players will use a lot. The toe has great hitting ability and is large enough to receive the ball with ease.
How to Choose a Field Hockey Stick by Your Height
By putting together all the information we’ve discussed to this point, you should have chosen a type of field hockey stick based on your skill level, preferred material, toe design, and bow design.
Now it’s time to help you match a stick to your height.
If you don’t already know your height (your true height, no exaggerations), then that’s your first order of business. Grab a measuring tape and calculate how tall you are in feet and inches.
Next, visit your favorite sports supply store and begin trying different field hockey sticks. To test whether your stick is sized appropriately, all you have to do is take your right-hand index finger and put it on your hip right by the hipbone. Take both your middle and ring fingers on your right hand and place them beside your index finger.
Is the top of the field hockey stick near your ring finger? If so, then great! Your stick is the right size. If not, then you might want to size up or down depending on the distance between your finger and the stick.
Here is the recommended field hockey stick length based on your height:
- 4 feet or shorter – 28-inch stick
- 4’1” to 4’3” – 30-inch stick
- 4’4” to 4’6” – 32-inch stick
- 4’7” to 5 feet – 34-inch stick
- 5’1” to 5’3” – 35-inch to 35.5-inch stick
- 5’4” to 5’9” – 36-inch to 36.5-inch stick
- 5’10” or taller – 37-inch to 37.5-inch stick
Considerations for Field Hockey Stick Weight
We want to briefly talk more about the weight of your field hockey stick, as it’s an important factor to keep in mind as you shop around.
Besides the material used to construct your stick, considerations such as the toe and bow designs, additional reinforcements, and the height of your field hockey stick can also make it heavier. Most sticks that competitive players use weigh 22 to 24 ounces.
As a beginner, you might want an even lighter stick just so you can acclimate to handling it. Once you get into team games, double-check that your stick with all the above fixings fits within that weight range.
If your stick is heavier than 24 ounces, it will be too stiff! We’ve mentioned this on the blog before, but a very stiff field hockey stick is unusable.
Buying the right field hockey stick requires you to honestly assess your skill level, determine if you need more power or flexibility in your stick at that skill level, and then select a toe design and bow design.
The field hockey stick you play with now won’t be your stick forever. Wear and tear will cause you to have to replace yours, or perhaps you’re getting better at the game and you need a stiffer stick.
Some players prefer one field hockey stick for practicing and a better, more durable stick for competitive play. Others choose different stick qualities depending on the role they’ll occupy on their teams, such as midfielder, offense, or defense.
Whatever the reason, the next time you’re in the market for a new field hockey stick, this information will certainly come in handy!