If you’re improperly holding your field hockey stick, you’re shortchanging yourself. Each shot or pass you make lacks the power that it could possess. In some instances, your team can even incur penalties for wrongfully handling the stick. How should you hold a field hockey stick?
To hold a field hockey stick requires learning the basic grip, where your left hand goes near the top of your stick and your right hand is on the grip, aka the cover on your stick. Your index finger and thumb will make a V on the toe edge.
If you’re confused by some of the terms we used in the paragraph above, you won’t be by the time you’re done reading. Ahead, we’ll go over the basics of holding a field hockey stick in a lot more detail. We’ll also discuss advanced stick-handling concepts, so check it out!
The Basics of Holding a Field Hockey Stick
Before you can get into more advanced techniques such as the reverse grip or one-handed stick holding, you need to master the basics. And to do that, you need to understand all the parts of your field hockey stick. Here’s a quick overview.
- Grip: The grip is the topmost part of the stick. You can tell it apart from the rest of the stick since it’s covered in material, be that leather, rubber, or suede.
- Handle: The handle is the base of the field hockey stick. It’s long and straight. The handle is sometimes called the shank.
- Head: Your hockey stick’s head is the start of the stick’s curve. Players can select from midi, maxi, or J-shaped heads.
- Face: The face is the flat front surface of your field hockey stick.
- Heel: The heel is the rounded back edge of the stick.
- Toe: A field hockey stick’s toe is the opposite rounded edge.
Okay, with those basic terms out of the way, let’s get into how you hold a field hockey stick for beginners.
Place your left hand on the top of your stick and your right on the base of the grip. If your hands are positioned correctly, then your index finger and thumb will touch and make a V shape. This should occur on both hands.
Both Vs should be angled towards the toe of your stick, so if your hands aren’t in that position now, we recommend modifying them so they are.
Is this going to feel awkward at first, especially if you’re a complete beginner in field hockey? You betcha. We suggest practicing the basic stick position as often as you can until your hands and fingers go into the right places intuitively.
After all, the basic grip is the easiest, so you want to feel comfortable doing it. Practice will make perfect!
Once you’re on the field and using the basic grip, it will come in handy a lot. If you need to stop the ball when playing, this grip makes it possible. That’s true as well of hitting the ball and dribbling it.
As you maneuver with your field hockey stick in the basic position, your right hand should never move from its original position. Think of this hand as your control hand. If you move your right hand too much, you won’t have control of the ball, which could allow the other team to take advantage!
It’s your left hand you’re supposed to use for moving, turning, and otherwise maneuvering the field hockey stick when in the basic position.
Advanced Field Hockey Stick Holding Techniques
The following field hockey stick techniques might be considered more advanced, but they’re all ones you’ll have to learn as you progress in the game. That’s why we again must reiterate the importance of mastering the basic technique before moving on to any others.
Although we’ve touched on these techniques before on the blog, we’ll delve even deeper into each one in this section.
Every field hockey player wants to score more goals, and that all starts with the reverse grip. Despite the name of this grip, you’re not inverting the positioning of your hands. Rather, you can think of the reverse grip as a continuation or advancement of the basic grip.
So how do you do a reverse grip? Begin by putting your hands in the basic grip position. Then place your stick so that its flat side is upward. It looks like you’re holding your field hockey stick backward, but that’s the point.
With the reverse grip, you can now flick the ball. Flicking refers to using your stick to push the ball. Then you can lift the ball into the air or move the ball on the ground.
If a fellow teammate sends an aerial pass your way, you can receive their pass with the reverse grip and bring the ball to the ground without incurring a penalty.
Scooping is another technique in which you must know how to reverse grip. In field hockey, a scoop is when you do an aerial pass from a dribble on the left side of the playing field.
In some instances, you might have to take a chip shot from the sideline. This usually happens when a defender puts pressure on the offensive player’s weak side so they’re having a hard time scoring a goal.
When chipping, put your stick into the reverse grip position. Your shooting foot should be aimed towards the goal and the ball. Focus on the edge of the field hockey stick and take a backswing.
Finally, you can use the reverse grip for a reverse hit or scoring drive. This is how you score goals with a reverse grip. You intentionally exploit your weak side so the opposing team can’t defend on that side, opening the opportunity for you to score a goal.
Frying Pan Grip
The second advanced way of holding a field hockey stick is called the frying pan grip. The reverse drive that we described in the paragraph above can be done solely with a reverse grip, but a frying pan grip can also be of great assistance.
Let’s talk about how it’s done. You want to begin in a similar position as the reverse grip, with both your hands on the top of your stick. This will form a double-V grip due to your finger positioning.
Next, turn your stick so it’s in alignment with your field surface. In doing so, your stick’s flat side should be upward. Check that the stick is parallel with the ground; if so, you’ve got the frying-pan grip down pat.
Besides reverse drives, you can also rely on the frying pan grip for any sweeping motion. These kinds of dramatic hits don’t always come in handy when playing field hockey, but if the moment calls for one, you’ll want to know how it’s done.
Anytime you hit the ball with the inside part of your field hockey stick, you’ll also want to switch into a frying-pan grip position.
Let’s talk about the double-V grip now. As you have for every other technique, begin by putting both hands on the top of your stick. You have two choices for where your right hand will go in conjunction with your left hand.
Your right hand can either be overlapping on top of your left hand or right underneath it (not overlapping). Try both positions to determine which feels more natural to you, then stick with it.
Either way, your hands will make a V between the index finger and thumb. Like with the basic grip technique, that V shape is aimed towards the toe of your stick. If it isn’t, then we’d suggest adjusting your right hand instead of your left one. This can also help if your hands feel uncomfortable whether your right hand is underneath the left or over top.
This kind of hand positioning majorly increases your hitting power, which is why the double-V is so useful. You’ll have a lot more force than usual, but the key is keeping your hands together. The more distance between your hands, the weaker your hits.
The last advanced grip technique is the short-handle grip. You put your hands midway down the handle of your field hockey stick, hence why this technique is known as the short-handle grip.
We saved this one for last because your hand positioning is a lot like the double-V grip. For that reason, it’s a good idea to get comfortable with that way of holding your field hockey stick first.
Place your hands on the handle or shaft of your stick with your hands close together. The V shape your hands make should be aimed at the curved portion of your field hockey stick near the toe.
This might seem like a strange way to hold your stick, but it’s to shorten the amount of time required to make a backswing or do any follow-through. That allows you to hit the ball swiftly so you can take advantage of an opening you see before the opposing team can act.
Slapshots are also a lot easier to do with a short-handle grip, so give them a try.
How to Hold a Field Hockey Stick Left-Handed or Right-Handed
Whether you’re a right-handed or left-handed player, the way you hold your field hockey stick per the instructions above should not change. If you need to put your non-dominant hand in a dominant position, then that’s what you should do.
You might feel like you’re at a disadvantage initially, but the opposite is true. Once you adjust to using your non-dominant hand in field hockey, you have more options when playing. You can surprise your opponents by playing on your weaker side.
That so-called weaker side won’t always be that way, by the way. As you play with both sides more and strengthen them, you’ll feel comfortable using your left hand and right hand alike for playing field hockey.
How to Hold a Field Hockey Stick One-Handed
After practicing and playing with the above techniques for a while, you might wish to take your field hockey game to the next level still. In that case, you’re ready to learn how to hold your stick one-handed.
You should become comfortable handling a stick one-handed in both your left and right hands. Playing like this is a great way to strengthen your weaker hand so you’re an even more effective field hockey player!
One-Handed Righty Grip
If you’re using only your right hand to hold your field hockey stick, you want to put your hand on the top of the stick. Your index finger and thumb will make a V shape that’s aimed at the toe of your stick.
On turf ground, you might find a one-handed grip more convenient for playing, but it’s not as good on grass. Field hockey players also favor the one-handed righty grip when they want to dribble faster, as this technique allows them to do that.
One-Handed Lefty Grip
The one-handed lefty grip entails holding the field hockey stick in that hand. You want your hand on the top of your stick as you would when holding the stick only with your right hand.
Next, turn your stick so the flat side is facing forward. The V shape your index finger and thumb make should be on the back of the stick, aka the opposite side of where it curves. This positioning can be tricky to do at first, so keep practicing.
If you need to dribble off your left side, then gripping the stick with your left hand will surely be useful. When it comes to one-handed gripping though, field hockey players are likelier to use their right hand than their left.
There’s no one way you’ll hold a field hockey stick. You’ll begin with the basic grip, but then once you’ve got that down, you’ll learn techniques such as one-handed stick handling, the reverse grip, the frying-pan grip, or the double V.
It takes mastery of each of the techniques we discussed today to be a truly good field hockey player. Remember to take it slow and practice often and that mastery for you will come someday!