How to pick the perfect field hockey stick

Depending on where you are in the world, the term 'hockey' can often refer to ice hockey, roller hockey or more popularly in the UK, field hockey. While it is not actively televised like other team-based sports such as football and rugby, field hockey is a sport that consistently grows in popularity every year and is considered the second most played sport in the world (after football/soccer).

Dating back nearly 3,000 years, hockey has transformed numerous times to be the game we now know and love – from watching the Olympics to playing in school, university or as part of a club.

Arguably, one of the most important parts about the game for players is choosing the right stick, but there are an array of sticks available and some of the terminology can be confusing. In this article, we'll be covering the basic anatomy of field hockey sticks and how to choose the right one for you.

Length

hockey-size-guide

Typically, the length of your hockey stick is dependent upon your height. Sticks can range from 24" to 38" and the basic recommendation is to make sure the top of the hockey stick comes up to the top of your hip bone.

However, there are pros and cons to selecting a longer or shorter stick in comparison to your height. A longer stick is often used by defensive or midfield players to increase the distance they can reach to hit the ball, while shorter sticks can be a benefit to offensive players, offering better control and overall handling of the ball. Despite this, you should always be comfortable with the hockey stick you are playing with, meaning that length should be considered a personal preference.

If you are looking to coach younger children in hockey, the suggested measurement is from their belly button to their toe.

You can find our hockey stick size guide below:

Length

Height

24"

3'5" and under

26"

3'6" – 3'7"

28"

3'8" – 4'0"

30"

4'1" – 4'3"

32"

4'4" – 4'6"

34"

4'7" – 5'

35-35.5"

5'1" – 5'3"

36-36.5"

5'4" – 5'9"

37-38"

5'10" and over

Weight

Much like length, the weight of your hockey stick is also dependent upon things such as personal preference and position played. Again, there are benefits to favouring heavier or lighter sticks which are worth noting when deciding what style of player you are or the demands of the position you are playing in. Field Hockey sticks can range from 535 grams to 560 grams in weight.

Heavier sticks are often more durable, adding more power and distance to your hits, enabling you to pass or clear the ball quickly when in defensive situations.

Lighter sticks allow for a quicker backswing and, much like a shorter stick, are often favoured by attacking players. Field hockey has the fastest swing speed of any sport, and a lighter stick will only aide this ability!

Also be aware of the balance point of your hockey stick. The balance point refers to distribution of weight across the stick. Some sticks will have more weight focused on the toe; others will have the weight evenly distributed throughout. The lower the balance point, the heavier the toe will feel.

Composition

Another factor when choosing your stick is the material composition. With ever increasing advancements in the sport, hockey sticks can come in a variety of materials including Wood, Carbon, Aramid and Fibreglass.

Hockey sticks

Composite hockey sticks contain different levels of these materials and they can each have an impact on the weight, stiffness, power, price and performance of the stick. It's important to not feel overwhelmed when choosing your stick, so understanding the pros and cons of each material is crucial.

Wood

By far the most popular within the sport, wooden hockey sticks offer improved control but they are often less powerful for taking shots. Beginners may come across wooden hockey sticks more often than not; they are more affordable commonly used when introducing new players to the sport.

With artificial turf becoming the most popular surface for typical field hockey matches, composite sticks soon became the preferred option as they were harder wearing and offered further protection against rough surfaces and wet pitches.

Carbon

As one of the more sought-after composites for experienced players, carbon can often be an expensive option. Sticks can come with a varying degree of carbon, the more carbon the stiffer the stick, resulting in more power transferred into the ball. A higher carbon percentage can also affect the price, potentially making them unattainable for the average amateur player.

Sticks with a high percentage of carbon are not recommended for inexperienced or younger players as the increased stiffness can cause issues with receiving and controlling the ball, as well as injury to wrists and elbows should they not be fully developed/strengthened. The ideal amount for beginners or children is 0-30%.

Carbon is also less resilient than other materials and can break relatively easily, this is why you will often see carbon sticks paired with aramid and fibreglass.

Aramid (Kevlar)

Aramid is a collection of strong, heat resistant fibres which are often used in aerospace, the military and body armour. Aramid is more commonly known by one of its most popular brand names -Kevlar.

It adds an additional layer of durability to field hockey sticks which absorb any vibrations passing through when receiving or striking balls.

Usually, professional hockey sticks are made up of a higher percentage of carbon (85 – 90 percent) with a smaller mixture of aramid and fibreglass.

Fibreglass

A lighter but more durable material, fibreglass can be used in conjunction with both aramid and carbon, although it can also be used as a standalone composite option.

A lighter but more durable material, fibreglass is often used in conjunction with composites aramid and carbon to improve strength and durability, especially as a form of defence for sticks with higher percentages of carbon.

Fibreglass is also considered a more economical material than carbon as it is far easier and more cost efficient to manufacture.
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Bow

An important part of a field hockey stick, known as the 'bow', is also something to consider when looking to purchase. The bow refers to the amount of curve or bend along the surface of the stick and it can directly affect your playing style. There are different terms you may hear when choosing the right hockey stick such as the standard bow (19-22mm), mid bow (22-24mm) and low bow (24-25mm).

Low bow

A stick with a low bow is typically used by more experienced players. Popular for drag flicks, aerials and push passes, the low bow offers the ability for a player to be more skilful, accurate and dynamic with their movement.

A low bow is not recommended for those with little exposure to the game as players can find it quite hard to control, especially when it comes to hitting and stopping the ball. The bend is closest to the head of the stick.

Mid bow

A mid bow's (sometimes referred to as a mega bow) curve is located closer to the toe of the stick. A mid bow offers better 'feel' for flicking or aerial play than the standard bow and has better control and power. This is often a chosen stick for a defensive or midfield players who block more than pass.

Also ideal for goalkeepers as field hockey sticks with mid bow offers better control however, if you're looking to perform better aerials or 3D skills then a mid bow may not be for you.

Standard bow

The ideal curve for maximising control and power, the standard bow is a comfortable stick and is considered the most versatile for all hockey positions. The curve falls directly in the middle of the stick.

We would recommend starting your journey as a field hockey player by purchasing a standard bow to allow yourself time to develop and improve skills however, you should still be mindful of how comfortable the stick is in general.

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Toe Shape

There are four types of toe shape on Field Hockey sticks, Shorti, Midi, Maxi and Hook. Each level of curve has its own purpose - the smaller toes provide a player with more agility but lack in power and the larger toe shapes can give players a bigger surface area to strike and receive the ball but will often reduce movement.

Shorti

Shorties are usually the most common toe shape for attacking players, aiding manoeuvrability, close control and promoting balance. It has a much smaller surface area for hitting the ball and is most commonly used by offensive players.

Midi

Midis are perhaps the most popular toe shape for beginners, allowing players a larger hitting surface to improve ball flicking, reverse play and receiving. This type of toe shape is also popular among midfielders, giving them the ability to move the ball quickly while dribbling.

Maxi

Ideal for drag flicks and reverse stick control, the maxi toe shape combines the advantages of both the hook and midi toe. It has a larger surface area for hitting and improves power.

The perfect shape for defensive players and works well on grass surfaces.

Hook

The hook toe shape is perhaps the most recognisable by its resemblance of the letter 'J', it is made with two pieces of head to provide an extra surface area for overall better ball control, improved drag flicks and reverse style play.

Choosing the right field hockey stick - types of toe

Budget/Brands

There are a number of brands to consider when it comes to the best hockey sticks, some of the most popular brands include Grays, TK, Gryphon, Adidas and Malik.

Of course, every stick comes with its own price tag and that is influenced by the factors mentioned above. Prices can range anywhere between £30 - £300 with composite hockey sticks that have high levels of carbon often being the most expensive.

Using all the above information, you should have some idea as to which stick is right for you. Remember, the anatomy of a stick directly correlates to the position in which you play and choosing the wrong bow, toe shape or even weight can directly affect the impact you have in a game.

Most reputable retailers will offer you the chance to test out sticks in store so you can find the most comfortable, set yourself a reasonable budget so you don't purchase something you find difficult to use or not suited to your playing style.

For more tips and information about playing hockey, check out our guide to field hockey pitch dimensions and our range of hockey goals and training equipment.