HOCKEY STICK BUYING GUIDE by Lara Valstar

Whilst budget is always important, don’t make the mistake of purchasing a cheaper stick in the short-term and then regretting it later. 

 

There are essentially two stick considerations to take into account as an aspiring hockey player-  irrespective of your playing level:

1)      Optimal stick length

2)      Your field position play (striker, link, defender, goalie)

 

1)     STICK LENGTH

As a general guide, use the table below when choosing the correct stick length.  When standing, hold the stick to your side leg – the stick should come up to around the hipbone level.  Below is a guide only though as personal preference plays a part.  A defender may want a longer reach, so could therefore choose a slightly longer stick, whilst a striker may choose a shorter stick which could assist in quick stick handling on attack.

 

YOUR HEIGHT

STICK LENGTH

107cm or less

24"

109 - 112cm

26"

112 - 122cm

28"

124 - 131cm

30"

133 - 140cm

32"

142 - 152cm

34"

154 - 161cm

35"

163 - 170cm

36"

172 - 180cm

37"

183cm or more

38"

 

2)     FIELD POSITION AND STICKS

Most hockey players have preferred playing positions.  There are a few that are utility players and can assist a team by playing in multiple positions when needed.  Generally though, when choosing a stick, think of your favourite position and choose stick length, weight, hook and stick bow accordingly. 

 

·        WEIGHT

Most sticks weigh between 538 – 623g.  So which is the right weighted stick for me?  Let field position be your guide.  A striker will choose something a bit lighter for quick stick skills under pressure, whilst a defender may choose a slightly heavier stick for a harder hit.  However, with astro being the playing surface of choice, the speed and technical aspects of the game have increased considerably.  Very few defenders hit the ball anymore as the slap is more accurate and faster.  If you’re a link or defender, choose a balance that feels right as you swing or do yardsticks. 

 

·      WHAT ABOUT THE SHAFT BOW?

In a nutshell, elite players (national, provincial and 1st league) drag flickers or aerial experts will choose a maximum shaft bow (regulations permit 25mm).  However, a standard bow of between 17mm and 22mm allows for greater stopping control and more accurate slap hitting.

·        HEAD, HOOK OR TOE

Again, this is a personal choice, but the guideline below could assist:

·          Shorti

This is the shortest tow with the smallest hitting area.  Very few sticks are produced with this design anymore as the advent of aerial skills on astro require a larger hook area.

·          Midi

This is a great toe shape for beginners, allowing control and head speed on the ball.  This shape also has a larger sweet spot for hitting.

·          Maxi

This toe shape offers greater hitting power and tackling surface areas and is often chosen by defenders.  A good choice for reverse hitters, short-corner injectors and skilled players using 3D aerial play like overheads, pops and drag-flicks in their game.

·          Hook

Almost in a J-shape, this head gives greater control on the ball due to its larger surface area.  This head is favored by high level drag-flickers and is also ideal for all aerial skills, evasive dodge techniques and reverse stick play.

Hockey Bow shape

 

·        STICK COMPOSITION

There is some debate about stick composition, with different brands favoring varying degrees of materials in their sticks.  Simplified, materials used in sticks are :

§  Carbon                 – adds stiffness (greater % carbon, the stiffer = power output)

§  Kevlar                   – adds strength (also reduces vibration)

§  Fibreglass            – add durability and strength (also reduces vibration)

§  Graphene            – great for shock absorption and therefore control and performance

§  Wood                   –flexible and forgiving, but being replaced with modern technology

So which stick is right for me? 

§  A Junior/Beginner (age 10 and under) would perhaps be offered a stick with a low power level.   A stick made with a mix of the above (more wood and fibreglass), but virtually no carbon.  These materials would assist in developing key skills focusing on ball control and less power. 

§  A Junior Intermediate (age 10 – 13) would be looking for more power, but still would need flexibility (less vibration) and durability.  Manufacturers would add more carbon (15-20%).

§  An Advanced Player (over aged 14 or playing for 2 or more years) would be looking for power and control.  These sticks would have more carbon (<70%).

§  An Elite Player (15 and older, perhaps playing club or higher level) would want a stick that offered power, control and precision – this is delivered by using virtually 100% carbon.  Maximum power output.

 

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