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How to Choose a Field Hockey Stick
Whether you’re new to the sport or looking to upgrade your gear, finding a field hockey stick that’s right for you is important for your quality of play. We break down the 7 most important things to consider when looking for a new field hockey stick.
Choose a stick that matches your skill level. For beginners, look for a stick that allows you to focus on the fundamentals and learn control. As you advance your skills, consider a stick with the right balance of control and power.
Stick selection is personal and largely depends on what feels the most comfortable to you. Consider which skills are most important to your game and performance and find a stick that enhances your playing style.
If you like to do aerials, the type of stick you choose will be very different from someone who doesn't use that skill in their game. There are some defenders who have an aerial game, like Team USA’s Ali Campbell, even though aerials are more traditionally used by offensive players. Knowing what skills you want to maximize will help you with stick selection.
If you’re just learning what kinds of skill you prefer, then where you play on the pitch should also influence your stick choice. The stick you choose should enhance your skills in that position. For example, an offensive player should look for a stick that is built for precision and quick movement on the pitch.
The best stick weight is going to depend on your strength, position, style of play and personal preference. A light to medium weight stick (approx. 540-560 grams) is ideal for quick, controlled stick work. Many sticks fall within this range.
Very lightweight sticks, those under 540 grams, tend be used by more advanced players and are less commonly used by beginners.
Heavier sticks, which are over 560 grams, are most appropriate for players who feel that they get more power from the additional weight.
The composition of your stick largely determines its strength and how controllable it is. Knowing the carbon content can help determine the best stick for your style of play.
A higher level of carbon creates a stiffer stick with more strength and power in hits. This stiffness also causes more deflection when receiving passes and requires more control.
For a guide, consider looking for sticks with the following range of carbon based on your skill level:
60-100% for Advanced & Elite
30-60% for Intermediate
0-30% for Beginner
All sticks are made with a bow depth dimension between 19 and 24 millimeters. The 24mm bow depth is the largest allowed for regulation play and is found in advanced level sticks. A standard bow is the straightest shape and is easier to control than the more advanced bow shapes that are lower on the stick. Advanced players can use a straighter or lower bow. Which type you choose is based on personal preference depending on what works best for your playing style.
Bow depth dimensions can be the same on different sticks, but the location of the bow and whether it is closer or further away from the toe can help with certain skills. A stick with a bow closer to the toe, like STX's new Stallion 600, is helpful for creating momentum for a drag flicker and will be easier to get under the ball for better for aerial skills. A bow located in the middle of stick is very versatile and can be used for all positions.
The toe is important for enhancing skills and complimenting the way a player strikes the ball. The curve and surface area determines the right toe shape for your style of play.
A shorti is the most maneuverable and ideal for quick stick skills and the best control. The midi toe shape is ideal for beginners and mid-fielders and is great for skills including shooting, flicking and receiving. The largest toe, a maxi, gives a larger surface area for striking with power and is the most common toe shape.
The balance point refers to the weighting of the stick and whether the weight is focused in the toe or distributed more evenly throughout the stick. The balance point is measured from the hook of the toe up the shaft. The lower the balance point, the heavier the toe feels.
Katie’s stick of choice, the Stallion 800, has an optimal balance point at 39cm from the top of the hook. This gives the stick a lightweight feel even though its total weight is 570 grams.
Use this guide to help you find the perfect stick to compliment your game and take it to the next level!
Once you pick your stick, it’s time to practice stick work. Check out our skills and drills series with Team USA and Team STX athletes for tips on how to #PlayHuge.