You don't need to be a star on the field to know you can't grab any field hockey stick off the rack and expect to become a champion. Whether it's your first time playing, or if you're looking to up your game with new equipment, you need to know how to choose the right field hockey stick. As your go-to place for sporting equipment, we're here to help you pick the gear that leads you to victory.
There are plenty of field hockey sticks to choose from, all manufactured by reliable sports equipment brands. With so many choices, you may have a difficult time figuring out how to start your search. We've created this helpful field hockey stick buying guide to help you determine which stick is best for you, or how to pick out a stick as a gift for someone else.
Parts of a Field Hockey Stick
Before you know why a stick is high-quality, you need to know what makes a field hockey stick unique for the sport. Let's start with the basics and talk about the components of a field hockey stick.
- The shaft: Also known as the grip or handle, the shaft is where a player holds the stick.
- The head: The end of the stick opposite of the shaft is the head. One side is rounded, and the other is flat and is called the face.
- The toe: Like the toes on your feet, the toe on the stick is the upturned edge at the bottom.
- The heel: Joining the toe and the head is the heel.
- The scoop: If you look closely at the head of the stick, you'll see a small groove about 2mm thick known as the scoop.
- The bow: If you look at the field hockey stick from head to toe, you'll see a slight bend, which is called the stick's bow.
Let's take a moment to talk a little more about the bow. Every stick will have a bow. However, the degree of its bend will vary by stick. There are four types of stick bows, typically ranging from 19mm to 25mm, depending on the stick.
- Regular: Great for players of any skill level, the regular bow has a high point placed in the center of the shaft.
- Control: The control bow is between the placement of a regular and late bow. This kind of bend helps with passing, hitting, receptions and ball control.
- Late: The late bow will measure roughly 25mm and bends closer to the stick's toe. This higher bow placement enhances the lift and flicking of the ball.
- Extreme: Like the late bow, the extreme bow measures around 25mm. However, it sits at the lowest point possible on the stick. The extreme bow is for precise control of the ball at any position on the field.
What are field hockey sticks made of? That depends on which stick you're looking at and what type of performance you want to achieve. The composition of a field hockey stick can influence its versatility on the field. Before we move on to the types of materials used to create a field hockey stick, here is some other field hockey stick terminology you need to know.
- Power rating: Some field hockey sticks will have a power rating ranging between one and 10. One has the least amount of power, while 10 has the most. Although higher ratings have more power, they are usually stiffer sticks, which means the player will need more precise ball-controlling skills to use the power rating to their advantage.
- Balance point: This term refers to the weight focus of the stick. Usually, it is either concentrated in the toe or spread throughout the stick evenly. Heavier toes have lower balance points.
- Carbon content: It's essential to know how much carbon went into the manufacturing of your stick. Higher levels of carbon create a stiffer stick. Sticks with higher power ratings will generally have a higher carbon content.
- Vibration: As the stiffness of the stick increases with carbon content, so will the vibration the player experiences in the handle. Some sticks absorb this vibration very well, while others will be a little more sensitive and the player will feel it more frequently.
The materials used to design each field hockey stick will influence power and vibration. The amount of carbon content in the stick will also impact these capabilities. Essentially, field hockey sticks fall into three categories: wood, composite or fiberglass-reinforced. While carbon field hockey sticks have increased stiffness, wood field hockey sticks are more flexible. Manufacturers sometimes use fiberglass to add strength and durability to the stick, reinforced by the carbon for power.
Now that you have an idea of the anatomy of a field hockey stick, it's time to learn about the structural elements that impact play — skill level, length and weight. Each aspect of stick design caters to the height, comfort and capabilities of each player.
What to Consider When Choosing a Field Hockey Stick
A quality stick doesn't make a good player, and vice versa. Just as there are modified versions of other sporting equipment for different types of players, there are also types of field hockey sticks that accommodate various skill levels. Sticks are available for four different skill levels — beginner, intermediate, expert and elite. You may also hear them called beginner, competitive, advanced and elite sticks.
- Beginner: These sticks are ideal for first-time players or younger players looking to increase their knowledge and skill of the game. These sticks have a low power rating because they are either wood or fiberglass, providing less stiffness so novice players can have better control while learning. Carbon content should be below 30%.
- Competitive: A competitive or intermediate stick is great for a player who knows the game well enough to play in more serious competition. Their composition includes somewhat more carbon to increase the power and stiffness of the stick, but the stick is still flexible enough for the player to continue honing their skills. Carbon content should be between 30 and 60%.
- Advanced: Also known as expert-level sticks, these field hockey sticks feature a cutting-edge design which increases power, improves ball control and provides just enough flexibility to help perfect the player's skill level to all-star status. Carbon content can be above 60%, but less than 100.
- Elite: As the best of the best, these innovative field hockey sticks are designed for winning championships! With at least 70% carbon — if not 100% — these sticks maximize power and showcase the latest technological advances in stick design each year.
Like baseball bats, lacrosse sticks and hockey sticks, the field hockey stick dimensions need to match the size of the player. Thankfully, determining the right stick length is easy. Reference this field hockey stick size chart to discover which stick length corresponds to a player's height.
- 4' 0" and under = 28" length
- 4' 1" to 4' 3" = 30" length
- 4' 4" to 4' 6" = 32" length
- 4' 7" to 5' 0" = 34" length
- 5' 1" to 5' 3" = 35" length
- 5' 4" to 5' 6" = 36" to 36.5" length
- 5' 7" to 5' 9" = 37" to 37.5" length
- 5' 10" and above = 38" length
There's a chance you or the player you're searching for may prefer a stick length that corresponds to a shorter or taller height. That's perfectly fine! Many players choose a stick based on how it feels, even if its length is different than what manufacturers suggest. Don't be afraid to try a stick size that is a little longer or shorter to discover which feels best.
Along with length and composition, field hockey stick weight is another factor you must consider. Similar to the other two, the best field hockey stick weight is the one that enables you to play your best. You can separate stick weights into three categories.
- Lightweight sticks: A typical lightweight stick may weigh between 535 and 545 grams. Very lightweight sticks are under 540 grams.
- Medium-weight sticks: Medium-weight sticks may range between 540 and 560 grams, depending on the manufacturer.
- Heavy sticks: Most heavier sticks are at least 550 grams and can range over 560 grams.
Depending on the manufacturer, you might see stick weights divided into more categories and listed in ounces. Here's an example of a weight comparison chart.
- Indoor sticks: 17 to 18 ounces
- Superlite sticks: 18 to 19 ounces
- Lightweight or junior sticks: 19 to 20 ounces
- Medium-weight sticks: 21 to 22 ounces
- Heavy sticks: 23 to 24 ounces
Position You Play
If it's your first time playing field hockey, you should know you'll be one of 11 players on the field. There is always one goalie and 10 others on the field at all times. The other positions range from forwards to midfielders to fullbacks, and will play in various combinations during the game. Forwards primarily focus on scoring goals. Midfielders juggle between defense and offense, depending on the flow of the game. Fullbacks are defenders who try to clear the ball. Some fullbacks called sweepers assist the goalie.
Two of the most common questions we receive from novice players are, "Which are the best field hockey sticks for defenders?" and "Which field hockey sticks should goalies use?" There are specially designed field hockey sticks for goalies. However, most players can use sticks for multiple positions. The key to choosing the right stick for your position is to find one that enhances your playing style. Forwards and fullbacks alike may want a powerful, heavy stick. It all depends on your style, strengths and goals.
Normal Wear and Tear
Unless you keep your stick safely stored inside and never use it, every field hockey stick is going to incur damage. Even the most advanced, innovative, technically enhanced sticks will show signs of wear after hours of play. Though you do want to protect your stick from unnecessary damage and always use it responsibly, you should also be able to identify normal damages and marks. What kind of wear and tear can you expect from everyday use?
- Grips that unravel
- Increased vibrations
- Nicks and chips
When is it the right time to replace your stick? That depends on the amount of wear and tear it has experienced, along with the increase in skill level you've developed. If your stick is in poor condition, it may be dragging down your game. Alternatively, your field hockey stick may still be holding up well, but can't deliver the increased performance you need. If you think you need more power and control in your game, consider upgrading your stick from one level to the next.
Structural issues or other defects, however, may be problems with the design of the stick itself. Unsure if your stick is broken or worn? Give us a call, and we'll talk you through your issues.
Field Hockey Stick Brands
Think about other sporting equipment you know and trust. From your shoes to your sunglasses and everything in between, you need to be ready to rock the moment you hit the field. At SV Sports, we want you to be fully equipped for whatever the game throws at you. That's why we only stock versatile field hockey sticks from reliable brands that bring the best out of players. Our wide-ranging, yet affordable, selection includes:
We carry sticks of all lengths, compositions and weights for all skill levels. We even have great junior field hockey starter sets for younger players who are just getting into the game. For the casual player, we offer an excellent assortment of indoor sticks. Looking to elevate your game to an all-star level? Check out our dynamic inventory of innovative expert sticks that will deliver the power and performance you desire.
Ready to Buy a New Field Hockey Stick?
Now that you know the fundamentals of field hockey sticks, it's time for the fun part — picking one out! Shopping for your first field hockey stick or upgrading to a new one is an exciting feeling, and Schuylkill Valley Sports is here to help you find the stick that's best for you. We have an impressive array of field hockey sticks from trusted brands like CranBarry, Grays and Stx.
Looking for more gear to go with your new field hockey stick? Browse our fantastic selection of bags, balls, gloves, goggles and shinguards, so you're ready to get out and play at a moment's notice. Would you like to learn more about our field hockey sticks and gear? Visit us in our store, or contact one of our friendly representatives, who will help you find all the field hockey sticks and supplies you need.