Buying Guide

Choosing a field hockey stick with the right materials, length, and toe design is crucial to your game. Our guide is here to help you identify what is best for your position, playing style, and ability level. The following factors all should weigh into your decision on which stick to buy:



Construction

Materials and Stiffness

Field hockey sticks are made primarily of wood, usually mulberry or hickory. High-quality wood enhances a stick's overall strength and stability. Sticks made with composite and fiberglass is legal at the collegiate and high school levels. Wood and synthetics offer varying degrees of stiffness, which affects shock absorption and power. Manufacturers sometimes add reinforcing materials with a variety of purposes. Reinforcements do everything from increasing durability to enhancing flexibility.
  • Beginning players should look for a flexible stick with good shock absorption.
  • Advanced players may prefer a stiffer stick for increased power.
Reinforcements
  • Manufacturers sometimes add reinforcing materials with a variety of purposes.
  • Reinforcements do everything from increasing durability to enhancing flexibility.
Fiberglass
  • Applied either as a sleeve or taped to one side.
  • Adds overall strength and durability.
  • Reduces wear.
Carbon Fiber Tape
  • Applied to both sides of the stick as a stiffening agent.
  • Enhances stiffness at the handle for more powerful hits.
  • Also sold as Graphite Tape.
Kevlar® Tape
  • Applied to both sides of the stick.
  • Enhances stiffness and reduces vibration.
  • Increases shock resistance and power transfer.
Kevlar® Braid
  • Kevlar is woven into a full-length sleeve for all-over impact endurance.
  • A stick with high Kevlar content delivers greater shock absorption and a smoother feel.
Aerospace Tape
  • Made from Kevlar, carbon, and fiberglass.
  • A durable, woven material sealed with high-strength glue.
  • Wraps around the stick for vibration reduction and strength.
Ceramic Tape
  • Applied to the flat side of the stick.
  • Advanced aerospace technology that provides strength and vibration reduction.





Stick Bow

Almost every advanced composite stick you'll see has a bow in the shaft, meaning the stick bends slightly from the handle to the toe. Most sticks feature a 20mm bow, but others can range up to 25mm. The bow can also shift from stick to stick, altering the when the center of the stick falls, and changing the way it plays.

For instance, a standard bow benefits every area of the game equally, while a more dramatic bow creates a more dramatic head angle, to assist in dynamic controls and lifts. Bow choice should depend on preference, age, and skill level.

Understand the three types of bows to get a better idea of which stick is right for you:

Regular Bow
stick bow regular
Typically measuring 20 - 25mm, with a regular bow, the highest point of the bend falls in the middle section of the stick. This makes for well-rounded performance, assisting in every aspect of the game from ball control to advanced maneuvers.

Control Bow
stick bow control
With a control, or mega bow, the center of the bend moves closer to the to toe, to provide extra power when lifting the ball and drag flicking. Meant for more advanced players, this bow allows for dynamic control and competitive level maneuvers.

Late or Low Bow
stick bow low
Measuring 25mm, the late bow, or low bow, places the bend at the furthest end of the stick, right before the head. The late bow is meant for elite level players, and delivers extra assistance when controlling the ball, lifting the ball, performing aerials, and drag flicking.






Toe Design

A stick's toe is curved and designed to complement that way a player strikes the ball and handles the stick. Smaller toes provide maximum maneuverability and agility, while limiting striking surface and power, while larger toes provide plenty of striking and receiving area for the ball, while reducing the stick's overall maneuverability. Different toe designs provide specific performance for forwards, mid-fielders and backs.

There are four basic toe designs:
Shorti
The Shorti head shape was common before the introduction of laminate head technology. Due to the limitations of solid Mulberry wood head construction, the Shorti has a very short head curve and offers a small hitting area and limited surface area on the reverse side for ball control. There is not a huge demand for this head shape anymore and as such, the availability of such sticks is very rare.

Midi
The Midi head is a slightly smaller version of the Maxi head. Having slightly less surface area, it is generally lighter and is often the choice of players who like to move the ball quickly while dribbling. It is the most popular and appropriate shape for beginners and midfield players. About a half-inch longer than the Shorti, it provides a larger hitting surface and makes flicking, receiving, and reverse play more comfortable.

Maxi
The Maxi head emerged in the 1990s alongside the development of laminate head construction. The Maxi head provides more surface area on the reverse playing side, and improved sweet spot for hitting. Being a more open curve, the Maxi head also offers the advantage of being able to trap the ball in the space between the toe of the head and the shaft, known as dragging (commonly used for pushing the ball in on short corners). The Maxi head is popular with defensive players. It combines a larger receiving area with the hitting power of a Midi head.

Hook (J-shape)
The Hook/J head shape is designed for players who use an upright style for their playing technique. It has a larger stopping surface for receiving and defensive work, and is preferred by forwards who pass and receive the ball at pace. The Hook/J head is particularly good for grass surfaces.






Size (length and weight)

Stick Length - Select based on your height and comfort. Field hockey sticks range in length so you can choose a field hockey stick based on either your height or your comfort level.

Ranging from about 28" to 38" long, field hockey stick length can drastically affect your game and your comfort on the field. For instance, a stick that is too long will be clunky and difficult to maneuver, and may limit your agility on the field. On the other hand, a stick that's too short may not let you get enough power behind your shots and passes, limiting your range on the field. So select the length that you can control comfortably.

In the case of a junior player (up to about the age of 15, although it depends on how tall they are!), it is recommended that the stick be about level with the hip. The same rule does not apply so strictly to adults and late teenagers, although the hip is still a reasonable indicator. Adults will have more of an idea of what feels comfortable for them and their style, so it is more of a personal choice.

There are two standard methods for finding the appropriate stick length for your body; the U.S. Method, and the Dutch Method.

US method: Place the index finger of your right hand on your right hip bone. Place your middle and ring finger next to your index finger. The top of the stick should approximately reach the side of your ring finger.

Dutch method: Hold the head of the stick in your armpit. The ideal stick should end near the center of your kneecap.
Stick Weight - Select based on your position and style of play.
Just like toe design, the weight you choose will be based on your position. It is best to consider your role on the field and style of play when selecting a weight.






What's Right for You?

Experience
  • New and young players should choose a basic stick reinforced with fiberglass, carbon fiber, or Kevlar tape.
  • Over time, experienced players develop a feel for the synthetic material or reinforcement that best meets their needs.
  • As skill and physical ability improve, your position will influence the stick styles in your collection.

Building a Stick Collection
Dedicated players own a few different sticks as back-up for breakage, variables in playing conditions and surfaces, and different plays.

  • Dedicated players own a few different sticks as back-up for breakage, variables in playing conditions and surfaces, and different plays.
  • Field hockey sticks do break. It is better to have your own broken-in stick in waiting than to borrow an unfamiliar stick during game play.
  • Some sticks work better for some circumstances. No single stick does everything for everybody on every playing surface.
  • You should have a minimum of two sticks with you whenever you go to play. For frequent play on both natural and artificial turf, you will probably want a minimum of four sticks, two for each surface. If you switch positions, you will probably want one stick for each position and an all-purpose backup.