Buying a field hockey stick

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Field hockey sticks come in a variety of lengths, designs, colours and compositions.  Each variation is typically suited to a particular use.  This guide will help you pick the right stick for you and avoid buying a counterfeit stick.

What is the right length stick for me?
Starting at the most basic, it is important that you get a stick that is the right length for you, specially if you are a beginner.  Too long, or too short and you will have difficulty hitting the ball properly.

For a child typically a stick that comes up to the hip is the ideal length.  For adults this rule, whilst still a useful rule of thumb, there is a greater degree of flexibility...simply, pick a stick length you're comfortable with.

The following list may be a good guide -
Stick Size: Height
31": 4'3" and under
32": 4'3"- 4'6"
33": 4'6" -4'9"
34": 4'9" - 5'
35": 5'-5'3"
36": 5'3"-5'7"
37": 5'7"-5'10"
38": 5'10" and up

Toe/Head Shape
Hockey sticks also come with a variety of toe designs, or head shapes.  Each of these is suited to different positions of play. 
Some common toe types -
Shorti: The most common toe length, usuall used on offense.  Helps the player quickly turn the stick over the ball, it is designed for a balance of maneuverability and control.

Midi: The most popular and appropriate shape for bginners and midfield players, it is about half an inch longer than the shorti, it provides a larger hitting surface which in turn makes flicking, receiving and reverse play more comfortable.

Maxi: Popular with defensive players, it combines a larger receiving area with the hitting power of a midi.

Hook: J shaped head with a larger stopping surface area for receiving and defensive work it is particuarly handy on grass surfaces.

Compositions
What the stick is made from will make a considerable difference to the way it plays.  Many people have felt that since the move towards composite sticks has occurred, many of the sticks being produced do not offer the feel that a wooden stick did. 

As a rule, the higher the carbon content, the stiffer the stick, the less feel you will have and the harder you will find the ball to control.  Whilst a stiffer stick may allow you to impart more speed on the ball when hitting it can be very difficult to trap the ball using a stick with a high carbon content as the ball will have a tendency to bounce off the stick.  Typically these sticks are not well suited to beginners.

Fibreglass and kevlar whilst not offering the same stiffness as carbon, and being heavier, will offer greater feel, and better control of the ball for beginners.  They will also absorb shock better than high carbon content sticks, so are easier on the hands.  Typically you will find sticks contain a blend of these materials.  It really is useful, if at all possible, to try sticks in a store to work our what composition works best for you.

Stick weight
Heavier sticks for full backs, allowing more power from hits.  Medium weight sticks for midfielders and light sticks for attackers, where you don't want a heavy stick hampering quick stick and ball movements.

Counterfeit sticks
It is important to be aware that there are now a lot of counterfeit sticks being sold on eBay.  The quality of these vary greatly from wooden sticks painted to look like composite sticks, to composite sticks nearly identical to the actual sticks they represent.  It is difficult to give a sure fire way of determining if a stick is fake or not however:
  • Asking to see a picture of the actual stick for sale, and comparing that to pictures available from reputable online traders.
  • Finding out where the seller sources their sticks from (are they a reseller known to the brand)
  • Looking at feedback left for the seller
  • Comparison of price on eBay to retail price
May all be useful in determining the authenticity of a stick being offered for sale.  Remember, more often than not, if it is too good to be true, it is.

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