Field hockey is one of those sports that cultivate an undying love and commitment in everyone that plays it. It’s not your main stay game like basketball, softball, or even soccer, but a “little sister” mentality in the game breeds some deep rooted dedication and a little competitive edge that can’t be ignored. For parents of players, it can get pretty confusing. After all, we’re the ones left buying all the field hockey equipment, sticks, and pads, and there are just so many options out there! Who even knows where to start?
In sports as in life, when you have the opportunity, you want to give your kids the best things you can. For us sports parents, “the best athletic gear” usually means “the most expensive athletic gear” and always makes our wallets shiver in fear. Field hockey is a bit of an anomaly though. Most parents might not know this, but in field hockey, the most expensive stick out there is not necessarily the best for your player. I’ll repeat that, because it bears repeating. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on a field hockey stick to get a great field hockey stick! The key here is understanding what a stick is made of and how it works.
Most field hockey sticks these days are composite; made of a combination of materials, usually varying levels of fiberglass and carbon. The more carbon content a stick has, the more rigid it is, and more power you can put into a shot (not to mention, the more expensive it’s going to be). The more fiberglass content a stick has, the lighter, less rigid, and more forgiving it can be, to the player and the wallet. Advanced field hockey players who have spent time honing their skills are going to want a powerful stick like the Grays GX 9000 Turbo Torque Megabow, or the TK3 Classic Composite Stick, and they’ve probably got the talent to use it. But for those just getting started, a forgiving, less rigid and powerful stick like the Dita GIGA G1 Composite Stick or the Grays GX2500 Composite Field Hockey Stick, is perfect for learning the ropes and sharpening those skills for later in life. The more expensive sticks, in this case, would actually be detrimental to your new player, giving them something they just weren’t ready for and keeping them from building those skills the right way.
That being said, the next thing us parents are going to have to worry about is finding the right size field hockey stick for our players. Thankfully, this is one area where more options are actually better for us, since you really need to have a properly sized stick to get the most out of your game. Most sticks range from 28 to 38 inches, and over the years players have developed two central methods of determining which size is just right. The U.S. Method is based on height, and has the player standing up straight and holding the stick out at her side, with the hook of the stick on the floor. A good sized stick should top off about 1 or 2 inches below your waist. The Dutch Method is a bit different, and has the player hold the curve of the stick in her armpit, with the body pointing down, flush against her side. With this method, a properly sized stick is going to end near the middle of the kneecap. As with any kind of sizing, these methods are really only a guideline, and your child’s preferences and playing style may alter the length of stick she wants. But these methods are a great place to start!
There’s still a lot more to learn about field hockey sticks, not to mention all the other gear that can go along with this great game. So do your research, read up, and learn more about the game your kids love, so you can give them exactly what they need to play their game, their way.