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What Goes Into A Field Hockey Stick
Has much changed with Hockey Sticks?
Gone are the days of straight wooden hockey sticks. Science has intervened and some astonishing new techniques have been introduced. Today, hockey sticks are all about the high tech construction and specialized bows which are designed to help improve your game.
Old Fashioned Wooden Hockey Stick
How has the shape changed?
For years Hockey Sticks were made of soft wood which would have a slight degree of flexibility or softness. The choice of wood was designed to offer an improved touch, much better for receiving the ball. The heads were large and there was no discernible bow as construction never really allowed for this. But now, things are different.
The hockey stick head is now considerably smaller and some offer slight grooves or curves intended to enhance handling and control of the hockey ball. Typically, the variations are known as mini and maxi head shapes, although some brands do introduce other names or variants.
The bows also differ now. Modern field hockey regulations do set a limit on the bow of a stick and the size of a head, which can be checked by stick bend testing devices and stick rings. Mid bows, low bows and extra low boys, at varying depths, all work to enhance different techniques. Mid bows are good for beginners as they are less specific to playing style, players can be more flexible and develop their all round skill levels. In contrast, an extra low bow, with the point of maximum bow placed closer to the ground than other models, can help enhance 3D skills and drag flicking technique.
What about the construction?
There are a number of new materials which go into modern day hockey sticks. A lot of them feature a carbon composite using carbon fibre and fibre glass. The materials are layered up in specific layers creating an incredibly strong but incredibly lightweight stick. This is a fantastic design which lets the player focus on their skills, not just manoeuvring a chunky stick.
It is a general rule that the higher the carbon content in a stick, the lighter it is. However, when browsing through field hockey sticks it soon becomes apparent that with carbon content, prices also rise. The sticks with the highest amounts of carbon do tend to be the more expensive sticks. However, durability is also increased with a higher carbon content, and so in theory, a more expensive stick could last longer.
How is the carbon used?
Specific layering is used within the resin of the stick, the outer layers, to improve the strength and expand the life span of the stick. Some brands claim to use "nano technology", a microscopic degree of precision which places the carbon fibres in their strongest formation.
Adidas, producers of some of the most popular field hockey sticks on the market, recently released a "Carbonbraid stick" which claims to intelligently weave carbon fibres to create an incredibly strong outer layer.
Is anyone else doing this?
Similarly, well know hockey brand Grays have created a stick featuring graphene. Graphene is used in a similar way to carbon, however it is thinner, lighter and even stronger. Using this material in the outer resin of the stick adds strength to the hockey stick but adds considerably less weight than other materials.
Can you still get a wooden stick?
Wooden hockey sticks are not completely out of the picture. Modern techniques are used to add fiberglass reinforcements to the key impact points and this helps to increase the life span of the stick. Wooden sticks are a lot cheaper than carbon composite models and so they are popular as junior hockey sticks. Wooden construction is also common among indoor hockey sticks.
As you can see in the picture below, the designs used for wooden hockey sticks are now a lot more interesting. This is another reason why they are particularly popular with junior filed hockey players. They can choose a new fresh and fun design each time they need a new stick. This is a lot more frequent for junior players who are growing and have not got to grips with a 36.5" hockey stick yet.
Modern, Reinforced Wooden Sticks
The future for wood
It does seem that modern construction is now over shadowing wooden hockey sticks, and it's likely to continue this way. As time goes on it is likely that carbon composite sticks will become cheaper to make and therefor cheaper to buy. It's possible that wooden hockey sticks may disappear completely.
What style stick do you choose? Do you believe the modern construction really helps to boost your game? Join the conversation by leaving your comments below!