A blog by Hockey Factory Shop On How do you pick a hockey stick

There is no easy answer to this question, mostly because whatever age, experience, level of play or playing surface the answer will be that the stick is personal to the individual player. There is however, general guidance that can be given, especially for parents and less experienced players, and it is hoped that the following information will be of some use in beginning to make sense of how to choose a stick.

This guide will be added to, over the next few months, to add further information of a more detailed nature for those interested and for more experienced players, and we will be getting the opinions of some highly experienced coaches and players on the subject.

It is worth noting that whilst your choice of stick is a very personal, so are the opinions of a huge number of coaches, teachers, other players and companies selling sticks. If you, in your search for the ideal stick, were to ask a teacher, a coach, another player or indeed an 'expert' in a hockey retail shop, you are likely to get a different answer from each. It never ceases to surprise us at HFS how many different opinions there are. One of the most frequently asked questions, is how long should my stick be? So, let's start there.

Length of stick

More information about Hockey stick length by Hockey Factory Shop

The first point to make is that all sticks are measured in inches. Despite metrification beginning (or at least being announced) in 1965, and decimalisation taking place in 1971, hockey sticks have always been sold in inches. What is even more unusual, is that they are also sold in inches in Holland, Germany and the rest of the world. Most Dutch people and players we have spoken to cannot really tell you how much an inch is (and why would they? They adopted an early metrification system in 1869). So, the hockey stick is an anomaly in that respect.

Also, somewhat strangely, whilst the whole international hockey trade (brands, retailers, players, coaches etc) all talk in terms of length of sticks in inches, the FIH (Federation of International Hockey) who run the game of hockey worldwide, talk about hockey rules specifications in centimetres!

When length of stick choice is discussed, it is usually in relationship to a person's height or in relation to the top of the pelvis or hip bone.

This hip height method has some merit and is often still used for choosing stick length for junior players. But it has its detractors and anomalies. We were once asked by some very pleasant hockey parents, if what their daughter's hockey teacher was correct. The teacher had stated that she needed a stick long enough to reach the top of the pelvis / hip. The problem here was that the 16-year-old daughter concerned was well over 6 feet 4inches (1metre 96cm) and was long legged. A stick would need to be approximately 45 inches to fulfil the teacher's criteria. No manufacturer makes such a stick, and the FIH rules permit a maximum stick length of 105cms (which is 41.33 inches in old money). In this case we advised a 37.5 inch.

Holland Tallest Country It is recognised pretty much worldwide that 36 inches or 36.5 inches is considered the first adult sized stick, although inevitably there are certain players (usually ladies) whom prefer a shorter stick – usually a 35".

Another interesting point on stick length is that although Holland has officially become the tallest region of Europe and has equally some very tall players at all levels, they sell less 37 + inch sticks proportionally, than we do in the UK. Which just goes to show how much personal choice is involved against the height argument. Some believe that playing with a longer stick is lazy and will not develop good technique – again opinions vary drastically on this subject.

We at HFS, are also aware that changing stick lengths too often, can have a detrimental effect on skill development. Several very experienced coaches have explained that "one of the problems for younger players who are still growing can be that if they obtain and practise their basic skills, such as the Indian dribble, and playing on the reversed stick. If they then suddenly change to a longer stick, the stick can suddenly feel cumbersome, and this can put their skills back temporarily". This school of coaching suggests getting young players to play with the longest stick they can handle and choke up on the handle (a bit like holding a baseball bat 1/3 down the bat rather than at the thin end of the handle) will reduce this skill stalling problem.

We certainly advise any senior player whom is thinking of moving to a longer stick to do so, after the season has finished. Then practise with the stick across the summer. Usually, by the beginning of the next season, they will be used to the longer length. We also advise only moving up sizes by one inch at a time.

So, we hope that we have at least given you enough information to understand that the choice of stick length is personal. The stick must "feel" right – even for a junior player. Of course, there are very experienced and helpful players, coaches and teachers out there willing to help. But the message from us is, "only the player will know what feels best". The best way to approach the issue, is to try out some sticks either in a shop or try out other players sticks and check out which feels comfortable length wise. If you start there, include all the advice from players, coaches or teachers, and with luck you will not go far wrong.

Some websites and some brands offer height to stick length matrices and lists, which offer some guidance which can be useful, but they are guidance only. In hockey, its all personal to the player.

When you have decided on the length, then all you must decide is the weight, shaft shape, head shape, brand, specification, head shape and finally price. We will be looking further at those issues later.

We at HFS wish you all the best with your search, and can always offer assistance by phone or email, if you are struggling to find your way through the confusion.