Every single Hockey Player is different: Different skills, different style of play, different strengths. And, no matter the difference with others or level of play, every single one has asked the same question in a Hockey Shop about two hockey sticks: “What is the difference?”. Always wondering why some would prefer a longer Hockey stick, or other would differ between a lighter or a heavier one. After years and years of advance in technology of Hockey sticks, designers came up to another variation on them: The Curve. The curve of Hockey sticks can make a big difference in your game, but many struggle to make a decision on which one would be the best for them. So here I am, writing to you, from my knowledge, my research and my opinion as a Hockey player, to try to give you some advice on that difficult choice, as your hockey stick is crucial for your game.
From a starting point, remember that the FIH has regulated the curve that your stick can have, making some of them illegal for the game, this regulations have been made in regards of player safety. Player safety which lately has been questioned in the sport and in mouth of all, worldwide, where confection of the sticks as well as rules of the game itself have been in reconsideration over and over. The FIH regulation, in Rule 2.15 indicates: Any curvature along the length of the stick (the bow or rake) must have a continuous smooth profile along the whole length, must occur along the playing side or the back of the stick but not both and is limited to a depth of 25 mm. The point of maximum bow must not be closer to the base of the head (line X in figure 3) than 200 mm. Multiple curves are not permitted.
(Image of Stick with specifications on page 61-62 of Rule book) http://www.fih.ch/inside-fih/our-official-documents/rules-of-hockey/
Now, having this in mind different brands have developed different curves, that also have been classified in a varied way, some mentioning 3 types, other 4, were the brands would identify them differently depending on what their production will include focusing on where the peak of the curve is produced and how deep the curve is.
I will consider 3 types as most of the brands and blogs talk about only three, Low bow, Mid bow (or also known as “Mega Bow”) and Standard Bow. The fourth type that we won’t speak about is the sometimes called “Extreme bow” or other similar names. Which would be just an even closer to the toe of the hockey stick bow.
Reading some articles I’ve come to the conclusion that nobody is too sure of their difference as they would mention in a same article the characteristic of “Gives you better control of the ball” in the 3 different bows, which I believe makes it more confusing, but here you’ll find some tips.
First of all, remember there are a series of other additional characteristics to your hockey stick that will affect it as a whole and so, it will never be only about the bow, unless its a Hockey stick developed exactly on the same way with the only difference that one of them has a higher curve than the other. For example, you could get a longer flick on a standard bow, than a low bow if you tried it on a lighter Hockey stick and you are an amateur, so your technique is not so good on it. If with same weight, you might at first get a longer flick with a mid bow or Standard Bow, as this will give you a better grip of the ball in a short contact with the ball. But as you improve your technique and your wrist strength you might get more power and longer flicks on a low bow.
Standard Bow: Standard or Regular Bow would be tipically between 19-22mm curve and around half away from the Hockey Stick. This curve is generally going to give you control and it is very recommended for new comers to Field Hockey, specially as is very versatile for every position. I would also recommend it to defenders as it will allow control and power on hit passes. .
Mid Bow: Tipically ranges between 22-24mm, and it goes closer to the toe of the field hockey stick. Always around 250-300mm from the bottom of the hockey stick. This bow will allow you more feel than the standard bow in flicking or aerial play. But it still remains with control and power as the curve is still high. Giving you the option to get both characteristics mixed while getting better feel and so grip for aerial skills and control and power for hits and passes while being an amateur or Elite player. This could be a good Bow for a Defender with some individual skills or a Midfielder that tends to block more and pass than attack in high speed.
Low Bow: This bow usually has 24-25mm bow and is straight down to the toe just to limit with the FIH regulations, this means 200mm from the toe. This bow is not recommended for Amateur players unless they have an outstanding skillful play. This bow is highly recommended for Elite players where they will take advantage of the bow to have a strong feel of the hockey stick and be able to move the ball with accuracy and fast, but I would discourage it when you are starting to play as it will take you long to get grip of flat passes or simple things as stopping the ball without bouncing. This Bow is also greatly recommended for dragflicking as it will help for a good grip of the ball and so allow you to send a powerfull dragflick or pushes
Personally, my favourite curve is the Low bow, as it allows you to have a higher control on the ball for passes and also have an easier skill management. But, as I have already mentioned, this is a very personal choice, and its highly connected on your style of play, my personal style is of a midfielder that tends to run and be quite frontal on my play, where skills, accuracy and great feel will be given by the stick.
Do you know now which is your perfect stick curve?
Good Luck choosing your next Hockey Stick to become a SuperStar.