As children develop their skills as field hockey players, should kids have a bow in the stick they use? And when is a good time to introduce hockey sticks with a bow to children playing field hockey?
Hopefully this article will help you choose the best time to buy a junior hockey stick with a bow.
When did bow’s start to appear in hockey sticks?
Since the 1990’s hockey sticks started to be made from different materials, other than the wood they had been made out of up to then.
These new materials, such as fibre glass and carbon fibre, allowed for field hockey sticks to include a bow or curve in the shaft. This curved shaft of hockey sticks helps with a number of aspects of play.
More common in the modern game since the introduction of these shaped hockey sticks, ‘3D’ skills are now important on the field. ‘3D’ represents the ability to play with the ball in the air, instead of just along the ground of the field.
These skills include aerial passing, dribbling while lifting the ball slightly above the field, penalty flicks and of course the ‘drag flick’ so many aspire to when shooting during a penalty corner.
Also, though, a bow in the stick helps to create more ‘slingshot’ type power from push passes, and also helps to bring the ball under control when trapped, especially when the hockey stick is upright ‘posted up’.
When will kids need to introduce these skills?
Exactly at what age to start introducing field hockey sticks with a bow to help children develop these skills really depends on the child.
It wouldn’t be essential to choose a junior hockey stick with a bow for a kid just starting out in field hockey. It won’t do them any harm, however a straight stick is a little easier to start out with as it feels longer and helps with hand to eye coordination.
As kids develop through the ages of 9, 10 and 11 years old, their matches might start to be played on bigger pitches and this is a time they would benefit from the extra ball speed a junior hockey stick with a bow will produce.
Once they hit 12, 13, 14 years old, they will want to start introducing the more intricate ‘3D skills’ described about in to their field hockey game.
What type of bows are available in junior hockey sticks?
There are a couple of factors that effect the type of bow available to children for the hockey sticks.
First decision is the extremity of the bow. Mainly the curve in a junior hockey stick can be between 18mm to 25mm. Obviously the closer to 25mm the more extreme the bow will be, and the more adjustment the child with have to make to their hitting and dribbling to accommodate the bow.
For younger children just getting a feel for a hockey stick with shape, try to select a stick with a lesser extreme bow, around 18-22mm is great for them.
Once they have had a junior stick or twowith a subtle bow, you might want to push yourselves and move to an even more extreme bow. Most junior hockey stick brands will offer a 23-25mm bow for the kids who are really progressing.
Second decision is the position of the bow. The top of the apex of the bow will be in slightly different positions from stick to stick. Often referred to as either ‘low bow’ or ‘mid bow’ the position of the curve makes a difference to the feel of the kids stick.
‘Mid bow’ junior hockey sticks normally have a bow at 300mm or higher from the ground. This offers the benefit of a bow, while keeping the lowest part of the stick slightly straighter, this helps with hitting the ball and keeping it on the ground. If you play mainly in defence and/or pass more than dribble, this position will suit best.
‘Low bow’ junior hockey sticks might have the apex of the curve at 250mm or lower from the ground. These kids hockey sticks will offer even more assistance with 3D skills like dribbling and flicking the ball in the air. They will be harder to control hits though.
How to check whether to get a stick with a bow?
I would recommend speaking with your coach about whether you need a bow in your junior hockey stick.
Otherwise just observe your game, position on field and what kind of situations you are coming up against in games.
Because almost all adult hockey sticks have a fairly extreme bow these days, I would suggest that as you move in to teenage years, you really should be using a hockey stick with a bow and with a carbon heavy material composition junior hockey stick so you are preparing for adult sticks.
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