A key area affecting the player’s choice of stick and the area of greatest variance in sticks available today. All senior hockey sticks have a bend in them running from the top of the handle to the head. This is commonly known as the Bow. International Federation Regulations state that the bend on a stick cannot be any greater than 25mm. Both edges of the stick are tested using a specific testing device – see www.fih.ch for the rules of hockey testing device. The maximum bend cannot be within 200mm of the head end of the stick
An increased bow helps with lifting the ball and drag-flicking. The bend of the stick creates a slingshot effect when the stick is parallel to the floor, ‘cupping’ the ball, allowing the player to accelerate it and ‘sling’ it away from the stick at high speed. The face on a stick, where the bend is nearer to the head, is also more open when the stick is upright, aiding aerials and overhead passes – similar to a pitching wedge in golf compared to a driver. The disadvantage is that it is easier to accidentally lift the ball when hitting (increasing danger) and accuracy can be compromised when passing, as the face of the stick is not in the line of the handle.
There are three commonly recognised ‘types’ of bow:
Sometimes known as a ‘regular’ bow, the highest point of the bow is placed around the mid-section of the shaft. This is the conventional and most widely used option as it suits the widest group of people from casual grass roots players to top internationals. This stick offers the player equal assistance to a full skill set, notably benefitting core skills such as orthodox pushing and hitting of the ball with a conventional playing style.
Sometimes called ‘low bow’, this shape pushes the highest point of the bow further towards the head of the stick. The principal idea is to assist the performance of some of the newer skills and styles of play being introduced at the higher level, such as drag flicking/pushing, aerial passes, sweep hitting and a more dynamic range of ball movement when dribbling. Slight adjustments need to be made to perform conventional skills such as ‘upright’ hitting, but this doesn’t usually pose a problem to players with the ability to fully exploit the benefits of this shape.
Extra Late Bow
Sometimes known as ‘extreme bow’ (amongst other terms), this is the most extravagant shape of them all with the highest point of the bow pushed as far as possible towards the head of the stick without contravening the maximum height regulations. The result is a shape that offers the most concentrated level of assistance of all stick shapes, fully maximising the benefit to the performance of drag flicks and aerial passes and therefore requiring at times significant adjustments to be made to perform other core skills of the game. A very specialist shape.
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