Field Hockey Equipment Guide: Everything You Need To Start Playing

Want to take up field hockey? In this guide by former England International Nick Catlin, we cover everything you need to get started in the sport.

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Welcome to our 5 minute field hockey equipment guide.

Whether you played at school and haven’t picked up a stick since, or are just looking for a new and incredibly enjoyable way to keep fit, then hockey could be the sport for you.

Have no idea what kit you need to get started or where you can join a team? Fear not, thats where we come in!

Why Should You Trust Me?

With over 20 years of experience participating in hockey, from grassroots to elite level, I am in the perfect position to help you with your first forays into the sport.

During this period I have purchased; been supplied with; and even tested prototypes of, the very best products on the market. Hundreds of sticks and shoes, and one pair of shinguards (yes one pair in my entire playing career!!!) later, I’m ready to share my wisdom on all things hockey equipment. Lucky you…

The Essential Field Hockey Kit List:

There are some items that you simply can’t be without if you’re going to get involved in hockey safely.

A stick (not club, bat or racquet for that matter) is as good a place to start as any. Add shinguards, a mouthguard, astroturf shoes and a glove to your hit list and you’ll be well on your way to enjoying one of the quickest and most skilful team sports on the planet.

#1 Hockey Sticks:

Without doubt the most important piece of kit you need to get your hands on ( quite literally) is a hockey stick. They come in various weights, shapes, compositions and sizes with prices ranging from $70 at the entry level to in excess of $400 for the ‘best’ sticks money can buy. For those starting out in the sport, this can be quite a daunting process. Hopefully we can help point you in the right direction.

  •  Size:

Generally speaking, the vast majority of adult hockey players will use a stick measuring 36.5 or 37.5 inches (don’t ask me why they still measure them in inches). Provided you’re not well over 6ft tall then either of these lengths will do nicely. It really is personal preference. Be sure to try both in store and see which is more comfortable for you.

  • Composition (and price)

The days of sticks whittled from a single piece of timber are, unfortunately, no longer. Instead, carbon fibre dominates the market. This is good news for you, the consumer, as sticks are now far more durable, which means you don’t have to part with your hard earned cash quite as frequently.

In general, the higher the carbon content of the stick, the stiffer it is and the more expensive it will be. For those just starting out, carbon heavy sticks really aren’t a necessity. In fact, those sticks with a lower carbon content will tend to be more forgiving and offer more feel as well as superior ball control.

This purchase certainly doesn’t need to break the bank.

  •  Weight and shape:

This comes down almost entirely to personal preference. Sticks of all prices come in varying shapes (from dead straight to heavily bowed) and in a range of different weights.

Make sure you try lots of different options in order to find the stick which feels most comfortable for you. Generally, my advice would be to start with a relatively straight stick. The more significant the bow, the harder it can be to keep the ball on the deck whilst passing and receiving.

As far as weight goes, anywhere between 520g and 560g should do nicely.

Recommended spend: $70-$130

#2 Shinguards:

Infinitely more simple than choosing a stick, there are only 2 factors which need to be considered when selecting the right pair of shinguards for you: size and material.

The sure fire way to ensure you get the correct size is to try them on in store. If like me, however, you are a keen online shopper, then the following size guide should be sufficient for you to make an informed choice, provided you have a tape measure to hand at home.

  • Senior Shinguards
SizeShin Length (cm)Shin Length (inches)
S2811
M3011.8
L3212.6
XL3413.4
  • Junior Shinguards
SizeShin Length (cm)Shin Length (inches)
XXS197.5
XS218.3
S239.1
M259.8
L2710.6
The shin length data stated in the guides above are based on measurements taken along the front of the shin bone between a point level with the top of the ankle bone and the end of the smooth part of the shin just below the knee bone.

As far as material goes, if you want to give your shins the best possible chance of surviving the inevitable onslaught from balls and opposition sticks alike, then hard plastic is the only option. The days of foam shinguards being sufficient are simply over.

Recommended spend: $25-$40.

#3 Mouthguard:

This is one piece of kit I simply won’t step onto a hockey field without and I strongly suggest you don’t either. Whether you choose to pay a visit to your dentist and have one fitted professionally or buy a cheap ‘boil in the bag’ option from your local sports store, a mouthguard is non-negotiable.

Recommended spend: $20-$30

#4 Glove:

Hockey sticks, and hockey balls for that matter are HARD. Take a significant blow from either on your hand and you could cause yourself some mischief. As a result, I would recommend getting your hands on (and into) a protective glove.

Much like shinguards there are 2 options in terms of material. I would stick with hard plastic again. Foam just isn’t going to cut it and there is no point in half measures when it comes to your safety.

Recommended spend: $25

#5 Astroturf Shoes:

It is definitely worth going hockey specific in terms of footwear. Your standard running trainer isn’t going to offer the grip or lateral support required in a sport where the ability to change direction quickly is paramount.

Much like with hockey sticks, there is huge variety on offer and this isn’t really a first time purchase you can make online. Comfort is king, and in my personal experience, this isn’t an area to compromise on when it comes to budget. Having said that, you certainly don’t need to buy the top of the range hockey shoes on offer, which will set you back in excess of £120, unless you really want to.

Recommended spend: $70-$120

Getting involved:

The best way of getting involved in hockey is, without doubt, at your local club. As one of the most popular participation team sports in the country there are no shortage of places offering a social and beginner friendly introduction to the sport.

Hockey’s national governing body have put in place a number of different schemes designed at encouraging people to start playing or get back into playing the sport.  The link below offers information on the many routes into hockey for all ages and abilities and is a great place to find out everything you need to know as a hockey beginner.

http://www.englandhockey.co.uk/landing.asp?section=1209&sectionTitle=Play

#1 Quicksticks:

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Designed to introduce young people to the sport, quicksticks is a 4-aside game which can be played on any surface using a larger, lighter and safer ball.

 #2 Club Hockey:

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There are more than 900 hockey clubs in England, so it shouldn’t be difficult for you to find your ideal fit.

 #3 Back to Hockey:

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Back to hockey sessions are a fun, social and informal way of encouraging those who haven’t played for a while to get back into hockey, or those wanting to play for the first time to have a go.

 #4 Rush Hockey:

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Regular club or university hockey isn’t for everyone. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get involved. Why not try ‘Rush hockey’, the sports equivalent to 5 aside football which can be played both indoors and outdoors and requires no club affiliation and zero regular commitment.

#5 Flyerz Hockey:

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There are also plenty of opportunities for those with disabilities to experience what hockey has to offer.

Thanks for reading our 5 minute guide to field hockey.

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