In this series, we look at floorball sticks. Hopefully, it will be helpful for the many newbies who are all ready to get one of their own. With the rapid growth of the sport, more brands are springing up. Some of the brands that are available in S’pore are BLAST, Salming, EXEL, Unihoc, Fatpipe, Canadien, Zone and Kronstrand. So what are the many factors to consider before parting with your pocket money?
Some of the factors (not in order of importance) that you might want to consider are:
1) Weight 2) Design 3) Flex 4) Blade 5) Grip 6) Brand 7) Length 8)Your gut feel
Every ounce counts when you want to maximise your performance. It is especially so when you are so tired and yet you got to move quickly on the court. You would want a stick as light as possible to add to your advantage although most brands of sticks today have weight differences that are negligible. There are many websites out there of different brands but not all states the weight of the sticks. If you can compare the exact weight then good if not you got to feel it hands on yourself.
Designs can be in the form of colours, patterns or drawings. Each brand usually releases a theme for their stick every season. The designs of each brand usually come in a myriad of colours. Some brands have drawings on the shaft while some have simple outlines. Although the aesthetic design of the shaft may not affect performance but it does contribute a lot in the purchase decision at times.
FLEX (Usually measured in mm. High means "softer" more flexible and low vice versa)
The shaft design or material contributes to the flex or stiffness. The flex is the degree of bending that the shaft can take when pressed on the floor. Imagine the bow and arrow effect. If you have the strength to stretch the bow line wide apart, the tension and recoil will be very powerful. But if you do not have as much strength to stretch the bow line then a more flexible bow line would generate more power for you, rather then you try to stretch a bow line to no effect. Put this theory to the floorball stick would be that the flex allows you to execute a shot according to how much power you can put into pressing the shaft on the floor. If you tend to use less strength on the flex then a higher flex shaft will suit you better. Furthermore, usually the shaft with the lowest flex (say 23mm) would cost the most. Brands like Unihoc have unique looking shafts with bubbles on them said to improve performance, besides that most brands have simple straight "pipe looking" shafts. A myth is that an expensive shaft will not break easily. It is simply not true as how the stick breaks mainly depends on the situation that the player is in. When the opponent falls or steps on the stick, it will usually break when subjected to enormous weight on the shaft.
Blades come in many different shapes and sizes for different purposes. However, the shape usually are limited to a certain extend. Some blades have additional "hook" or is thicker at the tip so as to allow bending to form "cups" for tricks. A bigger blade would of course provide a larger surface area for play. Blades also come in many colours and they do reflect the hardness or softness. Bright colours (e.g. red) usually reflect a harder blade while lighter or dull colour (e.g. white and black) can mean soft or medium hardness. Soft blades provides better control but less power and feel, while hard blades reacts more (ball bounce further away) on the ball and provides a better feel. However, when choosing a blade, factors like skill level and power can be considered. Blades are interchangeable as long as the shaft and the blade are of the same brand (a rule in floorball). Anyway, the blade does not last as long as they are subjected most to the rigours of the sport. At the end of the day, it is still of utmost importance that you try it with a ball to see if you like the feeling before purchasing it.
Usually the cost of the sticks can be identified through the material of the grip. A more expensive stick will come with grips of better material and design. It would also usually last longer. However, grips do not last forever. Depending on the usage level, they would eventually wear off. So it’s up to you to place the level of importance on the grip in your buying decision.
There are so many brands to choose from and usually people have a brand loyalty that is developed from their first buy and its durability. Brands like BLAST which is quite new is coming up locally, while brands like EXEL, Unihoc and Canadien have been around for sometime already. With the technology today, the differences are minimal although each brand is always trying to come out with new ideas. It is very much up to your own choice of branding. However, established brands usually come with a higher price tag too. Compare with an eye for details like material of the shaft and its covering (the layer of sticker protecting the shaft), the blade design and also the grip material.
The length varies for each model of design. This can range from a 95cm length stick to 110cm length stick. The length of the stick is important as it determines your reach and also how close you can control the ball to your body. Most of the time the standard length may not fit so people do cut their stick. This is done by removing the grip before sawing off the extra length. It is safer to buy a longer stick than a stick that is too short. Same goes when sawing, it is safer to saw bit by bit then to saw off too much at one go. So do look out for the length when making your purchase.
YOUR GUT FEEL
Ultimately, choose the stick that you feel most comfortable in. Be it in colour, blade or other factors mentioned. These factors only serve as a guide to your buying decision. Sometimes, the before and after sales service of the seller and circumstances (e.g. discount or sale) can be important too.
SO WHERE IN SPORE CAN WE GET STICKS OR EQUIPMENTS?
BLAST, FATPIPE is available in Tampines Sports Hall badminton equipment shop.
Mr Ngasti is a distributor for Salming and Kronstrand. Coach for Temasek Poly.
EXEL, Unihoc, Canadien and Zone is available at Valhall.
Should you need more details, you can always do a search of the brands online or ask your coach and seniors. Good Luck in your purchase.