Thursday, 11 June 2015

My summarized opinion about sticks - Bernardo Fernandes of Self-Pass

My name is Bernardo Fernandes, I am a professional Hockey coach originally from Portugal but living and coaching in the Netherlands. I am part of the European Hockey Federation Top Coaches Program and author of the Hockey blog where I write my own coaching publications and invite other International coaches or players to contribute.

Self-pass has many guest bloggers
including England international
Susannah Townsend
My life revolves basically around what is happening inside a hockey pitch and while I don’t consider myself an expert regarding sticks manufacturing or specs, I accept the invitation from Crown Hockey and will have a go about my preferences in this regard.

It is difficult to give a general appreciation about an ‘ideal’ stick as different positions, players characteristics and game level demand a different type of stick but personally I always looked for a ‘balanced’ stick in terms of weight and bow. Being a youth hockey educator I also believe it is important, especially in early development stages (until 16/17 years old), that players are not raised with extremely light/heavy sticks or exaggerated curved sticks as that can have a very negative influence in the mastering of some core technical basics as the hit or flat passing.

"I also like a stick with a
reasonable ‘wide’ and ‘open’
hook to allow a better
backhand control."
When I try a new stick the first things I notice are the weight distribution (if the stick is evenly balanced) and the ‘touch’ and by touch I mean ball tension feeling, then I also like a stick with a reasonable ‘wide’ and ‘open’ hook to allow a better backhand control.

If we attend to the international level we realize that players are using more and more an extensive grip area as especially for different type of receivings (mainly in a more static body positions) the right hand is getting lower, in the other hand I dislike this recent habit to overload the grabbing area of the stick with 2 or 3 grips in order to make it thicker (and eventually prevent ball vibration) as I believe this affects the grabbing - the bigger and larger is the volume your  hand need to hold it and the less movement ability you have mainly in rotation situations.

The amount of passing and shooting with the backhand blade in the modern game tell us that this area of the stick has become fundamental and must be is properly reinforced.  

In terms of design I like a sharp, minimalist design with some colour details especially to differentiate collections or models.

I understand Crown Hockey efforts trying to produce a new hockey stick with an innovative manufacturing method, a stick that will have less vibration during the impact with the ball and I hope you can succeed and eventually bring stick manufacturing to a different level.

Trainings will be funnier and players (mainly in the winter) will appreciate to smash some balls without an uncomfortable shiver running along their bones!

Bernardo @Self-Pass

- A huge thanks to Bernardo for writing this piece and helping our blog grow!

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