Why Are All Field Hockey Sticks Right Handed?

Field hockey sticks are typically between 36 and 38 inches in length and are traditionally made out of wood. According to the rules of the International Hockey Federation, left-handed field hockey sticks are illegal for use in sanctioned competitions or field hockey tournaments. While it is possible to obtain a customized left-handed field hockey stick, you will not be able to use it during official competition.

Two opponents playing field hockey. (Image: Nicholas Rjabow/iStock/Getty Images)

Why Field Hockey Sticks Are Right-Handed

Safety concerns and injury prevention were the primary reasons for banning left-handed sticks from IHF-sanctioned competitions. According to officials, left-handed sticks create too much danger on the field when used in competition against right-handed sticks. Players trying to tackle opponents with opposite-handed sticks are much more likely to get hit accidentally on the follow through of the opponent's swing. Due to the dominance of right-handed players on the field, left-handed sticks were banned outright and are much more difficult to acquire.

Field Hockey Stick Basics

Similar to golf clubs, wooden field hockey sticks have been largely displaced by modern technology. According to the Sports Unlimited web resource, most high-end sticks are composites made from a combination of materials such as fiberglass, aramid fiber and carbon fiber. Sticks are typically 36 to 38 inches in length, although different lengths are not restricted, and metal components are forbidden by the IHF.

Field Hockey for Lefties

While there are plenty of left-handed sticks for ice hockey players, left-handed field hockey athletes are forced to use right-handed sticks during play. A typical field hockey stick is designed with a flat hitting surface that faces toward the left. Left-handed field hockey players using these sticks must use the reverse-stick technique until becoming proficient with swinging the club as a natural right-handed person would. Although some left-handed sticks can be custom-made by carpenters and woodworkers, they are exceedingly rare and are very expensive to acquire.

Safety Considerations

Field hockey is a dangerous sport regardless of your hand orientation. Kids Health recommends hockey players check with their coaches to make sure they have all of the correct equipment in good quality to reduce the chance of injury. Give yourself ample time to warm up, stretch and become limber before jumping into field hockey practice or competition. If you experience any injury or chronic pain while playing, inform your coach immediately and cease playing.

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