News, Thoughts and Opinions about EVERYTHING Floorball
Anatomy of a Stick
by Dan Torretta – 2/13/20
There seems to be a lot of slang when it comes to floorball sticks. Whether it’s referring to the stick as a club, or calling the blade a head, it gets confusing trying to decipher what all these terms mean. I’d like to try to clear some of that up by going over the specifics of the stick so we’re all on the same page.
Starting from the top, the first thing on our list is the cap. The cap is there to literally “cap” the shaft. Floorball sticks are very lightweight in part because they’re hollow. Without this cap you’d have a hole on the butt end of your stick. Oxdog attempted to add some technology to their sticks with their Stick Balance System which was a 20 gram weight that could be inserted into the cap to change the balance point of the stick, but they’ve backed away from using it with their latest models opting to put in a lightweight cap to keep up with the growing trend “lighter is better.” If you get a chance to experiment with one of these Stick Balance System sticks, I’d recommend trying it to see if you notice a difference.
Next, we have the grip. Grips are probably the most underappreciated part of a stick. I regularly see players go years(!) without replacing their grip which makes me cringe. A good grip can actually make you shoot harder, and an old grip that’s falling apart can absolutely negatively impact your play. I have an article on NTFA.us explaining the importance of regularly changing your grip, Changing Your Grip, which is worth the read if you haven't already done so. Unlike a blade, you can replace your grip with any brand. There is no requirement to match the stick and grip from the same manufacturer.
Underneath the grip is the shaft. It’s self-explanatory what the shaft is, but sometimes it’s referred to as the “stick part.” The difference between the shaft and the stick is that the shaft refers to just the tube, and stick refers to all the parts together as a whole. This is easily the most customized part of a stick. Every manufacturer has their own shaft technology to try to get the edge on the competition. Basic sticks use spun fiberglass shafts because it’s cheap and durable, whereas higher end sticks use carbon fiber because of how light it is. Shafts also come in varying flex. Remember, the higher the number the higher the flex (typical range of flex in floorball sticks is 32-25). If I tried to explain all the variations this would be more of a book than an article, so I encourage anyone interested to check out the websites of the major brands (Salming, Fatpipe, Oxdog, Exel, Unihoc) for specifics. I’ll also be writing a more detailed explanation of different shaft technologies and their purpose in a future article. If you’ve ever wondered why shafts are labelled with two different lengths be sure to check out my story on that on that: Stick Length Explanation.
Two things you’ll find on the shaft are the faceoff line and the IFF Certification. The faceoff line is a highly visible ring about 9 ½ inches from the bottom of the shaft. This marking is how far down you can put your hands on a faceoff (remember thumbs must be pointed down!). As a side note, if you ever shorten your stick you must cut the shaft from the TOP. I understand it seems easier to just take the blade off and cut the bottom. However, cutting from the bottom moves the faceoff line lower to the ground resulting it more leverage for the player, and making the stick illegal. The penalty for using an illegal stick is automatic ejection from the game. Further down, just above the blade, you’ll find the IFF Certification. This stamp shows that your stick is approved by the IFF and is game legal. If you can’t find this marking on your stick it means the IFF has NOT approved that model and is illegal to use in an IFF sanctioned match. Again, the penalty for using an illegal stick is automatic ejection from the match (shown with a red card, similar to soccer).
Lastly, the blade. Blades can be broken up into four parts, forehand, backhand, heel, and toe. The forehand is the front face of the blade where the ball will make contact when you hold your stick normally. The backhand is simply the opposite side of the forehand. The heel is the part of the blade that is closest to the shaft, and the toe is the part furthest from the shaft. No part of the stick gets more attention to detail than the blade. Players and manufacturers alike are hyper focused on what gives the best performance. Curve and concavity are the two main characteristics of any blade. Curve is the curvature from the heel to the toe, and concavity is the curvature from the top to the bottom. Blades are most commonly made from one of two types of plastic, polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP). Your blade is marked with what material it’s made out of in fine print on the backhand side. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, and there are further variations of blade material which I’ll go into great detail in a future article. I’m not sure anyone has ever definitively found the “best” blade, and I doubt anyone ever will. But that’s an article for another time.
Hopefully this has cleared up any confusion (and language barriers) about different parts of a floorball stick. If you have questions or comments, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Floorball versus Hockey
by Darryl Gross – 2/12/20
I LOVE HOCKEY! I grew up in New England back in the day when we shoveled snow off the ponds and played pickup hockey after school and on weekends. My favorite NHL player was Bobby Orr. I went to college at RPI in upstate New York and THE sport on campus was ice hockey. My biggest argument with my college roommate was which was the better team, the Boston Bruins or the Montreal Canadiens. Moving to Texas in 1989 put hockey on the back burner for me until the Minnesota North Stars moved to Dallas. There was always the rivalry between the Fort Worth Fire and Dallas Freeze of the old Central Hockey League to fill in the gaps. My daughter went to her first Fire game when she was three weeks old but it wasn’t until my son, Alex, started skating at age 6 that hockey became a regular part of my life again. Having a child play Tier I youth hockey in North Texas meant travel – LOTS of travel. Most years we went on 8 or 9 hockey trips to Detroit, Chicago, Boston, Canada, Colorado and many other places for tournaments, playoffs and even 3 times for National Championships. And of course there were drives across town 6-7 days a week for local games, team practice and individual lessons. My son’s competitive hockey came to an end last year when he graduated from college and the hole that was left is now filled by the Dallas Stars. I don’t care about the Cowboys (that’s sacrilege in this part of Texas). I don’t care about the Mavericks. I don’t care about the Rangers. But ask me about the Stars and I’m happy to talk about their season, the standings, who is playing well and what are the latest trade rumors. Yes, hockey is in my blood.
But I’m every bit as passionate about FLOORBALL. In many ways, floorball is every bit as exciting as hockey. It shares many of the characteristics that make hockey such a popular sport – speed, skill, excitement, teamwork and passion. While it lacks two features central to hockey – skating and physicality, Floorball more than compensates because it actually features more speed than ice hockey and just as much skill, excitement, teamwork and passion. Aren’t we amazed at how fast the puck moves in an NHL game and how quickly the puck comes off the stick? Isn’t it exciting to see a player skate coast to coast or witness a tic-tac-toe passing play that results in a pretty goal? Don’t we all love the high speed duel between a skilled forward and an equally skilled goalie? Guess what – we get to see ALL of these in a floorball game and at the world cup level the game is actually FASTER! The ball is very difficult to see because it moves so quickly between experienced passers in floorball. A quick snap shot by a skilled player in floorball will actually hit the net faster than the hardest NHL slapshot. And of course it’s harder to defend because you don’t see it coming -- unlike the windup taken on the ice for a blistering slapshot. And of course the goalie gets to face these shots without the benefit of leg pads, a catcher, and a blocker. He/she has to rely on agility, athleticism and superior hand-eye coordination. Sure, ice hockey players zip up and down the ice and you really get an appreciation for how fast they go at ice level. But with no offside rule, plays in floorball can happen quicker and you can go from offense to defense in a millisecond. Throw in free hits when the ball goes out of play instead of faceoffs and you witness a game that hardly ever stops. Once you get used to seeing the clock count up instead of down, you realize that floorball is remarkably similar to ice hockey.
And did I mention teamwork, excitement and passion? Floorball has all of these and then some! Sure, watching a Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals is often the ultimate in sports competition. But guess what – same goes with Floorball. Don’t believe me? Watch the last 10 minutes of the semifinal match between Switzerland and Czech Republic at this past year’s Women’s World Championship. It doesn’t get any better than this! 2019 WFC Switzerland vs Czech Republic
As a spectator sport, floorball at the highest levels is every bit as exciting as ice hockey. But the main difference between the two sports, skating and checking, is what makes floorball so much more inclusive and better for the participants. Ice hockey is for relatively few athletes. Floorball is for EVERYBODY!
SO WHY ARE WE TRYING TO MAKE FLOORBALL SO MUCH LIKE HOCKEY? In an effort to popularize the sport in the United States, some are trying to present it as “just like hockey but without the ice”. A few years ago there was an effort to call our Americanized version “Floorball Hockey”. Some feel that we should relax some of the basic floorball rules like stick checking, high sticking or use of the hands in order to appeal to hockey players and make the game more like what they are used to playing. In my opinion, this is a huge mistake. It doesn’t help the hockey players because they will never become skilled floorball players if they don’t adhere to the rules of floorball. It certainly doesn’t help the sport of hockey. But most importantly, it is an impediment to the growth of floorball in the United States because it will be harder to develop the player base with the proper skills and respect for the game to compete at the international level. Let’s not make Floorball into Hockey-Lite.
We all know how playing floorball helps hockey players become much better hockey players. It helps with hand-eye coordination, improves agility, helps them “read” the game and most importantly helps them develop soft hands. Some of the best NHL players from Sweden, Finland and Czech Republic grew up playing floorball. We need to encourage hockey players, especially youth hockey players, to pick up a floorball stick and give it a try. Floorball is ideal for off-ice training. But you’re not going to take a serious hockey player away from hockey. What you WILL do is improve his/her skills and possibly give them an appreciation for a sport that is every bit as fun and exciting as the one on the ice. And for those hockey players who no longer play competitive hockey, they can keep the competitive juices flowing on the floorball court long after their skating days are over.
Finally, a word about our friends in the hockey world who are approaching or being approached by the floorball community. We all cheer when we hear about an NHL team using floorball sticks and balls in their hockey outreach programs. Or there’s a new floorball stick with the USA Hockey logo or a stick on the shelves with the NHL brand. When these things happen, we start to think, “Aha, Floorball has arrived…see, it’s got the support of the NHL.” More and more teams are doing this – the Dallas Stars, the NY Islanders, the Florida Panthers, the Chicago Blackhawks. It’s wonderful – floorball is getting introduced to more and more kids – the future growth of floorball is assured. I hate to throw cold water on this rosy scenario but that’s not really the case. Remember why these teams are doing outreach. Ultimately, it’s to grow their fan base and garner more interest in hockey. They use floorball sticks because they are new and lightweight – easy to control, especially in the hands of elementary kids. But in most cases, they are not really playing floorball. They’re playing a newer and safer version of street or floor hockey. In many cases, these programs are not even called “floorball” but “ball hockey” or “floor ball hockey”. While we all support these programs (and trust me, we’ve done a huge number of floorball events before hockey games and in conjunction with hockey festivals), what we really need to do is use these activities to introduce kids to floorball but then follow up with organized programs to teach Floorball, not floor hockey. It’s only by doing this at the grassroots level can we ever hope to raise a generation of American floorball players who can compete and WIN on the world stage.
I LOVE FLOORBALL AND I LOVE HOCKEY. Let’s enjoy both and not try to fuse them together!
Questions or comments? Email me at email@example.com or call 817-806-5002.
FloorballPlanet – Who Are We and Why Are We Doing This?
by Darryl Gross – 2/11/20
WHO ARE WE? FloorballPlanet has been around since 2008 and we are the ONLY company in the United States dedicated to promoting the SPORT OF FLOORBALL. There are some companies out there who sell floorball products in one capacity or another and there are other companies who jumped into the floorball marketplace thinking there was money to be made. Most of these companies are no longer in business.
As the largest supplier of floorball equipment in North America, we maintain an extensive inventory of floorball sticks, balls, bags, goals, goalie gear and accessories in our 12,800 SF warehouse just a few miles south of the Dallas-Fort Worth airport in North Texas. In addition to direct online sales through this web site, most of our inventory is listed on the major online seller marketplaces including Amazon, Walmart and eBay. When you order one of our products through these sites, we promptly fulfill the order with the same care as those orders placed on our site and we always strive to ship your order the same day we receive it. In addition to online sales, we offer direct retail sales to individuals and organizations along with discount programs for schools, recreation centers, hockey organizations, Special Olympics and floorball clubs. We also supply various sports and hockey resellers with floorball sticks and accessories. Floorball has yet to make its presence known in a significant way at sports retailers, but we’re working on it!
At FloorballPlanet, we eat, sleep and breathe floorball. As principals of GBK Sports, Jukka Kotti and I have worked nonstop to promote the growth of floorball in the USA and there is not a day that goes by when we are not talking, teaching, or promoting floorball. We work closely with the United States Floorball Association in promoting its mission and are two of the four original founding members of the North Texas Floorball Association (NTFA). Dan Torretta, a key member of our team, moved to Texas from New Jersey three years ago specifically to be at the center of floorball in the United States. To our knowledge, he is the ONLY full-time floorball employee in the country. His floorball skills and experience at all levels, including World Floorball Championships, make him the “go-to” guy when you have questions about the best floorball stick to fit your playing style. Collectively we have run hundreds of floorball training sessions for schools and other programs and for the past few years we have been actively working with Special Olympics helping them transition from floor hockey to floorball. We have been 100% involved with running three U.S. National Floorball Championships including last year’s premier event in Lynchburg, Virginia which was held in conjunction with State Games of America.
WHY ARE WE DOING THIS? We are adding this new page to our web site because there really isn’t another place where we can talk at length about floorball issues that are important. And believe me, we have a lot to say! As the title indicates, we will use this page to write news articles and share our thoughts and opinions about a variety of topics. We will publish new articles whenever the need strikes – as often as every few days or it may stretch into weeks before we write again. Future articles in the works include:
Floorball Sticks & Equipment – Why Buy in the USA
Floorball vs Hockey
It’s All About the Fundamentals
Floorball Tournaments in the USA
Is There a BEST Floorball Stick?
Floorball and Special Olympics
Is It Floorball?
Zorro Sticks – What to Buy, What NOT to Buy
Starting a Floorball Club
Be sure to bookmark this page so you can check back often. We’ll try to announce new articles on Facebook and Twitter. Guest articles are always welcome. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 817-806-5002.
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