This is a very stiff stick, but has excellent feedback while the ball is on the end of your stick, this is rare for a stick with this level of stiffness. I would say this stick is stiffer than most “100% carbon” sticks but not as quite as stiff as the Adidas Carbonbraid, but while I feel that the Carbonbraid is a little too stiff and thus Adidas had to stuff the stick with shock absorbers that kill a lot of the feel on the ball, the LBX on the other hand has a very responsive feel on the ball, you know the instant the ball hits the end of the stick, this instantaneous feedback gives you an early heads up to start cushioning the ball, if you don’t react to this feedback quickly enough then high level of stiffness of the stick becomes a double edge sword as it means the ball pings away from the end of the stick, meaning your second touch become a tackle. If you can reign in this first touch you will find this stick is fantastic to dribble with, the speed of the feedback means you know the second the ball touches the head of the stick so you can start executing whatever skill you are planning. If there is enough give in the pitch, the stiffness also makes it very easy to perform a bounce into the turf to ‘dink’ the ball over a flat stick.
Because this sick is so stiff it means when you hit the ball clean it really flies, however if you do mishit the ball then you are going to know about it. Because I was dropping down to a 36.5 from a 37.5, in the early stages of the of the testing there were a few ‘un-sweet’ strikes and i was testing in December/January, so it was also very cold, and I can say it was not enjoyable when it didn’t ‘go to plan’. However after a small amount of punishment I got used to the change in size I started connecting with the ball and started to find bottom corners and after taking my brave pills (it was very cold) & really going for it with my shooting, I started found that I could rocket the ball into to the roof of the net, just under the bar, however this does require some concentration as I found at the end of the session when I was getting tired and it was easy to over reach, it was easy to get under the ball and ping it over the bar. I also got a good lump of feedback when i inadvertently clipped the frozen surface of the pitch on my way to the ball. The sweet spot I found was around 3 inches behind my front foot to keep the ball flat and level or just in front of my front foot to put it just under the bar, any further then 6 inches in front and the ball would fly over the bar and my hands would sting from the vibrations. Slaps or slider passes would ping off the stick with ease and with good pace. The low bow profile really lends itself to the slider as you can roll the down the stick before whipping it off to the right or crashing through with the head of the stick to ping it off to the left.
Getting down and smashing a few tomahawks, my initial thoughts were that the stick felt very thin edged compared to my DF24, but i was hitting the ball very consistently. I have a habit of getting the ball too far in front of my lead foot (either Left or right) which means I lean forward and sometimes clip the ground before the ball, but even when I did this I didn’t feel any real feedback from the stick. When I did get the ball right through the centre I found that keeping the ball flat was relatively easy at about 90% effort/power, but when hitting the ball as hard as I could it was easy for the ball to creep up an inch or two, that’s fine when hitting for bottom corners but when I was trying to roof the ball that same margin of error seemed to be the difference between top corner and 3ft over the bar.
I found that on upright where easy to do but that because of the angle of the face it was easy to pull the ball to the right, to go left I sometimes myself over correcting then no pulling the ball and just firing the ball left of my target. This is largely something I think could be worked out over time but in my short time with the stick it was something that happened several times and so can’t go without say.
Because of the angle of the face of this stick it is very easy to get up under the ball, this makes the stick superb for doing small 3D lifts over a stick or quickly lifting the ball over an advancing goalkeeper on a one on one. This is equally easy on reverse as on open stick, the stick is outstanding for throwing the ball onto full stretch one hand reverse extension and then lifting the ball a couple of inches off the deck over an outstretched stick. I found the responsive feel of the stick really out with close range flicked shots. Because you can feel the ball on the end of the stick, you can flick with confidence knowing when the ball is leaving the stick, this means that you have more confidence when firing a shot at tight angles, or flicking into the top corner from the penalty spot.
As I mentioned the angle of the face on this stick is designed for ease of use when flicking, that’s true with dragflicks as well. The angling of the face makes a controlled pick up at speed effortless. The bow profile is a ‘smooth’ arch, rather than a ‘sharp’ arch, this means the ball rolls really nicely up the shaft through the drag, then back down for the release. My personal preference is a ‘smooth’ arch with a groove, I think this because this gives you the best of both worlds when flicking the smooth drag and sharp groove whip. Because this is a ‘smooth’ bow without a groove, to me it does feel a little bit down on power compared to similar sticks with a groove or groove-less sticks with a sharper arch profile. That’s not to say that you can’t flick with this stick, with the right technique you can still generate very good power. It also, because of the stiffness allows you to be very precise and accurate with your dragflicks, if you just try to flick as hard as you can, then you will probably not notice that you get a very subtle but noticeable feedback from the stick, as the ball rolls down the feedback changes letting you know when to drag motion to placing the flick, with a slight flick of the wrist at the right moment you can easily change the shot from bottom left to top right and vice versa.
With Aerials the shaping of the stick once again comes into play heavily, the low bow, the shaped head and the angle of the ace, all combine to make it effortless to launch the ball 30-40 yards down the field to the end of a team makes stick.
Is the stick for everyone one? No. Should it be? No. This is a high end stick, it is very stiff and responsive and because of that t can be unforgiving. This stick is very much like an F1, car in that right hands it will be able to do amazing things, in the wrong hands there will be issues. If you can tame this wild beast of a stick, then you will find that underneath it is fantastic, the live feel on the ball, the power you can get when hitting, the precision flicking. If you are looking for a very top end stick, this is one that I would recommend, but if you are not ready for it there be a steep learning curve.
A huge thanks to Hockey ID for lending me this stick to review, if you can visit them they have a fantastic range of sticks to try before you buy and experts on hand to give you great advise on a stick best suited for you and your style of play.