The Eleven Hockey Arc9 stick I had was a little lower balance point, this gives the stick a heavier head, meaning that this stick hits with some real power. This power comes through when both upright hitting or getting down low and slapping the ball, with this extra oomph when you hit the ball it is very easy to lift the ball, I found this was most likely to happen when you are either trying to rush a hit or you are trying to hit the ball as hard as you can, where you don’t get the ball into exactly the right position for what your trying to do. This stick features a dint in the face that can obviously affect your accuracy when hitting if you don’t take it into account. There was a small amount of feedback when you hit the ball, this is only really a problem when you don’t connect correctly. When I was testing in mild conditions (I was testing in the UK in January/February) I would say that the feedback level was perfectly acceptable for a high stiffness stick.
The Reverse edge on the Arch9 is fairly thick not hugely so but definitely above average, I found that when hitting tomahawks it was fairly easy to keep the ball flat to the ground, meaning I was pretty confident using my reverse to play passes to the back post or clearances down the line. I still didn’t have the confidence to use reverse passes in the centre of the pitch. When shooting I found I could easily lift the ball up to about waist high, or to the top of the goal, but I couldn’t control the exact pitch of the ball other than these 3 rough heights, which oddly is top, middle or bottom. When I was hitting tomahawk shoots these 3 rough guides for height overlapped a little meaning I might hit top backboard when shooting low or waist height. When I hit any upright reverses I found the placement of the dint threw off my aim, but that it was inconsistent in the deviation so I never really got a handle on aiming the shots just a rough generalisation, probably something I could have worked out given more time practicing them, but with the number of times I use a upright reverse shot I didn’t invest that much time into it. The heavy head does add some extra oomph to the hits though.
As I have mentioned already this stick has a very low balance point, as such it can feel a little slower for close skills. This extra weight does add to the hitting power, but also adds a little meat behind the ball when controlling difficult passes, you can feel the substance of the head when stopping the ball. When controlling the ball the feedback given to you from the stick is good and give you a good sense of the ball coming in which you are trying to control. The stick comes with a dint in the face, this dint is a double edge sword. The dint can cause the ball to bobble away if you don’t catch the ball right, but if you do catch the ball right the dint can be used to trap the ball perfectly. The dint is also superb for quick drags, with the ball in the dint you can drag the ball at high speed then by rolling the dint around the ball you can trap the ball without it leaving the dint. The is equally good for V-drags and small lifts, once you have the ball in the dint it is easy to perform close skills, you can also use the dint to control the ball during spins. With a full low bow and the dint in the face, it is vital that you get your left elbow high and your left wrist over or in front of the ball to stop it lifting when you control the ball.
Again with flicking the dint is a double edge sword. If you can get the ball into the dint correctly then the ball sits nicely on the head of the stick making it easy to place the ball with flicks. However the dint can make the pick up very difficult, it’s easy to knock the ball away rather than lift the ball onto the face to flick it when you are rushing the flick. Once you have mastered the use of the dint and your pick up speed it becomes very useful. Again once you have the skill of getting the ball into the dint down then the ball sits very nicely in the dint, this means it’s very easy to place the ball with a high level of accuracy. It does make it more difficult to use the bow to add whip and power to flicks but more on that later. I found the power I could generate for short range shots was more than enough. The dint is fantastic for small controlled lifts over a stick on both open and reverse stick. Because the ball sits so well you can lift the ball over the stick without the ball leaving the face, or you can lift the ball into space to attack, I feel this would make this stick fantastic for a pacey forward or winger looking to attack the space behind the last defender.
Dragflicks and Aerials
As with normal flick you need to have gotten the skill of catching the ball in the dint on the pickup. Once I had the skill, it only took a short time, I found that it made he pick up fairly controlled as the ball was guided into the centre of the dint where the ball would sit. Now as I mentioned before the transfer of the ball up the stick to add whip & power using the bow of the stick, this is because you have to ‘bounce’ the ball out of the dint and then get the ball to roll back in. So when dragflicking you have to roll the ball out of the dint during the drag stage, after that in the flicking stage you need to whip the ball back down into the dint to get the accuracy on the flick. If you don’t get the ball into the dint then the missing section of the face can affect accuracy causing the ball to go high and right of where you want to place the ball. This issue can be corrected with the right technique, but may need you to initially slow down to the mechanics of the process worked out. Once you have the technique worked out, you can get fantastic accuracy similar to how you get it with standard flicks, with the ball sitting in the dished face.
When throwing aerials you again have to use the same roll up and down technique that you use for dragflicking but in a more upright form to make use of the bow and move the ball out of the dint. It does take some effort to master this much like with the dragflicking, but once you have it worked out you can get some really good distance and accuracy but it does take some getting used to.
Overall I really liked this stick, it was a lot of fun to play with this stick. It was easy to dribble around with the ball trapped in the dish in the face, despite some of the issues that it can cause. Once you have the hang of it then it can cause you some awesome first touches, lifting and controlling the ball in the dish then throwing it into space to run onto. When hitting the dished face can cause some issues, but the power this stick generates when hitting is fantastic, when shooting then the minute lift or skimming you sometimes get when hitting low shots can throw goalkeepers off on their kicking, leading to more miskicks meaning more goals. For up close flicking the dint is excellent as you can get fantastic accuracy and power on flicks, making use of the dint you can also change direct in the air with ease, as the ball is held in the dint until the ball is release.