Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Fantasy on Floorball Stick Development

Floorball stick development has been crazy over the years. I however, still think the largest breakthrough came as the ventilated blades arrived back in the first days of the early dawn as Carl-Åke Ahlqvist developed upon the Cosom design, and came up with the idea of ventilated blades.

Lately the design of the shaft on the stick is perhaps what has been driving technical development most with ideas on how to make the shaft itself better as a main component of the stick. We have seen curved shafts, different angles, double curves and other ideas to increase torsion or flex in the right direction and some designs on how to improve strength or the weight of the stick and other features by developing mainly the shaft.

Let us now leave the shaft behind for a moment and focus on the blade itself. Beside of ventilated blades, some different heels, curvature(s), design, size and even some secret mixtures of the plastic making up the blade and also to lower friction on the floor (sic) is what have been on the table.

Well, if we also put aside some “marketing stunts” as well as some solutions that did not catch the markets interest. I say in principle we have - more or less - the same ol’ plastic blade as we always had. Many might strongly argue with this statement, but as a sweeping burst from a pundit  - this point of view might work?

So what do I want to see in future blade development? What are the features we want to improve in a stick and how to develop the blade of the Floorball stick?
Weight? Yes, perhaps since it seems like many players like lightweight sticks, it kind of speeds up stick-handling. Endurance? I do not know  - but my general knowledge is that most blades last rather well. This might also depend if You play out side or not...
Less friction against the floor? Yes, perhaps I think so, since less friction might enhance the speed over the floor as one fire a shot. Should a stick communicate with a sensor device to a smart phone? Definitely, I think so, even if this might probably not only be related to the blade, but a sensor in the shaft would not be wrong and I am sure this will happen in the close future.
Higher speed through the air and less air resistance? Yes, without any further comment. More sensitivity for ball control? Yes, without no doubt - but I might also be on the wrong track here, so please feel free to share your own thoughts.

So my ideas for the next decades of Floorball blades looks like this: Skip the plastic blade. What? Well at least to start with...
First, one might build a core construction of a Floorball blade out of some kind of a lightweight foam to make the construction as light as possible. The shape of every beam of the blade should, or must,  resemble a water drop, see picture of above. This since the water-drop gets it shape in the air by trying to reduce its own air drag. Of course the back-hand side may not have sharpe edges,  they must be rounded, to improve ball contact on this side too. Still the main idea must be that each part of the blade that floats fast forward in the air should at least resemble the profile of a water drop falling in the air.

Now we have a lightweight construction, but it is very weak and it ought fly fast forward in the air! Next step is to cover this foam-core material with something like Kevlar or perhaps just dip the core in a plastic solution/mixture to provide a very hard surface, and perhaps a soft surface on top of that, this to make the construction though and sturdy as a sandwich layered construction.
I do not know what material is optimal too use or how to do this, but I think this approach and design would make sense as we try to find something that is light, fast and perhaps reasonable sturdy.

If we now want to increase ball control, we might loose out on speed. But let us compare to table-tennis for a second. A cheap table-tennis racket with only one layer rubber provides the player with a very fast ball. However good players use much more rubber since they aim for optimum ball control. So the best players play with fresh double rubber layers and special glue, etc.. All to improve the "grip" on the ball.

I would sure like to see an outer layer on a Floorball blade that is somewhat like a soft like rubber and also gives a much better “grip” onto the ball so players would be able to play with more spin on “da ball” as a more conscious part of the game. The “rubber paint” or softer outer layer would lower the speed of the ball as one shoot but it would increase the abilities to curve shots, galore.

Final thing, what about the friction over the floor? I do not know, but some manufacturers have been fiddling with ideas in this area too. I think that a “sole” on the blade that is equipped with a small ball bearing or “roller bearings” most likely would provide lowest possible friction over any floor. Think Hot Wheels! and You might understand what I aim at...

The only bad thing I may think about for this kind of a blade design study as descried above - well it is probably impossible to heat it up and shape it exactly to the “bend” or curve you personally would like to have.

- So would a stick like this be legal? Perhaps not.
- Would it pass the testing institute? Maybe it can be designed to do so?
- Can rules change? Why not?
- Would a stick like this be very expensive? Sure baby.
- Would this stick break much more often? Yes, most likely but it also depends how it is built.
- Would a stick like this enhance the sport? It is impossible to say before someone tries this approach.
And perhaps this development would also evolve the game into another new version of the sport?

So what is Your ideas on stick development?
What do You have to share?

Another subject to discuss at this page would be on the subject “what is real stick development” and “what is only pure marketing tricks”? So if anyone has some ideas in this direction shoot us a line.
And we will see if we may dive deeper into that too....

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Research suggest that eye-injuries are more common in Floorball as compared to Tennis, but less common as compared to Squash (similar to Racquetball).
To minimize this risk of injury Floorballcentral recommend: Use certified protective eye-wear (mandated in many European areas for the youth). Do not lay down on the court. Follow the rules strict on stick height.

Also if you get addicted to this sport - do not blame us!