As a hockey player, one of the most important pieces of equipment you will need is your stick. Choosing the right stick can greatly impact your performance on the ice. A well-fitted stick can improve your shot accuracy, power, and overall control of the puck.
With so many different types, sizes, and brands available, it can be overwhelming to know where to start and how to pick a hockey stick that is best suited for you. Do you need a longer or shorter stick? Should you choose a curved blade or a straight one?
In this article, we will provide you with everything you need to know about picking the perfect hockey stick for you. We’ll cover the basics such as stick length, curve, flex, materials, and more. By the end of this article, you’ll have a good understanding of what you need to look for when selecting your hockey stick.
“A hockey stick is not just a piece of wood, it’s an extension of yourself.” – Bobby Orr
If you want to take your game to the next level, keep reading and learn how to choose the hockey stick that will give the greatest benefit to your performance on the ice.
Consider Your Position and Playing Style
Assess Your Position on the Ice
Before choosing a hockey stick, it’s important to consider your position on the ice. Defensemen typically need longer sticks for extended reach and blocking shots, while forwards often prefer shorter sticks for better control and agility.
Center players should opt for a moderate length stick that allows them to take face-offs easily and also handle the puck quickly in tight areas. Goalies require an entirely different type of stick altogether, with wider blade faces, greater flexibility, as well as straighter-shafts to aid with shooting accuracy.
Take Your Playing Style into Account
Your playing style is another significant factor when picking out a hockey stick. If you’re an aggressive player who delights in taking slap shots, then you’ll want a stiffer stick to ensure maximum power. Conversely, if you prefer more precision shots or are still improving your technique, a softer stick would be preferable for increased control over where the puck goes upon impact.
If you like to dangle through defenses and weave in between opponents, then look for a stick with a high level of responsiveness and a smaller blade face. This will help increase your handling ability and allow quick adjustments on tricky passes. Alternatively, if heavy hits and checking are more up your street, then go for a slightly heavier and denser stick designed specifically for hitting other players and their respective gear hard.
“Choosing the right stick depends heavily on your personal preferences, strengths, and weaknesses.” – Tyler Madarasz, Pro Hockey Life Gear Head Coach
Choose the Right Blade Curve
Picking a hockey stick that suits your style of play can be challenging, especially when it comes to selecting the right blade curve. The curve affects how you shoot, pass and handle the puck; getting it wrong could lead to discomfort or impair your performance on the ice. Here’s what you need to know about the different types of curves and how to select the best one for you.
Understand the Different Types of Blade Curves
The first step in choosing a blade curve is understanding what each option offers. Many companies offer various options to choose from, but these are the most common:
- Mid Curve: This popular curve has a moderate hook in the middle, making it versatile enough for all types of shots, from wrist shots to slap shots. It is often considered the standard for beginners because it provides more control and accuracy than other curves.
- Toe Curve: A blade with a toe curve has an upward bend towards the end of the blade, allowing players to lift the puck higher. This curve is ideal for forwards who spend a lot of time near the opposing net and use quick flicks of the wrist to score goals.
- Heel Curve: With a deep scoop at the heel, this curve provides additional shooting power, making it great for defensemen or anyone who takes shots from far away. It may not provide as much control or accuracy, so players must adjust their handling accordingly.
- Paddle Curve: Reserved for goalies only, this curve is similar to the mid-curve, but with less pronounced hooks, giving the goalie better control over the puck.
It’s essential to try out different curves and determine which one feels most comfortable in your hands. Consider factors like weight, stick handling ability, and the type of shot you are trying to achieve.
Experiment with Different Blade Curves
No two players play the same way, so what works for someone else may not work for you. The best way to determine which curve suits your style is to experiment with various options until you find the one that provides the most control and power when shooting or passing.
“A good curve is crucial. It’s all based on preference,” NHL player, Tyler Seguin said. -Tyler Seguin
You can also get advice from teammates or coaches who may have experience selecting blade curves. Keep in mind that choosing a curve takes time and experimentation; it may take some trial and error before finding the perfect blend.
Selecting a hockey stick with an appropriate blade curve requires understanding the available options and experimentation to determine the ideal choice for your unique playing style. With time and plenty of practice, you’ll learn how to pick a hockey stick that fits your needs and become a better player as a result.
Decide on Your Preferred Flex
Picking the right hockey stick can greatly improve your game, but with so many options available, selecting the perfect one can be challenging. One of the most important factors to consider when buying a hockey stick is its flex rating.
Know the Different Flex Ratings
The flex rating determines how much a stick bends under pressure and affects the power and speed you can generate in your shots. Generally, younger and lighter players should opt for lower flex sticks while stronger, heavier ones might require stiffer options.
Flex ratings typically range from 20 to 120, with the number representing how many pounds of force are required to bend the shaft 1 inch. So, a 75-rated stick will take 75 pounds of force to create a 1-inch deflection movement.
“A higher stick flex allows for harder and more accurate shots at higher speeds. A lower stick flex requires less strength, which makes it an excellent choice for kids or beginners.” -Pure Hockey
Different brands have their own proprietary systems, though, making comparison tricky between them. Some manufacturers use three numbers where each represents different flex points along the shaft. Others use letters such as “S,” “M” or “X” to indicate stiffness level. Discuss with your coach and consult with professionals before purchasing.
Consider Your Size and Strength
Your body size and weight significantly influence your stick flex preference. As a general rule of thumb, players weighing less than 100 lbs tend to prefer a flex stick rating below 55, whereas more massive players who weigh over 200lbs favor 85-110 ratings.
If you’re not sure about your ideal flex, talk to experienced players and coaches. They can give you valuable insight regarding how much flex you should preferably choose. Your personal playing style, shooting technique and skills are key considerations to envision also.
“To get an idea of the ideal flex stick for your body type, take this simple test: lift 12 ounces of weight away from yourself with both hands. If you can easily lift it at arms length without shaking or bending too much in your wrists, consider a lower-rated shaft. Perceiving difficulty lifting that weight indicates the need for a higher rating.” -DICK’S Sporting Goods
Test Out Different Flexes
Without testing out different flex variations, selecting the right hockey stick is challenging. Spend some time visiting a sporting goods store and test different sticks to decide which flex best suits your preference. Experiment with various flex ratings until you find the optimum balance of flex and power that works for you. Try practicing your shots using different sticks whenever possible so you can feel the difference.
Bear in mind that there’s no “perfect decision” when selecting a hockey stick. Your preferences might change over time. So stay open-minded and patient until you have found the flexibility level that unleashes your true potential on the ice!
“A skilled player can adjust to different types of sticks and still be effective. It may take time, but if you practice regularly with your preferred stick brand, model and stiffness, you will develop muscle memory that will help you perform consistently well on the rink”. -Pure Hockey
Determine the Length That Works for You
Measure from the Floor to Your Chin
One of the most important factors in choosing a hockey stick is finding the right length. To determine the appropriate length, first stand upright on flat ground with your skates on. Hold the stick perpendicular to the ground and place the blade against your feet so that it’s touching the ground.
“Hold the stick upright with the toe of the blade on the ground between your legs,” USA Hockey suggests. “The butt end of the stick should reach about 5 inches below your chin.” This measurement provides an excellent starting point when you need assistance figuring out what size hockey stick to purchase.”
Consider Your Playing Style and Position
The position you play on the ice will affect the type of stick you choose. Defenders and forwards prefer different styles of sticks because they have distinct needs. Additionally, players who like to handle the puck differently may be better served by certain types of blades or materials than others.
If you’re a defender, you’ll probably want a longer hockey stick. According to Senior Stick Product Manager at Bauer Hockey Peter Kunz, “Defensemen frequently use taller sticks. The extra height gives them additional reach to knock away pucks or block shots.” Forward-style blades are often smaller overall, allowing the player more control over the puck while he or she handles it.
Try Different Lengths on the Ice
Although knowing your ideal length and playing style is a great beginning point, sometimes trying multiple lengths can help pick the perfect fit. Many sporting goods stores and rinks offer trial opportunities to test new equipment before purchasing. Before going in for the substantial financial investment of buying a hockey stick, taking part in demo days hosted by manufacturers or attending authorized retailer test skates are great options.
Spending time on the rink with a stick that seems to fit solid in-hand and meets all of your requirements. A shorter stick may offer more control but bounces off pucks, while a longer stick can provide the reach you require while losing accuracy on shoots without proper handling. With each swing, slide, and shot, it’s essential to examine how your muscles feel too. A hockey stick that is entirely too long could lead to back strain due to poor posture at times.
Think About Your Budget
If you are looking to purchase a hockey stick, there are many things to consider. One of the most important factors is your budget. It is always helpful to evaluate what kind of stick you want and how much you are willing to spend on it.
Set a Budget Before Shopping
Before even stepping into a sports store or browsing online retailers, it’s crucial to set a budget for yourself. With so many sticks on the market, setting a reasonable price range will help eliminate options that may be out of reach. Remember, just because a stick is expensive doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best option for you.
You should also keep in mind any additional gear costs, such as gloves and shin guards, which can add up quickly if purchased all at once. Planning ahead and making sure all necessary items fit within your budget will make your shopping experience less stressful.
Consider the Long-Term Value of the Stick
While picking a stick that fits your current budget is essential, it’s also beneficial to think about the long-term value of your investment. Investing in a high-quality stick might cost more upfront, but it can save money in the end by lasting through multiple seasons and not needing frequent replacements.
The materials used to make the stick play a vital role in its longevity. Sticks made with carbon fiber tend to last longer than those made with cheaper materials like wood. Composite sticks offer durability while being lightweight and balanced. Additionally, look for sticks with warranties to ensure protection against manufacturing defects.
Considering the long-term value of your stick can help you avoid repeatedly replacing cheap sticks and ultimately save you money over time.
“A player needs to find a balance between their need for a good stick and their willingness to invest in one. Good sticks can be expensive, but the return on investment from durability and overall effectiveness is worth it,” advised Scout Taylor-Compton, an avid hockey player.
Keeping your budget in mind while selecting a stick is crucial. Putting thought into the long-term value of your purchase ensures you’re not only getting what you pay for now but that you’ll continue to get your money’s worth down the line. With these considerations kept in mind, you are well on your way to picking a great hockey stick.
Test Out Different Options Before Making a Final Decision
Choosing the right hockey stick can greatly impact your performance on the ice. However, with so many options available, it can be overwhelming to know which stick is best for you. Here are some tips for testing out multiple sticks before making a final decision.
Try Multiple Sticks in Your Preferred Length, Flex, and Curve
Before trying out sticks, it’s important to know what specifications you prefer. Consider your height and position when choosing the length of your stick. For flex, consider your body weight and shot strength. Lastly, for curve, different curves have different benefits depending on the player’s style of play and personal preference.
When testing out sticks, try to find sticks that match your preferred specifications and test them all. Don’t be afraid to try out sticks with slightly different specs as well – you may find something new that works better for you. It’s also recommended to try out both one-piece sticks and two-piece sticks to see which you prefer.
Consider the Feel of the Stick in Your Hands
The feel of the stick in your hands is important for comfort and control. Some players prefer a thinner grip while others want more padding or texture. Make sure to hold the stick tightly and move it around to simulate playing before deciding if it feels comfortable to use during gameplay.
Take Note of Any Differences in Performance on the Ice
Finally, take note of any differences in performance on the ice. Pay attention to things like accuracy, puck control, shot strength, and overall comfort. A good way to do this is to try out each stick through drills or scrimmage games. Keep notes throughout the process and narrow down your choices after considering everything above.
“The hockey stick is the most important tool for a player. It can make or break your game.” -John Tavares
By testing out multiple sticks before making a final decision, players can find one that feels comfortable and improves their performance on the ice. Remember to consider length, flex, curve, feel, and performance differences when trying out different options.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the factors to consider when choosing a hockey stick?
When choosing a hockey stick, consider the player’s height, weight, and position. The stick’s flex, curve, and material should also be considered. The player’s skill level and budget are also important factors to consider.
What should be the ideal length of a hockey stick for a player?
The ideal length of a hockey stick depends on the player’s height and position. Generally, a stick should come up to the player’s nose without skates. Defensemen may prefer a longer stick, while forwards may prefer a shorter stick for better control.
How to choose the flex of a hockey stick?
The flex of a hockey stick should be chosen based on the player’s weight and strength. A stick that is too stiff may be difficult to handle, while a stick that is too flexible may not provide enough power. Generally, a flex rating of 85 is suitable for most players.
What is the difference between a wood, composite, and carbon fiber hockey stick?
A wood hockey stick is heavier and less expensive than a composite or carbon fiber stick. Composite sticks are lighter and more durable than wood sticks. Carbon fiber sticks are the lightest and most expensive option, providing the best performance and power.
What grip options are available for hockey sticks?
Hockey sticks come with different grip options, including clear, matte, and grip coatings. Clear coatings provide a smooth finish, while matte coatings offer a rougher texture for better grip. Grip coatings are applied to the shaft of the stick for added control.
How to find the right curve for a hockey stick?
The right curve for a hockey stick depends on the player’s position and personal preference. Forwards may prefer a more curved blade for better control and stickhandling, while defensemen may prefer a straighter blade for better slap shots and defensive play. Trying different curves is the best way to find the right one.