Choosing the right hockey stick is essential for any player who wants to perform at their best. One of the most important considerations when picking a hockey stick is its flex, which refers to the amount of bend in the shaft.
The flex of your hockey stick influences many aspects of your game, such as your shot power, accuracy, and overall control of the puck. A stick with too much or too little flex can significantly impact your performance on the ice, so it’s crucial to find the perfect balance.
In this post, we’ll go over everything you need to know about choosing the right flex for your hockey stick. We’ll cover the basics of stick flex and explore some factors that can influence your decision, such as position, style of play, and skill level.
“Your choice of hockey stick flex can make all the difference between scoring a goal or missing the net. It’s the key to unlocking your full potential on the ice.” -Unknown
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player, understanding stick flex is vital if you want to take your performance to the next level. By the end of this article, you’ll have a clear idea of what flex your hockey stick should be and how to choose one that suits your needs perfectly.
Understanding Hockey Stick Flex
The Basics of Hockey Stick Flex
Hockey stick flex refers to the amount a hockey stick will bend when force is applied, such as during a shot or pass. In general, the higher the flex number, the more easily the stick will bend. The lower the flex number, the stiffer the stick will be.
The most common flex ratings for senior sticks usually fall between 75 and 110 with intermediate sticks falling between 55 and 70 while junior sticks usually are rated from 40-50.
Flex rating can vary among different brands, so it’s important to check the specific measurements before making a purchase. Players that weigh more than 175 pounds typically use a stick with a flex rating above 85. However, lighter players may require a stick with less flex.
The Role of Flex in Shooting and Passing
The flex rating of a stick affects its performance on the ice. For example, a stick with a high flex rating is ideal for players looking for a powerful shot because it creates greater tension upon impact with the puck, allowing the player to generate more power behind their shots. Additionally, increased flex can also help players load up quicker on wrist shots as they put weight into their stick blade early which engages the flex at the bottom of your shaft shortly after releasing the shot.
On the other hand, a low flex rating provides more accuracy and control over the puck. This allows players to make faster passes and better controlled dekes. Defensemen tend to favor this type of stick due to the superior control it offers within close checking quarters.
It’s essential to choose a flex that suits one’s strength and style of play since an ill-fitting stick can hinder development. It is always advisable to try out different flexes at sports stores before purchasing and to seek the advice of experienced players or coaches. And luckily enough, some retailers have a trial program where you can rent any model and try on until it fits well.
“Flex should be based on height, weight, playing style, strength and position.” – Bernard Chung, Hockey Stick Guru
What flex your hockey stick should be is entirely dependent upon the player’s unique needs and preferences with pros and cons depending on which flex rating you choose. Factors like height, weight, and play style all influence the ideal type of stick for an individual. Thus, do not overthink whether going lower, higher, stiffer, or whippier its more important to find true synergy in how much load you need on the puck while also keeping control adequate regardless of your skill set.
Determining Your Flex Needs
Considerations for Choosing the Right Flex
Choosing the right flex of a hockey stick can be crucial to improve your performance on ice. It is essential to know every aspect of sticks before selecting one that suits you and your playing style.
The ideal flex of a hockey stick depends upon various factors such as position, weight, height, age, grip, shot type, and strength. The flex determines how much energy and power will transfer from your hands to the puck during a shot.
“The most important thing about picking a stick is making sure it’s comfortable in your hand so you can handle the puck easier and pass better,” – Martin St. Louis
For example, a forward player requires quick snap shots and increased wrist action; therefore, he needs a stick with less flexibilit,y around 70-85 flex. Alternatively, defensemen need harder slap shots with more power; hence they might prefer stiffer sticks around 100 flex.
Your bodyweight should also determine the selection of flex. A recommended guideline is choosing two flex points down from your body weight for maximum accuracy and control, i.e., if your weight is 150 pounds, select a 70-80 flex stick.
“I do like guys who use lighter sticks because it means they have quicker reaction time.” -Andrew Ference
How to Test and Determine Your Ideal Flex
If you’re still unsure which type of flex to choose or are looking to get more precise with your choice, there are some tests you can perform to help determine which flex will work best for you.
One simple method is the “Shaft Deflection” test which consists of suspending a stick vertically—by holding both ends—with the blade on the ground. Push down with your body weight until you can see how much it deflected. If the stick bends almost straight, then that indicates too stiff of a flex.
The “Whip Test” is another option to gauge stiffness – this utilizes swinging the stick as hard as possible while attempting to keep the puck still lying horizontally on the ice in front of you. If the puck bounces or rolls away from its place, the stick might be too flexible for you, and if it remains motionless, the stick may be too stiff.
“Make sure your flex suits your playing style and position; otherwise, it will hurt instead of helping your game.” – Zdeno Chara
You should pickle some practicum shots using different types of sticks before purchasing them. Try out shooting quick snapshots with one-timers, top corner snipes, slapshots, wristers, backhand, and whatever other shot styles your skillset comprises. This testing will enable you to decide which sort of flex feels right for your playstyle psychologically and physically.
Choosing the perfect hockey stick depends upon various factors such as position, playing style, height, weight, grip, power and more. It’s essential not just to invest time but also money in finding the right fit. Follow this guide’s instructions, pick your favorite stick, hit the ice, and start scoring goals!
The Benefits of a Higher Flex
Increased Power and Velocity
If you are unfamiliar with the term “flex,” it refers to the amount of bend in your hockey stick when pressure is applied. A higher flex rating means there is less give, requiring more power to shoot. This translates into greater velocity and harder shots.
Players who use a higher flex may find that their shots have a more powerful release – giving them an edge on the ice. More experienced players can typically handle a higher flex due to increased strength and technique, while beginners may prefer a lower flex rating as they develop their skills.
“A stiffer blade will enhance the feel of the puck, whereas a softer one can be used for shooting or receiving passes.” – Dallas Drake, former NHL player
Better Accuracy and Control
While a lower flex offers easier shots, it also sacrifices accuracy and control. This is because there is more whip and movement from the stick during the shot, making it difficult to maintain a consistent release. With a higher flex, however, there is significantly less movement – resulting in more precise shooting,
In addition to better accuracy, using a higher flex stick provides greater control over the puck. It allows for smoother stickhandling and passing, ensuring that the puck moves exactly where intended.
“When I switched to an 85-flex stick, it really helped me get the shot off quicker, but still allowed me to cradle the puck and stickhandle like I wanted to.” – Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs center
A player’s preferred flex ultimately depends on individual preference and skill level. However, it is important to note that experimenting with different flex ratings can help players improve their game by discovering which best suits their needs and playing style.
A higher flex stick can provide greater power and velocity to your shots while offering superior accuracy and control. Players are encouraged to experiment with different flex ratings to find the one that works best for them.
The Benefits of a Lower Flex
Improved Stickhandling and Dangling Ability
A lower flex hockey stick can offer players better control over their stickhandling. With a softer shaft, shots and passes are easier to handle, which allows for greater precision and quickness when handling the puck.
According to Scott Van Horne, President and CEO of Sparx Hockey, “when stickhandling, the flex is an important aspect to take note of. Since the ideal practice feature on most training rinks should mimic real game scenarios, coaches should encourage players to use sticks with similar flex ratings in training.”
“A lower flex rating means that the stick will release the puck quicker than if you used a higher flex stick.”
Although stickhandling is specific to individual size and strength, having knowledge about what type of stick is suitable for each player offers great benefits.
Reduced Vibrations and Better Puck Feel
Pucks can quickly start jumping around or rattling when they come into contact with a stiffer stick. However, using a lower flex stick reduces these vibrations substantially, resulting in more precise passes and shots.
“It’s all about how much power you put into the shot,” said Tucker Curtis, director of product development at hockey company CCM, “with a lot of power, a stiffer blade will help create velocity whereas a softer blade helps with accuracy.”
“When it comes to feeling the puck on your blade,” says Van Horne, “a softer flex allows for better feedback and feel as well.”
Softer flex also has the added benefit of giving players more sensitivity, which equates to better overall puck control and improved passing ability. The reduced vibration level gives the player more feedback from the stick, allowing them to feel when the puck is on and off their stick.
Less Strain on Wrist and Arm Muscles
Hockey sticks with high flex ratings require more effort to snap off a shot compared to lower flex rated sticks. This puts strain on your wrist, forearm, and upper arms, which can lead to fatigue or injury over time.
“While using a stiffer blade may give you an added zip for slapshots,” said Curtis of CCM, “players who take lots of shots but aren’t consistent will benefit most from blades that are easier to load.”
Marc-Andre Fleury, a legendary hockey goaltender for the Vegas Golden Knights, knows the value and importance of reducing muscle strains: “If something’s not working, change it up and try different things. Listen to your body – if there’s any pain or twinge in your body when you’re using a certain piece of equipment, then maybe it’s not the right thing for you.”
A lower flex hockey stick can help elevate your game by offering better control, improved passing accuracy, and reduced muscle fatigue. While specific preferences may vary from person to person, a softer flex rating will offer benefits to players looking for greater precision in their gameplay, as well as less damage done to their bodies through muscle strains and other injuries.
How to Measure Hockey Stick Flex
Hockey stick flex is an important factor that affects the accuracy, speed, and power of your shots. It refers to how much a hockey stick bends when pressure is applied to it. Different players have different preferences for flex, depending on their body size, strength, playing style, and position. In this article, we will explore the methods for measuring hockey stick flex, the common flex ratings and stiffness levels, the importance of consistency in flex measurement, and some tips for choosing the right flex for you.
The Standard Method for Measuring Flex
The standard method for measuring hockey stick flex is by using a deflection test. This involves placing the stick horizontally with the blade resting on two supports, applying a weight to the center of the shaft, and measuring the distance the tip of the blade moves downwards. The most common weight used for this test is 18 kilograms (40 pounds), although some manufacturers may use slightly different weights or methods.
When conducting a deflection test, it’s important to ensure consistent conditions such as the temperature, humidity, and floor surface, since these factors can affect the results. Most manufacturers provide a recommended range of flex measurements based on their own testing, which typically ranges from around 70 to 120 flex.
Alternative Methods for Measuring Flex
While the deflection test is the most widely used and accepted method for measuring hockey stick flex, there are also other alternatives available:
- Flex rating: Some manufacturers label their sticks with a numerical flex rating, which indicates the amount of bend in inches when a certain weight is applied.
- Feel test: Some players prefer to gauge the flex of a stick by simply bending it with their hands and feeling the resistance and recoil.
- Cut-off test: Some players may also cut a portion of the blade or shaft to measure the thickness and determine the flex. However, this method is not recommended as it can damage the stick and alter its characteristics.
Common Flex Ratings and Their Corresponding Stiffness Levels
The flex rating of a hockey stick refers to how many pounds of force are required to bend the stick one inch. The lower the number, the more flexible the stick is. Here are some common flex ratings and their corresponding stiffness levels:
- Junior flex: 40-50 flex, suitable for young or smaller players with less strength or experience.
- Intermediate flex: 55-70 flex, suitable for teenagers or intermediate-level players who require more power or accuracy.
- Sr. Low-kick flex: 75-85 flex, suitable for advanced-level players who prefer a quick release or snap shot, often used by forwards or playmakers.
- Sr. Mid-kick flex: 85-95 flex, suitable for all-around players who require versatility in shooting styles, used by both forwards and defensemen.
- Sr. High-kick flex: 100+ flex, suitable for heavy shooters who rely on slap shots or one-timers, typically used by defensemen or power forwards.
The Importance of Consistency in Flex Measurement
Consistency in flex measurement is vital for ensuring that your sticks perform consistently and predictably. If you have multiple sticks with different flex ratings or use sticks with inconsistent flex, it can affect your muscle memory, timing, and accuracy. Therefore, it’s recommended that you choose a specific flex rating based on your preferences and stick with it as much as possible.
Additionally, be mindful of the differences in flex between different brands or models of sticks, as they may vary even if they have the same numerical flex rating. The design, materials, and construction of each stick can affect its characteristics and how it responds to pressure. If possible, try out multiple sticks before purchasing one and pay attention to how they feel when shooting or passing.
Lastly, be aware that the flex of a stick can change over time due to use, storage, or damage. For example, using a stick that is too long for you or cutting it incorrectly can alter its flex and make it harder to control. Regularly inspect your sticks for signs of wear or cracks and replace them if necessary.
Understanding and measuring hockey stick flex is essential for optimizing your performance and enjoyment on the ice. Choose a specific flex rating that suits your body type, position, and playing style, use consistent measurement methods, and maintain your sticks properly. With the right flex, you’ll be able to unleash your full potential and score more goals!
Choosing the Right Flex for Your Style of Play
Hockey sticks come in a variety of flex ratings, and choosing the right one can greatly affect your performance on the ice. The flex rating tells you how much force is required to bend the stick one inch. A lower number means less force is required, while a higher number means more force is needed.
Finding the Ideal Flex for Forwards
Forwards need a stick with a lower flex rating so they can shoot the puck quickly and accurately. With a low flex, forwards can put more power into their shots with less effort. Generally, a flex rating between 75 and 85 is ideal for most forwards. However, smaller or lighter players may benefit from a slightly lower flex, while bigger or stronger players may prefer a higher flex rating.
“I like my sticks to be pretty whippy because I don’t want to have to lean too hard or put too much energy into it to get a shot off.” -Nathan MacKinnon, NHL Forward
Finding the Ideal Flex for Defensemen
Defensemen usually require a stick with a higher flex rating than forwards so they can make strong defensive plays and clear the puck out of the zone. With a higher flex, defensemen can also take powerful slapshots without sacrificing accuracy. A flex rating between 85 and 100 is suitable for most defensemen, although some may prefer a higher rating if they have a particularly heavy shot.
“A lot of defensemen will use stiffer sticks to keep guys away from the net and block shots better. That’s definitely an advantage of having a stiffer stick.” -Ryan Suter, NHL Defenseman
Finding the Ideal Flex for Goaltenders
Goaltenders have different requirements for stick flex, as they primarily use their sticks for making saves rather than shooting. Most goalies prefer a very stiff stick with little to no flex, as it allows for better control and predictability when deflecting pucks away from the net. However, some goalies may choose a slightly lower flex rating to aid in puck handling or improve their ability to pass the puck up ice.
“Some guys do like a softer shaft but I’m not one of them. In terms of rebounds, you want more predictable responses from the shaft because rebounds can come out really fast.” -Henrik Lundqvist, NHL Goaltender
- To find the ideal flex:
- Determine your position and playing style
- Consider your size, strength, and skill level
- Test out different flex ratings until you find one that feels comfortable and suits your needs
Choosing the right stick flex is crucial for maximizing your performance on the ice. Follow these guidelines based on your position and playing style, and experiment with different flex ratings until you find the perfect fit.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the importance of choosing the right flex for my hockey stick?
Choosing the right flex for your hockey stick can greatly impact your game. A stick that is too stiff or too flexible can affect your shot accuracy, power, and speed. It can also affect your stickhandling abilities and overall performance on the ice. Having the right flex can help you maximize your potential and become a better player.
How can I determine the appropriate flex for my hockey stick?
The appropriate flex for your hockey stick depends on your height, weight, and playing style. Generally, a player should choose a flex that is about half of their body weight. A player who is lighter or has a less aggressive playing style may benefit from a more flexible stick, while a heavier or more aggressive player may benefit from a stiffer stick. It is important to try out different flexes to find the one that works best for you.
What factors should I consider when selecting the flex of my hockey stick?
When selecting the flex of your hockey stick, you should consider your height, weight, playing style, and position. Your position on the ice can also affect the flex you choose. For example, a defenseman may benefit from a stiffer stick for slap shots, while a forward may prefer a more flexible stick for quick shots and stickhandling. It is important to find a flex that suits your individual needs and preferences.
What are the differences between a lower and higher flex hockey stick?
A lower flex hockey stick is more flexible and easier to bend, which can provide more power and accuracy for players who rely on wrist and snap shots. A higher flex hockey stick is stiffer and provides more power for players who rely on slap shots and heavy shots. However, a higher flex stick may be more difficult to handle and control for players who focus on stickhandling and quick shots.
Is it better to have a stiffer or more flexible hockey stick?
It depends on your individual needs and playing style. A stiffer stick can provide more power for slap shots and heavy shots, but may be more difficult to handle and control. A more flexible stick can provide more accuracy and speed for wrist and snap shots, but may not provide as much power. It is important to find the right balance of flex and stiffness that works best for you and your game.