For hockey players, their sticks are more than just a piece of equipment on the ice. It’s an extension of their hands and one of the most vital tools that help them score goals and win games.
To keep their sticks in top shape, many hockey players wrap them with tape. But why do they do it? If you’ve ever wondered what the purpose is behind this common practice among hockey players, you’re not alone.
“It’s kind of like magic; I don’t know exactly how it works but it does.” -Nathan MacKinnon
In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about taping a hockey stick, including the reasons behind it, different techniques used, and tips for doing it yourself. Whether you’re a seasoned player or a casual fan looking to expand your knowledge of the sport, there’s something here for everyone.
So if you want to discover the secrets behind why some of the best hockey players in the world manage to get such amazing results by simply wrapping a few strips of tape around their sticks, read on!
Enhanced Grip and Control
Textured Grips for Improved Traction
In hockey, the stick is considered to be an extension of a player’s arms. A good grip on the stick can optimize their control over it and thus significantly impact their performance. The reason why many players prefer taping their sticks is to create a consistent grip that helps them maintain control in various situations.
Hockey players use different kinds of tapes with varying textures to achieve a better feel while holding their stick. Rough or abrasive tape provides improved traction between the hands and the stick resulting in added control when shooting, passing, or handling. Without this additional grip, they run the risk of losing control of the puck when under pressure from opponents during games.
Ergonomic Handles for Comfortable Grip
The handle of a hockey stick is a crucial factor in determining how comfortable players are while using it. Many players suffer discomfort, blisters, and calluses because of insufficient padding at the handle of the stick. This is why most of them wrap several layers of tape around the top of the stick to form a cushioned surface for a more ergonomic grip.
Taping the handle also allows players to customize the thickness of the handle, depending on their preferences. Some like thin grips, which allow quick hand movement during play, while others opt for thicker wraps, solely to enhance comfort thereby reducing injury risks associated with prolonged use.
Protecting the Blade from Damage
Hockey players are always looking for ways to improve their performance on the ice. One of the most important tools for a hockey player is their stick. They rely on it for passing, shooting, and in many cases even defense. In order to ensure they get the longest lifespan out of their sticks, it’s important to take precautions to protect the blade from damage.
Blade Covers for Safe Storage
After every game or practice, it’s essential to protect the blade from damage while in storage. A simple way to accomplish this is by using a blade cover. These covers slip over the blade of the stick and fully encase it, protecting it from any nicks or scratches that could occur during transit or storage.
Not only do blade covers provide extra protection for your stick, but they can also help prolong the life of the tape job. If the sticky side of the tape comes into contact with anything while in storage, it’s likely to lose its effectiveness and start to peel away when you use the stick again—making it less useful and more prone to damage.
Edge Protectors for Blade Protection
Another method for protecting your hockey stick blade is through the use of edge protectors. Edge protectors serve as a barrier between the blade and the ground during pick-up games outside or non-ice activities like street hockey.
The material used for edge protectors is typically thick plastic or rubber which can absorb shock and reduce wear-and-tear to the blade when playing on rough terrain. Having an edge protector installed on your stick helps keep the blade sharper for longer periods and prevents splits in composite and wooden blades.
“Investing in quality equipment maintenance will save you money in repairs and replacements in the long run.” -Steve Montador, former NHL player
Caring for your hockey stick blade and ensuring it remains protected from damage is essential in maintaining peak performance on the ice. Using both blade covers and edge protectors can go a long way in extending the life of your stick and preventing costly replacements.
Reducing Vibration and Shock
Hockey sticks are essential for any hockey player as it helps them to control the puck, take shots and hit passes. Hockey is a fast-paced game that requires quick decision-making skills under pressure. When you see professional players playing hockey, it looks so effortless, but the truth is they have put in hours of practice to make it look easy.
One thing that most spectators might not notice is that the players wrap tapes around their sticks. In this article, we will explore why hockey players tape their sticks and how they reduce vibration and shock while handling the puck.
Shock-Absorbing Materials for Reduced Impact
When a player takes a shot or receives a pass, there is an impact between the stick and the puck, which creates vibrations throughout the stick. These vibrations can cause discomfort and unease while holding the stick and create difficulties in controlling the puck accurately.
To counteract these vibrations, hockey players use different materials that absorb shocks. The first material commonly used is cork, which reduces the shock from hitting the puck and absorbs some of the energy generated by the collision. This results in less vibration emanating from the stick to the player’s hands and allows them to hold the stick with better comfort.
The second material popular among many hockey players is foam rubber. Foam rubber provides more cushioning than cork and can be purchased in various forms such as pads, strips, and sheets and is available in both full-length options or pre-cut sizes ready for installation. More recently, advanced polymers like Elastomers, polyurethane, advanced rubbers with special characteristics like damping properties, memory foam, and composite materials also make appearances as options for dampening impact.
Anti-Vibration Inserts for Smoother Handling
In recent years, advancements have been made to make playing hockey more comfortable and less punishing on players’ hands. One innovation that is becoming popular among professional hockey players is anti-vibration inserts. These are essentially small devices engineered to reduce the amount of vibration travelling up from your stick to your palms.
Anti-vibration inserts can be transparent gel pads or pieces – that fit between the puck and blade or grip section of a stick – designed to reduce vibrations and ensure maximum stick control. They take any shock before it reaches the player’s hand. This helps not only with reducing pain but also with keeping energy in their grip, extending endurance throughout gameplay.
Specialized Tapers for Reduced Torque
Torque happens when there is an unequal distribution of force on a given structure – in this case, hockey sticks. As a result, the stick warps along its length as some areas receive more pressure than others during play, compromising control and accuracy.
Hockey equipment manufacturers are well aware of this problem, and so they developed specialized tapers to minimize twisting. To achieve minimal torque, they use materials such as Kevlar thread wrapped around the base layer of tape continuously; this makes the shaft stiffer without adding significant weight.
“It takes me hours to do my share of the work,” teammate Josh Manson told NHLPA of his pregame rituals, which include elaborate stick-taping. “But zipping up afterward, you feel good.”
If you closely watch professional ice hockey matches, you’ll realize how particular most players are about their taped hockey sticks to maximize performance. With variations in technique providing different benefits and some players strictly adhering to classic taping methods, ultimately, having the right combination of sock-absorbing features plays a big part in helping athletes minimize discomfort and enhance gameplay.
Personal Preference and Ritual
Hockey players are known for their distinctive practice of taping their sticks. Apart from adding flair to their equipment, taping a hockey stick serves several purposes. For some players, it has become more than mere function and is part of personal preference and ritual.
Customized Graphics for Personal Flair
One way that hockey players make use of tape is by customizing the graphics on it. Some players choose to draw or write inspirational messages, while others opt for designs representing their team’s logo or colors. In doing so,
“They’re trying to get something that touches them close to them, whether it’s a color scheme or pattern design,” says Erik Kondo, an NHL graphic artist.
The customized look not only brings out each player’s individuality but also adds extra motivation during games as they can see their personalized stick at work.
Personalized Stick Tape for Superstitious Rituals
Superstitions plague many athletes in different sports, and hockey players are no exception. Many firmly believe that specific tape sequences can bring good luck during games. Because of this, some create intricate circular patterns around the blade of the stick, while others wind the tape tightly along the shaft, up towards the blade.
“When I started playing, I didn’t care much about taping my stick properly,” said former NHL defenceman Patrice Brisebois. “Then, one day I did what was probably considered superstitious wrapping, and I scored twice during the game.”
Even if these rituals do not bear any scientific evidence supporting their effectiveness, hockey players have learned to follow their preferred routines believing that it increases their chance of winning.
Preferred Stick Length for Optimal Performance
Aside from adding a unique look to their stick, taping is also used by players as an instrument in achieving the ideal length of their hockey sticks. Players prefer different sizes depending on their height and position played.
“The general rule of thumb is that you want your stick to come up to somewhere between your nose and chin…If it’s too long, you lose control and release offensively while giving up some defensive strength,” says U.S. Women’s National Team captain Meghan Duggan.
The perfect stick length will affect the player’s game; a shorter stick means more control over the puck, but less reach in terms of defending or passing. On the other hand, a longer stick permits greater shot speed and range. Ultimately, the preferred stick length depends on each individual’s comfortability and playing style.
Favored Stick Weight and Flex for Comfortable Handling
The weight of a hockey stick varies based on the type of material used – whether wood, composite, or aluminum. Players choose according to which feels most comfortable and beneficial for them. Although lighter sticks may enable faster swings and maneuverability,
“Heavy sticks don’t seem to be heavy if they’re weighted evenly from top to bottom,” said former NHL forward Jason Spezza.
Spezza prefers using heavier sticks because he believes it best allows him to maintain his grip and maneuver the blade. Similarly, a pleasing flex upon shooting is highly sought after by many players. Similar to choosing stick lengths, determining flex is personal preference and depends on the player’s level of power and precision with each hit.
Every hockey player has their own reason for taping their sticks. Wearing personalized tape can boost morale, implementing superstitious rituals (whether science-based or not) brings confidence, while the tape’s material usage ensures comfortable handling of each player’s desired hockey stick length and weight based on personal preference.
Improving Puck Handling and Passing
Hockey players spend a lot of time practicing and refining their skills on the ice. From skating to passing, every aspect of the game is important. One area that players focus on is stickhandling or puck handling. Good puck handlers can control the puck with ease, which leads to better passes, shots, and scoring opportunities.
Curved Blades for Enhanced Control
One way that hockey players improve their stickhandling abilities is by using curved blades on their sticks. Curved blades were first introduced in the 1960s and quickly gained popularity among players. The curve in the blade allows for greater control when stickhandling and shooting. It gives the player more surface area to work with and helps keep the puck closer to the stick, reducing the chances of losing it.
“The curved blade caught on so quickly because it gave players more options,” said David Wittig, the owner of Winston Hockey, an equipment company that specializes in wood sticks. “It allowed them to get around defenders easier.”
Today, most players use some degree of curve in their blades. The amount of curve depends on personal preference and playing style. Some players prefer a larger curve for maximum control, while others opt for a smaller curve that provides more accuracy when shooting.
Blade Patterns for Improved Accuracy
In addition to the curve of the blade, the pattern of the blade also plays a role in improving a player’s stick handling and shooting abilities. Blade patterns refer to the shape and size of the blade’s toe, heel, and curve. Different patterns produce different results for shooting, passing, and stickhandling.
For example, a blade with a larger curve and a deeper pocket may be useful for stickhandling, but not as accurate for shooting. On the other hand, a blade with a shallower curve and slightly more open face may be better suited for shots on goal.
Stiffer Blades for More Power in Shots
The stiffness of a player’s stick can also impact their performance on the ice. A stiffer blade provides more power when taking shots, while a softer blade allows for greater control when stickhandling. Some players prefer a mid-flex stick that offers a balance between the two.
A player’s position on the ice can also dictate the type of stick they use. Forwards often opt for lighter sticks with a higher flex rating to allow for quick stickhandling abilities and snap shots. Defensemen typically choose heavier sticks with a lower flex rating to add power to their slapshots and poke checks.
Hockey players tape their sticks to provide extra grip and ensure the puck stays on their blades during play. However, there are many factors beyond taping that contribute to improving a player’s abilities on the ice. Curved blades, blade patterns, and stiffness all play a role in enhancing stickhandling, passing, and shooting skills.
Adding Weight and Balance to the Stick
Hockey players tape their sticks for a few reasons, but one of the most important is to add weight and balance. Without proper weight and balance, a hockey stick can feel too light or too heavy, making it harder to handle and control on the ice.
Adjustable Weight Systems for Customized Balance
One way that players can customize the weight and balance of their stick is through adjustable weight systems. These systems allow players to add or remove weight from different parts of the stick to achieve their desired balance. Some adjustable weight systems include removable weights that can be placed in the blade or handle of the stick.
According to Frank Perrone, director of player development with the youth hockey organization Team Illinois, “The biggest benefit of an adjustable system is you get a customized center of gravity. You’re going to points on your stick where you want a certain level of mass.”
The benefits of customizing the weight and balance of a stick go beyond just comfort and handling. A well-balanced stick can also lead to improved accuracy and power in shots.
Heavier Blades for More Power in Shots
Another way that players can add weight to their sticks is by choosing heavier blades. This can help increase the power in their shots, making them more difficult for goaltenders to stop.
“Players today are looking for ways to increase shot velocity,” says Doug Messier, director of player relations at Bauer Hockey. “And while good shooting technique is important, equipment plays a role as well.”
There is a tradeoff with using a heavier blade – it may make the stick feel too heavy overall, which could negatively impact performance. That’s why it’s essential for players to find the right balance and weight for their individual needs.
Adding weight and balance to a hockey stick can help give players an extra edge on the ice. From customizable weight systems to heavier blades, there are many options available – it’s just a matter of finding what works best.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Purpose of Taping a Hockey Stick?
The purpose of taping a hockey stick is to enhance grip and control. The tape provides a better grip for the player’s hands, allowing for more accuracy and power when shooting or passing. It also helps to protect the stick from damage and wear and tear. Additionally, taping the blade of the stick can help to improve puck handling and control.
Does Taping a Hockey Stick Affect the Performance of the Player?
Yes, taping a hockey stick can greatly affect a player’s performance. A well-taped stick can provide better grip and control, resulting in more accurate shots, passes, and puck handling. On the other hand, a poorly-taped stick can lead to slips and mishandling of the puck, negatively impacting a player’s performance. It is important for players to ensure that their stick is properly taped before hitting the ice.
What Types of Tape are Used to Tape a Hockey Stick?
There are two main types of tape used to tape a hockey stick: cloth tape and grip tape. Cloth tape is used to wrap the blade of the stick, providing protection and better puck control. Grip tape is used on the handle of the stick to enhance grip and prevent slipping. Some players also use shin pad tape or electrical tape for added durability and protection.
How Often Should a Hockey Player Retape Their Stick?
How often a player should retape their stick depends on their personal preference and usage. Some players retape their stick before every game or practice, while others may only retape every few games. It is important to keep an eye on the condition of the tape and retape as needed to maintain grip and control.
What Techniques Should a Hockey Player Use When Taping Their Stick?
When taping a hockey stick, it is important to start by wrapping the blade at the heel and working your way up to the toe, overlapping each layer by about half. The handle should be wrapped in a spiral pattern, starting at the top and working your way down. Be sure to apply enough tension to the tape to ensure a tight wrap, but not too tight to cause discomfort. Experiment with different taping techniques to find what works best for you.