The most important factor to consider when choosing the flex for a hockey stick is weight. More so than height, the weight of the player using the stick makes the biggest difference in the player’s ability to flex the stick and get off a better shot. Height can be factored into determining the proper flex, but primarily only for tall adults that fall right in the middle of two flex options. For example, a 190 pound player should generally use a regular senior flex. However, if the 190 pound player is 6’6” he might want to use a stiff flex because of the amount of leverage he can get on his stick.
Another thing about flex to keep in mind when shopping for a new stick is that the flex rating that manufacturers put on the sticks is not based on a universal scale. For example, what reebok considers an 85 flex might feel distinctly different than what Warrior considers an 85 flex to be.
All composite sticks can be cut shorter or have an extension put in to make them longer. This, however, changes the flex of the stick. The longer the stick is made, the softer it becomes. Conversely, the shorter a stick is cut, the stiffer it becomes. As a general rule, for every inch added to a stick subtract five from the flex scale, and for every inch cut off a stick add five to the scale. Factor the amount cut off or added to a stick when determining the proper flex.
One last tip: when feeling the flexibility of a stick in the store, DO NOT push down on the stick with your bottom hand. No one shoots like that on the ice, and this does not help you determine if the stick is the right flex for you. Instead, put your top hand where it will be after you cut it, lock your elbow on your bottom arm, and pull the top of the stick towards your body. This simulates the shooting motion on the ice, and is a better way to determine if the stick is the proper flexibility for you.
1 Piece Hockey Stick – One piece sticks are complete with shaft and blade fused together and don’t have to be assembled. This single piece configuration is the most common for hockey sticks and it guarantees that the stick meets the manufactures specifications for a stick ready to go.
2 Piece Hockey Stick – The shaft and blades of two piece sticks come as separate units. This allows you to custom match a blade and shaft to your exact needs. Two piece sticks are also easier to re-blade because they don’t require cutting of the shaft like a one piece stick does.
Butt end – The top end of the hockey stick where you hold the stick (not the blade end).
Blade Heel – The heel of a hockey stick refers to the bottom of the stick at the back of the blade below where the blade and the shaft meet.
Blade Lie - The Lie of a blade describes the angle of the blade in reference to the shaft. A lie value of 5 corresponds to a 135° angle, and each additional lie value corresponds to a 2° smaller angle. With the bottom of the blade flat on the ice, a higher lie value causes the shaft to stand up straighter. Typical lie values range from 5 to 7; most sticks now are near 5.5. Players usually seek a lie that will put the blade flat on the ice while they are in their typical skating stance. A lower lie is best for skaters who lean forward closer to the ice or use a longer stick. Higher lies keep the puck closer to the body & are preferred by more upright skaters. Check out the article Hockey Stick Blade to learn how to tell if your lie is correct
Blade Pattern and Curve - Blade Patterns consist of the dimensions of right/left hand, curve type, curve depth, toe shape and face angle. Patterns are often named after NHL players for marketing purposes Blade Curve Type describes where the main part of the curve is located on the blade. Curve types are Heel, Mid and Toe curves.
Blade Curve Depth - is the amount of curve in the blade. A simple way to measure the curve depth is to place the stick on a flat surface with the inside of the curve of the blade laying flat on the surface. You can then measure from the surface to the highest point inside the curve profile.
Blade Face Angle - describes how much of the face (or front) of the blade you can see when looking down at the ice. Face angles are referred to as Open or Closed. The more open the blade is, (you can see more of the front of the blade when looking down) the easier it is to lift the puck. Slightly open or closed angles are better for stick handling, catching passes and using your backhand. Many feel that developing players should use a less open pattern to help develop both their shooting and stick handling abilities.
Blade Toe – The toe of a hockey stick refers to the end of the blade away from the shaft. Toes generally come in two shapes: round and square.
End Plugs – End plugs are shaft extensions that are glued into the butt end of a composite shaft and are used to increase the length of a hockey stick. Increasing your hockey stick length is useful if you can’t find a hockey stick long enough or if you cut your shaft down while replacing the blade. End plugs come in both wood and composite material and they usually come pre-glued with hot melt glue already on the end that gets inserted into the shaft. They come in junior and senior sizes and intermediate sticks use the senior size plugs. Also called butt ends but NOT butt plugs.
Flex – Hockey Stick Flex is a measure of how flexible a stick is when a force is applied to it. Generally you want the stiffest flex stick that you can flex completely to take full advantage of the stick recoil as it snaps the puck forward. Please see the Hockey Stick Flex: Product Better Shots with the Right Flex article for an in depth look at Flex. The most common measurements for stick flex are:
-- Youth = ~40 flex
-- Junior = ~50 flex
-- Mid or Intermediate flex = 60-75 flex
-- Regular flex = 85 flex
-- Stiff flex = 100 flex
-- Extra stiff = 110 flex
Grip vs Clear shaft – Hockey Stick Shafts come either as “clear” which is no additional texture added to the shaft or “grip”. Grip coatings come in a variety of textures but their purpose is to provide additional texture to improve your grip on the shaft.
Kick point – The kick point is where the shaft flexes when enough pressure is applied to bend it.
Mid flex – Mid kick point, or mid/constant flex, sticks have a more traditional flex that allows the stick to be loaded from the bottom hand. This gives you a larger loading and potentially a higher velocity release. Wooden sticks have a constant flex profile that behaves in this manner.
Low kick points – Composite sticks are often engineered to have low kick points on the shaft for a quicker release. The loading of the stick happens sooner since there is less distance for the stick to bend before it recoils back and whips the puck forward. This lower kick point is often created with shafts that have tapered ends near the blade.
Left hand vs. right hand – Hockey sticks come in left hand and right hand configurations. The easiest way to remember the handedness of a hockey stick is that when you hold a stick, the hand that is placed lower on the shaft is the same as the handedness of the stick. For example, if you hold your hockey stick with your left hand on the butt end and your right hand down the shaft closer to the blade, then you are holding it right handed. If you are right handed, you shouldn’t automatically assume that you need a right handed stick. Your hockey stick handedness should be determined by which handedness feels most comfortable to you. Please check out the article Right handed vs Left Handed: How to hold a hockey stick to learn more about right vs left handed sticks.
Length of Hockey Sticks – Hockey Sticks come in different sizes and configurations to match to the size of the hockey player. The size of the shaft’s diameter, or girth, is also of different for each size configuration. The NHL rules limit the maximum length of a hockey stick to 63 inches. Please see the Hockey Stick Length article for an in depth look at Hockey Stick Length. Standard configurations and their lengths are:
-- Junior = 46-53 inches
-- Intermediate = 54 inches
-- Senior = 56-63 inches
Shaft – The Shaft of the hockey stick is the long length of the stick from the blade to the top of the stick. Composite shafts can be purchased separately to be matched to a blade of your choosing. In this case, the shaft is part of a 2 piece configuration.
Stick Wax – stick wax is a wax compound applied to the tape on the blade of a stick to 1) keep moisture out of the tape and blade, and 2) to help change the feel of the puck on the stick blade.
Tapered shafts – Manufactures are producing hockey sticks with tapered shafts at the blade end to move the kick point lower on the shaft. See the term “Kick Point” for a more detailed description of the advantages of moving the kick point. Easton has also come out with an elliptical taper on their S17 sticks.
Content provided by the fine folks at hockeystickexpert.com
Being the rink rats that we are at Pure Hockey, we constantly hear and see the never-ending debate between composite and wood sticks. Even with the amazing popularity of composite sticks in hockey – there are still a good amount of players that prefer wood sticks. The biggest question we hear is, “Why composite?” or “Why wood?” So the great debate rages on.
Much like everything else in this great sport we love, the choice of wood over composite (or vice versa) is very much personal preference. Don’t let us try to fool you and start thinking that what you’ve been told all along with composite sticks is all smoke and mirrors; this would not be true. Everything that you hear and know about composite sticks are certainly true. The reason composite sticks have become so popular of late is the combination of weight reduction, flexibility and performance. Notice we did not say durability; as these are very much durable, it doesn’t make the deciding factor between the two.
• WEIGHT: The lighter weight feel of the composite stick does offer a huge benefit. In an age where everything needs to be thinner, lighter and faster – the composite stick offers just that. A lighter weight stick provides quicker speed, which can improve the velocity of your shots. On the other hand the wood stick does offer a totally different feel. Because of its bulk, you are constantly working on your strength, this means that over time you will build up the shot velocity similar to what you would find with the composite stick.
• FLEX: Flexibility is a pretty much one sided debate. Composite sticks basically run away with this one, not without a fight though. Most wood sticks are starting to come with flex choices - for the most part only staying around the 90-100 flex. This is nothing compared to what composite sticks offer though. Composite sticks are designed specifically to flex at a certain point. This is called a kick point – if you’ve done minimal research before – you probably have come across this term. Kick point is where the stick flexes. Most ‘true’ one piece composite sticks (the $200+ models) have the lowest kick point; this height can vary at different price points though. The lower the kick point, the quicker the release of the shot.
• PERFORMANCE: When flexed, composite sticks create an energy transference within the stick. This transfer flows from the flex point down through the blade creating an extra little push at the release of your shooting motion…much like something you might have seen from an aluminum bat or golf club. Beware of this though; too much flex may cause the puck to take off in a direction that you didn’t intend it to go. The denser wood stick however does not have this exact effect for a couple reasons. The first being that it isn’t hollow and wood acts as a deadening agent of sorts – this means that you don’t get that increased velocity off your shot like you would with the composite stick. On the other hand, a harder pass will be easier to control with a wood stick than a composite for this same instance. The other reason is the lack of significant flex; since most wooden sticks are limited to their flex, you are more likely to see shots stay in the direction that was originally intended.
• OUR TWO CENTS: So where do you go from here? Ultimately it’s your choice. Since flex can be an issue at a distance – keep in mind of your position. If you are a defensemen where most of your shots come from around the blue line – try to keep the flex on the stiffer side. Since a defensemen might take more slap shots than a forward, you will still be able to get a good flex and the puck won’t ‘fly’ away when you shoot from a distance. Forwards; Whether you’re a playmaker, grinder or sniper, each flex can benefit you tremendously. Where snipers and playmakers may stay at a softer or lower flex, this option allows for a quick release to catch the goalie off guard. On the other hand, a slightly stiffer feel for a grinder will allow for a bit of extra strength in the corners and in front of the net avoiding unwanted breakage during gameplay. As for the whole composite vs. wood debate, we will leave you with this; Try using a wood stick during practices if your preference is the added performance of the composite. The sometimes heavier feeling wood stick will act like a weighted donut on a baseball bat. This added weight will build strength and speed when you switch to your ‘game’ stick.
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