PURE HOCKEY STICK BLADE GUIDE
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A HEEL CURVE, MID CURVE, AND TOE CURVE PATTERN ON A STICK BLADE?
The hockey stick blade's curve location or type has an enormous influence on shooting the puck. Think of it this way: the puck will pretty much always find its way to the most curved section of the blade, so when you start to take a shot, that's where the puck is. The puck then needs to make it to the very end of the blade. The closer to the heel that 'starting' point is, the longer it will take to get to the end. This results in:
- A longer release
- More time to build up power & and velocity
HEEL CURVE BLADE PATTERN:
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- The majority of the blade curve is in the first 1/3 of the blade from the shaft
- Perfect for high-velocity shots
- Often popular among defensemen
MID CURVE BLADE PATTERN:
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- The majority of the curve is in the middle of the blade
- Great all-around performance on various types of shots
TOE CURVE BLADE PATTERN:
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- The majority of the curve is in the end 1/3 of the blade
- Great for quick-release shots
- Can help with puck handling and control
- Often popular with forwards who like to shoot in stride
OPEN CURVE FACE VERSUS CLOSED FACE BLADE PATTERNS
Think of an open face like a golf club. As you take a shot and the puck rolls off the blade, the puck will begin to rise off the ice quicker, and thus an open face blade pattern will help you make top-shelf shots.
The open face allows you to get the puck higher, quicker. This is beneficial to players who take a lot of shots from in tight and want to go upstairs. It’s also great for players who make their living in front of the net, banging home rebounds—they need to get the puck over the goalie and traffic, but without a lot of space to do it. Open curves don't require as much of a follow through when shooting high, allowing players to get it off without much space.
Some open-faced blade patterns also help to disguise the shooter's target to the goalie. This stick looks similar no matter where the shot is going. The shooter doesn't need to open the blade as much when shooting high, something good goalies are trained to look for. An open curve makes it easier to get saucer passes in the air. It can also help players receive passes on their backhands, great for players who often play their ‘off-wing.'
A closed face curve pattern allows for more accurate shooting in general as the puck stays more square to the blade through the shooting motion. Closed curves require a bit fuller of a follow through and more of a giveaway to the goalie to get the puck high, but they're often more accurate. Closed curves are also better for puck control.
DOES A ROUND TOE OR SQUARE TOE HOCKEY BLADE PATTERN MATTER OTHER THAN LOOKS?
A round toe blade is certainly more popular nowadays, but once upon a time the round toe reigned supreme. Aside from the looks, some say the rounded toe makes it easier to toe-drag because there will be more blade surface to contact and control the puck as opposed to trying to pull the puck in with just the corner of the blade.
A square toe, on the other hand, makes it easier to pick the puck off of the boards—a trait often preferred by defensemen who have to go back and dig dump-ins off the wall in their own end. A square toe also creates a bigger surface to knock down and block shots or passes. Browse the chart below comparing hockey sticks from different manufacturers with information on toe, lie, face, and blade length.
A MEDIUM BLADE VERSUS LONG BLADE PATTERN
There is no ‘standard' blade length (e.g., 8" for a short blade and 9" for a long blade). The maximum allowed under NHL rules is 12.5 inches from the heel to the end of the blade. There is no official minimum length.
Blade length can vary greatly depending on the manufacturer—a ‘short' or ‘long' blade is a relative term and can vary between companies. The particular curve, or the qualities the pattern is designed to have—for example, better for shooting, for puck handling, for passing—will have an impact on the length of the blade.
- Give the player better puck control
- Promise a quicker release on snapshots due to the puck having less distance to travel to the release point
- Create less velocity on shots due to the puck having less time to build up velocity
- Are great for a combination of shot power and puck control
- Help to maximize shot power because the puck has more contact time against the blade to build up velocity
- Deliver a slightly slower release on shots as the puck has longer to travel to release
- Help to make pass reception easier since there is more area on the blade to catch passes
YOUTH, JUNIOR, INTERMEDIATE & SENIOR HOCKEY BLADES
Hockey blades are different sizes based on the flex rating or size class of the stick. Even with the same blade pattern, a Junior stick will have a smaller blade than the Senior version. Some brands have the same exact curve, just scaled down in size, while some also make small tweaks to the pattern in order to make them better suited for the needs of younger players.
WHAT HOCKEY STICK BLADE LIE ANGLE IS BEST FOR ME?
The ideal lie allows for the maximum amount of the bottom of the blade to contact the ice when in a playing position.
Generally, a hockey stick's blade lie runs from about 3 to 8, a measurement that describes the angle that the stick shaft would take when the bottom of the blade is sitting flat on the ice. The majority of retail sticks on the market fall between 4 and 7; the higher the number, the more upright the stick will stand when the blade is placed flat on the ground.
The best lie for you depends on a couple factors:
- Your skating style: is it more upright or crouched down?
- Your shooting and stickhandling style: do you prefer the puck close to your body or slightly further away?
A lower lie will work better for players who skate in a more crouched down position or who prefer to handle the puck further from their body. A higher lie is recommended for a player who skates more upright or who prefers to be able to handle handling the puck tight to their body.
WHY IS THE BLADE LIE SO IMPORTANT? IS WILL USING THE WRONG LIE REALLY IMPACT MY GAME?
The answer is yes, it likely will. A quick way to evaluate the suitability of your blade's lie is to look at the bottom of the blade. Is there any area, especially the toe or the heel, that is significantly more worn out than the rest of the blade? If so, it likely means that the stick is contacting the ice just in that area and not along the full blade, as it should.
Beyond the excess wear on parts of your stick, the wrong blade lie also gives you less blade on the ice to catch passes, or handle the puck. You're forced to compensate for that, taking you out of your ideal comfortable position.
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