Hockey Stick Sizing
Hockey stick sizing is integral to your game. If the size and flex of your hockey stick are not correct, the risk for failure in performance is much greater. If the stick is too small or not stiff enough, it could break easily. On the other hand, if the stick is too big or too stiff, it can hinder stick handling, passing, and shooting. All of these are common problems when purchasing hockey sticks for younger players. Begin with determining the right hockey stick length that fits the player.
1. How To Determine the Proper Hockey Stick Length
The hockey stick length is generally the easiest variable to determine, but imperative for a player's success in the game. Sticks usually come in four sizes: senior, intermediate, junior and youth. Each descending size normally reflects a smaller shaft circumference and a softer flex. Senior sticks are usually used by players ages 14 and older; intermediate for ages 10-15; junior for ages 7-12; and youth for players ages 4-8. Adult women generally use intermediate or flexible senior sticks.
Knowing how to measure a hockey stick will help determine how long it should be. Have the player stand without skates, and then place the toe of the stick on the ground between the player's feet and position the stick vertically against the body so the stick comes to about the nose. If the stick is too long, simply make a mark where it touches the nose, and cut the handle of the stick accordingly. If the player's skates are on, the stick should come up to the chin. Please note that this is a general rule of thumb for hockey stick height and can change with personal preference. In addition to cutting sticks to the proper hockey stick length, players may also extend a stick's length by inserting an end plug at the top of the shaft. This can be used to prolong the life of a stick if the player cut it too short or experienced a growth spurt.
2. How to Choose Which Hockey Stick Material is Best for You
Sticks are composed of a variety of materials including: wood, wood and fiberglass, carbon and fiberglass, graphite, and Kevlar.
Before deciding which stick is best for their game, ask the player these questions:
- Is s/he using the stick for practicing in the garage or for street hockey?
- Is s/he new to the game?
- Is this his or her first stick?
- Is s/he coming back to playing after a long break from the game?
If the answer is yes to any of the above questions, the player is likely to benefit from a slightly heavier stick, to provide a better feel for the puck. The additional weight will help the shot during practice and give the player more confidence when stick handling, passing, or shooting on the ice.
Wood sticks are perfect for the casual street hockey player or for those trying the sport for the first time.
One-piece composite hockey sticks are made of either, or a combination of, carbon-fiber, fiberglass, graphite, Kevlar, resin, or other materials. These sticks are designed to provide a higher level of performance with lesser weight and greater torque. As a general rule, the higher concentration of quality materials will result in a lighter, more durable, and often more costly stick. These high-end materials produce lighter sticks, which transfer energy faster to deliver higher velocity shots and passes. Although heavier sticks still provide the best feel for the puck, manufacturers have developed the technology to incorporate materials in the blade of a composite stick that have dramatically improved the feel in recent years, making it an easier transition from wood to composite sticks.
3. Determining Hockey Stick Flex
The first thing many players do when fitting a new hockey stick is bend it. Why? Because they are testing out the "flex" or flexibility of the stick. A good hockey stick fit allows the player to bend the shaft a little, but without much effort. A stiff stick shaft lessens shot accuracy and puck speed and does not provide a good feel for the puck. Most players prefer flexible and light shafts that allow for optimal passing and shooting. Most stick manufacturers offer a variety of flexes. The higher the flex number, the stiffer the stick. Regardless of a player's age, the correct flex should allow them to bend the shaft when they take a wrist shot or slap shot.
Different manufacturers have different systems for measuring flex ratings, but most conform to this method: the flex is a measure of the amount of weight required to bend a stick 1 inch when suspended between two support points that are 48 inches apart. For example, an 85 Flex stick requires 85 pounds to be applied at the center point between two support points to flex the stick 4 inches.
Flex can be broken down into four categories of hockey stick sizes: youth, junior, intermediate and senior. Youth sticks typically feature a 40 flex. Junior features a flex 50 to 52. Intermediate flex ranges between 65 and 67. For youth, junior and intermediate sticks, the flex is standard among all manufacturers. Please note that flex will change slightly if the stick must be cut down to fit the size of the player. Although it is not an exact science, it is generally believed that each inch cut off the shaft increases the stiffness by 10 percent. Senior sticks have the widest range of flex, from 75 to 110. The lower the flex the stick has, the higher its elasticity, and the higher its flex, the lower its elasticity. As a general rule, the taller and heavier a player is, the higher the flex the player will need.
4. Hockey Stick Grip
During a stick fitting, it's important to get a hockey stick with the right grip, or a smooth stick if preferred. Hockey sticks can have either a smooth surface (Non-Grip) or a textured, sticky surface (Grip). The smooth surface of a non-grip stick allows the bottom hand to easily move up and down the shaft for stick handling, passing, and shooting. However, during a game it is possible for the gloves to become slick because of sweat, hindering a player's performance. If that is the case, a Grip stick might be the better option for the player. Some grips cover the entire stick, while other grips are featured only on the main area of the shaft where the player's hands are located. The grip can also be a coating or it could be incorporated in the texture of the stick. You can even fashion a grip yourself from hockey tape. The main purpose of grip is to provide increased control if the player's gloves are wet. If the gloves are not wet, it may be more difficult for the player to move his/her bottom hand. Ultimately, the choice of grip or non-grip comes down to personal preference, but getting it right during a stick fit will make a difference on the ice.
5. What is the Kick Point on a Hockey Stick?
Kick point is the place on the stick that gives off the flex when you pass and shoot. It is one of the more overlooked variables when a player evaluates the hockey stick fit. Is the player a defenseman with a booming slap shot from the point? A mid-kick point is probably the best for them. And what about someone who's more of an agile playmaker—who stickhandles, makes tape-to-tape passes, and takes wrist shots and snap shots over slap shots? This player needs a lower kick point for a quicker release.
6. Hockey Stick Blade Patterns
A different hockey stick blade curve—also called its pattern—is used for different skill sets, and is one of the easiest stick fit variables to see. Please view our blade pattern guide to see the different specs and pattern names for different curves from various manufacturers. Stick pattern is almost entirely a matter of player preference, with the location of the curve in the blade moving toward the toe for players who favor wrist shots and handling the puck. Defensive players and those who favor big slap shots tend to prefer the blade curve toward the heel.
7. Blade Lie
The blade lie of a hockey stick is a classification of the angle that the stick shaft would take when the bottom of the blade is sitting flat on the ice. When fitting a new stick, players tend to choose based on the blade pattern—including the hockey stick lie—they prefer. The more upright the stick, the higher the lie number. Normally, stick lies range from 4.0 to 6.0 in half increments. Most sticks have a 4.5, 5.0 or 5.5 lie.
When determining what size hockey stick to use, or its other physical measurements, knowing how to measure a stick will go a long way toward understanding how to choose a hockey stick.