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Of the many factors to weigh when you buy a new hockey stick, one that confuses some players is the choice between a stiff versus a regular flex hockey stick. There are no real right and wrong answers to this question—and many variables can inform your decision—but what you ultimately choose will affect your shot and your game, so it’s best to get it right.
Factors beyond your control, like your physical stature, will help determine which type of hockey stick flex to choose. A smaller player won’t be able to flex a stiff hockey stick, while a tall player who weighs more may find a regular flex stick too ‘whippy’ and thus should opt for a stiffer flex.
The position you play on the ice may also influence your decision to choose a stiff flex versus a regular flex hockey stick. In general, defensemen tend to use a stiffer flex shaft because they take many slap shots from range and thus prefer a little more meat to their twig. A forward, however, may be more apt to shoot wristers or snap shots from close range and instead prefer a regular flex, or perhaps even a stick with more flex. Now more flex does not mean a higher number flex, as a 95 flex stick is stiffer than an 85 flex stick. The lower the number the more flex a stick will have.
When you’re considering a regular versus stiff flex hockey stick as it relates to your position, also think about the type of player you are. A player who shoots might prefer a more flexible stick that loads energy to produce more velocity. Or a player might prefer the better accuracy that comes with a stiffer stick, which also produces a bigger slap shot because of the force that is applied to the puck.
Hockey stick flex is determined by the number of pounds of force required to flex a stick one inch. The general rule is that the flex should be half the weight of the player. So a 200-pound player should use a 100 flex stick. Flex can be adjusted for the type of player and position.
Recent changes to the way players shoot and what types of shots they are taking has led to a slight shift in this general rule. Players in today’s game tend to go with sticks that offer a lighter flex so they can load their shots faster. That doesn’t mean the general rule no longer applies, but remember to consider the unique aspects of your game when picking out your new hockey stick flex rating.