How To Choose The Right Stick Flex

  • Hockey Stick flex numbers refer to the stiffness of the stick.
  • The higher the number, the stiffer the stick will be
  • Retail model sticks generally range from about 30 on the low-end for young kids up to 110 on the high-end
    • The numbers are measurements of the amount of pressure, in pounds, it takes to bend the stick exactly 1 inch.
    • Based on a simple 3-point test (See image below)

 

hockey stick flex machine 

Sticks are placed on a machine with one piece on each end holding it up, then a mechanism centered between those two points presses down, bending the stick one inch and measures the amount of pressure it took.

  • Example, a 100 flex hockey stick would take 100 pounds of pressure and force to bend the stick an inch 


What's the best flex for me?

I’m new to the game and have no clue where to begin with stick flex

  • A good starting point is to take the weight of a hockey player (in pounds) and divide that number by 2
  • From there, you want to adjust the flex for height and strength.

 

Size

Common Flex Options

Weight

Strength & Height Adjustment

Stick Length

Senior

5’3”+

130 lbs.+

75

85

100

110

Player’s Weight (in LBs.) Divided by 2

If Taller or Stronger than average, consider…

Rounding Up

If average or below average height or strength, consider… Rounding Down

If adding more than 3 inches…

Go Up In Flex

If cutting stick down more than 3 inches…

Go Down In Flex

Intermediate

4’10” – 5’7”

80 – 160 lbs.

60

65

70

 

Player’s Weight (in LBs.) Divided by 2

If Taller or Stronger than average, consider…

Rounding Up

If average or below average height or strength, consider… Rounding Down

If adding more than 3 inches…

Go Up In Flex

If cutting stick down more than 3 inches…

Go Down In Flex

Junior

3’10” – 5’2”

50 – 120 lbs.

40

45

50

Player’s Weight (in LBs.) Divided by 2

If Taller or Stronger than average, consider…

Rounding Up

If average or below average height or strength, consider… Rounding Down

If adding more than 3 inches…

Go Up In Flex

If cutting stick down more than 3 inches…

Go Down In Flex

Example…

Player: 5’8”
180 Lbs.
Average Strength
No Stick Cut 

180 ÷ 2 = 90
No adjustment for height, strength or cutting stick 

Round down to 85 

 

Other things to consider when choosing a flex…

  • Stick flex is a very personal choice and many factors come into play when deciding the best flex for you are a player…
  • Position
    • A forward taking a lot more snap/wrist shots might prefer a softer flex, while a defenseman taking more slapshots might prefer a stiffer flex
    • Style of play
    • Shooting technique of the player
      • Players with shorter, quicker shooting motions often prefer softer flex to load the stick quicker & more easily
    • Whether the player takes a particular type of shot more frequently
  • Players will gain a better understanding of the impact of each of these factors, as well as which are most important to them personally as they play and as they try out different flexes

All of these numbers, estimates and suggestions are general rules or tendencies. Every player prefers something a little bit different. There are big, powerful defenseman who prefer softer flexes than you’d imagine & quick, little forwards who use stiffer sticks. These are meant as a starting point and guide for players trying to find the best fit for them and their game.


A frequently asked question: Does cutting a stick down, or adding an extension change the flex?

The answer is simple and complicated all at once. Aren’t those the most fun ones though? 

The simple answer… YES

A shorter stick will feel stiffer and will perform more similarly to a stick with a higher flex

A longer stick will feel softer and will perform more similarly to a stick with a lower flex

hockey stick flex numbers by stick size  

Many brands have measurements on the back of the stick, showing what flex the stick will feel like if cut to that length

 

The complicated answer… Kind of 

Speaking from a strictly scientific standpoint, no, it does not change the flex of the stick. The stick is still as stiff or soft as before. You have not altered the structure of the composite. 

However in practice, yes, how stiff a stick feels is impacted by changes in length. What is actually happening is a change in the position of the player’s hands and the amount of leverage they have on the stick. 

The longer any structure is (hockey sticks included) the further apart you can get your hands, allowing more leverage making it easier to flex. 

A shorter stick forces a player’s hands closer together, giving the player less leverage, making it more difficult to flex. 

 

Why do different sticks with the same flex rating often feel different?

Two main reasons…

  1. Every brand measures flex in a similar, but not identical way.
    1. Some measure from the very ends of the stick, while some measure from slightly down the handle / up the taper. This can lead to some variation in how stiff the same flex rating feels
    2. Different models have different flex profiles. A flex profile describes where the stick is stiffest or softest along the shaft and dictates how the stick loads energy.
      1. Depending on where a specific model is stiffest along the stick, some will load easier and give the impression of being softer. Others may feel slightly stiffer, even when the models have the same flex rating. 

Who cares about Flex? Why is it so important?

Feel like flex is over-hyped? If you’re a good player, you can just grab any stick off the shelf and snipe, right? 

As mentioned above, stick flex choice is highly personal. The characteristics & benefits that one player considers high priority could be very unimportant to another player. Below are some of the Pro’s & Con’s of using a stiffer or softer flex stick. Keep in mind that even for the Pro’s, these benefits reach a point where they start to have an adverse affect if a player goes overboard by using a stick that is far too stiff or soft.

Using a stiffer stick may…

  • Improve accuracy when shooting because there is less energy loaded into the stick, causing less stress on the blade. With less stress, the blade is less likely to twist back and therefore more likely to remain square to your target.

Using a softer stick may…

  • Create more velocity as the player is able to flex the stick further and load more energy 

Issues that can be caused by using the incorrect flex…

 

Using a stiffer stick may…

  • Reduce power & velocity because the player cannot flex the stick as much and is unable to load as much power into it.
  • Lead to the stick to recoiling & releasing before your hands come through the shot, causing the puck to flutter off the blade
  • Ring or vibrate in your hands because the stick is too stiff to absorb the impact of shots or passes

Using a softer stick may…

  • Cause slightly less accurate shots because the increase of stress on the stick can cause the blade to twist back off target more
  • Not recoil & release quickly enough, causing your hands to get too far in front of the puck, making shots feel slow or weak

 

Stick Flex & Younger Players 

Proper stick flex is even more important when talking about younger players. Without the proper flex, younger players will need to compensate for the stick being too stiff or too soft, this can create bad habits and impede them from developing the proper shooting techniques. A young player using too stiff a stick will not be able to load energy into it and will often resort to flicking or sling-shotting the puck for velocity or to get it in the air. They’ll also run into the same problems as grown players using the wrong flex, like losing power or accuracy when shooting.

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