Choosing the right hockey stick for a hockey player is akin to a baseball player selecting the best bat. Just ask Adam Oates.
Like baseball bats, there are two different types of hockey sticks – wooden and composite. And like baseball bats, the wooden sticks are not used as often, but they still have their rightful place in the game.
Knowing how important the right stick is for hockey, how do you know what type of stick will be the best for you?
The composite stick has several benefits that make it a popular choice for hockey players of all ages and abilities. These lightweight sticks provide plenty of speed and pop because of the materials in the stick.
Along with being lightweight and quick, they are extremely durable.
Choose from One-piece or Two-piece Designs
Composite sticks come in a one-piece or two-piece design. The two-piece models are often designed with wood or composite blades at the end of a lightweight shaft. The benefit of the two-piece model is that you can have the flexibility of the composite shaft, but the power of the wooden blade.
However, if you want to go with a full-on lightweight model, then one-piece is the way to go.
But…if you do choose a one-piece stick, you will pay for it. They are the most expensive models, especially if you buy one made with the latest technology.
While they are durable and flexible, they can and do break. They are meant to be used for their power, not their lifespan. However, it is common for sticks to last for up to three years.
The Latest in Composite Hockey Stick Materials
There has been some serious advancement in hockey stick technology in the last few years.
Composite sticks come in several types of materials, but not all of the sticks are designed for all types of players. The prices of some of these sticks can be very expensive and are best for experienced players rather than kids who are learning to play.
Aluminum sticks are the old-school composite sticks.
They are usually two-piece sticks with aluminum shafts, but the blades can be made of wood or a different composite material. The idea is that the blade can be replaced, so the shaft gets used for a long time.
Because there are newer types of sticks, aluminum ones can be difficult to find. But, they are inexpensive and strong.
Fiberglass hockey sticks are available, but they are not the most popular option today. Usually, they are made of wood at the core, but are wrapped in fiberglass. While this makes them strong, it also makes them heavy.
However, some hockey players like to know that they are swinging something with mass to it. With a solid hit by a fiberglass stick, a hockey puck will travel.
Graphite sticks come in one-piece and two-piece models. Graphite is used as a coating over wooden sticks, like the fiberglass ones. But, they weigh significantly less than fiberglass and wood. They are even lighter than aluminum sticks.
Some companies add Kevlar to the composition of the coating for added strength. The problem with graphite is the price – although the price is lower than the sticks made with just Kevlar or just titanium. It is possible to purchase one-piece graphite sticks; they are built to last, too.
Even though it is more common to hear about Kevlar in bulletproof vests, this material is also used to make hockey sticks.
Usually, Kevlar is added to carbon or graphite to make hockey sticks flexible and incredibly lightweight. These are popular options for professionals who can afford the high price.
There are two other types of sticks that take flexibility and strength to an entirely new level. Titanium is by-far the most expensive type of hockey stick. While Kevlar is added to another material, titanium is not.
They are strong, lightweight, flexible, and pricey. The other material that is making its way deeper into the world of hockey is nano-steel, which is added to graphite sticks. The nanosteel added strength whatever part of the stick is dipped into it – which is usually the lower half.
While composite sticks add strength, flexibility, and durability, some players do not like these different materials because there is very little feel in them. Players like to be able to experience the movement of the puck. Composite sticks take that away and that disconnect can make it difficult for players to handle the puck the way they can.
Wooden Hockey Sticks
This why wooden sticks are still a thing for hockey players. They are heavy and they are not very flexible. They do not send puck with the same physics that composite bats do. But, the feel that players get is incomparable to the composite sticks.
Even though wooden hockey sticks are heavy, they are good choices for rookies and young learners because they can develop stick handling skills.
Wooden sticks do not cost much, so they can be replaced without breaking the bank. They also have less bounce when pucks hit the blade, which also helps young players learn to better control the puck.
Pick Your Stick
So, how do you know what type of stick is best for you? Price is one way to determine what stick you should buy. If you want a cheap stick, then wood is the best option. If you are willing to spend more, then graphite sticks or even titanium sticks might be an option.
Another major consideration is your level of play. A young learner should use a stick that will help him get the feel for the puck. So, a wooden stick at the right height and weight can be useful. But, so can an aluminum stick or even a graphite stick at the right price.
If your proshop will let you try out different sticks, then try as many as you can. This way, you will learn what you like without wasting money on sticks that you do not like. Of course, you will eventually customize it with your taping on the blade and handle.