Buying a hockey stick might not seem like a big deal, but it really is.
Just any hockey stick will not do.
The stick you buy needs to fit your style of play and your height.
It also needs to be made the right materials, have the right blade lie, and kick point. It also needs the right grip. You also need to decide what type of stick you want as well as what type of blade.
Find a size that fits
Young players generally have the hardest time with finding the right size stick because the players are continuously outgrowing them. Only buy sticks that are the right size for the player’s height.
Sticks come in a few different sizes: youth, junior, intermediate, and adult.
The youth stick is meant for the youngest players, and usually no older than eight years old.
The junior stick is the next size and meant for kids who are between ages 8 and 12.
Intermediate sticks are for players who are look more like young teens rather than young adults, usually somewhere between the ages of 10 and 16.
Finally, adult-size sticks are for players who wear adult-sized clothes and are often age 14 and older.
While the age of the player often determines the best stick size, there is an easier way to find the right stick. With hockey skates on, place the toe of the stick on the ground and the top of the stick should reach the player’s chin.
Some people will cut the handle of the stick to reach this point and some people will simply buy sticks that reach this height.
However, there are some players who prefer sticks that are longer or shorter than this general sizing rule. It is also possible to add a plug to the end of the stick to make a favorite stick last longer. This is a great technique for parents who do not want to continually buy new sticks for their growing children.
Material that suits your play and budget
Another important feature to consider when buying a hockey stick is the composition or material of the stick.
Many young hockey players benefit from heavier sticks as it gives them more feel for the game and helps them make better shots and accurate passes. For rookie hockey players, wooden sticks are the best choice because they are inexpensive and rather durable.
After a hockey player has spent more time on the ice, a composite stick can be used. These are usually made of carbon-fiber, graphite, or other materials like resin and fiberglass. They do not weigh as much as wooden sticks, but they have more torque and durability. They also cost more than wooden sticks. The physics behind these composite sticks help players make powerful shots with less work.
Consider the flexibility of the stick
The flex of the stick is also something to consider when buying a stick.
The flex of the stick is amount of bend they have. Many players like to have sticks with some bend in them – but not too much. It should be easy to bend the stick, but without using too much strength to do so.
When the stick is too stiff, players lose the ability to fire a shot with accuracy. With a lightweight and flexible stick, players can handle the puck with ease. However, like all hockey equipment, players have their favorites. Some like to have stiff sticks, but most players appreciate a stick that bends slightly when they shoot the puck. It is easy to determine flexibility by looking at the flex number and the lower the number, the more flexibility it will have.
What can be confusing about flex is the way the manufacturer determines the ratings. The ratings are determined by how many pounds of force are needed to get the stick to bend an inch between points that are four feet apart. The flex ratings will be in high numbers based on the weight of the users. For example, the junior sticks have ratings around 50 while intermediate sticks will be rated around 65. The adult sticks have a large range between 75 and 110. As players get taller and stronger, most end up buying sticks with higher flex ratings.
To grip or not to grip
Sticks come with two grip options: with a grip or without.
The non-grip stick has a smooth surface while the sticks with grips have sticky surfaces. Players who do not like their gloves to move up and down the stick often prefer one with a sticky grip. But, there are plenty of players who like to have a smooth stick so they can move their gloves around the stick to adjust for different types of shots.
Grips can cover the majority of a stick or they can just be near the top. Some players like to add their own grips, because they like to put them in specific places. In most cases, having a grip or not is based on experience and preference.
Find out where the stick kicks
Sticks have something called a kick point, which is the spot where the stick flexes when it moves the puck. The preferred point of kick is different for different types of players.
Defensive players often like to have sticks that kick at a mid or low point, as it gives more power to the shot. But, sticks for forwards normally use a kick point that is as low as possible because those low kickpoint release the puck the fastest. If the stick is not labeled for kick points, then ask the pro shop employee for help.
Check out the blade before making a choice
Finally, the blade needs to be considered.
There are two important features of the blade that players look for when they are buying hockey sticks. The first is the curve of the blade and the second is the way the blade lays on the ice. The lie of the blade is the angle of the stick when the blade is flatly resting on the ice.
The lie is usually between 4.0 and 6.0, with halves in the range. If a stick has an upright stance, then the lie number will be high.