Whether you play hockey for fun or professionally, inside or outside, having the right hockey stick is an important part of playing the game. Having the right length, flex, curve, and type of material will help you navigate the nuances of the game. Check out these tips to help you measure and choose the right stick.
Choosing the Proper Hockey Stick Length
The right length of the hockey stick is essential to playing the game. If the stick is too long, the player will have a hard time handling, passing, and shooting. If the stick is too short, the player will have to bend forward when skating to avoid swinging over the puck.
Hockey sticks generally come in four sizes: youth, junior, intermediate, and senior. In general, the smaller the stick, the smaller the shaft and the softer the flex. Stick size details are as follows:
- Youth sticks – 38 to 44 inches: ages 4 to 8.
- Junior sticks – 46 to 54 inches: ages 7 to 12.
- Intermediate sticks – about 55 inches: ages 10 to 15.
- Senior sticks – about 60 inches: age 14 and older.
How To Measure the Length of the Stick
Now that you know about the varying lengths of sticks, you’ll want to know how to measure and adjust the stick for your height and preference. There are two ways to measure the stick length. First, stand without your skates on and place the toe of the stick between your feet and hold the stick upright. Without skates on, the stick should come to about the middle of your nose. The other way to measure the stick length is to stand in your stakes holding the stick upright. With your skates on, the stick should come to your chin.
If you pick a stick you like but the length isn’t correct, it’s easy to fix. If it’s too long, measure where you want the top of the stick to hit, pull out the end cap, and cut it down. After the cut, replace the cap and wrap the top with tape. If the stick is too short, you can extend the length by putting in an end plug at the top of the hockey stick shaft and taping it in place.
Pick the Length Hockey Stick for How You Play
While many players pick the length that fits in their size or age bracket, different playing environments and positions require different sticks. For overall broad strokes, players like to use a short stick for handling. It’s easy to make quick maneuvers and the short size of the stick lets them hold the puck closer to the body for defensive plays.
Generally, all-around players like to use an average length stick. The size lets players flip out pucks in corners, make slap shots, and intercept and handle the puck in a variety of situations. Goalies like to carry a long hockey stick. The larger stick gives the players a wide, sweeping range to stop passes and slap shots from going into the net.
Pick the Right Hockey Stick Material
Hockey sticks come in a variety of materials. The most common materials are wood, fiberglass, carbon fiber, graphite, and Kevlar. The latter four sticks often have wood integrated with non-organic materials. How do you determine which type of material is best?
Beginner hockey players or those playing on non-ice surfaces will benefit from all-wood sticks. The heavier material helps the player shoot the puck and provides an overall satisfying experience. Composite sticks weigh less and make precision handling easier. While more expensive than wood hockey sticks, composite variations help the player with high-velocity shots. Not only do composite sticks help with power shots, but the material also adds reinforcement to help prevent the stick from breaking.
Determine the Right Hockey Stick Flex
The flex of the hockey stick is equally important as the length and type of material used for the stick. Players want a hockey stick that bends a little without too much effort. With flex in the stick, the player has more control over passing and shooting the puck. If there’s not enough flex in the hockey stick, the player doesn’t have the same amount of puck speed and accuracy as a stick with the right flex.
There’s a general rule of thumb in finding the right flex. The force it takes to bend the shaft of the stick should equal half your body weight. For example, if you weigh 160 pounds, the flex rating should range around 80. Here are some general recommendations:
- Youth sticks: flex range of 20 to 40.
- Junior sticks: flex range of 35 to 50.
- Intermediate sticks: flex range of 55 to 70.
- Senior sticks: flex range of 65 to 105.
If you need to cut the hockey stick down, the flex range changes, often increasing stiffness by 10% for every inch cut off of the stick.
Choose the Right Kick Point
Composite hockey sticks are created with a woven pattern that gives the stick stiffness for strength and durability. However, you also need flex in the hockey stick to scoop up the puck and do those slap shots and passes. The kick point is the part of the shaft that has the flex and comes in low, mid, or variable/custom heights.
Forward players who need a quick release of their shot prefer a low kick point. As the name implies, a mid-kick point sits in the middle of the stick, and players who like to lean into their shots and use high-velocity slap shots will use a mid-kick point stick. Variable or custom kick point sticks have a low kick point as well as a mid-kick point, so the player can use the stick for a variety of shots and purposes. Whatever your playing style and preference, choose the kick point that feels most comfortable for you.
Measuring and choosing the right hockey stick will help to make your game fun, competitive, and successful. Our team at Gunzo’s Hockey Headquarters will help you find the perfect hockey stick and everything else you need to get out and have fun playing hockey.