Sticks

WHEN CHOOSING A STICK, there are three options to consider: a one-piece composite stick, a wood stick, or a shaft and blade combination. For more information on the shaft and blade combinations, please see the “Shafts and Blades” section.

Sizing: Sizing is integral to your game. If the size and flex of your stick is not correct, the risk for failure in performance is much greater. If the stick is too small or not stiff enough, it could break easily. On the other hand, if the stick is too big or too stiff, it can hinder stick handling, passing, and shooting. All of these are common problems when purchasing sticks for younger players.

Materials: Sticks are composed of a variety of materials, including wood, wood and fiberglass, carbon and fiberglass, graphite, and Kevlar.

Wood sticks vs. one-piece composite sticks: Before deciding which stick is best for your game, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you using the stick for practicing in the garage or for street hockey?
  • Are you new to the game?
  • Is this your first stick?
  • Are you coming back to playing after a long break from the game?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, a wood stick or a shaft and blade combination would best fit your current game. These sticks will be slightly heavier than the one-piece composite sticks, but they will provide you with a better feel for the puck. The weight will help your shot during practice and give you more confidence when you are stick handling, passing, or shooting on the ice.
Wood sticks are more durable, so they are appropriate for street hockey. Wood sticks are also great for first-time players who are just getting acclimated to the game, as well as for easing in returning players who are transitioning back into the game.

  • Are you a player looking to take your game to the next level?

If you answered yes, one-piece composite sticks are the best choice for you. One-piece composite sticks are made of either carbon and fiberglass or graphite and Kevlar. Both of these provide a higher level of performance with your stick. The more expensive a stick is, the higher quality the materials it’s composed of. These high-end materials produce lighter sticks, which create a faster energy transfer for higher-velocity shots and passes. Although wood sticks still provide the best feel for the puck, manufacturers have developed the technology to incorporate materials in the blade of a composite stick that has dramatically improved the feel in recent years, making it an easier transition from wood to composite sticks.

Flex: Flex can be broken down into four categories: youth, junior, intermediate, and senior. Youth sticks feature a 40 flex. Junior features a flex 50–52. Intermediate flex ranges between 65–67. For youth, junior, and intermediate sticks, the flex is standard among all manufacturers. Please note that flex will change slightly if the stick has to be cut down to fit the size of the player. Although it is not an exact science, it is generally believed that each inch cut off the shaft causes a 10 percent increase in stiffness.

Senior sticks have the widest range of flex from 75–110. The lower the flex the stick has, the higher its elasticity. The higher the flex, the less elasticity the stick has. As a general rule, the taller and heavier a player is, the higher flex the player will need.

Grip vs. non-grip: Sticks can have either a smooth surface (non-grip) or a textured, sticky surface (grip). The surface of a non-grip stick is smooth, allowing the bottom hand to easily move up and down the shaft for stick handling, passing, and shooting. However, during a game, it is possible for the gloves to become slick because of sweat, hindering a player’s performance. If that is the case, a grip stick might be the better option for you. Some grips cover the entire stick, and other grips are only featured on the main area of the shaft where the player’s hands are located. The grip can also be a coating, or it could be incorporated in the texture of the stick. The main purpose of grip is to provide increased control if the player’s gloves are wet. If the gloves are not wet, it may be more difficult for the player to move his/her bottom hand. Ultimately, the choice of grip or non-grip comes down to personal preference.
Kick point: Kick point is the place on the stick that gives off the flex when you pass and shoot. What kind of player are you? Are you the defenseman with the booming slap shot from the point or the forward taking the one-timer past the goalie? A mid- to low kick point would be better for either of these players because these players have a more powerful shot. Or are you the playmaker that stick handles, makes tape-to-tape passes, and takes wrist shots and snap shots over slap shots? If so, a low kick point is the right choice for you because it allows for a quicker release.
Patterns: Patterns or curves of a blade can be used for different types of players. Stick pattern is almost entirely player preference.

Choosing Sticks

Selecting the perfect stick can be somewhat complex if you don’t know what you are looking for. There are five key things to consider when purchasing a stick: length, flex, blade pattern, lie, and composition.

Length: Length is generally the easiest to determine, but it is imperative for a player’s success in the game. Sticks usually come in four sizes: senior, intermediate, junior, and youth. Each size normally reflects a smaller shaft circumference and a softer flex. Senior sticks are usually used by players ages 14 and up; intermediate for ages 10–15; junior for ages 7–12; and youth for players ages 4–8. Adult women generally use intermediate or flexible senior sticks.

Determining your personal stick length is relatively easy. Standing without your skates on, place the toe of the stick on the ground between your feet and position the stick vertically against your body so the stick comes to about your nose. If the stick is too long,  simply make a mark where it touches your nose and cut the handle of the stick accordingly. If you have your skates on, the stick should come up to your chin. Please note that this is a general rule of thumb and can change with personal preference. In addition to cutting sticks to your desired length, you can also extend a stick’s length by inserting an end plug at the top of the shaft. This can be used to lengthen the life of a stick and get maximum use if the player cut the stick too short or experiences a growth spurt.

Q&A

Question: There are great deals on new and used sticks right now, but my daughter is still growing. As a Bantam next year, she may outgrow junior-size sticks. Should I take the chance?
Answer: It’s probably safe to buy a longer stick now and cut it  down to size in the fall—provided cutting the stick doesn’t affect the flex too much. (And if you buy a new stick that ends up being too short, you may be able to lengthen its life with a stick plug.) Various guidelines and personal preferences affect a player’s ideal stick length.

Flex: The first thing many players do when they pick up a new stick is bend it. Why? Because they are testing out the flexibility of the stick. A good fit is a stick that allows the player to bend the shaft a little but without much effort. A stiff stick shaft lessens shot accuracy and puck speed and does not provide a good feel for the puck. Most players prefer flexible and light shafts that allow for optimal passing and shooting. Most stick manufacturers offer a variety of flexes. The higher the flex number, the stiffer the stick. Regardless of age, the correct flex for the player should allow him/her to bend the shaft when they take a wrist shot or slap shot.

Different manufacturers have different systems for measuring flex ratings, but most conform to this method: The flex is a measure of the amount of weight required to bend a stick four inches when suspended between two support points that are 48 inches apart. For example, an 85 flex stick requires 85 pounds to be applied at the center point between two support points to flex the stick four inches.

Bauer Easton CCM/Reebok Warrior
42–Youth 40–Youth 50–Junior 50–Junior
52– Junior 50–Junior 65–Intermediate 65–Intermediate
67–Intermediate 65–Intermediate 75–Senior 70–Intermediate
77–Senior 75–Senior 85–Senior 75–Senior
87–Senior 85–Senior 100–Senior 85–Senior
102–Senior 100–Senior 95–Senior
112–Senior 110–Senior 100–Senior

Generally, the larger and stronger a player, the stiffer stick he/she can use. It is imperative that the player is able to flex the stick a fair amount in order to maximize shot velocity. However, if a stick is too flexible, the shaft can break or the blade of the stick could deform when shooting, resulting in a less accurate shot.
It is important to remember that the stiffness of the stick is NOT linked to durability. An 87 flex stick is not more likely to break than a 110 flex stick. Durability is mostly a function of the materials, the consistency of the walls of the stick, and the weight and thickness of the materials.

Blade pattern: Blades come in myriad patterns. Many manufacturers share similar patterns; however, some may have slight variations. Another thing to keep in mind is that there is not a correlation between the blade pattern an NHL player actually uses and the retail patterns. So when you see a stick named Crosby, he simply endorses that stick for Reebok. He does not necessarily use that pattern.
Lie: The lie, or blade, of a stick is a classification of the angle that the stick shaft would take when the bottom of the blade is sitting flat on the ice. When purchasing a stick, the lie is part of the pattern,meaning players tend to select sticks based on patterns they prefer.The more upright a stick is, the higher the lie number. Normally, sticklies range from 4.0 to 6.0 in half increments. Most sticks have a 4.5,5.0, or 5.5 lie.
Composition: There are three composition types: wood, composite, and stick/shaft combination. Each composition has advantagesand disadvantages.
The wood stick has a natural feel and is relatively inexpensive. However, it is less responsive than other sticks, water absorption can be problematic, the stick does not have a warranty, curves and flexes vary from stick to stick, and degradation occurs over time.
The composite stick, on the other hand, is responsive, has a consistency of flexes and curves among the sticks, maintains the flex and shape over time, and has a warranty that generally lasts for 30 days. The downside of a composite stick is that it is expensive and the blade can be less forgiving when it comes to receiving passes.
Stick/shaft combinations are somewhat responsive, allow more variations for different shafts and blades, and can easily replace a broken blade. On the flip side, stick/shaft combinations are moderately expensive, have a slightly different kick point (flexion zone) than wood or one-piece sticks and come with a warranty on the shafts only.

Shafts and Blades

When choosing a shaft and blade combination, there are a variety of things to consider. The shaft and blade option allows you to choose different combinations of blades and shafts than what may be typically available in a one-piece composite stick.

This also allows you to replace the blades when needed instead of having to completely replace the entire stick. Because blades tend to wear out faster than shafts, some players prefer a shaft-and-blade combination because blade replacements allow you to get a longer life out of your stick.

Shafts

Sizing: Sizing is integral to your game. If the size and flex of your stick is not correct, the risk for failure in performance is much greater. If the stick is too small or not stiff enough, it could break easily. On the other hand, if the stick is too big or too stiff, it can hinder stick handling, passing, and shooting. All of these are common problems when purchasing sticks for younger players.

Materials: Shaft materials can vary greatly, ranging from carbon and fiberglass to graphite and Kevlar. More expensive shafts are composed of higher-quality materials. These high-end materials produce lighter-weight sticks with better energy transfer for higher velocity shots.

Flex: Flex can be broken down into four categories: youth, junior, intermediate, and senior. Youth sticks feature a 40 flex. Junior features a flex 50–52. Intermediate flex ranges between 65–67. For youth, junior, and intermediate sticks, the flex is standard among all manufacturers. Please note that flex will change slightly if the shaft has to be cut down to fit the size of the player. Although it is not an exact science, it is generally believed that each inch cut off the shaft causes a 10 percent increase in stiffness.

Senior shafts have the widest range of flex from 75–110. The lower the flex the shaft has, the higher its elasticity. The higher the flex, the less elasticity the shaft has. As a general rule, the taller and heavier a player is, the higher flex the player will need.

Grip vs. non-grip: Shafts can have either a smooth surface (non-grip) or a textured, sticky surface (grip). The surface of a  non-grip shaft is smooth, allowing the bottom hand to easily move up and down the shaft for stick handling, passing, and shooting. However, during a game, it is possible for the gloves to become slick because of sweat, hindering a player’s performance. If that is the case, a grip shaft might be the better option for you. Some grips cover the entire shaft, and other grips are only featured on the main area of the shaft where the player’s hands are located. The grip can also be a coating, or it could be incorporated in the texture of the shaft. The main purpose of grip is to provide increased control if the player’s gloves are wet. If the gloves are not wet, it may be more difficult for the player to move his/her bottom hand. Ultimately, the choice of grip or non-grip comes down to personal preference.
Standard vs. tapered: A standard shaft is uniform in size throughout the entire shaft and allows standard blades to be inserted in the hosel of the shaft. Tapered shafts get smaller closer to the blade. Tapered shafts can only use tapered blades in the hosel. In addition, tapered shafts are capable of producing lower kick points, much like many of the one-piece composite sticks.
Kick point: Kick point is the place on the shaft that gives off the flex when you pass and shoot. What kind of player are you? Are you the defenseman with the booming slap shot from the point or the forward taking the one-timer past the goalie? A mid- to low kick point would be better for either of these players because these players have a more powerful shot. Or are you the playmaker that stick handles, makes tape-to-tape passes, and takes wrist shots and snap shots over slap shots? If so, a low kick point is the right choice for you because it allows for a quicker release.

Blades

Patterns: Patterns or curves of a blade can be used for different types of players. Stick pattern is almost entirely player preference.
Sizing: It is important that the blade you insert in the hosel matches the shaft type, meaning junior shafts use junior blades,intermediate shafts use intermediate blades, and senior shafts use senior blades.
Composite vs. Wood and Hybrid: Before selecting a blade, ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I using this blade to practice in the garage?
  • Is the primary purpose of this blade to play street hockey with?

If the answer is yes to either of these, then a hybrid or a wood blade would best suit your needs. Wood blades allow you the greatest feel for the puck, remaining a durable and reliable option for your game. Hybrid blades provide you with the best of both worlds in that they are very light but also have a very similar feel as a wood blade. Hybrid blades are also very durable.

  • Are you getting back in the game after some significant time off?

Wood blades may be the best choice for you because they will help you reacclimate yourself to the game, making the transition easier to composite blades.

  • Are you a seasoned player looking for optimum performance from your blade?

A composite blade is the best choice for you and your game. Composite blades are stronger and lighter, allowing you to maximize your performance on the ice.

Standard vs. tapered: It is important to pair your blades and shafts according to their type. Standard blades fit standard shafts and tapered blades fit into tapered shafts. Mixing the two types will damage the shaft and blade.