How To Choose The Right Hockey Stick

Posted by Ian Tang on Sep 17, 2014
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How To Choose The Right Stick For Yourself

Unlike a lot of equipment, a player could use the wrong hockey stick for years and not be aware of it. Although a few options are left to preference, there are some simple guidelines to follow when buying a stick. Listed below is a breakdown of the different choices and recommendations.

Composite, Wood and Two piece

In the past, sticks were made from wood. Although wood sticks are still used by some, the majority of sticks made and utilized today are made from some type of composite material. Composite sticks are far more common for a few reasons. First off, they are easier to produce and they allow for many new features such as a being a lightweight material. Moreover, composite blades don’t absorb water or warp. This contributes to a longer and higher quality of life for the stick in general. Furthermore,  you can purchase a shaft and blade separately, otherwise known as the two piece option. In the event that the player only breaks the blade, he can replace it at a cheaper price than replacing the entire stick. This also allows the player to try out different curves. However, since two piece sticks can loosen over time,  most players will opt for a one piece stick due to the reliability.

Price Point

There are a variety of stick brands that have a range of price points. Therefore, the first thing to determine before looking for a stick is how much you want to spend. If you are new to hockey, Discount Hockey does not recommend buying the most expensive stick. This is because it may not be the right stick, especially if you are just developing a shot. In general, as you work your way up in price sticks will be lighter weight and use stronger and more flexible materials. For more info on what spending more gets you check out our article about the subject. Keep in mind that even though there are general guidelines for picking out a stick, over time each player develops a unique preference for a certain flex or curve.

Handedness

Left or right, pretty simple right? Well that is if you know already. For those who don’t know it’s the first thing to figure out when actually selecting which stick. If you are unsure ask yourself which way would you bat in baseball? If you stand on the left side of the plate and swing off your right foot you are a right handed shot. The opposite is a left handed shot. If you still aren’t sure there are straight blade sticks for switching back and forth until a preference is developed.

Size

Player

Stick Size

Kids under 7

Youth

Kids 7+

Junior

Kids 7+

Intermediate*

Adults (13+)

Senior

*Intermediate is for players that are not ready for a senior model but the junior sticks are too short or not stiff enough.

Flex

After finding the proper size, flex is the next thing to determine. The numbers listed below will  vary slightly from company to company but the higher the number always represents more stiffness. Companies have been adding more stratified flex options with the addition of a 90 flex and an 80 flex.

Flex

Number System

Whippy Flex

<80

Traditional

85-95

Extra Stiff

100+

Phil Kessel's stick is believed to have a flex rating of less than 70.

Marian Gaborik uses a stick with a flex rating of 95.

6'9" Zdeno Chara uses a stick flex of 130 - the stiffest in the NHL.

Curve

The curve or blade pattern decides what your shot and puck control will be like. This is difficult because for most there is no real way to know which curve they will like or despise. For this you need to identify the kind of player you are and what kinds of shots you will be taking. The position you play and what level you play will also determine where you are going to spend most of your time on the ice. If you are unsure there are some great neutral or moderate curves that give you the best of all curves but doesn’t excel at any one type. For more details on blade patterns and the type of advantages and disadvantages they offer, check out this article.

Lie

A stick will also come in different lie. The lie is the angle the shaft and blade make when the blade is flat on the ice. Players who skate upright are going to want a higher angle lie like a 6. Players who skate lower to the ice will want a larger angle which is represented as a lower lie like a 4. Most curves will come in a mid lie around 5 or 5.5. This is a typical starting point and most players will fall in this area. You want to make sure you have the right lie otherwise your blade will not be fully on the ice and pucks will slip underneath the toe or heel of your blade. This ensures the most blade on the ice at a time.

Kickpoint

So now you have decided what kind of stick you want, how much you want to spend, whether you’re a right or a left hand shot, what size and flex you need, and what curve and lie is best for you. But wait, some companies offer 2 or even 3 entirely different lines that feature all these same attributes. What’s the difference between these different stick families? Well thats where kickpoint comes in. Now that you know all the features you would like you need to decide whether you want a higher kickpoint, a low kickpoint or a dual flex point. As it sounds, the kickpoint is where on the shaft it will flex when taking a shot. When a stick is unaltered it typically has a mid flex point, flexing between the players hands when shooting. Companies now have began to taper the shaft as the stick gets closer to the blade, creating a low kick point and adding to the shots power at the end. Bauer has introduced in its Vapor line the Intellisense flex points, where how you are holding the shaft with your hands will determine the upper and lower flex points. This optimises shooting no matter where your hands are at the time of release. CCM and Reebok have offered similar features in their sticks to create kick points that respond to how the stick is held. Eason and Warrior have their Stealth Taper and Dagger Taper respectively that create a low kickpoint and make for a quick hard release. The kickpoint will help with different types of shots and create a different feel when the puck is released. For more details about kickpoints check out our kickpoints blog.

Grip

Now for the least crucial choice besides what color tape you want to wrap it in. Sticks come in different finishes. These shaft finishes can come in forms of grip or lack of. A Clear finish is a smooth gloss coating allowing the hands to slide up and down easily. A Matte finish is also smooth but doesn’t have a gloss coating and feels more like it was sanded down smooth, which also allows easy movement of the hands. Grip is a semi sticky coating almost rubbery feeling along the shaft of the stick to absorb impact and make the stick grip to a players hands. Reebok recently came out with a dual grip stick. It has a clear finish on the bottom allowing the stick to slide freely along the fingers but a top grip against the palm for taking shots and passes.

Online Shopping

Choosing the right stick is difficult enough at times but it can be even more difficult when you are shopping online. Since you aren’t able to pick up the stick and feel the weight, you are relying on the specifications provided by companies. This makes these guides even more useful for making the right choice. Knowing ahead of time what curve, flex and size is right for you makes the chances of buying a stick you’ll love far greater. Consider your options for different brands. This is where you are going to have to look at reviews and comparisons to find out what kind of feel you are going to get out of a certain stick. Ask questions. Don’t hesitate to call a store and ask the employees what they think of a particular stick or what they would compare it to. You can’t hold the stick so you don’t know what a particular finish will feel like. You can ask, “how much grip does it have?” or “does the stick feel blade heavy?” These are great questions to ask when finding out what a particular stick is like shopping online.

This is just a guideline for what to look for when purchasing a hockey stick. There are going to be preferences that differ this is just an explanation of key features and choices to consider while out buying a new stick. Keep in mind anything you buy will take getting used to from a previous stick or if you’re new to hockey will take time to adjust to all together. Hope this has been helpful! Check back for more Discount Hockey buying guides!

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