Beginner's Guide to Selecting Hockey Sticks
There's a Perfect Hockey Stick for You
Did you know that a large percentage of hockey players at all levels use a stick that is too stiff for them? There is a perception in dressing rooms that it is “cooler’ or looks tougher to use a stiffer flex. The problem is that a stick that is too stiff will hinder a player’s performance. There are many stick manufacturers and countless sticks to choose from today, and the key to choosing the right stick is to match the fit and performance features of a stick to each individual’s game. It all begins by understanding your game and style of play. The stick that is ideal for Martin St. Louis is completely different from Zdeno Chara’s preferred stick of choice.
No two sticks are alike and all sticks have many features that make them unique. When choosing a stick, there are many factors to consider:
- Flex and kick point
- Blade curve
- Blade lie
- Stick length
- Level and style of play
- Player position, size, weight, strength
Flex & Kickpoint
The flex indicates how much give or bend the stick has when taking a shot or when applying force on the shaft. The flex rating of a stick indicates how much force in pounds it takes to flex the stick one inch. For example, a 100 flex stick will take 100 pounds of force to flex it one inch. The kick point on the stick creates the force that generates the velocity to fire the puck. When a player is using a flex that is too stiff, it can cause decreased power, less accuracy, and a lower feel for the puck. The proper flex means that every shot you take will be the hardest it can possibly be. A mid-to-low kick point matches a defensemen with a powerful slap shot or a forward with a quick one-timer. A stick with a lower kick point best matches an agile playmaker who takes snap shots and wrist shots.
There are a number of different blade curves to choose from and the right one for you will depend on your position, style of play and personal preference. It is important to understand how each type of curve will perform on the ice and impact your game. Players like Joe Thornton prefer a deeper curve that will allow them to get the puck off the ice easier and faster. This could benefit forwards looking to pick corners over goalies’ shoulders. In contrast, flatter blades, like Sidney Crosby’s, allow players to keep shots lower and are better for hard slap shots. Many players do not think about blade lie when choosing a stick, but it is a critical element to determine the one best suited to your game. The lie describes the angle of the blade in relation to the shaft. The greater the angle, or the more upright the stick is, the higher the number of the lie will be. Your style of play and body positioning on the ice will determine the lie that is right for you.
The length and the flex of a stick are related to one another. Any time a stick is cut, it increases the stiffness. If you know you will be cutting the stick, make allowances for the stiffness and purchase a stick that will give you the correct stiffness for your strength once it has been cut. There are four different sizes that can be chosen: youth, junior, intermediate, and senior.
There is more to choosing a stick than brand name and colour. Choosing the right stick is much like being professionally fit for a golf club, and is a critical part of your game. The correct flex, kick point, length and lie will help elevate your game. At Source for Sports we play the game and have tested virtually every stick we sell so we know how they perform. Our Pro-Formance Advantage Custom Fitting System will ensure you have the stick that will perform best for you, no matter what level you play – at a younger level, it can make a big difference in learning how to pass and shoot, and at a higher level, it can mean the difference between going bar down and sailing it over the net.
Get the right advice on your next stick and elevate your game.
For expert advice on hockey gear and equipment that is right for your game, level of play, and budget, come see us at your local Source for Sports hockey store near you. We Fit Your Game.
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