How To Tape a Hockey Stick
Hockey players are often a superstitious bunch; they believe that the way they put on their gear, tie their skate laces or their pre-game music playlist all have an influence on their performance.
As a parent with a child who is new-to-hockey, you will see these behaviors develop as your child rises through the ranks. Even as a spectator, you may have some rituals that “help” your team win the game.
There are probably as many ways to tape a hockey stick blade and handle as there are variations in hockey jerseys. However, when you are first starting in hockey with your child, there are a few basic techniques to tape a hockey stick correctly so that your child can learn to do it themselves.
Let’s Talk Tape
Not all tapes are created equal. You want tape that unwinds evenly from the roll and is sturdy enough to resist moisture and abrasion without being bulky. Tape protects the blade of the stick and will give better “puck feel”, meaning that your child will have better control of the puck when receiving a pass or taking a shot. This will help them learn how to handle the puck, developing their skills and making the game more fun.
The most common hockey tape is made of cloth, and although there are some patterned tapes, as your child’s skill level rises, he or she will only be using black or white tape, both of which have their own advantages. White tape on the blade shows the puck clearly and helps your child learn to maneuver the puck because they can see it against their blade. Black tape is often used by players with more skill, as it camouflages the puck, making it harder for the opposing team’s players and goalie to see it. Goalies always use white tape on the blade of their paddle because they absolutely need to see where the puck is!
On the shaft and handle of the stick, tape provides a sure grip, especially for the upper hand which is the one that controls the stick and helps your youngster handle the puck. You only need to tape down about 1 ½ glove lengths, leaving the lower hand able to easily slide on the shaft.
Creating a knob on the butt end of the stick helps your child from having their upper hand slide off the stick, lessening the chance they will drop it on the ice. It should not be so big that it interferes with the glove, or gets caught on their jersey. Goalies, on the other hand, will want to create a huge knob so there is no way they will lose their grip off the end.
White tape won’t leave marks on the palm of your child’s glove as much as black tape. Otherwise, the color on the stick handle is personal preference. The butt-end is a great place to use tape with fun patterns.
Clear tape is used to hold up the hockey socks. Most hockey undergarments will have Velcro garters that attach the top of the hockey sock onto, but going around one or two times around the sock over the shin guard will ensure that socks stay put. Never use clear hockey tape on your stick blade or handle!
Taping the Blade
Using either white or black tape, you will be starting from the heel of the blade and working your way to the toe. By going in this direction, the tape will lie flat on the bottom of the blade and be smooth on the ice.
Hold the stick with the blade front up and facing you in your non-dominant hand. Using the other hand and starting at the backside of the blade, affix the end of the tape on the blade and bring the roll of tape over the top of the blade and down the front. Continue to circle over and around the blade, keeping the tension on the roll of tape as you go around, overlapping each layer of tape by about ¼” (0.6 cm).
Continue towards the toe of the blade until you have about 2 inches (5 cm) of blade left showing. The most important thing is to apply the tape as smoothly as possible all the way so that there will be no friction on the bottom, and no weird puck bounces off wrinkles.
Once you have taped almost to the toe, end the tape by tearing it at the top of the blade. You don’t want to leave the end tail at the bottom of the blade as it will start to peel from contact with the ice.
Smooth the tape down to secure it and adhere the edges on one another.
Taping the Butt
Start by going around the very end of the tape several times to create several layers of tape. This makes the knob that will help keep the stick end from slipping through your child’s glove. Players only need enough of a bump to provide a barrier, but goalies will need a much bigger knob on the end of their stick to reduce the chances of dropping it at the crucial moment.
In the same manner as the blade, continue to spiral down the stick handle, carefully overlapping each layer by about ¼ inch. End the tape once you have reached an area that is approximately 1 and ½ glove’s length with a final, even revolution.
Some young players will have their stick taped with an extra “grip” ridge. This is achieved by pulling out a length of tape (3 ft / 91 cm), letting the roll create weight at the bottom and twirling it to create a rope. This is then applied in a loose coil from the point in the shaft where you want it to end, and winding it up to the top where you will begin to create the knob. You will then continue in the overlap fashion back down the shaft, covering the tape rope. This method may slightly help your child keep a grip on the stick, but will interfere with the ability to slide their hands.
You will need to remove and reapply tape when it shows wear, especially on the bottom of the blade. For the new player, this could be every few games. For the elite player, this could be during a game. It is always a good idea to have several rolls of tape in your child’s hockey bag. Now that your child's stick is taped learn How To Dress your Child in their Hockey Gear!
Taping a stick is one of the rites of passage for hockey players, and everyone will develop their own techniques. If you have your own unique way to tape your hockey stick let us know on Facebook or Instagram!