How to Choose a Hockey Stick

Two Methods:Deciding on SpecificsTrying Them Out

Hockey players can be a fickle bunch. Many like having their equipment fine-tuned to their specifications, from the comfort and shape of their helmet to the blade type on their skates. Perhaps the most important decision a discerning hockey player makes concerns the type of stick he or she uses. The appropriate stick can help make an average player more effective at both ends of the ice. Choosing the right hockey stick is an important exercise, and here is how to do it.

Method 1
Deciding on Specifics

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    Set your budget. Before you do any research, it will help immensely to know exactly how much you are willing to spend. Certain stick types will be unrealistic for those on a tight budget, so knowing what you can afford ahead of time will eliminate these options from consideration.
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    Decide on the shaft material you prefer. Most hockey stick shafts are made of one of five types of material:
    • Wood sticks are the oldest and most common types of stick among casual players. Wood models are the cheapest of all and can easily be customized either through cutting or sanding the shaft. Unfortunately, they also break easily and are cumbersome compared to the rest of the options.
    • Fiberglass sticks usually contain a wood core with a reinforced fiberglass exterior. These sticks are reasonably priced and lighter than wood models, but are not much more durable than wood sticks.
    • Aluminum sticks are remarkably light and strong compared to the first two choices, but you’ll have to pay a little more. These are good “mid-range” options for those who want increased mobility but still want to remain within a reasonable budget.
    • Kevlar or graphite sticks are the second-lightest model of the five, and also the second-strongest. You can also replace the blades if they break or crack. These are high-end hockey sticks and are priced as such.
    • Titanium sticks are top-of-the-line pieces of equipment, modestly lighter and stronger than Kevlar/graphite options. They are also the most expensive, usually costing hundreds of dollars per stick.
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    Find your optimum shaft flex. The flex number corresponds to how much flexibility your shaft will have. A stick with too high a flex rating will lack the amount of “give” a player is looking for when taking a slap-shot, while a stick with not enough of a flex rating will bend too much and cause a lack of power. Here are the approximate levels of flex offered:
    • Youth sticks: 40 flex
    • Junior sticks: 50 flex
    • Mid or intermediate sticks: 60-75 flex
    • Regular sticks: 85 flex
    • Stiff sticks: 100 flex
    • Extra stiff sticks: 110 flex

      As a general rule, a player should opt for a flex rating measured at his or her weight divided by two. So if you weigh 160 pounds, your initial flex rating should be around 80. Add to the total if you’re strong, or favor slap-shots. Reduce the number if you have below-average strength or prefer to take snapshots or wrist shots. The flex will change depending on where and if you cut the stick down in size. Some sticks will show you the range. The stick will get stiffer as you cut it down.
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    Choose a blade curve. The curve of the blade affects both stick handling and shooting. Most leagues have restrictions on how much of a curve you can have, so be sure not to exceed the allowable limit. Those who want more control when handling the puck should opt for a straighter blade, while players who take a lot of wrist or slap-shots stand to benefit from a blade with a greater curve.
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    Decide on a blade angle. The angle of the blade where it meets the shaft, otherwise known as the lie, affects how the blade is tilted. The lie ranges from 4 to 8, with a lower number indicating a wider angle. Low lies benefit players who skate closer to the ice, as it allows them to better cradle the puck and protect it from defenders. Upright skaters should opt for a higher lie number.
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    Select a shaft length. The length of the stick depends greatly on which position you play. Forwards usually favor a shorter stick which allows more mobility and makes stickhandling easier. Defense men generally opt for longer sticks, which are better for poking the puck away from opposing players. When deciding on a stick, it’s better to end up with one that is a bit longer than you’d like rather than a little shorter. You can always trim a long stick to the optimal size.

Method 2
Trying Them Out

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    Find a sporting goods store near you. A hockey stick purchase should always be made in person. Like a good pair of shoes, you can only know if a stick is the best fit for you by trying it out, and sporting goods stores have the largest selection of equipment available for you.
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    Check the flex. Once you get your hands on a stick that catches your eye, you should check what kind of flexibility it has. Place both hands on it and lean on it with the blade pressed against the floor. Don’t press too hard, as you don’t want to break the stick before you have a chance to buy it.
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    Check the length. To accurately measure the stick you’ve chosen, stand straight up and place the toe of the blade against the ground in front of you with the stick parallel to your body. General guidelines suggest that, for a player with skates on, a stick should come up to the area between his or her chin and nose. Since you aren't wearing skates in the store, add an inch or two to your height and use that as a guide. Remember to err on the long side.
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    Consult a store employee if you have any questions. People who work in sporting goods stores are often happy to offer tips or suggestions for hockey stick buyers, as they’re usually familiar with all stick brands and features. They can end up being a valuable resource if you’re stuck or confused about something.


  • If you know hockey players who employ a similar playing style to yours, ask them what sticks they use and why they use them. They may rely on specifications that could end up being identical or close to what you will ultimately find to be optimal.

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Categories: Fans of Hockey