There are many hockey sticks out there, so choosing the right one can be overwhelming, be it for yourself or for your kids, who are growing faster than you expect. It’s an important decision; the right hockey stick can help in improving your game. In this article, we explain the factors so that you can choose the right one.
Your hockey stick should have a length to reach between your chin and nose, with skates on. You would want a shorter stick if you are more of a finesse player and like having more control of the puck. If your game is more defensive, you would want a longer stick to aid you in blocking shots and defensive plays.
If you feel there’s a lot to choose from, don’t worry. We explain how to calculate your stick’s length, as well as other factors like the flex so that you make the right choice that best matches your style of play. The right stick will not only improve your puck handling but other factors as well, like reach, passing and defensive play.
Let’s start with the basics: length.
How do you choose the ideal stick length?
The three most common sizes for a hockey stick are Junior, Intermediate, and Senior. You can find references to their sizes in many sites such as Sideline Swap. Their lengths are as follows:
- Junior sticks will range from 46 in. to 53 in. in length.
- Intermediate sticks will go from 54 in. to 56 in.
- Senior sticks will range from 56 in. to 63 in.
According to the website Great Skate, the main guideline when measuring the stick length is to stand, without either stakes or shoes, on a flat surface and hold the stick straight up, with the toe touching the ground, yet not flat. The stick’s handle should touch your nose, and when you have your skates on, it should reach your chin.
If you want to know what the parts of the stick are, check out this easy explanation from the website How They Play.
Not all sticks fit all sizes. If a player is too short for a stick, such as with kids, it’s customary to use a longer one, mark the ideal length, and then cut off the shaft’s remnant. You can do this in-store or at home, by yourself.
What are the pros and cons of having a shorter or longer stick?
A player doesn’t need to use a stick within his or her size. But using a stick outside the ideal length can have its drawbacks, according to the website Hockeyshot.com.
Smaller skaters and more experienced players, with an offensive mindset and an affinity for aggressive handling, want more control of the puck. They might prefer a shorter stick to aid when moving the puck about, and, by having the puck closer to the body, the skater can also protect it easier. It is customary that more “finesse” players, like offensive-minded centers and wingers, use shorter sticks.
Given that the stick is shorter, the player might have to bend over more over the shaft, leading to back pain in some cases. The lack of length can also hinder the ability to receive passes.
Bigger skaters and players with a more defensive-minded game might opt to have a longer stick to poke at incoming players and have the ability to fight for the puck in the corners. They are also better for blocking shots and sweeping defensive motions.
But, since the stick is longer, it can make puck handling close to the body a difficult task. Also, given the length, the blade’s lie might not rest flat, leading to missed passes.
Your weight is also a factor when choosing a stick.
Choosing the right stick isn’t only about the skaters’ height. Weight is also an essential factor. Modern sticks flex when a player is shooting; this flexibility increases the shot power. But a heavier, or stronger player, can more easily break stickers with lower flex numbers.
Again, there are ranges, depending on the players’ size. This chart, from Hockey Monkey, explains how weight comes into play when choosing the stick:
|Age Group||Height||Weight||Stick Flex|
|Tyke (3 – 5)||3’0″ – 3’10”||30 – 65 lbs.||20 – 25 flex|
|Youth (5 – 8)||3’6″ – 4’8″||40 – 80 lbs.||30 – 40 flex|
|Junior (7 – 12)||4’4″ – 5’1″||70 – 110 lbs.||40 – 52 flex|
|Intermediate (11 – 14)||4’11” – 5’8″||95 – 140 lbs.||55 – 70 flex|
|Senior (14+)||5’7″ – 6’1″+||150 – 210+ lbs.||75 – 100+ flex|
These measurements aren’t set in stone, and there are exceptions, as some players choose to have a smaller flex, even if they are bigger skaters. One example is NHL forward Taylor Hall, currently playing for the New Jersey Devils, who stands at 6′ 1″ and 205 lb. but uses a 70 flex, marginally lower than the more typical 75-80 flex.
If you are uncertain, trial and error is the way to go
As we have seen, two main factors will determine the length of your stick: your height and your weight. But, with so many models to choose from, you might feel overwhelmed. Fortunately, there’s an effortless way to start calibrating your stick size, and that is, by trial and error.
If you are uncertain about the size of your stick, go for the nearest approximation while following the standards of size (whether you are a youth, a senior, experienced, or a beginner). Feel the stick for a couple of games or until you have to change it.
Using this guideline, you can either cut your stick or go for a longer one. Keep in mind that the more you cut a stick, the stiffer it becomes, even if it has a lower flex grade because the shaft is shorter.
Your stick size can change as you grow older.
Flex and size can also change as players grow. It’s more evident with kids, and we’ll get into this later, but with older players, as they age, they might lose strength and turn to longer sticks (to avoid crouching) or lower flex numbers (to avoid strain).
An NHL example of this is legendary player Zdeno Chara who, at 6’9″, 250 lb., is the NHL’s biggest player. During his prime, Chara would play with a 150 to 155 flex, which yielded him the hardest shot record.
But as years advanced, according to the website Pro Stock Hockey, Chara turned to a flex of 130, possibly to improve on his conditioning as wear and tear can take a toll on his body.
How to size up a hockey stick for kids.
It isn’t only about NHL players adjusting their sticks to fit an all-star level of play; you at home can also face the issue of inadequate stick sizes, especially with your kids. If they are growing fast, one of your primary concerns might be them outgrowing a stick, and nobody wants to throw away money on a new stick that the kids can’t use.
You can sort this by trimming and then plugging. If you get your sticks from a dedicated equipment provider, they can cut the shaft to fit your kids’ height.
If your kid outgrows your stick, some plugs can extend the length, but they only work for so long. Kids grow fast, and they will outgrow skates and sticks in no time. According to the website How They Play, one good indicator is to adjust stick sizes when the skates need changing.
Be sure to try several sizes and brands.
This information should help you make the right decision when it comes to buying your next hockey sticks. Don’t be afraid to sample around and measure, measure, measure, before cutting. With multiple manufacturers, with varying lengths and flex grades, there’s a right hockey stick for you.
Take your time when choosing, since this can be a great addition to your game or an excuse for poor performance.