What are the things that you absolute need to know in order to pick the perfect stick for you?
Here are the main five: Size, Handedness, Curves, Flex, and Kickpoint.
When considering your sticks length you first have to consider a size. Are you a Youth, Junior, Intermediate or Senior? Most of you can’t pick any stick off the rack and have it be the perfect size. You may have to shorter or add length to your stick. It is perfectly normal to cut a few inches off your stick if you want it shorter and it is perfectly okay to add an extension if you want it longer. Learn more about extensions here. However, when selecting your size, make sure it is generally the right size for you. For example, if you are 6 feet tall you definitely should not be using a Junior stick. A senior stick should be fine, and add length as needed. The same goes if you are 4 feet tall, you should definitely not be using a Senior stick cut down 12 inches. There is a little leeway when you are on the borderline of 2 sticks. As you will learn later about flex this will make more sense. For a shorter player, you may consider using the lower size if you aren’t above the weight intended for the flex of the stick. Sticks are generally around the same size but different brands may vary a few inches.
Youth sticks are usually for players 8 and under, Juniors for 7-12, Intermediate for 10-14 and Senior for 14+
Learn more about stick sizing here.
Using a right or left stick is a very controversial topic. Many say that your dominant hand should be on top for stick handling while others say your dominant hand should be on bottom for power. My opinion? Do whatever is most comfortable. If you are comfortable with a left stick, use a left stick, and vice versa for right. There is really no advantage or disadvantage of using any hand.
The blades of hockey sticks are curved for better control over the puck and an increases in shot speed. There are three main types of curves with variations and combinations of the 3. The main three are; toe curves, mid curves, and heel curves. Toe curves: generally have fairly straight heels and mid sections but bend at the toe. Toe curves help give extra speed on your shots. The also can give some last second lift on your shots. Toe curves are very popular among NHL forwards. An example of a toe curve is the Bauer P14. Mid Curves: Mid curves are the most popular out of the curves. They are best for stick handlers, passers and snipers. Mid curves are best for beginners because it helps keep control while stick handling, and accuracy with all types of shots. An example of a mid curve is the Bauer P88. Heel Curves: Heel curves have the most open faces and are great for chipping pucks into or out of the zone.
Heel curves are mostly preferred by defensemen. The heel curve itself gives you lift on your shots, more so than toe curve but it takes longer and close in may give you too much lift.
Learn more here.
Other than your curve, flex is one of the most important feature of your stick. Flex is the bending of your hockey stick. When you shoot, your stick will bend causing the stick to increase its potential energy and once released, will increase the speed and velocity of your shot. Without flex you could only get as much power and speed as your body could produce. The more flex you can get into your shot the faster and more powerful the shot will be. Newer composite sticks rely solely on the ability to flex, greatly impacting the speed and consistency of your shot. It is measured by the amount of pressure it takes to bend the stick 1 inch. For example an 85 flex stick requires 85 pounds of force to bend the stick 1 inch. The standard flex ratings are: Youth sticks: 40 Flex, Junior sticks: 50 Flex, Intermediate sticks: 60-75 Flex and Senior sticks: 75-120+ Flex
Learn more here.
Kick point is the dedicated area on the stick where the stick will bend. The purpose of this is to increase the velocity of your shot depending on what types of shots the stick is designed for. There are sticks specifically designed to give you faster wrist shots, faster snap shots, harder slap shots, or a faster release. With a kick point, your bottom hand placement becomes more important to get the best and most powerful shot possible. The location of the kick point can effect the ease of loading your shot. There are 3 main kick points, Mid kick point, low kick point and custom kick point. Mid kick points are generally preferred for slapshots and players who like to lean into their shots. Low kick points are preferred for wrist shots, snapshots and quick releases. Custom kick points are sticks where the kick point is determined by hand placement making it both a mid kick point and a low kick point.
Learn more here.