This week we will focus on helping you find the perfect stick. For part I we’ll be discussing hockey stick flex and how it affects your shots. Part II we will provide guidelines for choosing the right length for your stick, and part III will cover all the different blade types and the impact they have on shooting, passing, and handling. Of course the best way to find the right stick is by experimenting. I strongly encourage you find a teammate about the same size and borrow his stick and see what works best for you!
Hockey stick flex is one of the most important, if not the most important element you should consider when choosing a stick. Can you think of other sports where flex makes a difference? The first two I thought of were archery and pole vaulting. Let’s examine the former. The goal of the archer is to shoot the arrow as far and as accurate as possible so he wants to select a bow that will help him do those things. If the bow is too hard for him to pull, the arrow, the string won’t be pulled back far enough, and the arrow probably won’t make it very far. Conversely, if the string of the bow is too flimsy, there won’t be enough tension on the line, and the arrow will fall short of its target. What does this have to do with hockey? A stick works in a similar fashion. If a shot is taken properly, the stick will actually bend like a bow or pole-vaulting stick, then spring back into its original form and in the process, launch the puck forward. Although the video below describes the flex effect in the context of a slapshot, the same principle can be applied to just about any shot.
When purchasing a stick, flex will be given as a number usually from around 60 to 100. In case you’re curious the number represents how much force (in pounds) is required to bend the stick 1″. So, the higher the number, the stiffer the stick. A player who is taller and heavier will obviously have an easier time bending the shaft than his shorter, lighter teammate. Therefore, he should choose a stick accordingly. A player ought to look for the stiffest stick he is strong enough to bend. Think back to our archery example: The archer wants to find the strongest bow he is physically capable of pulling.
As a general rule, players are encouraged to find a stick flex with a number equivalent to half their weight. This recommendation, however, does not take height into account. Below is a chart providing guidelines on what stick flex you should choose based on height and weight. Of course there are 6’4″ players who use an 85 flex; this is just a place to start, it is not the final authority on stick selection.
|Under 50 flex||80-95 flex|
|50-65 flex||95+ flex|
Finally, it is important to note that modifying the length of your stick will modify the flex. Below is a chart providing estimates for how stiffness changes when a stick is cut.
|Original Flex||Flex After Cutting Shorter|
|Youth||42||49 flex||57 flex||67 flex|
|Junior||52||60 flex||68 flex||77 flex|
|INT||67||74 flex||80 flex||87 flex|
|Senior||77||84 flex||92 flex||100 flex|
|Senior||87||96 flex||105 flex||112 flex|
|Senior||102||108 flex||115 flex||122 flex|
Source: HockeyMonkey via Hockey Stick Expert
Coming up next: Hockey stick length