How To Choose a Hockey Stick: Everything You Need to Know

How to choose a hockey stick

When you factor in all the different combinations available, there are a ton of hockey sticks available. This can make it difficult to know how to choose a hockey stick, especially if you’re a beginner. The key to finding the right stick is to start narrowing down your choices until you’re left with ones that are suitable for you. Below are all the factors you should consider before buying your next hockey stick.

The Types of Hockey Sticks

How to choose a hockey stick
Image by Samantha Gades is licensed with Unsplash License

There are essentially three different types of hockey sticks. By knowing which type of stick you want, you can immediately narrow down your choices significantly. The three types are wood hockey sticks, composite sticks, and two-piece hockey sticks.

Wood Hockey Sticks

Hockey sticks were originally made out of wood. While modern day hockey sticks offer some significant advantages over the older wood models, there are still plenty of wood models available. Depending on the style of the player, a wood stick may actually make more sense.

The biggest benefits of wood sticks is that they are more durable and typically much more affordable. In addition, some players prefer the “feel” of a wood stick when controlling the puck. However, wood sticks are also much heavier, which can tire out the arms and make it harder to move the stick quickly.

Composite Hockey Sticks

The more modern option is a composite hockey sticks. These sticks are made out of fiberglass and woven carbon fiber. This makes them much lighter and allows them to perform better. However, due to their lightweight nature, these sticks are also more likely to break, especially if the player takes a lot of hard shots.

Another benefit of composite sticks is the number of options available. Since composite sticks are by far more popular, manufacturers create more options. Composite sticks have a wider price range as a result, which can make it easier to find one that fits your budget.

Two-Piece Hockey Sticks

Two-piece hockey sticks have two components: a shaft and a blade. Generally, the shafts are made of carbon fiber while the blades can either be a composite or wooden. With a two-piece hockey stick, you select the two parts you want, then combine them together. The advantage of this system is that if you break one of the parts, you don’t need to replace the entire stick. For example, if the shaft breaks, you can remove your current blade and install it on a new shaft.

There are two cautions for this type of stick, however. First, two-piece sticks tend to loosen over time, which impacts performance. Second, when purchasing your parts, be sure they are compatible with one another. Depending on your shaft’s taper, you need to get a blade that works with it.

Left or Right Handed Hockey Sticks

Next, you need to decide if you want a left or right-handed hockey stick. At first, this may seem like a simple question but there’s actually a bit more to it. When shopping for a hockey stick, the handedness of the stick is determined by which hand is closer to the blade. So, if you’re using a left-handed stick, your left hand will be closer to the blade.

However, when using a hockey stick, the control actually comes from which hand is on top. Whether you’re passing, shooting, or stick-handling, this control comes from the hand that’s near the top of the stick. Therefore, you often want your dominant hand on top. So, somewhat confusingly, a left-handed stick is actually preferred for someone who is right-handed and vice-versa. This is why there are so many left-handed shooters in the NHL despite more people being right-handed.

When you’re just starting out, you may simply want to go with what’s comfortable. If you’re right-handed and feel better using a right-handed stick, then go ahead. There’s no “correct” way of doing things, it’s all a matter of what works for you. Try out both types of sticks and see which one feels right.

Determine the Right Hockey Stick Length

Next, there’s the length of your hockey stick. This one is fairly easy to figure out, as it’s largely based on your age and height. To determine your stick length, you should first put on your skates. Then, stand up straight and measure from your chin to the ground. This measurement will give you a good starting point for your stick length.

From there, you may want to add or subtract an inch or two, depending on your play style. Those who prefer puck handling may want a shorter stick, while those who want a more powerful shot or the ability to poke check on defense may want a longer stick. Once again, you should try out a few different sticks in your range and see what feel comfortable.

Hockey Stick Size Chart

Below is a chart you can use to determine what stick lengths to try based on the age and height of the player:

Hockey stick length chart guide

Hockey Stick Blade Patterns

The blade pattern may be one of the hardest decisions for a novice when trying to decide how to choose a hockey stick. That’s because there are so many different options available and you may not know what you like yet. To start, there are typically three types of curves you can get in your blade: a toe curve (towards the top of the blade), a mid curve (in the middle of the blade), and a heel curve (towards the base of the blade). If you’re not sure which to get, here are some general guidelines:

  • Choose a heel curve if you’re a defenseman, as it helps with slapshot power and accuracy
  • Choose a toe curve if you’re a forward that likes to shoot in tight spaces, as it helps lift the puck quicker
  • Choose a mid curve for a balance between the two. Great for stickhandlers and passers.

After that, you’ll want to decide on the depth of the curve. Curves usually range from 3/8″ to 1/2″ and are called slight, moderate, and deep curves. The slighter the curve, the more accuracy and puck control you’ll have. A deeper curve will give you even more control, especially when picking corners, but you’ll have a hard time with backhand shots. It’s often recommended that new players stay away from deep curves until they are more experienced.

Want to know what blade pattern your favorite NHLer uses? Here’s a list of some of the most popular blade patterns and the pros that use it.

What Is Hockey Stick Flex?

A hockey stick’s flex is essentially how easy it is to bend. The higher the flex number of a stick, the stiffer it is, while smaller flex numbers bend more easily. The flex of a stick can impact shot velocity along with stick-handling ability. If you want to know more of the nitty-gritty details, we covered What is a Hockey Stick Flex.

There’s no “correct” number though, it’s all about personal preference. Some NHLers don’t even know their flex numbers, as you can see in this video:

Hockey Stick Flex Chart

If you’re not sure where to start, here is an estimate of the flex to look for in your stick based on your age and weight.

Hockey stick flex chart guide

Hockey Stick Lie

Next, there’s the lie of your hockey stick. The lie is the angle of your stick when the bottom of the blade rests flat on the ice. To find the right lie, stand on the ice holding your stick to your side normally. If your stick is resting more on its heel or toe, you have the wrong lie. Getting the right lie can help you control the puck while stick handling, shooting, and passing, so you’ll want to get it right. A good starting point is a lie of either 4, 5, or 6, with higher lies being more suitable for players who skate more upright.

Hockey Stick Kick Point

Finally, there’s the kick point. The kick point is the area of your stick where it flexes the most and it’s another factor you can consider when shopping for a composite stick. Generally speaking, a low kick point is great for players who like to release the puck quickly. A mid kick point is better for someone who likes to take hard slap shots or powerful wristers. Lastly, some brands offer a customized kick point, which is based on wherever you place your bottom hand.

Here’s a great explanation on kick points for beginners:

How to Choose a Hockey Stick: Putting It All Together

Putting all the above elements together will help you find the perfect hockey stick. It may seem a little overwhelming at first but if you take it step by step, you’ll likely find that it’s not too hard. If this is your first time buying a stick, we highly recommend shopping in person where someone knowledgeable at the store can assist you. If you don’t have a store near by, shop online at a retailer that has a good return policy. That way, if the stick you choose isn’t right, you can send it back and try something new.