Hockey Stick Buying Guide
Types of Hockey Sticks
There are several different kinds of hockey available to choose from. With all of these choices, it can be a big challenge figuring out which is the best to purchase. Hockey sticks are usually made out of one of five material choices:
Each one of these materials has its advantages and is good for specific types of play and skill levels. We have outlined the differences and advantages of each type below.
Fiberglass – A fiberglass hockey stick is typically a wooden stick that is coated or wrapped with a fiberglass coating. They have the misfortune of being labeled the heaviest and weakest of the composite hockey sticks.
Aluminum – The first hockey sticks to become popular after wood hockey sticks are the aluminum- made models. The shafts of an aluminum hockey stick are made from aluminum with replaceable composite or wood blades that have been inserted into the shaft. Aluminum hockey sticks are less expensive than wood but is stronger that both wood and fiberglass.
While it is lighter, it is not as light as Kevlar and Graphite. Aluminum hockey stocks have become extremely hard to find.
Graphite – The popularity of graphite hockey sticks is growing. Although in many cases the graphite is used as a coating or reinforcement for wood sticks, it can also be an entire piece all its own. The sticks are very light and nice too. Graphite hockey sticks cost more than wood, fiberglass and aluminum sticks. They are less expensive than the high quality Kevlar and Titanium, making them a great choice for middle of the road quality.
Kevlar – Kevlar is often combined with another material, most often, carbon to create a hockey stick or it can be used on its own without combining it. Kevlar hockey sticks are usually on the more expensive side of things. They are by far one of the strongest and lightest available making excellent choices for competitive play where you want to have a good quality, long lasting stick.
Titanium – Titanium and Kevlar are very similar in cost, strength and quality. Titanium is not usually combined with any other material.
How to Choose Your Stick Lie
Stick lie is the angle that is between the blade and the shaft of the stick. On the front of the hockey stick, there is a lie number that is printed that will be between 4 and 8. The higher the number is that is printed on the shaft, the narrower the angle is between the hockey stick’s blade and shaft. If the number is smaller, that means the angle is wider from the blade to the shaft.
In general, if the player likes to skate low to the ice and keep the puck out in front of them, they will prefer a lower lie angle. The upper lie numbers, 7 or 8, are for more upright skaters that keep the puck close to their skates. If you’re not sure which skater you tend to be, the clues lie in your current hockey stick blade.
If you find that the blade is worn on the toe, try a higher lie number. If you notice that your stick is worn on the heel, go for the lower lie numbers. If the blade is wearing evenly, look at the lie number on your current stick and get the same one because the even wearing means you have the right lie.
How to Choose the Proper Shaft Stiffness
Another name for the hockey stick’s stiffness is flex. To get the best control and performance from your hockey stick you want to choose a stick with the correct flex. The majority of hockey stick shafts come in flexes of medium-stiff which is 85 stiffness or extra stiff, which is 110 stiffness.
If the player you are purchasing a hockey stick for is a beginner, look for a light stick that has a medium stiffness rating. If the player is more experienced, bigger and stronger, stick to the stiffer flexes. Any defensemen should go for a hockey stick that has a stiffer, heavier stick and forwards want to go for a lighter, more flexible one.
Choosing the Correct Stick Length
An oversized or undersized hockey stick is very difficult to control so choosing a stick that is the proper length for your size is very important. Hockey sticks come in Junior and Senior sizes.
Junior Sized Sticks – 46” to 54”
Senior Sized Sticks – 56” to 62”
If you are an offensive player (or you’re buying for an offensive player) you will more than likely want to go with a shorter stick so you have more control over the puck. Defensive players need a longer stick to get in there and take the puck away from the Offense. It’s unlikely that you will find a hockey stick that is exactly the right size so opt for a stick that is slightly longer than what you need and have it cut down.
To figure out what length stick you need, stand in your skates and put the toe of the stick on the ground. You want the stick to reach between your chin and the tip of your nose. There are regulations against hockey sticks that are longer than 63 inches from the heel of the stick to the end of the shaft.
Grip or Clear Finish – Which is Better?
One of the factors that are determined by personal preference is whether to use a hockey stick with or without a grip finish. The purpose of the grip finish is to add texture to the shaft of the stick so your hands will slip less.
Some players want clear finish shafts due to the fact that they feel grip finishes interfere with their ability to slide their bottom hand sufficiently and easily. There is a third option now which is the matte finish. This is a smooth and velvety finish that is becoming more popular with players.
A lot of players switched to grip finishes when they first came out. Now, according to the manufacturers, it is relatively even now with half of the players preferring grip finishes and the other half preferring clear finishes. Adding the matte finish to the mix will shift things around a bit more. This is strictly a preference option and has no bearing on the quality of the stick.
Types of Grip Finishes
There are different types of grip shafts available for those who prefer them. Depending on the manufacturer, these grip finishes have been called everything from “Snake Grip” (Reebok) to GRIPTAC or Tactile Texture (Bauer) to “Shark Skin Fade” from Sherwood. Usually a grip finish will feel relatively the same. Most will feel like they have a sticky, rubber cement like coating. There are a few that have a texture that is more sand like.
Choosing the right hockey stick can make the game easier or harder, depending on whether you have taken care to choose a high quality stick that is the right length and that has the right flex, lie and length for your particular needs.
With so many choices available, if you don’t know what to look for and how to determine what your specific needs are you can end up with a stick that isn’t going to work for you. The information in this buyer’s guide provides everything you need to choose the perfect hockey stick that will enhance your game.