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How To Buy A Hockey Stick

The hockey stick is an extension of the hockey player's arm. This means the stick has to fit properly, and the length, curve and lie angle need to match both your size and body type as well as the type of game you play.

Shaft types

The shaft you choose is largely a matter of personal choice. Shafts come in many different materials for sticks with different weights and durabilities.

Wood sticks

  • These are traditional sticks and are usually less expensive than modern composite sticks
  • You are able to fine tune your stick by cutting or sanding it to make it more comfortable
  • Wood sticks break more easily
  • Wood sticks are heavier and tend to be stiffer than other materials

Composites

Modern shafts come in all sorts of materials, including fiberglass, aluminum, carbon-graphite, kevlar and titanium. The blades are usually still made of wood and are attached to the composite stick with glue. These materials make for a lighter stick, but are generally more expensive than wood.

  • Fiberglass
    • Fiberglass sticks have a wooden core and are wrapped/reinforced with a fiberglass outer coating
    • They are the least expensive type of composite sticks
    • Their wooden core makes them somewhat heavy
    • They are not as strong as other types of composite sticks
  • Aluminum
    • The shaft is formed entirely of aluminum
    • Aluminum sticks are relatively inexpensive
    • They are also considered strong, but not as strong as kevlar and titanium
    • Compared to other composite sticks they are considered heavy but are still much lighter than wood and fiberglass
    • They use replaceable blades
  • Graphite
    • Graphite can be used many ways in stick construction. It can be used to coat or reinforce a wooden core; it is sometimes mixed with kevlar to form the shaft; and it can also be used entirely on its own.
    • Graphite is more expensive than fiberglass and aluminum, but less expensive than kevlar and titanium
    • Graphite sticks are considered strong and lightweight
    • They use replaceable blades
  • Kevlar
    • Kevlar is often mixed with graphite to form the shaft of a stick, but it can also be used on its own
    • Kevlar sticks are one of the most expensive
    • One of the strongest and most lightweight
    • They use replaceable blades
  • Titanium
    • Usually used alone for all-titanium construction
    • They are very expensive, similar in price to Kevlar
    • They are one of the strongest and most lightweight, again similar to kevlar
    • May use torch for blade insertion

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Blades

Blades are usually made of wood and attached to the composite stick with glue. Some blades have Kevlar wraps on them.

Determining your blade angle

Hockey sticks are identified as "left," "right," or "straight." This refers to the curve of the blade.

  • Curved blade
    • You should buy a stick that has the blade angled so that the puck is on the forehand during shooting
    • A curved blade allows you to lift the puck and put spin on it but makes it more difficult to shoot or pass backhand
    • A blade with a smaller curve gives you lower shots and better control
    • Players just starting to learn the game should choose a blade with a lesser curve. A curved blade may inhibit backhand passing or shooting.
    • Blades are described according to their curve
      • Heel Open, Small
      • Mid Round, Small
      • Mid Round, Big
      • Mid Round, Open
      • Heel Open, Big

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Determining your stick lie

  • The lie is the angle between the blade and the shaft
  • A lie number is printed on the front of the stick's shaft and ranges from 4 to 8
  • The higher the number, the narrower the angle between the blade and the shaft. The smaller the number, the wider the angle. For example, a lie 4 stick has a wide handle-to-blade angle, while a lie 8 has a smaller angle.
  • As a rule, lower lie angle sticks are used for players who skate low to the ice and carry the puck out in front of them
  • Lies 7 and 8 are for players who skate upright and carry the puck close to their skates
  • One way to determine if you have the proper lie is to examine your old stick
    • If the blade is worn on the toe, you should try a higher lie
    • If your stick is worn on the heel, you should try a lower lie
    • If the blade wears evenly, you are using the correct lie

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Determining the proper shaft stiffness

  • The stiffness, or flex, of a stick's shaft is important in determining control and performance
  • Most stick shafts come in flexes of medium (85 stiffness), stiff measurement, or extra stiff (up to 110 stiff)
  • Beginning players should look for a light stick with a medium stiffness rating
  • Bigger, stronger players should choose a stick with a stiffer flex
  • Defensemen should choose a stiffer, heavier stick, while forwards should choose a lighter, more flexible shaft

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Determining the stick length

  • Since it is very difficult to control an oversized or undersized stick, the length of your hockey stick must be correct for your size
  • Hockey sticks come in two basic sizes: junior and senior
    • Junior sticks are generally between 46 - 54 inches long
    • Senior stick are generally between 56 - 62 inches long
  • Offensive players usually have a slightly shorter stick for better puck control
  • Defensive players generally have a longer stick which is good for poking the puck away from an oncoming forward
  • You will probably not be able to find a stick that is the exact right size. Generally buy your stick a little long so that you can cut it down to the perfect fit
  • To determine the proper stick length:
    • Stand in your skates
    • Put the toe of the stick on the ground
    • The stick should reach somewhere between your chin and the tip of your nose
    • Hockey regulations do not permit sticks longer than 63 inches from the heel (where the stick meets the blade) to the end of the shaft

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Buying a goalie stick

  • Goalie sticks are larger and heavier than regular sticks and are always made of wood
  • Goalie sticks have wider blades, which can extend 24 inches up the shaft
  • The blade of a goalie stick can be 3 1/2 inches wide and up to 15 1/2 inches in length
  • Most goalies use a lie from 11 to 15. A higher lie stick is usually used by a stand-up goalie.
  • In choosing the length of a goalie stick, remember not to buy one that is too short. The shaft can always be cut down if it seems too long, or you can choke up on the shaft to make it easier to handle.

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