Keep Your Stick On The Ice: A Bike Monkey Guide to Choosing a Hockey Stick
“It’s a poor craftsman that blames his tools.”
I mean, sure. But if you know any craftsmen you’ll know that they have a tendency to have some pretty nice tools. The tools of your trade matter. So if your trade is hockey, let’s talk sticks.
When choosing a stick, there’s a lot to think about. A lot of people who are just getting started try to choose sticks based on players that they like.
“Oh, that’s a Crosby stick…Yeah. Lets do that.”
While Crosby might be happy with a Crosby stick, you’re not Crosby and you need to figure out the stick that’s best for you. To be fair, Crosby might not be happy with a Matthews stick and neither of them would be happy with a Price stick.
Here are a couple of things that should NOT impact your stick choice.
It’s the prettiest. I like the colours. I like that brand (within reason, sure…).
So how do you choose?
Have you ever picked up a stick and thought, “this feel like I’m lifting an anvil?” Size matters. You spend a lot of your game with one hand on the stick. If that feels like a workout, your performance is going to drop. Lighter sticks are more expensive because they will dramatically improve your game. It’s much easier to control an intermediate stick than a senior. That weight difference can have a huge impact on your game, so select the weight that feels right to you.
Look at the flex of a stick. The higher the rating, the stiffer the stick. The stiffer the stick, the less control you have over what the puck actually does and we’ve heard that’s important. Generally players like a stick that has a decent amount of flex but when you go too bar, it feels like you’re playing hockey with lightly cooked spaghetti and that’s not ideal. If you’re tall or heavier, you’ll want a stiffer stick. Smaller players will do better with more flexibility.
How LONG a stick should be is generally pretty easy to determine. Stand without skates on and put the toe of the stick on the ground. The stick should be around your nose. If the stick you’ve found that you love is a little bit too long, that’s not the end of the world. You can cut it. But if it’s too short, find another stick. Some players like to play with a slightly shorter stick, depending on their game, but if you’re reading this post, you’re probably not there yet.
Some people will pick up a stick and think, “this feels great” but when they start playing, they don’t like the way it feels with gloves on. So when you’re trying out sticks, throw a pair of gloves on. This will also help you choose whether you want a stick with grip or without. A stick with grip is easier to hold on to and control when the surface of the stick or your gloves get slick, but sticks without grip are often easier to control and you don’t have to worry about it sticking to the glove. Ultimately, the choice of grip vs no grip is very much about personal preference.
Choosing what you want your stick to be made out of depends very much on what you want to do. If you’re a casual street hockey player or someone just starting out in hockey, you might want a wood stick. They’re more durable and usually much less expensive. But with that savings comes a lack of control. So if you’re looking at any level of competition, you’re going to want to look at composite.
A composite stick will give you more control and more pop in your shot, but remember that an instrument is only as good as the person playing it and if you can’t take a slap shot with a wood stick, a composite stick isn’t going to change that.
The curve of your stick can have a huge impact on your game, both positive and negative. Your ability to receive passes, make passes, shoot, and even defend can be determined by your curve. For most players, don’t get too extreme. If you’re not COMMITTED to a crazy curve go with something slight. While you might not get a crazy wrist shot out of it, it will allow you to stay pretty capable across all the skill sets.
Most importantly, keep your stick on the ice AND you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.