After fitting hundreds of kids with sticks and spending weekends at hockey tournaments fitting hockey sticks, I have realized a lot of people don’t understand flex and how to properly fit a hockey stick. Why is flex so important? Flex does two things for you; it allows you to shoot harder and lift the puck easier. Good shooters will use the flex to slingshot the puck faster than you can ever do with your arms alone.
Throughout the 90’s and 2000’s, we saw NHL players using stiff sticks surpassing 110+ flex. In the last 10 years, the trend has gone the other way. You used to never see an NHL player using anything less than an 85+ flex. Now, 70-90 flex sticks are the norm for the NHL. It is reported that Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames uses a 55-flex stick and he’s not alone.
What’s the right length for me?
The general rule still applies for length; without skates on, the stick should be below your nose. With skates on, the stick should be below your chin. Length is critical. If the stick is too long or short, you will change the lie of the stick. This will affect the players ability to shoot the puck accurately. If the stick is too long, you will struggle to get the puck off the ice. If the stick is too short, you will lose power and often shoot higher than intended.
What’s the right flex for me?
That is a great rule, however, now let’s talk about flex. The general rule is less then half your body weight. So, if your child weighs 100 pounds a 50 flex is the most you should buy; even better is a 45 flex. Don’t forget that for every inch you cut off, you add 5 points of stiffness to the stick. So, for example if you have a 45 flex and you cut two inches off the stick, it now becomes a 55 flex. This is crucial I see kids that weigh 60lb and their parents will buy them a 35 flex thinking he will grow into the stick and cut 4 inches off. That stick is now essentially a 55+ flex.
Why is curve and kick point important?
Curve is a very personal item, however, for youth and junior players, most companies offer a p92 or p28 curves. Both have a open curve on the toe. This helps the child be able to lift the puck just a little easier. The kick point is even more important. Having a low kick point will allow for the puck to get air born just a little easier then a mid or high kick point.
General rule for kick point is to use a low kick point if most of your shots are wrist shots that come inside the face off dots or 5-15 feet from the goal. If most of your shots are shots between 10 and 20 feet from the goal and can be a wrist/snap or slap shot, then a mid-kick point is a good stick and in general a mid kick point stick is a good all-around stick for most players. High kick points are good for defensemen who shoot 0-10 feet inside the blue line and who like to let the slappers fly.
What hand is right for my new player?
So, this is a lot easier than people think. The general rule in the last five years has been to put your dominate hand on the top of the stick. If you don’t know your child’s dominate hand, then put a broom or stick in front of them and ask them to grab it with one hand and then the other. Most of the time you will find that they will reach toward the top of the item with their dominate hand. So, if they put their right hand at the top of the stick, then they are left-handed and if they put their left hand at the top of the stick, then they are a right-handed hockey player.