Take a deep breath and relax! You’ve finally found the ultimate guide to buying the right hockey stick for you!
All hockey players know it – and a ton of hockey parents too – hockey sticks can be a nightmare to buy. Navigating all the flexes, curves, kick points, etc. is a taxing process. Not to mention finding a stick in your specs for a reasonable price.
Thank goodness hockey sticks are every hockey player’s favorite accessory.
But especially for the newbie (or parent of) or adult leaguer who’s getting back into the game after years apart, it’s a challenge to know where to start let alone what is worth buying.
So, like any great teammate, we are here to help.
If you want to buy the right hockey stick for you, it’s really a simple two-step process:
Step 1: Know your hockey stick specs
By the end of step 1, you’ll know exactly what hockey stick you’re looking for… Whether right or left handed, what stick flex and curve fits you, and if you’re looking for something light and top-of-the-line or something heavier and mid-level.
A) Should I use a right or left handed hockey stick?
First, for those that don’t know, a hockey player holds a right-handed hockey stick with their left hand on top and their right hand below, while a left-handed hockey stick is held with the player’s right hand on top and left hand below.
Some people argue your dominant hand should be on top for puck handling purposes. Therefore, someone who is right-handed should use a left-handed hockey stick, having their dominant right hand on top.
Others suggest having your dominant at the bottom is better for flexing the stick and snapping your wrists while shooting. Therefore, someone who is right-handed should use a right-handed hockey stick, having their dominant right hand lower on the shaft.
The reality is, there isn’t a generally accepted rule of thumb of whether you should use a right or left handed hockey stick.
Considering the top hand is responsible for a vast majority of a player’s stickhandling, it would make sense to have your dominant hand controlling your dangles. On the other hand (pun intended), a player is able to utilize more flex of their stick by applying downward pressure with their stronger, dominant hand on the bottom. Both arguments make points.
Other people go an entirely different direction saying your dominant eye (which is typically the same side as your dominant hand) should be on top for extended peripheral vision while others argue it should be on the bottom for vision in tight spaces.
So what hand hockey stick do we suggest you use? Simple. Whatever feels most comfortable when you pick up a hockey stick and play. Especially for a newbie adult leaguer, there is no sense in taking the extended time to train one hand to be more comfortable and useful than the one that already is.
B) What hockey stick flex should I use?
The general rule of thumb is using a hockey stick with a flex of about half of your bodyweight, i.e. an 80 flex for an adult leaguer who weights 160 lbs., or a 30 flex for a youngin who pushes the scales at 60 lbs. With that said, like every hockey stick spec, what stick flex is right for you is personal preference.
Many players consider their position and/or style of play when selecting their hockey stick flex.
Forwards oftentimes prefer whippier (lower flex number) sticks for the ability to quickly snap a puck off the blade with limited time and space to shoot off the rush or lower in the offensive zone. Whereas, many defensemen prefer stiffer (higher flex number) sticks for booming slapshots from the point when time permits. But, again, this is all preference as some forwards love the feel of a stiffer stick for their puckhandling in tight spaces while some defensemen love a flexible stick for quick wristers from the point to elude traffic.
So, what hockey stick flex do we suggest you should use? Consider your height (*remember, cutting a stick will make it stiffer), weight, position, and style of play. If you can, try a couple friends’ sticks of different flexes. Stick handle, pass, and take various shots (wrist shots, snapshots, slapshots, one-timers, catch-and-release, etc.) with their hockey sticks to see how it feels. At the end of the day, the hockey stick will be in your hands to work your on-ice magic. Whatever hockey stick flex feels best, knowing your style of play and how you plan to use it is the right one for you.
*BONUS: What is a kick point and does it matter? The kick point of a hockey stick is where it flexes most when a player shoots. A small, truly elite, number of players can benefit from a higher or lower kick point based on their style of play and most often used shot type. Reality is unless you’re Phil Kessel or another NHL sniper, a classic mid kick point does the trick for 99% of all hockey players. A mid kick hockey stick flexes near the center of the shaft of the stick halfway between the top of the stick and the heel of the blade. A low kick hockey stick flexes closer to the heel of the blade. A higher or lower kick point has minimal effect on most players’ performance… but it’s great for marketing.
C) What hockey stick curve should I use?
Many would argue that having the right curve of your stick is the most important of your hockey stick specs. And it’s easy to see why as your hockey stick curve impacts your stick handling, ability to catch passes, and your shooting accuracy.
The right curve feels like you have a puck on a string, able to comfortably catch passes on your backhand and forehand, and confidently hit your teammate’s tape or net behind the opposing goalie whenever the urge arises.
The wrong curve feels anything but… pucks are constantly rolling off your blade while trying to stickhandle or jumping off your tape when trying to catch a pass, and your accuracy is so poor you wouldn’t be effective in horseshoes or hand grenades.
While there are a number of curve options, curves of hockey sticks come in three basic forms: toe, mid, and heel. These terms reference what part of the blade the curve initiates and is predominant. Also, the forehand face of curves can be “open,” where the blade has an under-curve or pitch [like a pitching wedge] or closed. For example, the HPC2 pattern is a classic open-heel curve, whereas the HPC88 is a classic closed-mid curve.
So what hockey stick curve is right for you? How should we know?! Just kidding…
But seriously, once again, there is no rule of thumb for what hockey stick curve you should use. It is 100% preference. Like stick flexes, style of play often dictates what curve a player uses.
Players that predominantly take wrist shots and toe-drag to dangle or pull the puck around defenders to find shooting lanes oftentimes like some form of a toe curve – the HPC92 and HPC28 patterns being common selections, the latter of which has a deeper curve and more open toe.
Players who throw a lot of saucer-passes, chip pucks off the wall or glass, and like slow-rising shots from a distance often prefer heel curves – like an HPC91 or HPC2, the latter being more open.
Other players who rely on the versatility of their backhands for deft passes and hard-to-read shots often like “flatter” curves – like an HPC9 or HPC88 curve, the latter slightly deeper.
With all that said, you should feel comfortable sniping, dangling, and saucing with your forehand and backhand with whatever curve you use. That is what finding the right curve for you is all about!
So, what hockey stick curve should you use? Try a friend’s or ask the pro shop worker if you can stickhandle with a demo. If you can, stickhandle, pass, and shoot. Whatever feels most comfortable and makes you feel confident with the puck on your stick is the right curve for you.
D) Do I want a light, responsive hockey stick with top-end performance? Or would I prefer to spend less on a heavier, mid-level stick?
You’ve probably noticed, many brands offer hockey sticks at different price points. What you might not have noticed, is the price is most often inversely-related to the weight of the hockey stick, i.e. as sticks get lighter they are more expensive. Why? We thought you’d never ask…
The main reason hockey sticks have gotten so expensive over the past 30 years is based on the materials they’re made of as $30 pieces of lumber shaped like hockey sticks as rarely used anymore.
Today, we use hockey sticks made of carbon fiber precisely built and molded to our desired specs, including flex and curve. Not only does carbon fiber provide an unbeatable feel and snap of the puck it is a fraction of the weight of its predecessors.
But, some carbon fiber sticks are more expensive than others, why? Two reasons:
- Not all carbon fibers sticks are made with 100% carbon fiber. Some carbon fiber sticks are supplemented with cheaper, heavier materials to bring down the price of production, simultaneously reducing performance.
- Not all carbon fiber is created equal as 18k carbon fiber (as compared to 3k or 12k, pictured below) is generally considered the best material to build a hockey stick. Compared to 3k and 12k, 18k is known to be lighter and more durable, delivering superior performance.
Most experienced hockey players will agree, once you use a top-of-the-line model and feel the difference of how the puck feels and pops off the blade when shooting, it’s really hard – if not completely impossible – to go back to using anything that isn’t 100% carbon fiber… preferably 100% 18k carbon fiber at that.
But, most 100% 18k carbon fiber hockey sticks are $250 to $300 if you’re buying from the big name brands, although there are ways to find unbeatable deals on top-of-the-line hockey sticks (more on that below). And for those with a strict budget, there are a number of hockey sticks for $125 or less that provide solid performance.
Step 1 recap: You now know what A) hand, B) stick flex, C) curve, and D) whether you want a high-end or mid-level hockey stick. On to…
Step 2: Find a great deal on a hockey stick in your specs
If you’re comfortable spending an unreasonable amount of money for a hockey stick, most retailers and online stores can help you out, assuming you don’t use an unusual curve and flex combination. But finding a great deal on a hockey stick can be like finding a needle in a haystack! Or at least it used to be.
Are you cool with paying for player endorsements and middleman markup? Consider these two options:
- First, call your local hockey stick retailers (to avoid wasting your gas and time for nothing) and confirm they have a stick in stock in your desired specs: hand, flex, curve, carbon fiber and price point. If they do, jump in the car – maybe top off your gas tank and pack a lunch pending where you live – and drive to the nearest retailer with your stick. Remember to save your receipt in case it breaks in the first 30-days, assuming it has a warranty.
- Scan and compare anyone of a number of online retailers to confirm what stock they have in your specs. Compare prices and shipping terms – some offer free shipping, others don’t. Be careful investing too much time to compare buying options as your stick could be gone by the time you’re ready to pull the trigger. Again, save your receipt for warranty purposes.
Or, would you prefer a light, top-of-the-line stick in your specs for a great price without the added cost of endorsements and retail markup?
If you’ve never heard of the Hockey Players Club XV3 hockey stick, prepare to be amazed.
As a direct-to-consumer brand, The Hockey Players Club team went through the painstaking process of working with the largest stick manufacturers in the world to test, design, and offer the Hockey Players Club XV3 hockey stick. Made entirely out of 100% 18k Toray carbon fiber and made in the same factories as the biggest brands in the business, the XV3 senior model weighs only 420 grams and delivers all the performance a player wants.
Instead of paying a bunch of million-dollar endorsement deals for superstars to use the XV3 and rep the Hockey Players Club, the HPC team decided to save our hockey family the cost that is inevitably added to the price of your hockey stick. And rather than sell to a retailer who needs to double the price of the XV3 to cover their overhead, the Hockey Players Club sells directly to you.
That’s how the Hockey Players Club delivers a 100% 18k carbon fiber hockey stick, with a 30-day warranty, on your doorstep for $150 or less. Some would say the XV3 hockey stick is a game changer. We wouldn’t disagree.