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Proper Stick Specifications: Discussing Height, Flex, Lie & Curve

The type of hockey stick you use can affect your game more significantly than you might realize. Four stick specifications you should always keep in mind are height, flex, lie and curve.

 

Height

Stick height is an area of debate for some, but most people believe your stick should be cut near your chin when you’re standing on skates. Players will cut their sticks longer or shorter for various reasons, but my personal opinion is that chin height is ideal, especially for children who are developing their hockey skills.

 

Having a longer stick can offer very little shooting advantages, does enable more effective poke checks, but it can also have negative consequences. If you cut your stick too long, you could end up standing more upright and straightening your legs, making you a weaker skater. Shorter sticks have some clear advantages, such as improved stickhandling abilities and forcing players to become stronger skaters over time by getting low. I recommend cutting your stick around chin height because it’ll provide you with the best mix of skating, stickhandling and shooting advantages, which is particularly important for the growth of young players.

 

Flex

Flex is a measurement used to determine how much a stick shaft will bend. The larger the number, the stiffer the stick. The lower the number, the more flexible or “whippy” the stick. Kickback occurs when you perform and release a shot, which is directly related to stick flex. A very whippy stick that bends a lot will give you power, but you might struggle with control. Alternatively, a stiff stick will offer you greater control with less power.

 

As a general rule, players should use sticks with a flex that is approximately half their body weight. Young players that follow this guideline will learn how to play with a stick that bends, but also learn control.

 

Flex is one of the stick specifications that can change with skill level. When you become a stronger player and want to get your shot away more quickly with less effort, you’re going to want the stick to do more for you. Alexander Ovechkin, one of the top shooters in the NHL, is a great example. He weighs approximately 235 pounds and uses an 85 flex. His stick is very whippy, but he has nearly perfect wrist roll and impeccable timing. He’s able to control his shots better than most of us, so he wants a whippy stick because it allows him to generate a lot of power and speed with less effort.

 

Lie

Lie refers to the angle of the heel of your stick. It’s a measurement system created by the hockey industry that typically follows a scale from four to six:

 

Lie Measurement Associated Angle
4 43 degrees
5 45 degrees
6 47 degrees

 

There are variations within this scale, but five (a 45 degree angle) is the average lie.

 

Your goal is to have as much of your blade on the ice as possible – you don’t want your heel down and toe up off the ice because that will impact your shooting and stickhandling effectiveness. Your stick lie is a contributing factor to the success of this goal, so it’s important to choose a lie that fits your stance, the distance you typically hold your stick away from your body, and your specific performance style.

 

Curve

Curve is the most personal preference of all the stick specks, as curves can vary widely and you can change them often. Straighter sticks have multiple advantages:

 

  • Ability to control the puck more equally on your forehand and backhand
  • Stickhandling can be easier
  • Backhand shot can be more effective

 

However, if you don’t roll your wrists properly on a regular shot, you might not get as much power with a straighter curve.

 

Bigger curves also have notable advantages:

 

  • More power and velocity when shooting
  • Greater ability to raise the puck

 

The downside of bigger curves is that stickhandling can be more challenging and less effective. Also, it’s harder to master your backhand due to the curve.

 

Bringing Them All Together

There are advantages and disadvantages to all stick specifications that you should keep in mind when finding the stick that’s right for you. My best advice is to consider the type of game you want to play. If you’re more of a stickhandler and strong skater, you might want a shorter stick with a straighter curve. If you want to get your shots away quickly, you probably want a whippier stick. If you find that you battle in corners a lot, you might want something a little stiffer.

 

Stick specifications may change depending on your age, style and skill level. However, the key takeaways to remember are:

 

  • Cut your stick near your chin when standing on skates
  • Use a flex that is approximately half your body weight
  • Have a lie that allows you to keep your blade on the ice
  • Try different curves to determine what works best for your game

 

Interested in professional assistance? The experts at Base Hockey Edmonton can help you discover the most suitable stick specifications for your unique game.

 

That’s all for this week! Let me know if you have any questions and feel free to share your comments.