Now that your child is all geared up for some hockey, it’s time to put a stick in his hand! Back in the early days, sticks were really nothing more than the piece of wood you whack the puck with. But over the years, the quest to make sticks stronger, lighter and more durable has helped develop the world of hockey into an extremely diverse one. Sticks come in all sizes and types these days. So, what are they? Let’s find out...
Good ol’ fashion, lumber. Wooden sticks are the least expensive sticks on the market. Of course, they also tend to be the heaviest and least durable. Personally, I’m old school. I like wooden sticks. But I do go through them quickly - usually due to breaking.
The term “composite” basically represents any stick that’s made from multiple natural and synthetic elements. They’re more expensive than wooden sticks, but are also much lighter and (sometimes) more durable. Typical composite sticks are made from:
- Fiberglass - These are essentially wooden sticks which are reinforced by a fiberglass coating. While they are the least expensive of composite sticks they are also the weakest and heaviest.
- Aluminum - The first non-wood to hit the market years ago. The shafts are made of the lightweight metal, while the blades are wood or some type of composite. The blades are affixed using hot glue (usually included). Aluminum sticks are much stronger and lighter than wood, but one of the heavier composites.
- Graphite - This is sometimes used to coat wooden sticks for reinforcement. But, it can also be used on its own to form a stick. Graphite tends to be more expensive than fiberglass and aluminum.
- Kevlar - Like graphite, Kevlar can be mixed with another material or used on its own to create a stick. Kevlar sticks aren’t cheap. But they’re one of the most durable and lightweight on the market.
- Titanium - These are very similar to Kevlar, except they’re not mixed with any other elements to form a stick. Titanium sticks are very expensive, but very light and strong.
The good news is youth sticks are shorter and have less girth than adult sticks. As such, they’re less expensive.
Sizing you up
So, you’ve chosen a stick. Now, how do you know if it’s the right size for your child? Well, odds are it won’t be the right length when you buy it. But, as long as it’s too long, you’re in good shape. For growing players, you’ll want the knob of the stick to reach about the top of the nose when standing it straight up, and while wearing skates. Mark that spot and cut.
Get a Grip!
Athletic tape is used on the butt and blade of the stick for maximum gripping of your hand and the puck, respectively. In order to perform a proper taping technique, follow these instructions taken from prohockeystuff.com:
- Knob: Unravel about 12 inches of tape from the roll and then twirl the roll. This causes the tape to tighten into a twine-like shape. Starting at the top of your stick, roll the hockey tape around the shaft, as far down as you'd like it to go. This will serve as the foundation for your knob. Now roll the tape the same way when taping a blade over this foundation to give you the thickness you would like. You should have a knob thick enough so you can pick up your stick if you drop it, but not too thick so it interferes with stickhandling.
- Blade: When taping your hockey blade most players start at the heel and tape towards the toe in one continuous strand. Make sure the hockey tape is flat against the blade so it doesn't bubble or create folds while taping. If using a wooden stick it's also a good idea to tape the stick just above the point, where the shaft meets the blade, for reinforcement as this is a common area for breakage.
I couldn’t have said it better myself. But for those who are more visual (like me), here are a couple of videos from howtohockey.com, demonstrating the processes:
Now you’re ready!
Skates...check! Gear...check! Stick...check! Now you’re child’s ready to take the ice. So get to it!