A Parent’s Guide to Buying High-end Hockey Sticks
By: Joey Walsh HockeyStickMan.ca
It is important for parents to know that the desired hockey sticks of today are made of high-quality expensive materials. The primary purpose of this is creating lightweight sticks with unbelievable performance capabilities, whereas heavier, less expensive sticks are typically much more durable. It is entirely understandable that your son/daughter would want a high-quality stick but making smart decisions about buying is key to keeping your hockey stick budget under control! Below is a quick snapshot of what parents and players should know;
1. Basic Sizing | Sticks are conveniently broken down into size classifications such as Youth, Junior, Intermediate, and Senior. As they progress, the flex rating increases, and the shaft and blade get bigger accordingly. Start by looking at sticks with a flex rating of approx. half your child’s body weight, then make sure it is tall enough to reach his/her nose when standing flat footed without skates. If you do not buy within the correct size parameters you will not be getting the top end performance that you have paid for, regardless of the overall quality or how recent the stick is. However, one size does not fit all, players that are taller, play frequently, and / or like taking slap shots might find a slightly stiffer flex to be beneficial whereas shorter players and / or kids that take more quick release shots may opt for a flex rating a little below half their body weight.
2. Quality | The difference between a performance stick and discount models will make a bigger impact than you might think. I have heard from hundreds of people that are shocked at how much of an impact a high-quality stick had on their game. Here are some key pre-ice identifiers of a quality hockey stick:
The Feel | Most brands will have three different price points on similar looking sticks. The difference is the materials used and the weight. Typically the lighter the stick the higher the quality, but even more important is that the weight is evenly distributed (lower end sticks tend to have heavy blades and are therefore bottom heavy), and it should feel light and responsive to hold (heavier sticks are generally full of resin and therefore do not perform as well).
The Specifications|True One-Piece construction with 100% carbon fiber and an overall weight of less than 430 Grams in SR/INT and 400 in JR is ideal for performance driven purchases. This isn’t always something that you will be able to tell by picking up a stick, so it is important to do your research beforehand.
3. Pattern | Choosing the correct curve is so much easier than it ever used to be. Though lots of pros use custom curves, there are only a few different options at the retail level now; they come with a standard lie angle, and all brands offer roughly the same curves. What’s important is that you find the curve you think is best for your game and stick to it. I have used the same curve for 20 years and it just so happens to be by far the most popular pattern in hockey now at every level from Pro, College, to Junior and in stores. If you’re not sure I always recommend the Blade 1 Pattern (Bauer P92, CCM P29, True TC2, Warrior W03). If you find that your kid’s shots are getting up too high you may want to try what we call Blade 2 (Bauer P88, CCM P80, True MC, Warrior W88). For the danglers of the world, our Blade 6 (Bauer P28, CCM P28, True TC4, Warrior W28) has emerged as a popular option for those focused on stickhandling.
4. The Stick | Once you know the correct size, quality and pattern for you then it is time to select a stick. In the first few years of hockey it won’t make a lot of difference. They must learn the game and how to shoot before they can really get much of a performance boost from any stick, no matter the price point. Many of your sons and daughters will be influenced by what the top players in the NHL or what other kids on their team are using. Being a father myself I understand the urge to buy exactly what they want, and although its often expensive, a top-quality stick that will likely last them the whole year may be worth it. If they aren’t picky about the make and model, you can often find a high-end stick on sale that is a year or two older This is usually a great option as the technology doesn’t change massively year to year and as long as they are stored properly, sticks do not suffer at all by sitting on the shelf. The biggest issue is that as kids grow stronger, they begin to break their sticks more often, which parents, Junior, College and even pro teams can find difficult to pay for. At this point, many parents start to look for solutions that still meet the first three criteria outlined, but perhaps with more flexibility on different makes and models. In fact, as players make it onto higher level teams that supply sticks for them, there are often limitations on what they can use until the time they make it to the NHL.