Ice Hockey Sticks For Stickhandling
The best hockey stick for stickhandling for you, is the one that suits your comfort, size, usage, and stickhandler skills. There are several factors that will help you decide on the one that’ll make you the most agile and efficient stickhandler you can be.
Become One with the Hockey Stick
Stickhandling is an important skill for every player. Choose the right tool. The hockey stick is a player’s best tool on the ice, and there are many variables to compare when choosing one with a stickhandler’s performance in mind. A player needs to be so comfortable handling a hockey stick that it becomes like an extension of his or her arms and thoughts. When you use it effectively, it can help increase speed on a breakaway, trick opponents, protect the puck, and fend off opponents.
Good hockey stick handling requires great dexterity, quick thinking, fast reflexes, flexibility, and the right hockey stick, so you’ll want to consider the following:
- Curve Commencement
- Toe Shape
- Grain (tape heel to toe)
- Hockey Tape
Hockey sticks are generally categorized in youth, intermediate, and adult. Hand size is considered in youth sticks (the circumference of shaft is smaller). Start by comparing sticks in the right size category.
When you grip a hockey stick its shape should feel right in your hands. Your fingers should neither wrap around the shaft to the point of curling under your palm, nor should they be too open so you’re liable to drop it. Shafts can have different contours, so try a few and be sure it feels okay in your grip. Stickhandling requires a closed grip on the hockey stick.
An adult hockey stick in a youth’s hand would be too big around.
Compare the weight of hockey sticks too. Some are so close in weight that you can’t tell the difference, so don’t concern yourself with Grams. You’ll be skating with many pounds of equipment on, so the weight of the stick won’t slow you down, but it might make combersome stickhandling if the weight is drastic.
Length of sticks are categorized in youth, intermediate, and adult.
The length of your hockey stick is a relative thing. Relative to your preference, stickhandling body position, your size, et cetera. For starters, stand on the ice wearing skates, holding the top of the stick in your top hand. The blade’s bottom edge should be flat on the ice. Ideally that’s the best length on average. Still some players like it longer and some shorter. If you stickhandle in a very crouched position, you’ll want your stick to be shorter. Hope you have a strong back!
Shorter hockey sticks are better for tight manoevers and extreme stickhandling moves and dekes.
Hold your top hand at the top of the shaft where you’d be cutting, and lean slightly on a stick to determine its flex for your height, strength, and body weight. Once you determine what flex number you’ll buy, you can stop leaning on sticks. An 85 flex is an 85 flex. No need to break a stick in the store!
If you use a hockey stick that is too flexible, it’ll seem mushy or floppy when stickhandling and that will slow you down. Choose a hockey stick that is the proper flex for your body weight and strength, and for the type of shooter you are. Slapshots require stiffer sticks. Wrist shots require more flexible hockey sticks. Backhands require straighter blades.
After considering the factors in the shaft that will contribute to, or detract from your stickhandling, it’s time to look a little lower. Make note of all the shaft attributes you like and let’s compare the blades.
Hockey Stick Blades
The first thing most players think about on the blade is the curve. Curves can be configured differently. They can start close to the heel, the toe, or in the middle. A curve can be a big hook, or the blade can be straight. Curves are for shooting you say?
How Does The Curve Affect Your Stickhandling?
Since we’re addressing stickhandlers and not shooters in this article, the size and placement of the curve can be a hazzard.
A large curve may seem like an advantage for cupping the puck as you handle it, but that only considers the puck being on your forehand. Stickhandling means both forehand and backhand side of the blade will control the puck equally. So a large curve makes less point of contact for the puck when it’s on the back of the stick blade. Furthermore, on the back of a large curve, the puck can bounce off in unexpected directions if you don’t dribble it in the exactly right spot.
Too small of a curve will affect your shot when you get to the goalie, so stickhandlers should look for curves that are somewhere in between.
Where The Curve Starts
If the cure commences near the toe, you’ll have a lot of straighter blade to stickhandle with.
The Face Of The Blade
The face is the way the blade tilts and can make the blade lean forward or backward. The face is a strong consideration for different shots, but stickhandlers look out for it because it can affect puck control too. The face of the blade will appear kind of twisted, and that twist can begin near the heel, the toe, or the mid section. The only concern for stickhandlers is not to pick one where the blade twist begins at the middle. This can impede the control of the puck.
The Truth About The Lie
To pick a blade’s lie for stickhandling or deking, consider whether you’re an upright or leaning skater. When in motion and controlling the puck, you want as much of the bottom of the blade on the ice as possible. Laying flat on its bottom edge is best because any tilt up off the ice can allow the puck to roll under and away, and it can allow opponents to get their blades under yours better. A flat lie will keep more of the stick on the puck when stickhandling.
When comparing hockey sticks, you will notice that some blades are bigger. Obviously adult blades are bigger than youth blades, both longer and taller. One adult blade can even be longer than another, and can also be higher. In fact, it can be not so high at the heel and higher at the toe, or the other way around. The size of the blade will add to the weight at the end of the stick and affect the balance. Choose wisely.
The toe of the blade can be rounded or more squared off. What kind of deke do you like to use most often? Often stickhandlers can benefit from a rounded blade because it’ll help toe manoevers like the “toe drag”.
Can Tape Actually Change Stickhandling?
Yes. Sticky hockey tape will hold the puck better, as will the grain of the tape. Some tapes are stickier on the outside than others for more cohesion, some are even textured. If your tape is not sticky on the outward facing side, then after you use the hockey tape, ball up some tape and rub its adhesive side over the blade tape for grip. This is important because pucks have a knurl around the edge that you contact, and tape can help hold on to that. Therefor it is good to tape the part of the blade that you mostly use to control the puck. That may be the entire blade. Color can affect your stickhandling performance too, because the puck can be camoflaged slightly to trick opponents. However, some stickhandlers prefer white tape because it shows them, in their peripheral vision, where the puck is better so they don’t have to look down at it.
Practice Makes Perfect
Practice controlling the puck with your stick from multiple angles so you get used to using your stick efficiently from anywhere on the ice. Your on-ice skills will improve with regular hockey stick handling drills. Stick drills will improve your dexterity, speed and puck control. When you have chosen your hockey stick with all uses in mind, you have chosen wisely. It’s important to know how the puck will move when shot from various angles and when held at different spots on your stick blade, so practice shooting and passing from all around your body. Also try moving your hands higher and lower on the stick to understand your control on the stick’s movement.
Repeat your tricks and dekes until they become second nature. The proper stick choice will help you.
Your Final Hockey Stick Choice
Go for the configuration that suits your strength (flex and weight of stick), hand size (circumference of shaft), type of stickhandler you are or want to be, type of shooter you are (slapshot, wrist shot, back hand), and size of wallet you have (price).
Know that you’ll have to replace that stick some day and don’t pick the most expensive one. Pick one that does what you need it to do and can be replaced in a week if necessary. It is advisable to pick a stick that works in every way for you, so that you don’t have to think when it comes time to replace it. You’ll know what you need and will be able to just go buy it.
Choosing the Right Hockey Stick
Players often have a specific brand and model of hockey stick they prefer to use. When you find one that does what you want it to do and works for the style of player you are, take note of the specifics of that hockey stick more than the model name. Then you can easily get the same features of that stick under a different name when that model isn’t available anymore. Hockey leagues have strict hockey stick regulations you must follow.
Choose a stick that feels comfortable in your hand with a length that you can manage easily. When stickhandling, you don’t want the butt end catching your jersey, and you do want the blade to lie flat on the ice for puck control. You must feel confident handling the stick so that you are not thinking about it, but are just using it naturally and efficiently.