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12-09-2011, 09:42 AM
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Jarick's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: St Paul, MN
Country: United States
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Musings about Stick Length, Flex, Lie

With the coming hockey season, people are gearing up, and obviously you want a new twig. For beginners, in my opinion, there are two crucial mistakes made way too often:

- their stick is too stiff
- their stick is too long

They kind of play in to each other. Lots of beginners grab the cheapest composite they can find off the wall and tape it up. They don't look at the flex or cut it to length. Most of these guys are under 6' and use 85-100 flex sticks. They couldn't break a pane of glass with their shot.

These guys for the most part can't carry a puck, can't protect it, can't make quick moves with it. It's because their top hand is knocking into their body, preventing them from moving the puck freely. And keeping that puck further and further away makes for clumsy stickhandling and poor passes (imagine using a 20' long stick, it would be difficult to control the puck).

Also the shots aren't very good. With great technique, a long stick can let you use a stiffer flex and add a lot more power to the shot. But for the most part these guys are swatting at the puck or making glorified passes. It's no wonder most of their goals come from backdoor plays and what not.

If they used a shorter stick with some flex, they'd be able to use the whip of the stick, speed up the release, get on top of the puck, and get some velocity on their shots. One of my teammates is 5'6 maybe 140 soaking wet. He was using an 87 flex chopped way down. I gave him one of my 67 flex sticks, same curve and slightly shorter length. His shots damn near doubled in speed. He picked up an intermediate the next day and has greatly improved all aspects of the game.

Now the caveat.

Not everyone needs to use a shorter stick. If you have good puck control and technique, you can use a longer stick. Look at Marian Hossa or Pavel Datsyuk. Datsyuk used to use short sticks when he came into the league but made them longer and longer. He's possibly the best puck handler in the world and breaks the above rule, because he's so damn good. He can use the longer reach without suffering.

Defensemen often use long sticks too. Jared Spurgeon, a 20 year old 5'8 defenseman who made the Wild last year as a rookie and did a damn good job, uses a stick taller than he is (I'm the same height and checked out some of his game used sticks). He's not all-world like Datsyuk but he's better than a lot of NHL defensemen with the puck.

On to stick flex, once you cut down the stick, you'll need a whippier flex. Yeah I can use an 85 flex stick at full length at 5'8, but chop it down and it needs to be 70 flex. It's my opinion that 90% of your stick flex needs are determined by your stick length, not weight. It's because the more you cut a stick, the stiffer it gets. Proportionally, a lot of players use similar flexes once you account for length and original flex. I did a survey over at Mod Squad Hockey of over 70 players and the overwhelming majority of guys used a predictable flex for their stick length.

That's why I usually recommend:

5'6 - 65 flex
5'9 - 75 flex
6'0 - 85 flex
6'3 - 100 flex

This assumes you chop the stick down to 1-2" below the chin, which should be the shortest you'd need to go to get full puck control. If you can use a longer stick and give up some of that puck control, you could use a little stiffer stick.

For lie, it depends on your playing style. If you shoot the puck a lot with good technique, you'll probably want 5.5-6 lie. That's because you want the puck closer to your body to get more power on your shots, and that means a higher lie. If you're a passer you'll probably want a 5 lie or less. You'll want to be able to make moves with the puck further away from you. The closer to your body you play with the puck (shooting, playing on the boards, etc), the higher lie you need. Don't pick lie based on stick length, pick it based on your playing style.

Last edited by Jarick: 12-09-2011 at 09:53 AM.
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