Modern ice hockey sticks are a much more complex piece of equipment than they appear at first glance. While most sticks are one-piece composites, some hockey sticks can be pieced together with various parts. Regardless of whether you use a one-piece composite or a two-piece hockey stick, all hockey sticks have a similar anatomy.
Let’s take a close look at each part of the modern ice hockey stick.
The Anatomy of an Ice Hockey Stick
The Butt End
The butt end is the top of the hockey stick that is held by a hockey player’s top hand. Post-purchase additions to the butt end of a hockey stick can include:
- Tape grip
- Rubber grip
- A knob at the top
- End plugs
Most hockey players prefer to put some type of grip on the butt end of their stick. Players who want some grip but still wish to be able to slide their top hand up and down the shaft wrap stick tape around the butt end and down the shaft for added friction over a bare stick. Other players who prefer a solid grip that won’t allow them to slide their top hand down the upper part of the butt end of the stick will use a rubber grip that maximizes friction.
Many players also fashion some sort of knob at the end of their stick to prevent their top hand from sliding off completely. This can be achieved with standard hockey stick tape or an insert that is adhered to the hollow top of the stick. Many amateur and youth leagues require this knob to prevent the butt end of the stick from sliding through a players face mask and causing injury.
An end plug is often inserted into the butt end of a hockey stick to increase its length. There may be times when a player desires a stick that is in between commonly manufactured lengths, and they’ll extend their stick by inserting an end plug extension.
The shaft of the hockey stick includes the butt end of the stick and runs all the way down to the blade. Shafts are available in both a grip and clear finish that provide either a sticky grip or reduced friction when stick handling.
Shafts may appear to be simple and have few customizable options, but that is far from the case. When assessing a hockey stick shaft, it’s important to take into account a few factors.
- Kick point
If you watch hockey players shoot, you’ll notice that their stick will bend during the most shots. This is known as the flex. The smaller the flex rating is on a hockey stick, the less strength it will take to bend or flex the stick. The most common calculation for appropriate flex is to take a player’s weight and divide it in half. Using a stick with a much too low of a flex can lead to broken sticks and a stick with a high flex value will make shooting more difficult for lighter players.
The kick point is the part of the shaft where the shaft flexes the most. High kick points flex the entire shaft, mid kick points flex in a more traditional center and low kick points flex closer to the blade. It may take some experimentation to find the right kick point for you as there are advantages and disadvantages to each style.
Some hockey sticks have a tapered lower portion of the shaft. This tapered shaft is found on sticks with low kick points and adds snap to the flex of the stick in the bottom portion of the shaft.
The blade of an ice hockey stick comes in many different styles to fit numerous styles of play. The blade consists of three parts; the heel, the face and the toe. The heel connects to the shaft, the face is the flat surface of the blade and the toe is the rounded end of the hockey stick blade.
While every blade has these three parts, not every blade is shaped the same. Different styles of play require different blade shapes. Defensemen usually like a flatter blade, while forwards prefer more curvature. Most hockey stick manufacturers produce blades in several different styles to provide something for everyone. Here are some factors to consider when choosing a stick blade:
- Curve depth
- Face angle
The lie of the blade represents the angle of the blade in relation to the shaft. The lie changes how flat the blade will be on the ice. Taller players may wish to use a lower lie to keep the blade flat on the ice when the stick is outstretched. Higher lies are better for shorter players and forwards who stick handle close to their bodies.
A blade’s curve depth is exactly what it sounds like, it’s the curvature of the blade face from heel to toe.
The face angle of the blade refers to whether the blade is considered open or closed. An open face angles towards the backside of the blade when viewed from above allowing for more lift on shots. A closed blade face will be more vertical for better stickhandling and helping beginners learn basic stick skills.
Finally, most ice hockey stick manufacturers have created patterns which take the lie, curve depth and face angle into account to incorporate a specific style of play. Many of these patterns are named after professional players to give consumers an idea as to what pattern fits specific hockey styles.
Hockey Stick Vocabulary
Butt: The top of the stick handle
Shaft: The long part of the stick above the blade
Blade: The part of the stick used for stickhandling and shooting
End plug: An extension to increase shaft length
Grip: Stick tape or rubber sleeve to prevent slipping when held
Heel: Where the blade meets the shaft
Toe: The end of the blade