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Hockey Sticks

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The most common failure in sticks is splintering or breaking of the blade after long periods of use. Breakage of the shaft is relatively uncommon with recreational players, but much more frequent with muscular players in highly competitive leagues who put great stress on the stick while shooting or passing.

Some high-end sticks have replaceable blades. The shaft is aluminum or some composite material and is guaranteed for years of normal use. They may be cheapest in the long run for players who tend to break lots of sticks.

The chief things to consider in buying a stick are:

  • Length. Rule of thumb: standing in street shoes, with the tip of the blade touching the floor, the end of the shaft should reach your chin. If it's much longer than that, you may have to saw off the excess to have a proper stance while playing. For kids, seek junior sized sticks, whose blade size is proportioned to the shaft length.
  • Weight. For most kids, beginners and recreational players, lightweight is better.
  • Flex. Competitive players with great upper-body strength tend to like stiff shafts. For kids, beginners and recreational players, it's much easier to get off a good shot if the shaft has more flex.
  • Lie. This is the angle between the blade and the shaft, looking from the top. The lower the number, the greater this angle. Lies of 5 and 6 are easiest to find; 7 is harder. It's usually easier to get leverage on shots if the puck is closer to the body, so a higher lie may be best for beginners.
  • Curve. The curve helps to put extra spin on the puck when shooting. Beginners are best starting with a stick that is relatively straight, except for a curve at the tip of the blade. Some experienced players prefer a curve that begins midway between the heel (where it joins the shaft) and the toe (tip) of the blade.
  • Left vs. Right. Should you shoot left (stick held to your left, with the curve facing forward) or right (stick to the right)? This is a key question. If you're right-handed, you should learn to shoot left. Why? With a wrist shot, much of the power comes from pulling your top hand back (if you shoot left, this will be the right hand) rather than from rolling the bottom hand forward.

    Also, frequently you'll have to use the stick with one hand, which will be the top hand. Left-handers should shoot right. About 2/3 of players at all levels shoot left; nonetheless, more than a few learn to shoot from the "wrong" side and stay that way.

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