Hockey Tips

Stick Length Recommendations

by Coach Joel Breazeale

I'm not sure when I subscribed to this site and some things I don't agree with, but after nearly 30 years of explaining stick height, just like I did the other night with our PeeWee house team, I thought this video and explanation may help our young players and parents understand the value in stick height, curve, flex and cost...

Within our association there may be 1-2 players that may be competent enough to play with longer than normal stick, every other player should generally follow the guidelines in this video for the shorter stick height. The longest I would advise (while in skates) would be no higher than top of chin and to me that sounds excessively tall. In fact, some of the negatives given in the video below for having a shorter stick I see as long-term development opportunities for encouraging proper knee and hip bend.

 

In regards to stick flex...frankly speaking, it's over rated for most young hockey players, the emphasis should be on the following in this order...

Stick Shaft - Thickness

Stick shaft (thickness)...either a youth, intermediate or adult shaft stick. Understand the variables are where you fit regarding height, weight and also hand size for your respective age. Generally;

  1. 8U youth shaft stick
  2. 8U-14U intermediate shaft stick
  3. 14U above consider an adult shaft stick depending on the above mentioned variables

Blade Curve

Blade curve is way more important than stick flex for a youth player's development is curve of blade.
The straighter the curve the better.

    1. Allows for a larger contact surface for passing, receiving and shooting either on forehand or backhand.
    2. Forces player to roll-wrist more in order to control puck effectively in all situations.
      1. If I could control stick blade production, not a single 10U player would ever play with anything but a straight blade. I believe the benefits are that important. Good luck finding a straight blade. Settle for a modest curve.

Stick Flex

If you are selecting a properly sized stick shaft based upon the guidelines above, then stick Flex really is not a significant consideration until you reach adult shaft size. At that point know this:

    1. Stick length effects flex. The shorter a stick is cut, the more stiff flex will be, which then affects how much effort (weight) must go into passing and shooting.
    2. Generally no 14U players should play with more than a 70flex and that's if the shaft has not needed to be cut down, thus making the flex even higher.
    3. Mid-shaft flex point, low shaft flex point is important, but not to a 14U player or younger. Select the mid-shaft flex point until your player really understands the benefits of both to their specific style of game and propensity to shoot a specific shot.

Shooting Side Note:

the consistent trend at the college and pro level over the past decade with the ever-improving stick technology is away from the slap shot. The slap shot is becoming less of a factor as stick technology allows for quicker more accurate forms of shooting like a snap, or modified slap-snap or even a wrist shot.

  1. Also, goals scored from a slap shot at 12U or below are disallowed.

Stick Cost

With wood sticks now pretty much extinct, parents are now forced to purchase significantly more expensive sticks. There's little choice, however not one player's game will be hampered if they select a less expensive stick over a more expensive stick.

  1. Most important are following the guidelines above. Although the cost of a stick will not make your 12 year old a better stick handler or improve their shot by even 5%, I do think you could save way more than 5% by not purchasing the "latest and greatest stick."
  2. Find the mid-point of cost for each respective shaft size, beginner, intermediate, adult and there's your sweet spot for purchasing. Pretty simple.

About the Author

Joel

Joel Breazeale serves as the part-time Co-Hockey Director at Georgetown Ice Center. Joel is responsible for setting-up the learn to play, learn to skate, cross ice programs, as well as coordinating coaches for these levels. Joel works in cooperation with the GVAHA VP to coordinate both house and travel GVAHA teams and then works in collaboration with Mike Hatkowski to set the schedules. He also provides opportunities for players to work on skills and development.

Joel and his wife Kate recently moved back to Jenison after living in Grandville for the past 16 years. Joel currently serves as the Dean of Students at Grandville High School and Varsity Hockey Coach.

Their children, Michael, Thomas, and David, all grew up playing hockey.  All 3 played at GVAHA while Joel was hockey director and all 3 have played or are presently playing for Grandville.

Joel's coaching background includes these notable accomplishments:

  • 2016 MHSAA State Frozen Four, Div. 1 (State Quarter Champion, Regional Champion,  OK Conf. Champion)
  • 2015 MHSAA State Finalist, Div. 1 (State Quarter Champion, Regional Champion, OK Conf. runner up)
  • 2014 MHSAA State Frozen Four, Div. 1 (State Quarter Final Champion, Regional Champion)
  • 2013 MHSAA Regional Champion
  • 2012 MHSAA State Quarter Finalist (Regional Champion)
  • 2011 MHSAA State Quarter Finalist (Regional Champion)
  • 2010 MHSAA State Quarter Finalist (Regional Champion)
  • 2009 JV State Champion, GVAHA
  • 2008 Mite State Champion, GVAHA
  • 2008 Hockey Person of the Year, Michigan Hockey Magazine
  • 2004 Nominated as Michigan’s Volunteer Coach of the Year, for establishing Cross Ice in Michigan
  • 2004 Established and organized first ever Cross-Ice Jamboree in USA
  • 2003 Founded first Cross Ice program in Michigan, Kentwood Ice Arena

WHAT DOES JOEL LOVE ABOUT HOCKEY?

As an adult/coach I love the relationships and helping in the development and growth of players, coaches and programs and critical initiatives for the betterment and growth of youth hockey. For example starting the first cross-ice program in Michigan, maybe the USA (at Kentwood), developing the first cross-ice jamboree in the USA, growing GVAHA from 5 teams to 14 in 3 seasons or developing Grandville Hockey into the program it is now. This is what I LOVE!