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How Do You Measure A Hockey Stick?

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The length of your stick, though based largely on personal preference, will impact your ability to handle, shoot and receive the puck. It’s an important, yet often overlooked, aspect of the game that you can use to cater to your strengths.

Yes, certain positions and playing styles tend to gravitate toward certain stick lengths. But before we get to that, let’s talk about the basics.

Sticks 101

Mass-produced sticks typically fall into three categories: Adult, Intermediate and Junior. Adult (or Senior) sticks are generally in the 60-inch range, Intermediates around five inches shorter, Juniors in the 46- to 54-inch range. Adult women usually end up with Intermediate sticks, or more flexible Senior sticks.

When purchasing sticks online, remember that some companies measure length straight down the shaft to the bottom of the blade’s heel. Others measure from the top of the shaft to the floor when the blade is standing on its toe with the shaft against a wall.

Don’t buy a longer stick for a younger player to grow into. Doing so will hinder the young player’s skill development, and cutting down an overly long stick will make it stiffer, an attribute generally preferred by physically stronger players. You can always add an extension to the shaft of the stick as a child grows.

Put on Your Skates

The most common rule of thumb for sizing your stick is this: When standing in your skates, the end of a stick held with the toe of the blade on the floor should fall between your chin and nose. Players fond of short sticks will have the end of stick at throat height, while long sticks might hit you at the eyebrows.

In stocking feet, the nose or slightly higher is the target for an average stick.

However, some advise beginners to err on the side of too short. This school of thought says that if a player is standing on skates with his arms hanging straight at his sides and the blade of the stick is flat against the ice, any portion of the stick that extends behind his top hand should be cut off.

Beyond the Basics

Some players — famously, Wayne Gretzky and Sidney Crosby, among others — like short sticks. Others like long sticks — Boston’s Zdeno Chara, because he’s 6-foot-9, was granted an exception to the National Hockey League’s 63-inch maximum, and uses a 65-inch stick).

In the broad strokes, stick handlers like short sticks. The stick is lighter, thus making quick, fine movements easier, and the puck is more easily carried close to the body to protect it from defenders.

An average-length stick can usually be found in the hands of an all-around player — someone who wants to be able to dig for pucks in the corner, make poke checks, rip a slap shot or intercept a neutral zone pass as well as handle the puck.

Defensemen tend to carry the longest sticks. The reasons are obvious — the larger wing span better clogs passing and shooting lanes, poke-checking range increases and those slap shots from the point have that much more juice.