Shop Talk: Need a youth hockey stick? Make sure it is sized accurately
It’s hard to imagine that new innovations in technology can transfer to a hockey stick, but the development of lighter, more durable, and responsive materials have produced the best sticks available today.
With the growing popularity of Mite and Squirt programs everywhere, the youth stick category is starting to benefit from these materials as well.
It’s always been the case – start hockey, get a wood stick. There is no reason to jump up to a high-end fancy-looking composite stick to get you started. While this may be true for your first couple of learn-to-skate sessions, new research is starting to show faster development of stickhandling and shooting abilities in young players with the proper stick flex and height for your child.
Height and flex are important for your child’s development at a young age.
Why is flex so important? The flex in a stick allows you to load energy in the shaft and is what produces those quick and powerful shots. While preferences are different from player to player, the ability to use your stick’s flex properly changes. It was thought for a long time that the stiffer the stick, the more power you could transfer through to your shot, but it is becoming more understood that with the proper training on a lower-flex stick, you can produce quicker, harder to read shots on unsuspecting goalies.
Best example of using a proper flex is Arizona Coyotes defensemen Oliver Ekman-Larsson. At 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, many people are shocked to hear that he uses a 75-flex stick. Using a lower flex allows him to make those smooth, effortless passes, and drag and snap shots that we love seeing fly past goaltenders.
There are several companies offering high-end youth sticks now. These sticks are specifically designed to match your child’s height and weight to the proper stick for their development. They have longer blade lengths than previous youth sticks, more proportional shaft dimensions to fit properly in their hands, and lower flex points to help deliver more power when passing and shooting. All these aspects lead the player to having more confidence when learning to play the game.
Behind The Mask now carries several different models of youth sticks at all of our locations.
Recently, CCM released their JetSpeed youth stick line which offers young players the best opportunity to play at their highest level. These sticks are designed to give young players the best feel for developing the ability to “load” the stick. They are available in varying heights in 20, 30 and 40 flex.
True Hockey has also released a solid option of youth and junior sticks with the True UFlex line. True’s UFlex sticks are designed to help players select the proper flex that will allow them to maximize performance and playability. Sticks vary in heights between the 20, 30, 40, and 50 flex stiffness, adding an extra flex point to accommodate more youth players.
The Bauer Prodigy line has been around for a few years now and allows for a price-point entry-level composite stick. These offer varying heights between the 25, 35, 45 flex points. Bauer does offer high-end youth sticks as well but does not offer the wide range of height and flex as of now. I would look to them developing something new to match these others soon.
It’s great to see the new innovations in our sport being developed with the next generation of all-stars in mind. With the proper development at a young age, it will be fun to see the skills these kids will dazzle us with in the future.
Visit any of the three Behind The Mask locations to get you child sized properly today.
Randy Exelby is the owner of Behind The Mask Hockey Shops.
(Nov. 8, 2018)