Hockey is a game of inches. The slightest adjustment can make or break your shot, which is why hockey stick flex is so important. Measuring your ideal flex is a simple process that can enhance every aspect of your shooting abilities.
Read on for a comprehensive guide to finding the right hockey stick flex for you, including how it changes based on your skill level, position, body, and more!
What Is Hockey Stick Flex?
Before you can decide which flex fits your style of play, you need to understand exactly what hockey stick flex is and why it matters.
Why Flex Matters
When you take a shot in hockey, your stick hits the ice right before connecting with the puck. The force of that contact creates a whip-like release that launches the puck into the goal.
Your hockey stick flex determines the amount of force needed to achieve that whipping motion. The higher the flex, the stiffer the stick, and the more weight you need for each shot. The softer the flex, the easier it bends, and the less power you need.
Choosing your ideal hockey stick flex will ensure the power of your shot is absorbed properly and efficiently. That way, it will be released at the right time, and the speed and accuracy of your shots will not be compromised.
How Factories Measure Flex
When hockey sticks are made, part of the factory process is testing the stick’s flex. A machine will hold either end of the stick in place while a hydraulic system gradually pushes more weight into the middle of the shaft.
The amount of force in pounds needed to bend the middle of the stick a total of one inch is that stick’s flex. If a stick has a flex of 98, the machine had to push 98 pounds of force before the stick bent one inch below the height of either end.
Depending on the brand and the machine their factories use, the meaning behind each flex number can still vary quite a bit.
The exact spot where the machine holds each end of the hockey stick changes how much tension is being forced into the stick’s shaft. Higher amounts of tension make it harder for it to bend. A company that holds the very tips of the stick might measure a flex of 95 that feels closer to a flex of 90.
Different Flex Profiles
Each hockey stick has a flex profile that explains how the flexibility of the stick varies along the length of its shaft. This will affect how your stick loads energy.
If a hockey stick is built with a flex profile that puts the majority of its flex at the bottom of the shaft, it will make the stick feel softer. So, it will take less force to get that whipping motion you want from a shot.
The higher along the shaft a hockey stick flex is carried, the stiffer it will feel. You might also need to hold your hands higher.
Each brand does stick profiles differently depending on the line and year of the stick design. So always be sure to check out the specs of the stick before purchasing.
How to Choose Your First Stick
The ideal hockey stick flex might take some time to find but here are some tips to get you started and keep you on the right track!
The first step to finding the right hockey stick flex baseline is to take your body weight and divide it by two.
Depending on the level of hockey that you plan to play, you can stop here. This level of flex will allow you to develop your skills and become a great hockey player for house league level games.
If you are a new player, you will immediately want to add 10 to that number. A higher flex, in the beginning, will ensure you build the strength of your shot faster. It will also make it easier for you to perfect your technique.
Height and Strength Factor
If you want something a little more tailored to your body, you can make adjustments based on your height and strength after you divide your weight.
For players of above-average height or strength for their age, add five to the flex number. So, players that start with a baseline of 80 flex but are over six feet tall should adjust their hockey stick flex up to 85.
If you are of average height and strength, you will want to subtract five from your baseline hockey stick flex number. The same goes for players of below-average height and strength.
Stick Length Factor
All hockey sticks are made at a standard length. You’ll most likely have to make adjustments after you’ve bought the one you want.
If you’re going to change your stick’s length in any direction by more than three inches, you’ll also be changing its flex. Adding to your stick will make the flex seem lower, and shortening it will make your stick seem stiffer.
Luckily, brands have started adding a measurement system on the back of the stick to show what the flex will be at the different heights you need to cut it to. If you’re adding to the stick you will have to make your best guess.
Either way, figuring out the exact amount that it will change might take some trial and error. We recommend purchasing a few Polyglide tiles for the perfect home setup to test it out! Use our code “lifeinminnesota” for a 15% discount!
Most Common Hockey Stick Flexes
When choosing your hockey stick flex there are also five age categories that give a generalized flex range for you to choose from. You can use these as your baseline instead of the factors above.
Ages three to five, with a height of 3’ to 3’10” and a weight of 30 to 65 pounds, are given a flex range of 20 to 25.
Ages five to eight, with a height of 3’6” to 4’8” and a weight of 40 to 80 pounds, can choose from a flex range of 30 to 40.
Ages seven to twelve, with a height of 4’4” to 5’1” and a weight of 70 to 110 pounds, have a range of 40 to 52.
Ages 11 to 14, with a height of 4’11” to 5’8” and a weight of 95 to 140 pounds, will do best with something between 55 and 70 flex.
Lastly, ages 14 and older who are taller than 5’8” and weigh over 150 pounds need a hockey stick flex over 75.
How Your Style of Play Affects Your Hockey Stick Flex
The way you want your stick to bend will also change depending on the type of shot you use most frequently.
A wrist shot relies a lot more on speed than strength. Instead of a large windup, it’s the quick release and the flick of the wrist that gets the puck moving. You don’t want that lack of force to impact the power behind your shot.
That’s why players that tend to use the wrist shot a lot more need a lower hockey stick flex. Typically, those players will be forwards.
In the tight spaces between the defenders right in front of the net, there’s not a lot of room. You need to be able to get your shot off fast and hard without the defenders even knowing it’s happening.
Defenders are the opposite. At the blue line, you have all the room in the world to make that slap shot. And when your stick is hitting the ice and puck with the entirety of your strength, you don’t want something flimsy that can’t take the pressure.
Players that make slap shots more frequently need a much higher hockey stick flex. That doesn’t mean that you won’t still be able to make a wrist shot every once in a while. You’ll just need to strengthen your wrists and put some extra force behind them.
How to Know You’ve Made the Right Choice
You can’t fully personalize your hockey stick flex unless you know what the wrong choice feels like.
A Higher Flex
When using a higher flex than your body can handle, your shots won’t be as powerful or fast as they should be. Without the strength to force that bend in your stick, the shaft can’t absorb the impact of your shots properly.
The blade will usually recoil before you finish your full swing, causing the puck to flutter off your shot and the stick to ring or vibrate in your hands.
A higher flex is especially bad for younger players who are still developing. Instead of training proper techniques, you might start compensating for the stiffer stick and sling-shotting or flicking your slap shots. If you train this habit too much, it will be very hard to form a proper shot later on.
A Low Flex
When your hockey stick flex is too low for your body, your blade will bend much farther than normal and the recoil will happen later than it should. This will allow your hands to get too far in front of the puck, and your shots will feel wobbly, slow, and weak.
A low flex will also mess with the development of younger players. The exaggerated recoil might cause all of your shots to lean either left or right. When you’re learning how to aim, you might train yourself to compensate for that bend.
And if you’re looking for help creating new or breaking old habits, this online hocking training may be just what you need.
Goalie Stick Flex
With expectations for goalies to leave their area growing, a goalie’s hockey stick flex is becoming something you’ll have to consider.
Picking a Stick
Your hockey stick flex won’t have any impact on your ability to save—which is why most goalie sticks won’t even note the flex of the shaft.
Picking your flex as a goalie will be based entirely on feel and the brand since brands tend to pick a flex that works for their design and stick with it.
Warrior and Bauer are some of the few brands that have started making specific lines for different flex levels.
In general, a higher flex is better for stronger or older players and a softer stick is better for younger players. But the flex will also depend on how you plan to use it.
A Higher Flex
For goalies that leave their crease to perform a simple pass or stop the puck for the defenders, a higher flex is better.
You’ll be able to put your weight behind your stick without worrying about any recoil and simple maneuvers will be easily accomplished.
A Lower Flex
With a catcher’s mitt, a goalie will never be able to get the same level of power behind their shots. If you do want to make those incredible long passes or maybe even a goal, you will need a lower flex.
The lower flex will make up for the lack of grip and the semi-awkward hand positions you will be forced into. With the right stance, you’ll be launching the puck across the ice like it’s nothing.
Summing up how to Measure Your Ideal Hockey Stick Flex
As a new player, figuring out your ideal hockey stick flex can be tough. It might take a few attempts, but with this comprehensive guide, you’ll find the perfect flex in no time! For more information on the game check out our Hockey page!