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Mastering the Basics: How to Hold a Hockey Stick Correctly

In hockey, how well you can control your stick is extremely important. And all the different hand positions can be confusing at first.

This guide will discuss how to hold a hockey stick correctly and show you everything you need to master your skills! No matter what position you play or what maneuver you’re trying to learn. And if you’re still deciding, and online hockey course could help you fine tune your skills.

Read on for explanations of the different ways to hold your stick and how to find the perfect style for you!

how to hold a hockey stick

Neutral Hand Position

The neutral position is a fundamental part of learning how to hold a hockey stick correctly because it’s the position your hands should always return to.

Top Hand

Your top hand will be responsible for all those tiny adjustments and intricate movements that make stick handling such an impressive skill. For most people, their dominant hand will feel most comfortable here.

But that isn’t a guarantee. The best way to choose which hands will go where is to pick up your stick and see what feels right for you!

Once you’ve made your decision to find out how to hold a hockey stick with your top hand, lay your stick on the ground blade-side up. Standing near the butt of the shaft, make a thumbs up with your hand and turn it so your thumb points down the shaft of your stick towards the blade. Now, grab your stick in a tight fist with your thumb still extended and resting comfortably on the top of the shaft.

There shouldn’t be any part of the shaft sticking out from the end of your fist. If grabbing lower is more comfortable, you might need a shorter stick.

Bottom Hand

To determine how to hold a hockey stick correctly with your bottom hand, point the stick straight up into the air with your top hand in its proper position.

Now place your forearm on the shaft of your stick, with your elbow just touching the thumb of your top hand. Wherever your bottom hand rests on your shaft is where you should place it to be in the neutral position.

Depending on the stick’s length, as well as your height and stick handling style, it might be more comfortable to place your bottom hand slightly lower on the shaft. And that is totally fine!

How to Get the Right Grip

When learning how to hold a hockey stick properly, there are a lot of different grips that you can use. Some will change based on preference, while others are necessary.

Top Hand

There are three different gripping positions for the top hand that are most commonly used by hockey players. None of them will directly impact your play, so you can pick any of the below when deciding how to hold a hockey stick correctly for you.

The most common hold is to have all four fingers firmly gripping the shaft. Your pinky finger can either be below or on top of the knob at the butt of your stick as long as none of the stick’s shaft is poking past your fist.

The other possible grip is to have only three fingers gripping the shaft while your pinky hangs off the end of it. Some players feel this position gives them more dexterity than the full-handed grip.

The last grip has only two of your fingers holding the shaft while the rest hang off the end. Again, a lot of players feel like this helps them make those small, detailed movements needed when stick handling.

Bottom Hand

Your bottom hand is the weight and power behind your stick. Both of which are only necessary at specific moments in a game.

Most of the time, the grip of your bottom hand will be nice and loose. That way, your top hand can freely rotate and move the stick to deke around your opponents.

But your bottom hand still needs to be ready to quickly apply that pressure and force when needed. Your grip should place your stick between your thumb and pointer finger so that the muscle pad of your thumb rests completely on the top of the shaft.

This will maximize the weight that you can apply to stop defenders from lifting your stick away from the puck. Or to get the right force behind a nice, hard shot.

how to hold a hockey stick

Task-Specific Hand Positioning

Every guide for learning how to hold a hockey stick properly must also include all the changes you’ll have to make for each hockey maneuver you want to accomplish.

Breakaway Hand Position

To gain the explosive speed needed during a breakaway, you’ll have to let go of your stick with your bottom hand. That way, you can properly pump your arms with every push of your skates.

This will make controlling the puck a lot harder. To compensate for the speed, use your top hand to extend your stick in front of you with the blade facing upwards.

As you skate, the back of the blade should rest on the ice and push the puck forward with every pump of your top hand. This will give you the biggest surface area for controlling the puck.

Shooting Hand Position

When learning how to hold a hockey stick to make a good shot, the most important thing to consider is the amount of weight you can put behind your stick. That’s what will get you that amazing whip-like power to launch the puck.

You’ll want to bring your bottom hand further down the shaft to do this. As you bend over your stick, you’ll increase the amount of force you can push into it.

But make sure you’re not bringing it too far down. Your bottom hand should stay just below hip height, never going past the height of your knee.

Defensive Hand Positions

Similar to the breakaway hand position, as defensemen skate backward to keep an eye on the opponent’s offense, they should only have their top hand on the stick.

This helps keep you balanced and gives you a much larger range of motion with your stick. As you curve an S-like pattern back towards your goal, use your top hand to bring the blade flat against the ice and sweep your stick in front of you.

This is how to hold a hockey stick to ensure you’re ready for any openings the offenders give you to steal the puck. And already having only one hand on your stick makes it much easier to get a poke in.

Goalie Hand Positions

Learning how to hold a hockey stick properly is a little different when you’re a goalie.

Goalie Stance Position

The goalie stance only requires one hand on your stick at all times. Like the top hand of a standard stick, this hand is usually the dominant one.

But you don’t place it at the end of the shaft. Instead, it’s placed right at the neck of the goalie stick, which is the part of the shaft right before it widens out.

When holding a goalie stick, your thumb should not be extended. Simply make a proper fist around the shaft and hold it tightly. This will keep your stick facing outward and ready for any flying pucks.

Stick Handling

As it becomes increasingly common for goalies to leave their goal, proper training for holding a hockey stick must now include a stick-handling stance.

When the moment comes, slide your hand to the butt off the stick and grip it tightly. With your catcher, grip the shaft of the stick as best as you can. Wherever feels most comfortable works.

Some goalies will try and grip it as you would a standard stick, with the catcher pointing down toward the blade of the stick. But it is becoming more popular to flip your hand so that your catcher points up toward the butt of the stick.

Then you can tuck your elbow in close to your side and use a pushing motion to apply the force necessary to make a pass. Either way is effective. So try both of them out and decide which position works best for you!

Poke Position

The poke position is the last step for understanding how to hold a hockey stick properly as a goalie.

First, you’ll need to push with your fingers and loosen your grip so your fist can slide up the shaft to grip the butt of the stick. Then give a quick tug to slide your fist back into its proper position. All this should be done with quick, fluid movements for it to catch your opponent off guard successfully.

how to hold a hockey stick

Wrapping Up How to Hold a Hockey Stick Correctly

When it comes to mastering the basics, there’s nothing more important than learning how to hold a hockey stick correctly. Luckily this guide teaches you all the different movements you’ll need to make during a game, no matter what position you play!

And if you’re looking for even more information, check out our Hockey page!