It is best to start out with an inexpensive wood hockey stick for your very first Ice Hockey Stick and it should have a basic version of each of the unique features of a hockey stick.
Left handed or right handed stick?
Using a right handed versus left handed hockey stick is not an automatic decision and it really comes down to which way feels more comfortable to you. One guideline is to choose a hockey stick so that your dominate hand is on top (i.e. a left handed stick for a right handed person). The best way to figure this out is to borrow one of each stick from friends, or your local hockey shop, and try them out. Choose the way that feels most comfortable to you.
Choosing the right length stick is very important and it will dramatically affect your ability to use the hockey stick. Your hockey stick needs to be long enough to reach to approximately your chin when you are standing in skates when the hockey stick is held vertically in front of you. Hockey sticks come in a few standard sizes: junior, intermediate and senior and you will choose the one that is the closest length or longer. Expect to end up with a longer stick and cut it to the correct length with a wood saw (or have it cut at the local hockey shop).
The Blade Pattern of the hockey stick:
If you are going down the path of starting with a flat blade, then your decision is already made. If you are going to get a curved blade then get one that only has a slight curve to it. Forehand passing and shooting might be a little easier if you end up with a large curve, but back hand passing and shooting will be much more difficult. Master good stick handling and shooting with a basic blade pattern before moving to an advance curve.
Flex is a measurement of how stiff the hockey stick is. When you take a shot, the pressure you apply with your lower hand causes the hockey stick to bend. This bending is good, up to a point, because it helps accelerate your shot when the hockey stick snaps back. The right flex is one that has the most flex that you can still bend when you shoot. Again, go with a standard/regular flex for your first stick.
Preparing your new hockey stick for game time requires three things:
1. Cut your stick to the proper length. When you are standing in your skates, the top of the stick should be around your chin when it is held vertically in front of you. A fine tooth wood saw works best.
2. Tape the blade from heel to toe with hockey tape.
3. Tape the handle to provide a better grip. This usually consists of a knob of tape on the very end of the stick, and a single layer of tape wrapped 6-8 inches down the shaft starting from the knob.
Enjoy your new stick and the great sport of ice hockey!
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