CHOOSING YOUR STICK: FLEX

 

When it comes to selecting a hockey stick, many specifications come into play: the curve, the shaft finish, the kickpoint location, etc. One of the most significant elements to consider is the stick flex. The flex rating refers to the amount of pounds of pressure it takes to the stick to bend 1 inch.

 

Youth hockey sticks: 35 to 40 flex

Junior hockey sticks: 40 to 50 flex

Intermediate hockey sticks: 55 to 70 flex

Senior hockey sticks: 75 flex and more

 

The hockey stick flex is usually a personal preference of the player. However, to maximize the potential of the stick, its flex should be in correlation with the player weight. There is a rule of thumb: the weight divided by 2 should determine the stick flex. For example, a player that weights 200 pounds should consider a stick with a flex of 100. This theory originates from the body leaning on top of the stick while taking a shot, naturally putting pressure on the stick to bend. When the stick bends, the optimization of the spring effect recoil and release will maximize the shot power. The less torsion provided by the blade will improve the accuracy of the shot.

 

The hockey stick length affects the flex. The flex rating indicated on the stick is at its full length. If the stick is cut, the flex will increase by approximately 2-3 flex per inch removed. However, some sticks have a specified "flex free zone" on top of the shaft. This area of typically 4-5 inches can be cut without any impact on the flex.

 

The kickpoint location will change the perception of the flexibility of the stick. For the same flex rating, a mid kickpoint stick might feel more whippy because the lower hand is very close to the flex point profile of the stick. In opposition, a low kickpoint stick will give the sensation to be slightly stiffer, the flex point being further to the lower hand positioning.

 

The best way to test a stick flex in a store is to position your hands in a wrist shot motion, with the blade on the floor. Make sure to put your upper hand where the stick would be cut, if it would be the case. With your lower hand locked on the shaft, pull your upper hand with moderate effort. You should be able to bend the stick about 1 inch.

 

Once again, the optimal flex rating is a personal preference although this text derives from a solid trend in flex rating usage in hockey. You should be able to refer to your current stick flex to choose your next flex rating.

 

Keep in mind that Alex Ovechkin plays with a 79-flex stick (5-on-5) and weigh 230 pounds!