Hockey Stick Length
Determining the correct length for a junior hockey stick is an essential component for juniors to get the most out of their game. Though juniors can adapt to different length sticks, finding the right length ensures they are playing as naturally as possible. So, how long is a junior hockey stick?
A junior hockey stick is 50” – 54” long and corresponds typically to those aged 7-13. You want to ensure that your blade’s center is flat on the ground when in skates. Also, If you stand the stick straight up on its toe and the handle reaches between your chin and nose, it’s the correct length.
Other factors, aside from age, can influence the correct length of a junior hockey stick. Continue reading for everything you need to know about how long a junior-sized hockey stick should be.
While the standardization of hockey stick sizes correlates a certain length with an age range, determining the right size for your junior hockey star can be a little more complicated.
As much as standard sizes can assist in the selection process of sticks, especially for beginners, more critical factors are:
There are a few instances when sticks that are outside of the typical size range can have benefits for you.
Longer sticks are suitable for power loading and also for defensemen.
Longer shafts allow for drag behind the puck as you load up for a shot, creating more power. The more lag you can make with your stick, the more power you produce. The contact of the blade to the puck acts similarly to the crack achieved by a bullwhip.
Using a longer stick is a technique that takes practice to implement successfully. Still, it can be quite effective once you hone your skills. When shooting using a longer stick, it’s all about timing. If you can sync up the timing, you can create tremendous power.
If you are more of a defensive-minded player, you may find that a longer stick helps you with this aspect of the game. The added length will allow you to attack the puck and disrupt your opponents more often. These longer sticks will also allow you to potentially intercept more passes.
The opposite is true of shorter sticks. These are usually best for those who want to focus more on puck handling. When you have a shorter stick, you keep the puck closer to your body, which allows for more control.
You can think of it similar to touching a small point with your finger instead of using a pole. It’s much easier to use your finger because it’s closer to your body.
These, of course, are generalizations based on the preferences of some professional players.
You will always find exceptions to the rule. Some individual defensive players prefer a shorter stick for the maneuverability that it provides them. Similarly, some offensive-minded players use a longer stick and like the power advantages that it provides.
Before we talk about some of the best ways to figure out the proper size of the stick you should be using, we should discuss some of the issues that can arise when you don’t use the appropriate stick.
When it comes to junior hockey sticks, one of the most common things that you’ll find is juniors using sticks that are too long for them. The reason for this fact is pretty understandable. Since kids grow so quickly, parents will often opt for a longer stick, assuming that they will simply develop into their stick.
While this is sound reasoning, especially since continually changing hockey sticks can get expensive, it may stunt players’ hockey development. Couple this with the rest of the equipment that will need updating, and you can be looking at a pretty penny.
Unfortunately, these cost savings can have pretty damaging effects on the playstyle of your junior hockey player.
Let’s look at some of the most common issues from playing with a hockey stick that is too long.
The first obvious issue with a stick that is too long is that it forces you to stand up too tall.
Standing too tall creates a series of problems that take you out of a natural hockey posture. The proper hockey posture is a slight knee bend, which allows for a few benefits.
- Power generation
- Proper weight transfer
- Stick Handling
- Correct lie
So, why does standing too tall compromise these benefits?
You may think that hockey players shoot with their arms, but their actual power comes from their legs.
With a proper knee bend, they can transfer their weight behind each shot they take.
If you stand too tall because your stick is too long, you’ll compromise your blade’s lie. You are forced to hold your hands in one of two positions, high or low, to counteract the length.
When you hold your stick too high, it forces your stick’s blade into a toe down position. If you hold it too low, your blade acts oppositely, and your toe position is up.
Either way, it messes with your shooting mechanics and forces you to manipulate your stick instead of allowing it to act with your natural tendencies.
Another improper tendency that you can develop with too long of a stick is bending at the waist.
When you have to bend at the waist, it puts you off balance and affects your skating ability.
Ensuring that you buy the right size stick will eliminate all of these potential issues and allow your junior hockey player to flourish as much as possible.
As we briefly touched on earlier, juniors can use a few techniques to find the proper length for their game.
The first of the methods involves standing your potential hockey stick straight up and down, with the toe of your stick’s blade on the ground. From this position, you should see where the handle of your stick hits you.
Ideally, you’ll want the handle to stop somewhere between your nose and your chin. If it’s within this range, it is considered the correct size.
Anywhere above your nose, and it’s too long. Anywhere under your chin, and it’s too short.
This method has its shortcomings because of the various playstyles that we talked about earlier. Some players will inherently like a longer or a shorter stick based on how they play the game.
Despite some potential shortcomings, this technique is useful because instead of using your age to determine the stick’s length, it uses your height.
The other method you can use to determine the hockey stick’s correct length is to ensure that the blade’s center is flat on the ground.
Note: You will be required to have your skates on for this since they add significant height.
You’ll want to get into a natural skating position and select a stick where the blade’s center is flat on the ground.
Using your blade’s base as your signifier for stick length is one of the most effective ways of finding the right stick.
This method takes all of the technical aspects out of the equation and allows you to decide based on feel.
You may find that in using this method, you prefer a much shorter stick. You could, of course, also see the opposite.
Finding the stick that feels the most comfortable in your hand will lead to the most success. You won’t have the feeling of having to manipulate the stick to suit your needs, which frees you up to play the game instinctually.
While we have discussed the importance of finding the correct length for your junior’s hockey stick, there are ways to adjust the size if their stick is too long, or if they grow and require a longer stick.
The two length adjustment methods that we’ll discuss will allow you to keep the same hockey stick instead of making the significant investment of buying a new one.
Regardless of your hockey stick’s material makeup, you can always cut it down to remove some of the length. Cutting your shaft is a relatively speedy process that should take less than 30 minutes and save you potentially hundreds of dollars.
- Determine the correct length of the shaft. You can use one of the two methods that we discussed earlier to find the appropriate size.
a. place the toe of the stick on the ground until it reaches somewhere between your chin or nose (or wherever you decide is the right length)
b. while wearing your skates, hold your stick in your hands in a skating position with your knees bent and choke up on the shaft until the blade’s center is flat on the ground
- Mark the location of where you want to cut the shaft. Take a permanent marker and a ruler or other straight edge to draw a line at the point where you want to cut your stick. It may be best to mark the shaft about an inch above where you’d like the length to be to err on the side of caution. Remember, you can always cut it more if it’s not short enough.
Pro Tip: Wrap masking tape around the shaft where you want to make your cut. Adding tape will stop the areas on the shaft around the cut from splintering.
- Cut the shaft using a hacksaw. Once you have the shaft marked, remove the end cap of the shaft and place the hockey stick in a vice just below where you want to make your cut. Use a hacksaw to cut along the marked line, using short quick strokes when cutting. Ensure that you are making straight and level cuts.
- Sand the shaft where you made your cut. After you’ve made your cut, sharp edges or burrs may exist. Sand these areas until you remove all of these imperfections, and have a smooth handle.
- Finish the handle. Reinsert the end cap into the shaft. Once reinserted, tape the handle of the shaft with your preferred tape for grip.
The process of removing length from your stick is relatively quick; however, you should keep in mind that when you remove length, it will affect the way the stick feels.
The shorter your hockey stick, the stiffer it becomes.
If you remove an inch or two, you may not notice much of a difference in how it feels. Any more than a couple of inches and the shaft will feel exponentially stiffer.
You will have to weigh the benefits gained from saving money with the risks involved with potentially making the stick unusable for your junior. A stick that is too stiff will have a very negative effect on the performance.
Cutting the stick can also be used as an experimental process. Since you will have to replace your stick anyway, you can try cutting it.
If it works, then you save money. If it doesn’t, then you’re just replacing a stick that needed replacing anyway.
It’s a win-win scenario.
One of the biggest problems we’ve discussed with buying junior hockey equipment is that juniors outgrow their equipment rapidly. There is a reasonably simple way to add length to any hockey stick. You can buy an extension.
- Remove the end cap from your stick. Likely, you will have to remove both the existing tape and end cap from your shaft. Use a sharp tool like a knife to provide leverage underneath the end cap, to pry it up more quickly. Save the end cap, as you will need it for a later step.
- Prepare your extension. Regardless of the type of extension that you use, composite or wooden, it will come with the glue already applied to the part of the extension that you’ll insert into the shaft. This glue will need to be activated with a heat gun. Heat the glue evenly around the extension until the adhesive becomes soft and sticky. You can also apply a small amount of heat evenly to the end of your shaft.
Pro Tip: If you don’t have a heat gun, you can use a hairdryer. You may have to heat longer to create the heat necessary to activate the glue.
- Insert the extension into the shaft. Once you have the glue activated, you can slide the extension down into the shaft. The fit will be tight, so this may require a significant amount of pressure. Once the extension is pushed fully into place, wipe away any excess glue that may have seeped out of the connection.
- Replace the end cap. Reinsert the endcap that you removed. After you reinsert the cap, you can also reapply your tape anyway you like it applied.
The cost of adding an extension is minimal, especially if you use a wooden extender. Wooden extensions will run you around $6.00 apiece, while composite extensions are closer to $30.00.
Adding a wooden or composite extension is a price saving when you compare to a $300.00 hockey stick’s potential cost.
Like shortening your stick, adding an extension will change the stiffness. The more length that’s added, the softer the flex will be. Extensions come in various sizes but can be as long as 8”, which can significantly change your stick’s feel.
Again, you have to weigh the benefits of adding an extension versus the cost of buying a completely new stick. If an extension renders the stick ineffective, you really have no choice but to upgrade your stick.
There are three basic price levels that you’ll find in hockey sticks on the market:
- Top of the line
High-end hockey sticks generally cost $300 or more. These sticks are known for their superior feel and responsiveness, thanks to their one-piece construction.
One-piece stick construction can come in one of two forms:
- Pseudo-Single Form
- True One Piece
The first, where the blade and the shaft are fused together to create a pseudo-single form. The second, known as a true one-piece, is the most expensive type of hockey stick you’ll find on the market and is usually only implemented by pro players. Authentic one-piece sticks are created compression-molded, so it is all one piece without fusing.
For our discussions, we are focused more on a traditional fused one-piece design.
These one-piece sticks are lightweight and are usually made from mainly carbon material with fiberglass added for more durability. The more carbon fiber, the heavier the stick will be.
A top of the line stick is also known to be very well balanced and create a nice amount of whip for added puck speed off the face.
It is important to note that though these sticks are a lot more expensive than others you’ll find in the market, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll last longer. You will see some performance advantages, and technically they are of higher quality, but there isn’t a durability advantage.
So, if durability is the main selling point between sticks, it’s essential to understand this point.
Perhaps somewhat counterintuitively, basic sticks are actually the most durable sticks you’ll find on the market, thanks to their heavy construction.
They are always a two-piece construction, where the blade and shaft are made separately and put together.
Though this does increase its durability, it also leaves the stick feeling unbalanced and heavy in the head.
This imbalance leaves you with a different feel off the face and less pop than a more expensive model.
A benefit, aside from the apparent cost savings of these two-piece designs, is that if a component like the head or shaft gets damaged, it provides you with the opportunity to replace just the damaged piece.
Replacement parts are less expensive than replacing the entire stick, even at their overall reduced full stick price.
If a high-end one-piece stick is damaged, you have no choice but to replace the entire stick.
You can expect to pay anywhere from $50-$75.00 for these basic two-piece sticks.
As you might expect, mid-range hockey sticks implement a combination of aspects from basic and high-end sticks.
They will feature more resin than the most high-end offerings but are processed to remove more resin than in basic sticks, to reduce weight. Because of this weight reduction, they also feel more balanced and have more spring off the face than basic sticks.
Price-wise, expect to find these mid-range sticks to run anywhere from around $100-$250.
Mid-range is the category of sticks that most people will buy. They offer the best of both worlds:
- Relatively lightweight
- At a decent price point
As you increase in age and skill level, the importance of finding the right size stick also increases. While you’re developing your skills, you can get away with equipment that wasn’t tailored precisely to fit your game. As you move up the minor hockey levels and the age and skill level of the competition increases, you will need to make sure you have equipment that perfectly fits you.
The minor hockey levels in the United States are as follows:
- Mini Mite (age5-6)
- Mite (Age 7-8)
- Squirt (Age 9-10)
- Peewee (Age 11-12)
- Bantam (Age 13-14)
- Minor Midget 16 and Under (Age 15-16)
- Major Midget 18 and Under (Age 15-18)
Within these leagues are also tier levels that correlate to the skill of the competition.
- AAA: Tier 1
- AA: Tier 2
- A: Tier 2 Average
- B: Tier 2 Lower
AAA is where the highest level of competition and skill level exists, while B is for more casual players.
Based on the age range discussed earlier for junior hockey sticks, most of them will play in Mite, Squirt, Peewee, and maybe some in Bantam. You are also sorted within your specific tiers based on skill level.
Based on these minor hockey leagues’ age range within the United States, junior-sized hockey sticks would typically be used in four out of the seven leagues, making it the most widely used stick in the minors.
You may look at this fact and think that you can get away using one stick as you progress throughout these levels, but this is likely not going to be the case.
You will likely grow, and potentially grow a significant amount during these minor hockey years, so your stick will have to change with you.
There is also the potential to prefer a longer or shorter stick as you learn more about your play style.
A length preference can take you from a junior stick and bump you up into the intermediate size or down into youth length.
Try not to focus on the age of your league or the age recommendations on various hockey sticks. Instead, focus on finding a stick that feels comfortable in your hands and that you’re confident using.
We’ve talked about some of the different ways to figure out how long a junior hockey stick should be. According to official numbers about stick’s sizing, you should be 7-13 years old, and the stick itself should be 50”-54” long.
While this length is the official number for junior-sized hockey sticks, it doesn’t mean that everyone within that age range will find that these sticks fit them the best.
We also talked about a couple of different methods that you can use to test how long a stick should be to you. If you use the toe down approach, the end of the stick should be somewhere between your chin and your nose, on average.
You can also get into a traditional hockey stance and get a stick where the blade’s center lies flat against the ground.
There are also certain situations where getting a hockey stick that is longer or shorter than typical is the best answer for your game.
Defensive-minded players may prefer a significantly longer stick than usual, so they can potentially disrupt passes and poke the puck away. This additional length may take players into an intermediate stick instead of a junior that may technically fit their height and age.
Offensive players, on the other hand, may prefer a shorter stick. Shorter sticks allow you to handle the puck better and keep it closer to your body. Favouring a shorter stick could potentially bump a player in the 7-13 age group down to a youth stick.
The fact of the matter is that finding the correct stick size is a very personal journey. It would be best if you experimented with different length sticks to see what best fits your game. In this way, finding the right stick is very subjective. While it’s a lot easier to look at a chart and see what size stick you should be using, that’s not a realistic way of choosing.
Selecting your stick should be a fun process, so take your time and maximize your potential ability.