What Is the Difference Between Youth and Junior Hockey Sticks?

What Is the Difference Between Youth and Junior Hockey Sticks?

Youth and Junior Hockey Sticks

When it comes to buying a younger kid a hockey stick, it is essential to consider all the different hockey stick features before making a final decision. While it may seem like they are all the same, there are actually a few differences between youth and junior hockey sticks.

The differences between youth and junior hockey sticks come down to two main factors: the length of the stick and the flex. Overall, youth sticks are made to accommodate shorter and smaller players, while junior sticks accommodate slightly taller and larger players.

If you want to know more about the differences between youth and junior hockey sticks and equip yourself with all of the information you will need before investing in a stick for youth or junior players, keep reading.

The Stick Length

Hockey sticks are made in four different lengths, typically sorted based on the ages of the players:

  • Senior (14+)
  • Intermediate (11-14)
  • Junior (7-13)
  • Youth (3-8)

Each of which is designed to be approximately the appropriate length for the player. However, you will want to make sure that the length you get works best for the player as it is a crucial factor in playing hockey and can be easily determined based on the player’s height.

To determine how long the stick needs to be, you will need the player to stand up straight with no shoes or skates and place the stick with the toe (bottom of the stick) on the ground in front of them, leaning vertically up against them. You will want the stick to come up to their nose, so if it is a little too tall, mark the ideal spot you will want to cut down. When their skates are on, it should reach the height of their chin.

Remember, the stick’s length can also come down to preference, but basing it off of the height of a player is a good general rule of thumb and place to start. However, there are some benefits to a shorter stick, as described in our article on the subject.

Youth Hockey Sticks

Youth hockey players are considered to be in either the 3-5 age range or the 6-8 age range, and both of these age ranges are going to require different types of youth hockey sticks, so it is essential to go through all of the features of a stick to ensure they get one of the right length based on how tall they are.

Typically, you will find that youth hockey sticks for 3-5-year-olds are 38”-44” (96cm-112cm) in length, while youth hockey sticks for 6-8-year-olds are 45”-49” (114cm-125cm) in length.

In addition to youth sticks being shorter, they typically are thinner than junior sticks as well.

Junior Hockey Sticks

Junior hockey players are considered to be for 7-13-year-olds, and as you have probably recognized, a player who is 7 or 8 could fit either into the youth or junior category. So, when it comes down to this, paying attention to their height and the other features we mention below is essential when it comes to choosing a stick.

Junior hockey sticks are typically 50”-54” (127cm-137cm) and will fit a junior player so long as they are shorter than 5’1” (155cm). If the player is taller, it may be best for them to look at intermediate hockey sticks. We have another article that goes into much more detail about the lengths of junior hockey sticks.

The Flex of a Stick

The flex of a stick refers to the flexibility of the shaft and if it can slightly bend when gently pushed on. If it is stiff and has little flex, it can impact the ability to accurately, quickly, and easily shoot a puck, so many players prefer sticks with more flex.

A stick’s flex is written as a number representing how much weight needs to be applied to flex (bend) the stick an inch (2.54cm). The higher the flex, the more stiff the stick is and harder it is to bend. The less stiff it is, the easier it is to bend and take slapshots.

While there is no right or wrong flex when it comes down to it, the recommended flex is based on two things: the player’s weight and personal preferences.

We’ve also written a much more detailed article describing the flex of hockey sticks, which may be worth taking a look at to understand flex better.

Youth Hockey Sticks

Youth hockey sticks will have lower flex than junior sticks, with an average of a 20-35 flex recommended for youth. Even possibly a 40/45 if the player is in the 6-8 age group and weighs slightly more than average.

These are relatively low compared to other sticks as youth players are reasonably small and weigh a lot less than junior or senior players. So, they need to be able to be more easily flexed.

Junior Hockey Sticks

Junior sticks have more flex, and for good reason. If a junior player uses a youth stick for too long after they should, especially one with low flex, they are likely to snap it more easily.

Junior sticks typically range from 40-55 in flex, but if the player is taller than 5’1” (155cm) or weighs more than 110lbs (50kgs), it may be time to look into intermediate sticks with better flex options as those are not found in junior sticks. In the next section, we will discuss which one you should choose.

Which One Should You Choose?

While a hockey player is likely to be categorized into either youth, junior, intermediate, or senior based on their age, you must base the hockey stick they play with on the player’s height and weight. This will determine which stick fits them best and allows them to play the game properly.

Here is a chart to help you to determine whether the player should have a youth or a junior stick, irrelevant of their age:

Type of Stick Height Weight
Youth 3’ - 4’8” (91cm-142cm) 60-80lbs (27-36kg)
Junior 4’4” - 5’1” (132cm-155cm) 70-110lbs (32-50kg)

Once you have determined whether you should invest in a youth or junior stick, you can then buy one with the best flex and lie for the player. As well as cut it down to the appropriate length if needed.

Some other factors you will want to take into consideration when investing in a hockey stick for a player include:

  • Whether it is for left-handed or right-handed players
  • The type of hockey stick and whether you want one that is composite, wood, or two-piece
  • The blade’s curve or pattern and whether you need one with a toe curve, mid curve, or heel curve, and how deep of a curve you want
  • The lie of a stick is based on the height and stance of a player
  • The hockey stick kick point is based on where the stick’s flex is positioned, which can be either a low, mid, or customized kick point
  • The shaft finish can either be a grip or non-grip (clear)
  • The price range results from the quality and brand of the stick (thankfully, many brands offer an extensive range of price options)

If you are looking for more guidance on picking the right stick, check out this video below:

Final Thoughts

The main differences between a youth and junior stick include the length and flex of the sticks, and in many cases, the thickness. While the players may be typically organized by their age, having a stick that best suits their physical abilities is the most crucial factor to ensure that they have a stick that won’t break and play at their best ability.

At the end of the day, it is best to choose whether you invest in a youth or a junior stick based on the player’s height, weight, and preference.

If you’re interested in more comparisons, we’ve also written an article describing the differences between youth and junior skates.