The Best Hockey Sticks for Kids (And Tips On Accurate Sizing Straight From The Pros)

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Getty Images/Thomas Barwick

Ah, you’ve reached the inevitable point in your child’s life where they’ve decided they want to play sports and now you have to find kids’ hockey sticks. The good news is that we did a lot of the hard research for you and learned a lot of interesting facts with help from a few hockey experts. Picking out sports equipment can be hard if it’s one of the games you’re not as familiar with. And while it may seem like you can grab any old hockey stick and call it a day, there’s actually some strategy that goes into what your child needs.

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How do I choose a youth hockey stick?

Hockey expert David Rosales, who has played the game his whole life and currently works with National Hockey League (NHL) coaches and youth players, compares kids’ hockey sticks to kids’ cell phones, in that there’s always something new on the market. He doesn’t want parents to get blinded by the flashiness, though. “Finding the latest and greatest is not what you should worry about,” he says. “In fact, the higher-end sticks are usually very light, which are almost always better for elite players, but for young players, it won’t make a difference in their play. What’s more important is the length and the flex.” The length, as you can imagine, is quite literally how long the stick is. The flex, though, might be a term you aren’t familiar with yet. The flex is how much the stick bends, which affects how whippy the player’s shot is. A higher flex means the stick is stiffer, and it’s often guided by the weight of the player.

“If [the flex] is too stiff, it can be hard to shoot and stickhandle the puck,” advises Molly Schaus, who played on the 2010 and 2014 U.S. Women’s Olympic Ice Hockey teams and still coaches players of all levels. “The flex also changes if you have to cut down the stick’s height, so that’s something to consider.”

Rosales added that he often sees parents buying the wrong flex for a couple of reasons. One, they buy something stiffer thinking that there’s less of a chance that their child will break it (meaning less of a financial burden) and also because their kids overestimate their strength, simply because they want a bigger number. However, buying the wrong flex will only hinder their game.

What size hockey stick does my child need?

A good rule of thumb for flex is to go with a number that’s half your body weight. Many kids’ hockey sticks are anywhere from a 20 flex (for very little ones) to 70 flex, but you can decide what’s right for you and your little from that.

For the length, Schaus says, “A stick should come up to your nose when you are wearing shoes, up to your chin when you are on skates (ice skates give you 2-3″ in height).” It can be tempting to buy a stick that’s a little longer than necessary, knowing your child is going to grow, but it’s not the best idea. In fact, you can buy extensions for the sticks to accommodate your child’s growth, until you feel like it’s the right time to upgrade to a new stick. Rosales reminds parents that stick length is so important to the child learning skate mechanics.

“You’ll hear at all youth practices and in the USA hockey guides the importance of teaching young players to bend their knees,” Rosales adds. “A stick that’s too tall will make it so when they’re in a proper position, it’s awkward to stickhandle and shoot, encouraging them to stay upright.”

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At the end of the day, you just have to poke around at what’s available and see what will work best for you and your child. Youth hockey sticks can run a bit on the pricier side — as can hockey in general — so Schaus advises to keep your budget in mind while shopping around. “At a young age, there is no need to get the best brand,” she says. If you’re putting your child in a league or on a local hockey team, you can also get help from the coach in finding the right stick. They’ll be able to help you determine the proper flex and length.

We picked out a few sticks made for young beginners as a starting point in your kids’ hockey stick search; check them all out below. And welcome to the club, hockey mom!

Best Hockey Sticks for Kids


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