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.
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.”
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
This Bauer Youth Vapor Prodigy Ice Hockey Stick is lightweight, durable, and available in three different flex options. The Micro Feel II shaft and the grip make the stick easier to control, while the AERO FOAM I blade ups the accuracy of each shot.
The CCM JetSpeed Grip Youth Hockey Stick only comes in one flex: 20, which means it’s for smaller children. However, you do have the option to pick the correct stick for your dominant hand (left or right). If you know your child needs a 20, this is a solid, reliable hockey stick for them to use. The JetSpeed Grip is lightweight, which makes it easier for smaller hands to manage — just make sure your child doesn’t get too whip-happy with it! The brand also touts the curve of the blade, claiming that it’s specifically designed to help young players hone in on their shooting skills.
The Warrior Youth Alpha DX 1 Pink Ice Hockey Stick will certainly stand out on the ice. It comes in a 30 flex and is made with a combination of materials to help youth players have a sweet time on the ice. The blade is lightweight for lightning fast shooting and puck handling, while the shaft is balanced for maximum control.
This Twigz ABS Youth Wood Hockey Stick comes in a left-handed, right-handed, or straight model to accommodate all kids. It’s labeled as a regular flex. It’s made from all wood, which ideally makes it a better fit for street hockey. Your LO can take it on the ice for casual play, but it wouldn’t be ideal if they’re playing competitively.
The CCM Tacks AS3 Grip Youth Hockey Stick is a newer model for the brand and is designed to help small hockey players control the puck and improve their shooting. The durable shaft ends in a stiff but lightweight blade that kids will be able to use to better their game on the ice.
The Sher-Wood Youth Rekker M90 Grip Ice Hockey Stick is made to be ultra-lightweight so your little hockey player can zip around the ice with the puck like a tiny pro. The DropKick Taper is ideal for a sharp quick shot, and the FLYLYTE technology makes the stick very durable without adding any extra weight.
Don’t forget that the goalie needs their own special hockey stick. The Warrior Junior Swagger SR2 Hockey Goalie Stick is made especially for this position. It’s 19″, so it’s good for smaller players. The paddle has a foam core, which makes it light and easy to handle so your child can stock the puck efficiently. Plus, it’s durable to withstand the inevitable crashes and bangs that happen on the ice.