Finding a goalie's correct stick length is crucial, though its importance is often overlooked with younger goaltenders. When measuring for the correct size, remember that the length of the paddle (the thicker part of the goal stick) is the most important feature.
The right paddle length helps the goalie maintain a proper stance. The paddle must be long enough so that when the goalie is in the proper stance with their knees bent and stick flat on the ice 8" to 12" in front of their toes, the blocker is aligned with the leg pad and is not overlapping the leg pad.
To properly fit a goalie stick, follow these simple steps:
1. Put on goalie skates if at all possible. Street shoes won’t accurately simulate playing conditions, and your fitting will not be accurate.
2. Have the goalie get in a stance position as if he/she was playing - knees bent, hands in front of the body, stick 12" from the skates.
A perfectly fit stick will place the goalie's blocker next to his or her leg pad, as shown in the picture to the right.
The stick is too short if the blocker overlaps the leg pad, or if the heel of the stick comes off of the ice in a normal stance position.
The stick is too big if there is a large gap between the blocker and the leg pad, or if the toe of the stick comes off the ice in a normal stance position.
CHOOSING A GOALIE STICK PATTERN
Given today’s emphasis on goalies playing the puck, it is more important than ever to consider the blade pattern of the goalie stick. Don’t just purchase the lightest, cheapest stick on the rack—know your individual needs and style, and purchase a stick based on these attributes.
The “Pattern” of a stick describes two elements: the curve of the blade and the lie of the stick.
The curve is based on two different attributes: where the curve begins in the stick (“Mid” or “Heel”), and how the face of the blade is positioned, moving from the heel of the stick to the toe of the stick (“Open” or “Closed”). Understanding these options and their merits will help you make the best purchasing decision.
Curve Pattern Descriptions:
- Mid Curve - curvature begins in the middle of the blade.
- Heel Curve - curvature starts at the heel of the blade.
- Open Curve - blade flares open as the curve approaches the toe (think of a wedge in golf).
- Closed Curve - blade stays more flat throughout the curve (think of a 3-iron in golf).
As a general rule, sticks with a mid curve make it easier to play the puck but a bit more challenging to shoot the puck higher.
Sticks with a more open curve, especially an open heel curve, make it easy to clear a puck high off of the glass but a bit harder to play around the net.
BEGINNING GOALIES should start with a MID curve and then adjust from here, if necessary, based on their style.
2. STICK LIE
The lie of the stick describes the location of the paddle when the stick blade is flat on the ice. Generally, we advise that the blocker be just to the side of, and not overlapping, the leg pad when the goalie is in his/her stance. Depending on their stance, goalies may need to purchase a stick that has a lower (13) or higher (15) lie.
Choosing the proper stick lie is critically important, as it affects more than just the blocker board position in the goalie’s stance. Shooting, directing the puck upon impact, etc., are all affected by the stick lie. Therefore, it is important that the goalie wear his/her skates when picking a new stick to ensure an accurate fit.
Lie 13: Places the blocker board farther away from the body with the stick blade flat on the ice.
Lie 14: Mid-level lie
Lie 15: Places the blocker board closer to the body with the stick blade flat on the ice.
NOTE: Lie measurement only applies to sticks with a flat blade bottom. Sticks with a curved or rockered blade bottom have no lie listed.
CONSIDERING FLEX WHEN BUYING A STICK
Stick flex is a measure of how flexible or how stiff a hockey stick is when a force is applied to it. Again, since passing and shooting the puck have become critical skills for today’s goalies, it’s important that the goalie choose a stick flex that best fits his or her needs.
When a player takes a shot, the hockey stick bends—which essentially turns the hockey stick into a spring that stores energy. When the spring is released (when the stick unbends and returns to straight), the energy is released and accelerates the puck.
“Stiff” sticks are harder to flex, but the energy released when the stick returns to form is greater. For this reason, stronger or heavier players may wish to use a stick with a stiff flex. Younger or weaker shooters will not be able to take advantage of the energy recoil of stiff sticks because they can’t bend them in the first place.
More flexible sticks are easier to bend, but they release less energy as the stick recoils. A softer flex therefore makes shooting easier for younger, weaker shooters. Stronger shooters will find that these sticks bend too much and their shooting accuracy suffers.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF STICKS?
Goalie sticks come in three different types:
1. WOOD GOALIE STICKS
Wood sticks are typically made of laminated pieces of aspen, ash, or birch, which are covered on the paddle and blade by thin layers of fiberglass for durability and water resistance.
As stick technology has advanced in the last few decades, the demand for wood sticks has decreased. Today's goalies tend to favor lighter and softer models. Goalies who prefer a more traditional feel, or who are on a budget, will find wood sticks appealing.
2. FOAM CORE GOALIE STICKS
Foam core sticks typically feature a wood shaft with a glass lamination for durability. The paddle and blade are made from a molded urethane, which is then injected with foam and covered with a glass or composite laminate for strength and water resistance. Newer foam core sticks also feature a harder heel insert to keep the heel from premature wear and tear.
The foam inside the paddle and blade provide rigidity and dampen the vibrations that goalies feel when the puck hits the stick. Oftentimes, goalies who use a foam core stick will describe its feel as “soft,” meaning that there is little vibration from puck impact.
Foam core sticks have grown in popularity over the years as they combine a reasonable price point, a light weight, a soft feel, and good durability.
3. COMPOSITE GOALIE STICKS
Today’s composite sticks are made from a variety of materials, ranging from fiberglass to graphite to carbon fiber/Kevlar. Like foam core sticks, composite sticks often feature foam core injections for vibration deadening, and they are often wrapped in higher grade synthetic materials like nylon, carbon fiber, or Kevlar, which help promote durability.
Due to the nature of their materials, composite sticks—especially the carbon fiber, Kevlar, and graphite models—tend to be the lightest on the market. Additionally, many of today’s models feature innovative elements including “rubbery” grip zones on the shoulder area, convex or flat paddle profiles (on the side that faces the shots), and contoured paddles that accommodate goalies who like to hold the stick closer to the body.
Composite sticks tend to be the most expensive on the market, though buyers may take some comfort in knowing that many of today’s composites feature a 30-day manufacturer’s warranty.