A piece of equipment used in any form of hockey, inc. ice street, roller and field.

General design

The ice, street and roller hockey stick are generally one and the same. At least in design. It consists of a shaft varying from 3' to 6' in length, depending on the height of the user. The blade bends out from the shaft and is approx. 3" in height. In addition the blade may curve making the stick designed for a left-handed or right-handed shot. The curvature allows the user to get more power out of a forehand shot, while sacrificing stick-handling ability and back-hand shot power. Though the curvature does have those drawbacks very few hockey players above the age of eight use a neutral stick. And have grown accustomed to the curvature in their stick handling and back-hand shots. A neutral stick has no curvature in the blade.

The lie of a stick refers to the angle between the blade and the shaft. However, in recent times the lie rating has fallen by the wayside, instead being replaced by the flex of the stick.

The flex of the stick refers to how easy the shaft is to bed. This bending is generally only used in a slapshot.

Fabrication

In early years hockey sticks were formed from a single piece of wood and were very prone to breaking. Also, in the beginning all sticks were sold as neutral. Many hockey players curved the blade of their sticks. Using the steam rising from a pot of boiling water they could steam the wood allowing them to curve it. Large curves prompted the rule limiting the curvature of the blade.
In the 'middle-ages' of hockey manufacturers began laminating their sticks with fiberglass. The fiberglass brought the durability of the stick up from its brittle past. However most players still kept several sticks on the bench, just in case. Also, with the advent of the fiberglass stick it became much more difficult to curve the blade. A blow torch needed to be used to heat the fiber glass. I myself ruined more than one stick in my youth attempting this. In the mid-eighties the aluminum stick made its debut. Providing unsurpassed durability in the shaft it was favored by some and shunned by others. Initially, the weight of the stick was greater than that of a wood. And the blade was still wooden and just as likely to break as its cousin. The wood blade was held in by a strong form of hot glue. When the shafts first hit the market the only way to remove the blade was by heating the shaft with a blow torch. The fatigued metal holding the blade became brittle and caused problems. The nineties saw the advent of the graphite shaft. Providing a much lighter stick with just as much durability as the aluminum shafts of the eighties. Also in the nineties the heat-gun became popular. Allowing players to remove broken blades with a high-powered hair dryer. It was easier on the metal and not such a safety concern. Now we have sticks like the Synergy, pure graphite shaft and blade. At $150 each they are 5x-6x the cost of a wood stick. However, they are pure graphite and much lighter than any wood or aluminum stick. Their responsiveness is unsurpassed (I use one myself).

Street hockey sticks were at one point, the same as ice-hockey sticks, literally. However, once the fiberglass was worn through the blade quickly began to disintegrate from the inside-out. Plastic has replaced wood as the material of choice for a long lasting street-stick. The draw back to a plastic blade is that it flexes. The flex is problematic for hard wrist-shots and makes slapshots nearly impossible.

Field hockey sticks I know little about. However instead of the blade just jutting out from the shaft they actually curve back up toward the top of the shaft.

Taping a stick

A hockey stick is taped it two places. The top of the shaft and around the blade.

The end of the shaft generally has a tape-ball, providing the skater a good grip and an indication of where the end of his stick is. The tape-ball can be formed in multiple ways, from simply wrapping tape around the end of the shaft to purchasing a pre-made rubber topper. However, the rubber toppers are generally frowned upon as taboo. White tape is used at the top of the shaft since black tape has a tendency to get black tar on your hockey gloves.

The blade of the stick is taped to improve the stick-puck friction. There are two different types of tape that can be used. First is standard black. Providing good contrast with the ice as a passing target, and generally out of tradition. The other is tar or friction tape. Tar-tape is little more than fabric dipped in tar, giving both sides a sticky quality. Many players swear by it (as I do). I have heard it gives an added 5mph on shots due to the added friction the tar provides. However, I am unsure of the accuracy of that statement. The only draw back to tar-tape is that is does not last as long as standard black-tape.

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