I came across this video that shows a number of slapshots in slow-motion using a composite hockey stick. It illustrates the importance of form and flex and will help you better understand kick point and breaking points. Check it out, then read my analysis below;
Why sticks break on slap-shots?
- The flex number is defined by the amount of weight it takes to flex the hockey stick one inch (75 pounds of pressure = 75 flex). Note: stick manufacturers will round up or down on retail model sticks for consistency.
- As the video shows, getting a flex on the stick (loading it) before it strikes the puck creates a kick that is much more powerful than simply hitting the puck directly with your stick. When shots are captured on camera you can see that they are flexing beyond one inch, which means you are effectively putting more weight into it than the flex number, this is where you get into the break point danger zone. Too much weight into it and your stick is going to snap.
- If you’re breaking too many sticks on slap shots or feel that you are in the danger zone than you may want to increase the flex number on your hockey stick. If you’re still able to load the stick and get a good kick with the higher flex you will find that it increases velocity of your shot (simply because there is more power behind it). Caution: While this may be true for your slapshot you must also consider what it does to your wrist shot and snap shot.
- Most pro level players have figured out their own personal balance. They choose a stick that can unleash a powerful slapshot, but can also give them an effective wrister, snapper, and even a good hard pass. If asked, they can pretty much snap their stick at will by winding up for a booming slapshot and putting too much force behind it.
- I tell parents the rule of thumb is half your body weight (a 150 lbs kid should be using a 75 flex), but depends on what the player is looking for in a stick (D-men that take lots of clappers will probably want a little stiffer). Everyone’s game is different and you must find the right balance. Many rec level players will want a lower flex because they don’t take slap shots, others will want a higher flex because they know they will snap a whippier stick too easily.
- After a while the responsiveness of the stick begins to weaken (what players refer to as whipped out). This is especially true in cheaper sticks. Note: Pro stocks are built with better responsiveness.
- Brand name manufacturers build different sticks with varying kick points that suit the needs of players that tend to take different shots (Ex. Bauer Vapour line vs. the Supreme line)
A few things to consider:
If players use a COLT Hockey stick (where you can put almost double the force into the shot before breaking) will this result in harder shots? More info.
If you’re not using the warranty on your sticks why buy retail? Pro stocks are more heavily reinforced and pack more of a punch! More info
Try something new? More info