Sticking With It

Stick length is more important than you think.

As Clint Eastwood’s character Dirty Harry once said, “opinions are like assholes everyone has one.”

The same could be said about stick length and the game of hockey.

Every player has their own preference, but when is it time to intervene as a coach?

Obviously, as a scout I can’t say anything, but I will say this, I have definitely seen countless players over the past five years try to play with the wrong stick length.

It might not be as obvious as one may think, but it’s definitely noticeable.

Clearly it’s a personal and comfort thing, but when it effects performance that’s when someone should step up and say something.

With the price of sticks these days, hockey parents and players alike better be damn sure they cut them the right way, because there’s no going back.

It’s not like the late 90’s or early 2000’s when you could put in an insert to fix a screw up or saw malfunction, well maybe you still can, but that might not work the best.

Everyone remembers the rule of thumb or nose or chin or whatever it was.

Skates on, stick should come to the chin. No skates on, stick to your nose. Obviously, that’s a very old school take, but that’s what players in my era just did.

We have all heard different perspectives over the years that a shorter stick length will promote a better skating stride and puck handling prowess. I’m sure there’s tons of research out there that would support that. Perhaps a longer stick will help some players in their first years in contact hockey when angling and stick positioning is of vital importance.

I’ll never forget a former teammates father criticizing one of our former D partners saying he might as well had a 15 foot stick because he never ventured into the corners.

Tobias Enstrom played 734 NHL games with an incredibly long stick.

Enstrom’s creativity with the aforementioned twig was truly remarkable.

I’ll never forget having a former defencman struggle in their first few games of their first year in Pee Wee AA.

They could skate rings around everyone, but still seemed to be getting beat wide.

I went to the player’s parents with my assessment and made small suggestion.

It was their first foray into contact hockey as well, but trust me they were tough as nails and no doubt one of the toughest on the team.

She was getting beat wide because she struggled to go stick on stick or stick on puck.

The first question I asked her parents was what way did her dad shoot?

When they answered left, I said perfect.

The player in question and I made a compromise.

They were to practice all week with the longer stick, which just happened to be wooden as well.

She absolutely hated me for making the suggestion, but as time went on as she took more reps her confidence blossomed.

More importantly on one on one’s she really started to change the angle and close the gap with more precision, effectiveness and confidence. Clearly her stick was just too short.

Photo Credit the Score.com

By exaggerating it at first to almost “Chara” like lengths she probably thought I was completely out of my mind.

She played one more game with the short stick before her parents bought her a new one.

Oh yeah they cut down the wooden one and she used it as her back up stick for the rest of the season.

Trust me she stuck with it and she’s still playing University hockey to this day.

Stick length does matter, it matters more than you think.

Sure it’s a personal preference, but when the length of your stick affects performance that’s when it needs to be addressed, that’s the long and short of it.

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