(UPDATE 4/26/2016: Stick Flex, and all other properties concerning Hockey Sticks, is covered thoroughly in the Reboot Hockey Off-Ice Training Manual. The Manual is available for purchase at this link. Thanks.)
This article is meant to help you select the appropriate Stick Flex for your Hockey Stick. With the bevy of choices available to players at the retail level, it can become overwhelming for both the novice and even the experienced hockey player to differentiate between Flex Ratings and to choose the proper Stick Flex for her or himself. This article will hopefully make it easier for you to choose the Stick Flex that best suits you and your game, ultimately making you a better and more-effective player.
After determining your Effective Range for Stick Flex, you can then fine-tune to find your Optimal Flex. Ideally, this article will save you time and effort in finding a stick that maximizes your game, rather than restricts it.
Stick Flex Overview
Hockey sticks are sold in a number of Flex Ratings ranging from about 50 Flex to 115 Flex. You will occasionally see sticks that reside outside of this range, but those would be quite rare.
To keep the article simpler, I will write this under the assumption that you are using a Senior Flex stick. Sticks are also available in Junior and intermediate Flex Ratings, but the article could get very confusing if I incorporate both of those. If you are selecting a stick for a younger or lighter player, the principles covered in this article can be applied in the same way, but the Flex Ratings obviously would be lower.
First, consider this Stick Flex Chart:
This chart is going to make sense to a limited number of people, while completely confusing most others. I will try to break it down so you understand the principles of modern Stick Flex:
A number of prominent hockey stick manufacturers are listed along the horizontal axis of the chart: Inno/Warrior, Bauer, CCM/RBK, Louisville/TPS, etc. The yellow column on the left indicates stick manufacturer Easton’s Flex Ratings. Easton is often used as the standard because until recently, they were by far the industry leader in composite sticks sales and innovation. For the purposes of education, Easton’s Flex Ratings will serve as our constant or Control group.
Easton Senior sticks are usually seen the Flex Ratings 75, 85, and 100. 85 Flex is often referred to as “Regular Flex”, while 75 Flex is commonly referred to as “Whip Flex”. 100 Flex is usually referred to as “Stiff Flex”, and anything over 100 Flex is typically called “Pro Stiff”. This delineation is now pretty standard among the major stick manufacturers.
Sticks under 75 Flex are generally labeled as Intermediate sticks, and marketed toward 10-14 year old kids or lighter and smaller players. Intermediate sticks are usually seen in 55 Flex and 65 Flex.
There are a number of formulas used to estimate which Stick Flex may be appropriate for you based upon your bodyweight (or even Lean Body Mass). A common formula is to choose a Stick Flex that is half of your Lean Body Mass in pounds. For example, a 200 lb. player with 15% Bodyfat would have 170 pounds of Lean Body Mass (200 x 0.85 = 170). Halving this number would suggest a Flex Rating of 85 Flex for this player (170 x 0.5 = 85 Flex).
This is extremely rough math, and serves only as a starting point for choosing a stick with an optimal Flex Rating. Many other considerations go into selecting an appropriate Stick Flex, such as style of play, position, frequency of play, relative strength, etc. Some very heavy players prefer sticks with lots of whip, while some very light players prefer very stiff sticks. The goal for the moment is to help you find a stick that works well for you while you continue to experiment and fine-tune.
Most Senior retail sticks measure 60″ from the butt of the stick to the insertion point of the blade, called the Hosel. Some sticks may come longer off the rack, such as the Sher-Wood 9950 Iron-Carbon wooden stick, which leaves the factory at 63″/105 Flex, but most retail sticks measure 60″ uncut. Again to avoid confusion, let’s keep this style of measurement (Butt to Hosel) as a constant.
Many recreational players use sticks that are much too long. To properly determine your optimal Stick Flex, you must first determine your optimal Stick Length.
The notion of players using sticks that are too long is well-explained here at Cut Hockey Sticks. The reason most retail sticks come at a length of 60″ is because this is the maximum length most players would need for a stick. If you are unusually-tall (and likely a defenseman), you may have a preference for a stick that exceeds 60″, but this is pretty uncommon.
As per Wiki, the maximum stick length used by most NHL Players is 60″. Six-foot-eight Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara has a special exemption that allows him to use a 63″ stick, but he is obviously not typical. Frankly, if the gigantic Chara can use a 63″ stick, there is no logical reason why a 6’3 or 6’4 (or even 6’5) player would need a longer stick than that.
For visual reference, here is a picture of Zdeno Chara that illustrates the point:
I realize that’s not a perfect picture, but notice where the heel of the stick blade rests in relation to Chara’s chest. At his height, a custom 63″ stick hits him right around the breastbone, as is the case with many other elite players. A lot of recreational players have a complete misconception about how long the average hockey stick should be, and insist on using too-long sticks despite evidence to the contrary.
Having stated my view on Stick Length, let’s assume that a 60″ retail stick is more-than-suitable for most players. For the sake of explanation, let’s say you are about to purchase a 60″/85 Flex Easton V9E. Here are some of the considerations you should make before purchasing:
The first thing I do with a stick is lop a good 4-6″ off of it so the blade sits flush against the ice or deck. Here is a good picture of Sid Crosby demonstrating his preferred Stick Length:
Notice how the blade of the stick lies completely flat when Sid has his arm fully extended to his side. To achieve this, most players are going to have to trim a minimum of 2-3″ from a 60″ stick.
People are going to dispute this idea with me, citing the shooting benefits that theoretically come from a longer stick. My counter-argument is the above picture of the Best Player in Hockey, a superb passer and puck-handler if ever one existed, using a 53″-54″ stick. This article from the Denver Post discusses how Sid and off-season training partner Matt Duchesne use short sticks to success. You can also re-visit the Cut Hockey Sticks link above to see any number of Hall of Fame players who use similarly-short sticks.
Misguided recreational and youth players often use sticks that are far too long for their body proportions simply because no one has ever taught them differently. There are exceptions who benefit from using an unusually-long stick (such as Pavel Datsyuk or Marty St. Louis), but your unwillingness to saw-down your own stick may also be hindering your puck-control abilities. Something to consider before we proceed.
Your own body proportions and skating-style are going to determine which Lie is optimal for you. For example, I have a relatively-long torso and arms. I also tend to skate in an aggressively-forward stance. Lower Lies (such as Lie 4 or Lie 5) tend to to allow me to puck-handle better. You may have a proportionally-shorter torso, and use a more-upright skating stance, a higher Lie (6 or 7) would be more appropriate. I highly recommend using the Cut Hockey Sticks article to help you sort all of this out.
Assuming you have determined your appropriate Stick Length via Lie:
2) Adjust for Increase in Flex Rating
Cutting inches off of a stick, in most cases, increases the Flex Rating of a stick. Some sticks (notably Sher-Wood composites) come with a “Flex Free Zone” due to their variance in kick-points, but let’s not discuss that for the moment.
Generally, cutting 1 Inch from a stick will add 2-5 Flex Points, making the stick considerably more stiff. The shorter a stick is initially, the stiffer it will become, as each additional inch cut from a stick represents a larger overall percentage of the stick.
If you cut 5″ from a 50″ stick, you are cutting off 10% of the stick. Meanwhile, cutting 5″ from a 60″ stick means cutting off about 8.5% of the stick. Cutting 5″ from a 70″ stick would mean cutting off 7% of the stick. The standard unit of measurement – in this case, 1 Inch – has a greater impact on a shorter stick because it accounts for a larger percentage of the stick.
Let’s say that you determine that your 85 Flex Easton V9E lies best for you at a length of 55″. This will mean cutting 5″ from the 60″ shaft. Time to grab the saw.
(Not to confuse you, but Easton sticks generally run “soft”, meaning they have lower Flex Rating than indicated. We will revisit this later in the article.)
Most sticks now come with a Cut Line near the butt of the shaft. This will help you take some of the math out of calculating Flex Rating. Here is one such Cut Line from a Bauer shaft:
Easton sticks are convenient to gauge because their Flex Ratings move in increments of 2.5, 5, 7.5, 10, etc. Let’s say that an Easton stick increases 2.5 Flex Points for every 1″ inch you trim from the end of the shaft. If you determine that you need a 55″ stick, cutting 5″ from the shaft will take your 85 Flex V9E from 85 Flex to 97.5 Flex (2.5 Flex Points x 5 inches = 12.5 Additional Flex Points). This is a fairly drastic increase in Flex Rating, and could greatly alter your puck-handling or shooting.
This is a consideration you need to make before you purchase a $240 V9E: will you be cutting a significant amount from the stick? If so, perhaps dropping in Flex Range from 85 Flex to 75 Flex may be appropriate.
There is no universal measurement tying Stick Length to Flex Rating. Making matters more complicated is that some sticks (such as the Sher-Wood Rekker and True Touch models) come with the aforementioned “Flex Free Zone”, meaning the stick’s Flex Rating does not alter unless it is significantly shortened. As mentioned before, the placement of a stick’s Kick-Point also can affect it’s Flex Rating. It can get fairly mind-boggling.
Take a breath and check your stick for a Cut Line, ideally before purchasing. That will take much of the doctorate-level calculus out of the equation.
The next best thing to a Cut Line is a Cut Chart, which geeks with calculators have put together so you don’t have to agonize over a stick purchase. I could not find an Easton Cut Chart, so this Chart from Bauer will have to do:
There seems to be little rhyme-or-reason to this chart, but the takeaway is that in general, the more you cut from a stick, the higher the Flex Rating increases. With Bauer sticks, when you start cutting drastic amounts from the stick, you start changing the stick’s Kick-Point. That’s why cutting 2″ from an 87 Flex increases a stick’s Flex Rating by 9 Flex Points, but cutting 6″ from an 87 Flex increases the Flex Rating by 25 Flex Points. It moves like a Bell curve. Something similar occurs with
Bauer’s 102 Flex stick, but not with their Junior or Intermediate sticks.
For the moment, let’s assume that we have gotten you within your Effective Range for Stick Flex, meaning that you are using a stick that does not hinder your puck and shooting skills by being too stiff or too “whippy”.
3) Adjust for Kick-Point
A stick’s Kick-Point is the location at which the stick bends maximally while being flexed.
Traditional wooden sticks flex uniformly, like a bow being drawn. The Kick-Point is at the mid-line of the stick in most cases, but a player’s personal mechanics could alter the Kick-Point depending on her or his hand location and shooting style.
Wooden sticks have largely gone the way of the dinosaur, and a more-recent trend among the retail stick manufacturers has been to lower the placement of the Kick-Point in the interest of increasing Shot Release.
Here are two pictures representing Mid-Kick and Low-Kick sticks. First, a Mid-Kick
And here is a Low-Kick stick:
By lowering the Kick-Point, stick manufacturers are attempting to increase Shot Release, or the time is takes for the puck to leave the blade of a flexed stick. The trade-off is that an unnaturally-low kick-point can diminish slower-release shots such as full wrist-shots and slap-shots.
Many if not most composite sticks now feature a Low Kick-Point, with several of them trying to drive the Kick-Point into the blade itself. Recent innovations include Warrior’s Dagger Taper release in 2011, and this year’s Easton VE technology, which focuses on Blade-Loading.
Here is a picture of the Warrior Covert, featuring an ultra-low Kick-Point:
Without getting off-topic, know that altering a modern stick’s Flex Rating by shortening or extending it will frequently alter the Kick-Point. This will turn shooting into a chore, or force the player into uncomfortable Shot Mechanics.
For this reason, I strongly prefer Mid-Kick composite sticks. Mid-Kick sticks conform more-naturally to the player’s personal mechanics, and the Kick-Point is not altered drastically if the stick is lengthened or trimmed.
If you purchase a stick with a super-low Kick-Point, such as a Warrior Covert or a Reebok SicKick, know that altering the stick’s length will affect the Kick-Point to some degree. Also, be cognizant of the position you play and your shooting style: if you are a defenseman and a long-time player, a stick with an ultra-low Kick-Point may fight your natural mechanics. I find that Low-Kick sticks fight me quite a bit, especially on slap shots.
4) Differences Between Manufacturers
As I alluded to above, an Easton 85 Flex is not necessarily a Warrior 85 Flex, which is not quite a Bauer 87 Flex.
I have used dozens and dozens of composite sticks, and there is not really a concise way in which I can break down the differences between all of the manufacturers. Here are some insights I’ve taken from various sticks, but by no means use take these insights as Gospel:
Easton: Easton sticks tend to run “soft”, meaning that an 85 Flex Easton does not reach a Flex Rating of 85 until 2-4 Inches are trimmed from the stick. Using an uncut 85 Flex Easton may be more like using a 78 Flex Bauer. Easton’s Kick-Points are generally mid-low, finding a good compromise between modern shot release and traditional shot mechanics. Easton was the composite stick market-leader for a long time, and delivers a very respectable product across most of their price-points.
Bauer: Bauer Vapor sticks are Low-Kick, while Bauer Supreme and Nexus sticks are Mid-Kick. Their Flex Ratings are more “true” than Easton’s, and Bauer makes the process of finding the correct flex easy for buyers by constructing Flex Charts (such to the one posted above). Bauer now leads in market-share, largely due to the high quality of their sticks. Bauer also offers custom fine-tuning (95 Flex, 107 Flex, etc) on their high-end models.
Sher-Wood: Sher-Wood offers two lines of composites, the True Touch (Mid-Kick) line and the Rekker/Nexon (Low-Kick) line. I have used Sher-Wood composites extensively, and I believe they are a great value. They perform well at their respective price-points, and Sher-Wood has put a lot of time into their Research and Development. Sher-Woods do not shoot like Bauer or Easton sticks, and I believe they shoot a bit more “traditionally”. Sher-Wood uses a “Flex Free Zone” on their Rekker/True Touch models, meaning that a player can cut 4-6″ off of an 85 or 95 Flex stick without altering the Flex Rating. Sher-Wood releases Senior composite sticks in Flex Ratings of 85, 95, and 105. They also offer both 60″ and 64″ Senior sticks, if you prefer an extra-long stick.
CCM: I cannot comment on CCM because I have not used one of their sticks since the company collaborated with the TailorMade golf division to create the CCM RBZ stick. I have heard multiple reports that the sticks have greatly improved from the underwhelming U+/CL lines, but in all honesty CCM had nowhere to go but up. CCM has remained competitive in both Skate and Protective sales, but the CCM brand has never really been known for their sticks. RBK/CCM owns the Hockey Company, which includes former stick giants Koho, Jofa, and Titan, but these sticks were obviously from a prior era and did not really factor into the modern composite marketplace.
(Update 12/10/15: CCM has overhauled their stick line, and for 2015 offers three distinct lines: RBZ Speedburner, Ultra Tacks, and RibCor K line. The Ultra Tacks is the completely redesigned mid-kick line, while the RBZ lines continues to incorporate Tailor Made golf technology. The RibCor line is a continuation of the Reebok 20K/11K SicKick line.)
Reebook: My understanding is that after purchasing Reebok/CCM, Adidas (Reebok’s parent company) sent most of their long-time R&D people to work under their Reebok label, while the R&D staff working under the CCM label is relatively-new. I couldn’t find any articles online to substantiate this, but I did get the opportunity to speak to Reebok/CCM head Phillipe Dube, who was kind enough to take a phone call from me. I was given the impression that as of 2005, CCM’s veteran R&D people put most of their focus into establishing Reebok while the CCM people were newer hires. This seems to present itself in the quality of some of their recent products, with sticks being a prime example.
Reebok has been an innovator in the modern composite stick market. For example, they released the controversial O-Stick in 2008. They have used a variety of different grip and texture options, such as Snake Grip and Shark Grip, I have found their models to perform well at most price-points. The SicKick models are their signature Low-Kick sticks, while their AI line is a Mid-Kick. Again, veteran players will notice that much of the former Koho/Jofa technology has been put into Reebok, so players with an affinity for those brands may prefer Reebok sticks.
(Update 12/10/15: the Reebok line has consolidated under the CCM label. The CCM RibCor stick would be the closest thing to a Reebok 20K, but the lines has undergone several major revisions.)
Warrior: Formerly Innovative Hockey, Warrior sticks seem to be favored by a lot of veteran and European players such as Alex Kovalev, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Sergei Fedorov. Many Innovative sticks were extremely-stiff, and Warrior took a huge chunk of the marketplace when they first appeared in the mid-2000s.
My review of Warrior sticks is that they are boom-or-bust. The impression I get is that Warrior tries a lot of unconventional approaches to creating the ultimate stick, and they are not afraid to release a flawed or incomplete technology at the retail level. Due to the variance in their Kick-Points between models (such as Spyne vs. Widow vs. Covert), I would say Warrior sticks pose the highest risk for inconsistency after being extended or trimmed. An average uncut 85 Flex Warrior feels a bit firmer than an 85 Flex Easton, but a bit softer than an uncut 87 Flex Bauer.
Their line is currently divided into Covert (Low-Kick) and Dynasty (Mid-Kick) sticks, both offered at a variety of price-points. My opinion is that Warrior gets their high-end sticks right, but does not produce a high-value product on their low-end sticks. I am also not thrilled with the durability of the Warrior sticks I’ve used, and I’ve used 10-12 at this point.
(Note: full disclosure, I have been burned by Warrior so many times that I won’t purchase one of their retail sticks. I have used a few really great Warrior/Inno Pro Return sticks, but I won’t bet even $100 on a Warrior retail stick. I recommend you look into Warrior Pro Return sticks first, if you are interested in trying Warrior.)
Warrior is also a lacrosse company, and there is obviously a technology crossover as with Easton (Baseball bats) and CCM/TailorMade (golf clubs). I can’t write much more on the subject without making a lot of assumptions, but a Warrior stick may “shoot” more like a lacrosse stick while a CCM would be more prone to “shoot” like a golf club. Any company with successful in-house baseball or lacrosse R&D would undoubtedly share technology with the hockey department, and the carryover properties from other sports may be more prominent in a Warrior Covert versus an Easton Synergy versus a CCM RBZ.
There are obviously other stick manufactures, but it would go beyond the intent of this article to review them all. Just know that there are notable differences between the large stick manufacturers that will affect both your purchasing decisions, as well as the way a given stick performs.
Lastly, I found this ultimate Stick Flex chart from Total Hockey very instructive, but it may be too numbers-heavy for a lot of people.
Final Considerations for Effective Range
The goal of determining your Effective Range is to find a stick that allows you to perform at an acceptable level. After skates, a player’s stick will be the most important purchase made by a hockey player or parent.
The player will constantly be trading Finesse skills for Grit skills, and vice-versa, while fine-tuning Stick Flex. If hockey involved no puck battles, almost everyone would use a super-whip stick. However, while sticks with a lot of extra flex are great for fine puck-skills, they often prevent a player from competing as hard as she or he can.
By the same token, being able to win a face-off or take the puck from an opponent along the boards is useless if a stick is too stiff to pass or shoot effectively. Finding an Effective Range involves finding the lightest Stick Flex that allows you to compete, and finding the stiffest Stick Flex that allows you to puck-handle and shoot well.
I think the most cost-effective way to determine Effective Range is to invest a few Wooden Sticks with different Flex Ratings. You will be much more comfortable chopping 6″ from a $30 Sher-Wood 5030 than you would cutting the same amount from a $260 Reebok RibCore. Wooden sticks flex naturally, and will force the player to use proper puck-handling and shooting mechanics. It will also be much easier for a player to determine that a 105 Flex Iron-Carbon is too stiff, or that an 85 Flex 5030 has too much whip, than with rocket-launcher composite sticks.
It’s worth repeating that I have no financial stake in any of the aforementioned hockey companies. I am just passing along experience and information.
Optimal Stick Flex
Finding an Effective Range will be fine for many people. However, there will always be players who want the absolute most out of their equipment. For players such as this, finding an Optimal Stick Flex becomes a worthwhile pursuit.
You may do just fine with an off-the-rack, uncut 60″/100 Flex Easton. The problem starts when the stick model you have grown comfortable is altered or discontinued. Knowing your Effective Range will allow you find a comparable model, and ultimately find the Optimal Stick Flex for you and your style of play.
To start, this is the Stamp from a pro stock hockey stick:
I will decipher the Hieroglyphics for you: that stick is a Bauer Total One NXG (Special Edition), 82 Flex, in Bauer Pattern P92 (Backstrom), Right-Handed. The W03 designation is “Warrior 03”, which is Warrior’s comparable blade pattern to Bauer’s P92.
The player in question has obviously optimized his hockey stick. 82 Flex is a fine-tune between Bauer’s retail-issue 77 Flex and 87 Flex models. The player had an 82 Flex ordered to his preferred length, so there is no guesswork about altering Flex Rating or Kick-Point. The stick is a Supreme Total One NXG, meaning the player prefers a Mid-Kick to a Low-Kick. He even has an alternate company’s blade pattern stamped on his stick in-case the Bauer NXG is unavailable.
You are likely not a professional hockey player, but you can still customize and prepare your equipment like one. The Pros have had years of access to the finest Equipment Managers in the world, so they have been able to make advanced customization such as this a relatively-simple procedure.
Unless you have access to a quality Equipment Manager, you will have to do this customization yourself. There will likely come a point when you want to reach a higher level of play, and getting the most out of your equipment is an important part of the process.
Let’s say you and your 55″/97.5 Flex Easton V9E are getting along quite well. You are puck-handling much better because your stick is the appropriate length, and shooting better because your stick is no longer too stiff for you. However, let’s say you want to add even-more zip to your shot, or you want to be stronger on face-offs. This is where finding an Optimal Stick Flex comes into play.
Here is my general overview for the trade-offs between higher and lower Flex Ratings:
Lower (Whip) Flex: Increased Wrist Shot Power, Passing/Shooting Release, Saucer Passing, Touch, Fine Puck-Handling skills (Deking)
Higher (Stiff) Flex: Increased Wrist Shot Accuracy, Increased Slap Shot Power/Accuracy, Passing Accuracy, Puck Battles, Face-Offs, stronger or sturdier overall Puck Control
As you can see, there are benefits to both higher and lower Flex Ratings. Most players elect to fine-tune and find a stick that allows them to perform all skills well, maybe shifting a bit in one direction or the other to account for their position and style of play.
I’ll use myself as an example:
My Effective Range for Stick Flex is 95-115 Flex. If I go lower than 95 Flex, the stick becomes slack, like a stretched-out guitar string. Controlling the puck in-traffic and winning puck battles becomes a chore, and mid-flex/slower-release shots such as slap-shots become ineffective. If I go over 115 Flex, basic passing, puck-handling, and shooting becomes laborious because I have to consciously flex the stick, weakening all passes and shots. This problem increases with fatigue.
Using a stick closer to 95 Flex allows me to prioritize puck-skills while still being competitive. I shoot effortlessly with a 95 Flex, and can routinely snap clean shots past goaltenders. A 95 Flex stick allots me much better touch, so I can do fancier moves like heel-drags and backhand saucer-passes with more assurance. The lighter flex is definitely better when there is less room on the ice. The trade-off is that I lose a little bit of edge on face-offs and in picking pucks off the wall. My shots also tend to be a bit “softer”, making them less likely to get through traffic or trickle through a goaltender.
Using a stick closer to 115 Flex allows me to be incredibly-strong on the puck. This allows me to dominate in the face-off circle and win battles down low. It’s very helpful for holding onto and distributing the puck. Passes are extremely precise. At 110 Flex, I can still perform a full complement of shots (wrist, snap, slap, backhand) adequately, though not as crisply as with a 95 or 105 Flex. My game may not be as pretty with a 115 Flex, but it’s usually more-effective and definitely more-rugged.
The ideal scenario for me is to split the difference and use a 105 Flex. Toying with both ends of my Effective Range allowed me to find an Optimal Stick Flex, and it’s a template most any player can copy.
Here are additional considerations:
Position: If you investigate, you will find that many Centers prefer a slightly-higher Flex Rating for passing precision and the aid in wining face-offs, while many Wingers prefer slightly-lower Flex Ratings for the shot-release benefits. Many defensemen like a higher Flex Rating because they are not particularly artistic with the puck, and prefer Mid-Kick sticks because they take slap-shots the majority of the time. This is a rough generalization, but your position may dictate your Optimal Stick Flex to some degree.
Style of Play: a dangler who shies away from contact is going to prefer a lighter Stick Flex, while a stay-at-home defenseman is going to prefer a higher Flex Rating in the interest of winning more puck battles. Those may be the extreme outliers, as most players will want a combination of Finesse and Grit in their play.
Let’s assume for a moment you have Stick Length and Lie down to a hard science, and that a 55″ stick works best for you. Let’s also assume that you are Effective with a 55″/97.5 Flex stick, but that you play Center and want to be stronger on face-offs and crisper with your passing. Here is how I recommend you fine-tune your Stick Flex:
Maybe you play well with a cut-down 85 Flex, but you want a slightly-stiff stick. Jumping to a 100 Flex Easton stick and cutting 5″ from it increases the Flex Rating to about 112.5 Flex, which may be too stiff for you. It would again behoove you to consider your options before making a purchase. Is there a 95 Flex stick made by a different manufacturer available for purchase? Can you borrow a stiffer-stick from a friend for a practice session? Will you consider purchasing a wooden stick before you over-invest in a too-stiff composite stick? Can you buy Pro Stock?
If you have not determined your Effective Range by trial-and-error, I recommend you make your drops or jumps in Flex Rating gradually – no more than 10 total Flex Points. If you have the means, a drop or jump of 5-10 Flex Points would be even more ideal.
My Optimal Stick Flex is about 105-107.5, which I have learned from years of trial and error. I learned by using a Reebok 100 Flex than I cut down 4″ (making it about a 108 Flex), then noticed a performance bump. I saved the info for future use, and wouldn’t you know it, I replicated the results by keeping my Flex Rating right around 105-110.
Account for variances in Kick-Point. If you are using a Low-Kick Bauer Vapor to good results, switching to a Mid-Kick Bauer Supreme may negatively-effect your play. Do some investigating and find sticks that are comparable to the model you are currently using. Try not to change two factors at the same time (such as Blade Pattern and Flex Rating, or Length and Kick-Point). If you are using an 85 Flex Easton V9E and want a slightly-stiffer stick, try to get the stick in a similar Blade Pattern and cut it to the same length. Otherwise, you will not know which fine-tune was most effective.
Keep Records. There is nothing comparable to firsthand experience. Keeping a few personal notes about your equipment preferences is almost cost-free, and pays large dividends down the road. What did you like about a given stick? Were your slap-shots unusually-hard? Did you feel your puck-control skills were especially sharp? Were you dominant at face-offs?
Dedicated players may want to keep an eye on the Length (hosel to butt), Flex Rating, Kick-Point, Lie, Blade Pattern, and Grip of their sticks. As you continue to play hockey or as your children continue to play, I promise you will go through a lengthy number of them. Making a note of which sticks worked and which didn’t, and tracking a few fine details, could save you a lot of frustration and money in the long-term.
This is a lot of information, especially to newer players. Hockey equipment has gotten so advanced and technical that modern players need to be more savvy than in generations prior in order to optimize their games. However, try not to let all of this become overwhelming and stressful. Ultimately, the information you have just read is only a guide, not a rulebook. Pick through this information as needed and as you gain experience, rather than trying to digest all of it in one sitting.
Also see the Reboot Hockey articles on Choosing an Ideal Hockey Stick and How to Optimize Your Hockey Skates. As I wrote above, your skates and your stick are your two most-influential pieces of equipment. If you are using an ineffective sticks or pair of skates, your game will likely suffer. You can compensate for equipment issues in many cases, but sometimes bad equipment limits your potential to a great degree. Understanding the principles of Hockey Stick Flex will allow you to choose a stick that works best for You. Knowing about Stick Flex, and then cultivating personal preferences, will ultimately help you become the best player you can be.