For most goalies and parents, knowing what the right stick is for you can be somewhat of a grey area. Having the proper stick can make a world of difference in performance. The paddle (larger part of the goal stick) size is too big or too small, curve, lie and even the type of material (wood, foam core, composite) can make a huge difference iyour game. Chances are if you are a young goalie, your stick is oversized and you need to consider the following.
The biggest misconseption and mistake most parents and young goalies make when sizing a stick is the mindset that a bigger paddle is better. We see too many goalies with sticks that are oversized, making it cumbersome and difficult to manipulate. The additinal size absolutely adds not benefit and shouldn't be a factor in sizing the proper stick. Think about the fact that a goalie could grow just under 3 feet from youth to adult yet the length of paddle only changes at most 5 inches over a lifetime.
Also, take into consideration that the majority of saves are executed in the butterfly. Forcing the hands, and therefor the distance between the top of the paddle and the ice to only be between 1' - 2'6". This stick angle is more conducive to a shorter paddle.
Below is a general sizing table.
3'6" - 4'3" > 21" paddle
4'0" - 4'6" > 22" paddle
4'6" - 5'3" > 23" paddle
5'0" - 5'8" > 24" paddle
5'7" - 6'3" > 25"+ paddle
Consider when measuring for a new stick that the paddle length is the most important factor, not overall stick length. The paddle must be long enough so that when the goalie is in proper stance (knees bent, stick flat on the ice in front of the 5 hole, gloves up and out) the blocker is aligned with the pad. You do not want to be overlapping the pad or have a wide gap in between the pad and blocker. It is advised that when fitting a stick the goalie should be in his or her skates and pads to get the right fit. Fitting in street clothes and running shoes will not give you the proper height and stick angle when decidin on the proper stick.
It is important to note that all paddle measurements are not the same. Therefore, a 25” Bauer paddle might not compare to a 25” Warrior Paddle.
Another key element in stick selection is the lie. The lie is a measurement which represents the angle of the paddle and blade of the goal stick. Usually you there are 3 types of lie’s to choose from (Lie 13, Lie 14 and Lie 15). If you are a shorter goalie or have a lower stance, a lower lie will keep your blade on the ice (Lie 13). If you are a goalie that juggles back and forth you might want to keep the lie at 14. For a taller more upright goaltender the Lie 15 will be more efficient in keeping the blade along the ice.
Note: some manufactures have gone away with not putting the lie on the stick. In this case revert back to the paddle sizing.
Playing the Puck
A goalies importance in the overall team dynamics and defensive stratagy is more prevalent than ever. A goalie can change the outcome of a game just by playing the puck effectively over the course of the game. Selecting a stick that helps you tap into this skill set can greatly benefit you puck playing abilities and help you gain the confidence of your coach and teamates.
As illustrated by the drawing above you see 4 different Styles of Curves…
Mid Curve: The Curve begins at the middle of the blade. Optimal for controlling the puck around the net.
Heel Curve: This is when the curve begins at the heel of the stick. Optimal for clearing the puck and rimming around the boards. The open and closed face curves are usually collaborated with a mid or heel curve. They will further enhance your ability to play, pass, raise and deflect the puck given the combination.
Open Face Curve: These curves allow you to raise the puck quicker.
Closed Curve: This curve will help you to control the puck around the boards. Also, will help improve puck deflection.
Composite Sticks: Most composite sticks are made up of carbon fiber/Kevlar, fiberglass and graphite. Using these materials provides durability in the stick. They often feature a foam core which will help to decrease vibrations. Composite sticks tend to be the lightest on the market however they come with a high price tag.
Wood Sticks: With the increase in different technologies in stick construction the regular wood stick has seen a bit of a decline. These sticks are typically made up of laminated pieces of ash or birch and covered with layers of fiberglass over the paddle and blade to increase durability and make it easier to control the puck than a composite. The goalies that are looking for a more traditional feel or on a budget will find these sticks appealing.
Foam Core: Manufacturers have introduced the foam core into some wooden sticks as well as composite sticks. These foam injected blades and paddles will significantly reduce vibrations and give a composite stick a more natural feel and a wood blade feel even stronger. Hopefully, this will give all the insight you need to purchase a new twig and using it the best way possible for your style of play. Keep your gloves up and out, stick on the ice and eyes on the puck.
Selecting the proper stick has many factors and individual elements to consider, there isn't a catch all solution. Just remember to never purchase a stick because a goalie may "grow into it". Always be conservitive with paddle size as control and usability are the ultimate factor.