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Stateline Sports is proud to offer these guides to proper selection, fit and care of your quality sporting goods.   If you have any suggestions for articles you would like to see, please contact us!

Now that I’ve got a glove, how do I break it in?  Gloves that are made of Leather, (Pig’s hide, Cow hide, or even Kangaroo) will all break in with a little time and effort.  Vinyl gloves will generally cost less but don’t break in, or mold to the shape of your hand. The best way that I know of to break in a glove is the traditional method.  Start by putting about one Tablespoon of liquid glove conditioner (I like Rawlings Gloveolium) on a cotton rag. Put a liberal coating of oil on the palm, and in the pocket. Next put a light coating of oil on the remainder of the exterior of the glove. Now that the glove has been oiled, take your rag and go back over the glove, working the oil into the leather.  Now go play toss with the glove. (The oil will start to soften the leather so it shapes to your hand. And catching the ball will start to form the pocket.)  When you’re done playing toss, put a ball in the pocket of the glove. Wrap the thumb and fingers of the glove around the ball to form a crease in the palm of the glove. Use a piece of string or strong rubber band to keep the glove wrapped up.  Ideally for the first week you have the glove, play toss with it every day. When you’re done tie it back up. At the end of the week your glove should be ready for the season.

- Bud Hill

Determining The Right Hockey Stick Size

Begin by selecting a stick that is made for the category you are in by age/body size. For players that are 11 years old or younger, the correct hockey stick length will probably be a Junior hockey stick size.

Once you become too tall for a Junior stick, get an Intermediate one. A smaller player with smaller hands should not use an adult hockey stick for many reasons.  First, the circumference of the shaft will be too large for small hands to grip properly.  Second, because a lot of the shaft will be cut away to suit the player's height,  the resulting flex will be too stiff.  Finally, the blade, sized for an adult, will be too big and awkward resulting in slow stickhandling skill development.

Determining The Right Hockey Stick Length

Generally speaking, to measure yourself for the proper hockey stick length in a store without skates on:

  1. Stand up straight with your feet flat on the ground.
  2. Rest the toe of the stick in front of your feet on the floor.
  3. Look straight ahead.
  4. Mark the butt end of the shaft at the tip of your nose.

With skates on, this will come to your bottom lip or so.

Determining The  Correct Flex

Generally speaking, flex ratings correspond to player weight as such:

  • Youth (Approximately 30 flex) 0-60lbs
  • Junior (Approximately 50 Flex) 60-100lbs
  • Intermediate (60-70 flex) 100-150lbs
  • Senior Mid (Approximately 75 flex) 150-170lbs
  • Senior Regular (Approximately 85 flex) 170-200lbs
  • Senior Stiff (Approximately 100 flex) 200+ lbs

Stronger, heavier players should have a higher flex. Smaller, weaker players should have a lower flex. Please keep in mind that the flex number is assigned to the hockey stick at full length. If you cut the shaft shorter, you make it stiffer. As a player grows, their comfortable shaft stiffness rating will have to increase.

Hockey stick flex rating number represents the number of pounds of force it takes to bend the shaft 1 inch with top hand at the top of the stick and the bottom hand applying pressure to the middle of the shaft. A 85 flex shaft requires 85 lbs of force to flex 1” at the full length of the new ice hockey stick. Remember that you may cut your sticks down to size, and when you do, they become stiffer. Take a stick off the rack and hold your top hand where you’d be cutting it and then try to flex it.

How Does Hockey Stick Flex Affect A Shot?

Stiffer sticks, as long as they still flex, will deliver a harder slapshot. Too flexible is too mushy and absorbs too much of the shot. When it bends, energy is spring loaded into the shaft of the hockey stick and that energy is released upon the puck with the follow through. Using a stick that is too flexible will cause mushy sluggish stickhandling and weaker shots. Too stiff will also weaken shots because you won’t be able to get enough energy penned up on the flexed shaft.

Hockey Stick Curves

There are about 5 key attributes to factor in when choosing a blade pattern:

  1. Curve type – There are basically 3 curve types (heel, mid & toe) that you can find in conjunction with the other blade pattern attributes listed below. It’s pretty straight forward, so when you see a heel curve this means that the curve of the blade is concentrated and begins at the heel as opposed to starting towards the middle or toe of the blade. In other words, this defines the "breaking point" of the curve.
    • Heel Curve – possible increase in wrist shot power; puck naturally rests on the heel of the blade on the forehand
    • Mid Curve – balanced results for wrist, snap and slap shots; puck naturally rests on the middle of the blade on the forehand
    • Toe Curve – quick snap shot release; puck naturally rests on the toe of the blade on the forehand
    • Deep curves – great for wrist shots and puck control on the forehand; less control on the backhand
    • Slight curves – good overall wrist, slap and snap shot control and increased puck control on the backhand; shots don’t naturally rise quite as easily
    • Moderate curves – good balance of forehand and backhand puck control and shot control
  2. Curve depth – The depth refers to the degree of the curve, whether it’s slight, moderate or deep. Curve depth is measured in inches, usually ranging from about 3/8" to 3/4".
  3. Face angle – Face angle is best understood by looking at the concept behind a set of golf clubs. A closed-face angle hockey blade would be like a 1 Iron, whereas an open-face angle blade is equivalent to something like a pitching wedge. The range is anywhere from closed face (cups over the top of the puck) to open wedge (angled back away from the puck). Most blades on the market are slightly open.
  4. Length – The blade length is exactly what the description annotates (short, medium or long). Most blades are medium length.
  5. Lie – The lie is a representative measurement of how the blade is angled in relation to the shaft, which determines how the blade will rest on the ice. Higher lies are usually best for bigger players who skate more upright. Lower lies work better for smaller players and those who tend to skate bent over, closer to the ice. You have found the correct lie when the middle portion of the underside of your blade is resting flat on the ice, rather than resting on the heel with the toe off the ice or vice versa. Below is a diagram that visually displays the concept of blade lie.


Proper fit of Running Shoes

Choosing the proper skate size is different than choosing shoes. Hockey skates need to be tight for stability and to eliminate abrasion when skating. Concerned about your child’s growth? Do not buy a skate more than a ½ size larger than the proper fit. By compensating for growth and buying larger skates, you will inevitably hinder your child’s development and run the risk of injury. You are better off buying a mid-priced skate that fits now instead of a high end skate that will fit next year. Plan on buying skates for one season. It’s unrealistic to think that your growing child will benefit by getting a large skate that lasts two seasons. A proper fit for hockey skates should fit 1.5-2 sizes smaller than your street shoes. Your toes should barely touch the toe cap when the skate is tightly laced. When sizing for children, follow the same method while allowing no more than 1/2 size extra for growing room. Some athletes skate barefoot. But that means excess sweat soaking into the boot and quicker deterioration of the skate. Whether you prefer thick or thin sports socks, make sure you bring a pair to Stateline and wear them for your fitting. Every foot is different, so try several pairs to get a feel for which skate provides the best combination of comfort and stability. Don’t buy into the hype and peer pressure. Get the proper fitting skate for you. Each brand is fighting for you business and will tell you how much better they are compared to their competitor. The fact is you are getting the same quality if you purchase a skate by CCM, Reebok, Bauer, Graf or Easton. It’s all about the fit!