How To Choose A Hockey Stick Blade Pattern
Picking a blade pattern for your hockey stick is one of the most personal choices you’ll make as a hockey player. It’s important to be familiar with your options and be willing to try several patterns before settling on your pick. Blade patterns/curves are identified by the manufacturers with NHL player names (i.e. Cammalleri) as well as pattern codes (i.e. P88) which combine several variable attributes to create a unique curve. We'll discuss these attributes in greater detail later on.
Starting Point for Picking a Blade Pattern
There are a few things for you, as a hockey player, to identify before choosing a blade pattern for your hockey stick:
- Your position – based on which position you play, you’ll spend more time occupying specific parts of the ice, and you’ll therefore be required to make certain stick handling maneuvers more often than others.
- Your shooting tendencies – as a shooter, you are likely to be more skilled at taking certain types of shots over others and you may therefore choose to take more of the shots that you’re comfortable with. But, the position you play also has an effect on the types of shots that you will be more inclined to take.
- Your puck handling skills – each player has a different skill set when it comes to puck handling. Some players will dangle more often than other players who choose to keep it simple when they’re handling the puck. It’s always best to keep things as simple as possible, but based on the types of moves you tend to make, you’ll want to target the blade pattern features that will enhance your game.
Hockey Blade Attributes
There are about 5 key attributes to factor in when choosing a blade pattern:
- 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.
- 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".
- 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.
- Length – The blade length is exactly what the description annotates (short, medium or long). Most blades are medium length.
- 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.
Performance Characteristics of Different Blade Pattern Attributes
Here’s a list of some blade pattern attribute values along with the results that you can expect from each option:
- 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
- Open face – easier to lift the puck on the forehand; good puck protection on backhand
- Closed face – good for keeping your shot low to the ice; great forehand puck protection
Pick a Blade Pattern and Try It Out
Now that you’re more familiar with some of the pros and cons of the options available, pick out a couple of blades that you think would suit your style of play. Experiment with as many options as possible because you may be surprised at what you’re able to do with a curve that you’re a bit apprehensive to try.
The main points to take into consideration when picking a blade pattern are:
- Deep, open face curves will help you lift the puck on the forehand
- Slight, closed face curves will help you keep your shots low
- Deep curves give you great puck control on the forehand but very little on the backhand
- Slight curves give you balanced puck control on the forehand and backhand
- Mid, moderate curves provide a great, balanced blend of forehand and backhand puck control
- The type of curve you pick (heel, mid or toe) determines where the puck will naturally rest on your blade