©1973 Howie Meeker's Hockey Basics
The stick, the next most important piece of equipment after the skates is subject to one major mistake by parents and kids. This is one instance where the youngsters fail in most cases to copy the pros. The kids' sticks are too long.
Years ago some well-meaning character came up with a formula for determining stick length: with skates on, stand the stick on its end in front of you and cut it off at chin level. The stick will be from two to four inches too long.
Next time you watch a professional hockey game from Montreal look out for players who, during the playing of the National Anthem, stand their sticks in front of them. See where the top of the stick is -- chest high not chin high. Some time during their careers they learned that the shorter stick is obviously better. Yet thousands of kids are starting out with the old nose or chin measurement. We sure don't make things easy for them, do we?
Here is what happens with a chin, mouth, or nose-measured stick, one that is several inches too long. Stand the player with his feet 18 inches apart on the ice. With their hands in the normal position (the top hand grasping the stick at the end) have them place the blade on the ice. In order for them to get the full length of the blade on the ice, it will be necessary to draw their top hand back against their hip. In extreme cases, their top hand could be six to nine inches behind the body and as high as the waist or lower chest area. (6)
Standing still, it will be almost impossible for them to shoot or receive the puck or stickhandle without moving that top hand out in front of the body. In order to carry out these functions, the top hand will have to be well in front of the body where it can be moved from side to side. As soon as the player does this, the toe, or front end of the blade, will lift several inches off the ice.
Of course the player can overcome this by sliding both hands about six inches down the shaft of the stick and drawing the blade in closer to their feet. But they're sure going to look funny spearing themselves with that six inches of butt end sticking out behind his top glove, every time they maneuver the stick in front of their stomach.
If you think they feel awkward standing still, try to visualize what happens when they start skating.
When a player starts to move, they must automatically crouch lower in order to utilize their hip and leg power. Naturally, the lower they go, the higher the toe of his stick lifts off the ice. Then, in order to bring the blade of their stick flush with the ice again they have to slide both hands even further down the shaft.
Thousands of hockey coaches must have seen the result -- a kid stickhandling down the ice with anywhere from two inches to five inches of the handle jutting out behind his top hand! The observant coach, or the rare one who really knows his hockey basics, should immediately realize that the player's stick is too long.
In (7) the player's stick is the correct length. With blade flat on the ice, both hands are free to pass in front of the body, the body is erect with eyes looking ahead, and the player can maintain the position without danger of getting a sore back.
Here (8) the player is standing, with top hand indicating where the stick should be cut off. Note the amount of stick behind the hand. It makes a hell of a weapon for spearing
The passing position shown here, (9), would be impossible if that extra piece of stick was spearing the player. The top hand would not be free to move in front of the body as it does here.
Here you see demonstrated the tangible difference. (10) One stick is chin length. That's the one that caused all the trouble in (6). The other stick, used in (7), (9), is chest high.
Next time you see an NHL game on television, take your eyes off the puck for a change and examine the man who is carrying the puck. In nearly all cases, when stickhandling, both hands are in front of the body. Then try the same thing yourself, or have a kid try it, with a stick that is measured to his chin or nose. See what I mean?
In order for the vast majority of boys to stickhandle, pass and shoot properly, the end of their sticks (when stood on end in the traditional manner) should come no higher than the top of their chests.
That's the only way the pro can dipsy-doodle the puck-by passing both hands back and forth in front of his body-and still keep the blade of his stick flat on the ice. Chances are you could not identify his stick (by length) when stood in a rack with a team of Bantams' sticks.
Learn this well. After poor skates, a stick that is too long is the next most outrageous handicap we can give a young player.
Source: Howie Meeker's Hockey Basics
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