Hockey is one of the most exciting and difficult sports in the world, and players have always sought ways to gain an advantage over their opponents whether that be by putting in big hits, getting in their opponent’s heads, or using the latest and best equipment available.
However not all hockey players, particularly if you’re just starting at your local beer league, will be able to rely on these sorts of tactics to improve their game.
Aside from getting tons of practice, improving your skate handling, passing, and general hockey skills, there is one thing you can do to make a surprising improvement to your hockey performance, while also protecting your precious new twig.
This is taping your hockey stick and it’s something that has been done by hockey players for many years now to provide several great benefits.
Most hockey sticks, particularly lower-end hardwood sticks and even composite sticks, have fairly smooth surfaces where you’re going to be trying to control the puck, and this can make getting a good grip on the puck difficult.
Particularly when you’re trying to handle the puck, shoot or pass as these all rely on incredibly precise technique and timing that can be thrown off by a slippery stick head.
In this guide, we’re going to look at the key reasons why hockey players tape their sticks, as well as how to tape your stick to allow you to take advantage of these benefits yourself.
While not all players will see a benefit or enjoy the feel of a taped stick, it’s a good thing to try if you’re struggling with puck handling or looking for small easy ways to make adjustments and improvements. But without further introduction let’s take a look at what taping your stick can offer.
First things first, taping your stick along its blade edge is one of the best ways to protect the stick from a lot of the damage it would otherwise take.
This was particularly important in the days when most sticks were wooden. Wrapping the blade in friction take would help protect the wood of the stick from warping due to the ice melt and water that the stick is exposed to while playing hockey.
A warped hockey stick can badly affect the accuracy and consistency of a hockey player, but this isn’t all that tape can protect from.
Hockey is a very physical game, and there is a lot of contact with other players, the boards, the floors, and dangerous edges like skate blades and even sticks from time to time.
All of this can take lumps out of even the toughest hockey stick, but adding some friction tape to certain areas such as the blade can help protect from some of the damage that the stick will take as it’s in use.
At high-level play, a player can just swap out their stick, but at lower levels replacing a stick can be much more difficult, so adding as much protection as possible is key.
In the modern game, however, composite hockey sticks are much more common, which have lessened the impact of both ice melt and physical damage to hockey sticks.
Composite sticks are generally a lot tougher than wood when it comes to most damage and wear, however protecting the blade is still really important as it’s one of the most exposed areas of the stick, and hockey pucks travel at ridiculously high speed.
Protecting the blade from chips, scratches and dents is important and adding a layer of protection with some friction tape is a great and inexpensive way to protect your beloved new twig.
Another huge benefit to using tape on your hockey stick is that it can offer much better control in several different ways!
Regardless of what material your stick is made of, they can be hard to hold on to so increasing grip on the stick handle is really important.
One of the best ways to create this grip is to use friction tape to wrap around the end of the stick to create a contact patch that you will be able to grip onto well. This technique is nothing new, but it works well even with modern composite sticks too.
It’s quite common for players to even great a knob at the end of the stick to help retain the stick even when someone is trying to yank it away from you, allowing you to stay in control and keep battling in the more desperate and hard-fought situations hockey can create.
However tape is also used to improve control of the puck itself, and this is another benefit of taping the blade of the stick.
The contact patch of a hockey stick blade can be quite smooth, and this will make controlling the puck difficult whether passing or carrying the puck yourself.
Using a good layer of fraction tape on the blade will offer much more control over the puck, allowing you to receive passes more easily, control the puck more effectively, and improve your overall feel and play.
The beauty of all this is that friction tape is cheap and has multiple advantages for hockey players, so it’s really something everyone should take advantage of.
Do All Hockey Players Tape Their Sticks?
Not all hockey players will tape their sticks, at least not with friction tape.
Some players use more modern alternatives such as synthetic or rubberized coverings, which offer many of the same benefits in a slightly different package.
However there are rare cases of players who don’t like the look or feel of a taped stick, and while this is rare, they are out there, the famous Bobby Orr being the most high profile example.
Regardless of how beneficial you find it, there’s no doubt that for most people using tape on the blade and handle of a hockey stick is highly beneficial, and can help improve your play in a lot of different ways.
Can I Use Standard Hockey Tape?
Yes! This is part of the beauty of hockey tape, it has so many uses and is of great value. It not only helps keep your socks in place, but it can provide better puck control and stick control as already mentioned.
The fact a single cheap roll of friction tape can offer all these benefits is a real blessing and something that shouldn’t be underestimated.
Whether you decide to tape up your stick or not is quite a personal choice, and while the majority of players do indeed use tape, you should only use it if it feels good to you.
There are tons of great benefits to using tape, however, and while it can take some getting used to and does require replacing from time to time, using tape is a great way to improve your game and protect your equipment, so it’s worth seriously considering getting used to using it.