Hockey players are known to put in a lot of time and effort into preparing their hockey sticks for a game. One of the things that people frequently see hockey players do is taping their hockey sticks.
The answer to this question is simple.
Players tape the blades on their sticks for protection against damage and more ease when it comes to controlling the puck. They also tape the knobs for a better grip and more convenience when picking up the stick if it falls on ice.
The following article highlights the importance of using tape on a hockey stick and answers all the questions you might have had in this regard!
Let’s swing over and check it out!
The Hockey Stick: A Brief History
Though this isn’t the case now, up till the 1990s hockey sticks used to be made of wood. The classical feel of wooden hockey sticks is unmatched, but due to practical reasons this material was soon passed over.
The fact is, wood doesn’t deal well with constant exposure to the cold moisture associated with ice. The water worked its way to the material and caused the wood at the bottom of the stick to splinter and warp. Warped sticks are those that are bent and twisted away from their original flat and smooth forms, and are not efficient tools to play with.
To increase the longevity of their hockey sticks, players started taping the bottoms of the sticks to ensure that the wood material avoids direct contact with moisture as well as avoids splintering. Making use of tape was thus the closest a player could get to making their sticks water repellent.
Although taping the hockey sticks was a good idea, it still needed to be retouched after every few games as the tape couldn’t help but be damaged by the ice.
Additionally, black tape was often used by players to ensure that the black puck would blend with the color of the stick, making it harder to see for the goalie
The ‘Modern’ Hockey Stick
Nowadays most recreational and professional players use hockey sticks made of composite materials such as carbon, graphite, fiberglass, and Kevlar.
Wooden sticks are still considered cheaper (and are available for as little as $20), but due to the fact that they are easily splintered and damaged by constant water exposure (which they will inevitably receive in an ice-hockey ground), many people opt for the modern alternatives.
The composite is more expensive (their prices can reach as high as $300) but prevents worries related to water moisture. They however come with their own set of problems that can’t be ignored. Interestingly, as seen in history, tape once again comes to the rescue.
Thus you can easily see that players want their sticks to last and are willing to pay a pretty penny to ensure they do.
Why Composite Hockey Sticks Are Taped?
1. To protect against cracking
There is no way around it. Composite sticks can break easily. You might have seen it in action while watching a game of hockey on TV where a player breaks his stick while taking a powerful shot. Contrary to what you might be inclined to believe at that moment, such a thing happening does not have to be “fake”.
Sometimes sticks have cracks in them that are caused by frequents hits against hard pucks. These cracks make it so that a powerful shot can easily allow them to crumble. This is why many players tape their hockey sticks’ bottoms to soften the blowhard pucks might inflict on their surface. Players have noted that doing so really helps extend the life of their hockey sticks.
2. To Help Receive and Make Passes
The feel of any sports equipment has to be perfect for the player. Sometimes a piece of tape can help hockey players get more in sync with their sticks. Tape can help cushion the passes received and enable the player to subsequently direct passes better.
Composite stick blades are much smoother than their wooden counterparts, thus taping them allows players to receive and pass the puck with more efficiency and ease.
During a game it is important that a player trusts his stick to help him make more precise shots, and accurate passes, which can only come by having complete control over the puck. It has been proved that taping greatly aids this purpose.
Fast-moving pucks are easier to control when they hit a softer surface. If a puck hits a hard surface, their speeds make it so that they ricochet uncontrollably that is what makes them harder to manage. This tape provides an adequately soft cushioning to enable players to successfully shoot and score.
What is The Purpose of Taping the Knob?
As mentioned before, hockey players don’t just tape the bottom of their sticks, rather some tape is wound around the ‘knob’ or top of the stick. This is pretty helpful as it ensures a better grip for the players while also making sure that fallen sticks are easily picked up from the ice.
1. Secure Grip
Hockey players that have a more secure grip on their sticks are more stable and in better control during the game.
The length of the stick between the knob and the bottom doesn’t need to be taped, as players need the smooth surface for improved maneuverability during handling and shooting. The top however, needs to be taped so that it can serve as a base on which the player can secure his/ her handhold that would prevent their grip from sliding during the game.
Sometimes a good grip is all that stands between a player shooting a perfect shot across the rink to a teammate.
2. Convenience While Retrieving Fallen Sticks from the Ground
One of the pet peeves of hockey players is when their sticks fall down. The idea of this being a major annoyance might be almost laughable, but those who have experienced this annoyance would not wish it on even their enemies.
A somewhat simple solution has been found: tape. By thickly taping the tops of their hockey sticks players can pick fallen sticks from the ice faster. Having a thicker knob allows some space between the ground and the shaft which make it more convenient (not to mention speedy) to pick up. In a game where time and speed are of essence, this is not a point to ignore.
What Type of Tapes Are Used?
Hockey players use a variety of tapes to cover their sticks with. The most common thing is to use the classic black and white tape, which is readily available and easy to apply.
Cloth tape has also been used for hockey sticks because can be twisted around the stick with great practicality.
Professional NHL players often opt for stretch or no-stretch tapes (based on their individual preferences). These are thinner than cloth tapes and have an abrasive coarse grip.
How Are Hockey Sticks Taped?
There are many ways to tape hockey sticks. Players vary in their opinions of how much tape should be used, tape width, and even the total blade coverage.
These differences have serious ramifications on the blade surface and even the feel and performance of a hockey stick. Thus these are often manipulated according to a player’s preferences.
Some Considerations to Keep in Mind before Taping Hockey Sticks:
Players have found that wrapping the tape around their hockey sticks creates extra drag between the ice and the stick. This predictably makes handling more difficult. To overcome this difficulty, many people stick a single strip of tape along the length of the blade for reduced friction and improved puck control.
Another point to note is applying tape on already-taped surfaces is ill-advised as the old watery tape increases the weight and affects the overall feel of the stick.
Does Everyone Tape Their Hockey Stick?
‘Stick taping’ is almost synonymous with ‘ice hockey’. Though it is agreed that it is better for your stick to have some tape on it, there are some professionals who personally don’t like using it. An example can be seen in Bobby Orr, who attributes his 1970 Stanley Cup win to a stick on which there wasn’t any tape.
Taping a hockey stick is a choice that both professional and recreational players make on a daily basis. The task of taping a hockey stick can be arduous and time consuming but as this article has demonstrated, it is not hard to see why players make the effort.
Players want their sticks to last, and tape helps prevent them from cracks caused by frequent impact of slashes and slap-shots. Moreover, taping helps players to secure a better grip on their sticks and enables more control over the puck.
These factors influence the degree of finesse that players demonstrate in their game and hence need to be understood before one too, can play a successful hockey game.
The ideal hockey stick is one that suits your preferences, making it the ideal equipment that can help you journey towards becoming a ‘shooting’ star.