You probably have seen Hockey players taping either the knob or blade of their stick and wonder why they spend so much time doing so. The truth is, Hockey Players do not casually tape their sticks for fashion’s sake.
Apparently, Hockey Players tape the blade of their stick for added protection and to give them a better feel when controlling the puck. Also, they tape the knob of their stick to get a good grip and enhance its friction, so they can easily pick it up when it falls to the ice.
In a nutshell, hockey players tape their stick to protect it from wear, tear, and damage as well as improve their interaction with the stick.
Read on as we provide detailed reasons why Hockey Players tape their sticks.
Reasons Professional Hockey Players Tape Their Stick:
Although NHL players make use of composite sticks nowadays, the sticks were originally made of wood in the past. Sadly, the sticks are less durable in the snow and moisture formed as players strike the puck on the ice.
As we already know, when plain wood is left in a moist environment for a while, it could easily deform and splinter. This rule is also applicable to wooden hockey sticks.
Hence, as players continue to use their sticks on the rink, it would gradually deform and, maybe worst, split at the bottom. You could even try this as an experiment in your home. It is likely that the wood will splinter and crack after multiple usages.
To prolong the lifespan of the stick by preventing it from splintering, players would tape the blade of their stick. As you have guessed, the tape would prevent water moisture from entering the stick. Hence, it would keep the wood stick from splintering at the bottom as quickly as possible.
Of course, the tape will not last forever as it will always wear out after consistent usage. Hence, you will often see players carrying out the routine of taping their sticks like a compulsory ritual before a game.
Do you know?… Some players tape their sticks with black tape to help them camouflage the puck on the stick. Hence, goalies will find it difficult to see the puck on a stick since the tape and the puck will have nearly the same colour.
What About Composite Sticks, Do Players Still Tape Them?
In recent times, the NHL players and most recreational players do not use wood sticks again. Yes, they now make use of a composite stick which is almost 15 times more expensive than wood sticks.
Perhaps you didn’t know that wood sticks cost $20 while composite sticks cost $300 on average. Since the composite stick is made up of materials like graphite, kevlar and carbon, is there still a need to tape the composite stick?
The answer to the above question is Yes! In fact, you can see in the picture below that the player has tapped his composite stick to play in a professional game.
Although the composite does not have the problem of splintering due to water moisture, there are a few reasons why players still tape its blade and knob. Now, let’s look at why Hockey Players tape composite sticks.
1. To Prevent Cracking:
Composite sticks break quite easier than you would imagine. When a player tries to take a shot during a game, he may be unfortunate to see his stick break in the process.
The reason behind this is that there might be a crack in the stick. Hence, it wouldn’t be able to withstand the force of the shot, which then causes the stick to crumble.
It is absolutely easy for a composite stick to sustain a crack as it strikes the puck. Hence, to prevent this from happening, players would often tape the blade of the stick for protection.
By simply taping the stick, the player may extend its durability and will use it much longer.
2. To Control The Puck Better:
Puck control is an integral skill that all hockey players should possess. When players tape their sticks, it provides cushioning in receiving passes. Also, the players will easily control the stick when shooting or giving passes.
Apparently, the composite stick has a more slippy blade than the wood stick. Hence, the puck rarely balances on the composite stick in the same way as it does on the wood stick.
To create a neutral feel of the puck, players tape their stick. In a nutshell, it wouldn’t matter if they are using wood sticks or composite sticks since the feel will be similar. The taped blade provides a nice cushion, which makes it easier to receive the puck when passed.
The tape also allows players to handle and pass the puck efficiently. It improves the players’ feel for stick-handling and allows a more accurate pass when sending the puck to a teammate.
The entire act of taping a stick may seem trivial. But in hockey, inches matter, and you have to be precise, else the puck will end up on the other team’s stick or, worst, in the back of your net.
Why NHL Players Tape the Top/Knob of the Stick:
As we’ve earlier mentioned, the blade is not the only part of the stick that gets taped. Players also tape the top or knob of their stick. Below are the two reasons players do this:
1. For Grip:
Players usually need to have a firm grip on their stick to enable them to play effectively. Hence, they usually tape the knob of their stick to help them get a better grip on it.
While taping the top of the stick, the middle section is left untaped. This will allow the player to freely slide one of his hands up and down the shaft when stick-handling and shooting.
Because the hand placed at the top acts as an anchor in shooting and stick-handling, it needs to stay in one spot. Therefore, the tape will provide the grip necessary to prevent the hand from sliding around.
2. To Quickly Pick Up Their Sticks:
It is common for players to get their sticks knocked off their hands during the game. When this happens, many players usually leave their sticks on the ice to defend against opponents’ attacks.
Afterwards, they will have to quickly grab their stick as the game proceed. Picking a fallen stick from the ice can be very challenging, especially if the hockey stick is lying flat on the ice!
Hence, players will create a thick knob of tape at the end of their stick to help them hold on to the stick firmly and to enable them to pick up the stick from the ice faster.
This really saves players occasionally as they cannot afford the time to pick up their stick off the ice in many circumstances.
How Do Hockey Players Tape Their Sticks?
Cloth tape is the most commonly used tape for hockey sticks. Since it was commonly used for medical bandages in the past, most people have become familiar with it. The tape used to wrap a hockey stick in recent days is fairly similar to that utilized in the past.
Taping hockey stick blades can be done in a variety of ways. Wrapping the tape across the blade is perhaps the most typical method. Players may disagree on how much tape to use, how much space around the blade to cover, and how wide the tape should be.
All of these factors will influence the blade’s surface and, as a result, how it interacts with the puck. Wrapping tape across the blade adds drag between the stick and the ice, which some players think makes stick handling more difficult.
Hence, it is advisable to run a single strip of tape along the length of the blade, which will give you some extra puck control without causing friction between the ice and the stick.
As a note of caution, it is unwise to re-tape over a previous tape job, or it will weigh down your stick with the watery tape of the prior effort.
Do All Hockey Players Tape Their Sticks?
As much as taping a stick comes with so many advantages, there are some players who dislike carrying out this practice. Hence, not all hockey players tape their sticks.
Looking back at Game 4 of the 1970 Stanley Cup Final, you will see that Bobby Orr’s who scored the winning goal had no tape on his stick. He didn’t enjoy using it and gradually curtailed his use throughout the course of his career.
Stick taping is an important component of hockey, whether it’s due to science or superstition. Hence, you would find many players taping their sticks before the beginning of the game.
Although taping a hockey stick seems like a simple thing, hockey players take it seriously. No wonder NHL players will spend hours working on taping their sticks each year. If you ever find yourself on the ice rink waiting to play a game, make sure you get your stick taped if you must enjoy all the aforementioned benefits.