You just picked up a fresh stick from the store and you’re ready to use that beautiful new piece of lumber for the first time. Absolutely cannot wait to go bar down against that sieve goalie on your team during practice with it.
But hold on just a minute! Before we can use our new stick, we need to first give it a fresh layer of tape.
Now, every player from Peewees to the NHL has developed their very own process and preferences on how they like to tape their hockey stick. And while some may have their own pre-game rituals and techniques that they swear by, there really isn’t an exact science to it.
No true one size fits all approach.
That being said, we put together this instructional how to guide to help players navigate through some of these different methods and myths floating around the locker room.
If any of the specific sections laid out in the table of contents are what you need to succeed, just click the link and you’ll be directed towards that section.
But if you’re looking for the entire overview of how to tape your hockey stick like a pro from start to finish — just keep on reading through the guide.
Every single aspect of the process is covered in detail below including:
Why Hockey Players Tape Their Sticks
If you’ve been playing for years, and already know for a fact that you could never step onto the ice without properly wrapping up your twig — might want to scroll on down passed this section…
But if you’re new to the game or just looking for a little additional insight, we thought it’d be valuable to first explain why it is important to tape your stick and why the vast majority of players have been choosing to tape their sticks for decades.
Hockey players originally began taping their sticks as a way to protect the wooden blade from cracking. But things have changed a bit since the old days.
The majority of sticks are now made of composite as opposed to wood. They are also lighter and offer more flex compared with their older wooden counterparts.
It is important to note that there are two parts of the stick that the majority of players elect to tape: the stick blade & the butt end (also known as handle or knob). And both offer unique benefits and added functionality to your game. We’re talking about things like:
- Stick Protection — covering the stick blade will extend its lifespan and protect it from cracking or breaking
- Puck Control — taping the blade will give you a better “feel” for the puck and can with stickhandling as well passing and cradling the puck
- Surface Stability — taping your blade will help battle off poke checks and opposing players
- Moisture Repellent — having a layer of tape around the blade will keep it dry
- Grip — taping the top portion will allow better grip on the handle and control of the entire stick
As you can see, it makes sense why using stick tape has become the standard in leagues around the world. Players across all age groups use it to level up their game.
Complete Guide to Taping a Hockey Stick
Alright, what you all came here for.
But before you begin blindly diving into your first ever tape job, it’s important to gather all materials necessary to limit disruption and flow. You’ll also want to make sure your stick is properly prepped and ready.
Preparing for the Job
First, you want to make sure the shaft and grip are free from any debris, plastic wrapping (if it’s brand new), or leftover tape from a previous job.
Next, assemble all the accessories you may need including:
- Cloth Tape: Grab a roll of your favorite hockey cloth tape for the balde. Any color will do — though white and black are by large the most popular
- Stick Wax: Apply stick wax on the blade post-tape which will repel water from the ice and extend the time necessary before retaping
- Grip Tape: For the handle or knob. Similar to the surgical gauze in a first aid kit.
- Scissors: Optional, but can be handy if you struggle to make a clean tear with your hands
*A quick note on tape color: A lot of players prefer to use black tape on the blade, as it said to help camouflage the puck from defenders and the goalie. It’s personal preference, but we prefer using a white or light grip tape for the knob, and black tape for the blade.
Taping the Stick Blade
You’ve got all the tools and accessories we need, and you’re ready to begin taping. The blade is the most critical piece to get right, so be sure to pay extra care here.
Step 1: Pick a Starting Point & Direction
There are quite a few variations you could take here, but the biggest question is deciding whether you want to start from the heel and work down to the toe, or the reverse — starting from the heel and moving the opposite direction.
Some players prefer to tape only the bottom third of the blade, others like to put a thin strip at the bottom of the blade, and some like to only tape the middle portion. It is a preference thing, but we like to keep things simple suggest taping heel-to-toe for the majority of players.
Step 2: Start Wrapping
Position the stick with the blade facing up across your lap, most likely in your non-writing hand. Use your dominant hand to hold the tape roll.
Get a little bit of tape ready off the roll, and starting from the toe of the blade, add your first base layer of tape. You may prefer to leave a bit of opening at the tip — an inch or so from the edge, and begin from there.
Step 3: Work Down the Blade
Put two or three fingers in between the tape roll hole, and pull the tape nice and tight using your thumb to guide each new layer before applying it to the blade. Continue to spiral around the blade overlapping each previous layer by about half.
Once you are about an inch or two away from the start of the stick shaft, use your scissors or hands to rip away from the roll and place the final layer on the blade.
Step 4: Eliminate Wrinkles
At this point, your blade is fully taped. But you will want to make sure you get rid of any wrinkles or bumps that may exist post-tape. A quick trick to smooth things out is by taking the actual roll itself and pushing up firm against the balde.
Step 5: Apply Wax
This last step is optional, but some players prefer to wax their stick after a new tape job. Benefits may include an enhanced puck control, increase the time needed between taping your stick, and wicking away water from the ice which keeps your blade dry during play.
Applying wax is quite simple. All you need to do is grab your favorite stick wax, and take a few passes over the tape.
After this, you’re almost ready to lay some serious clap bombs!
Taping the Butt End
Next up: the handle and knob.
Probably a more annoying task compared to the blade, yet ultra-crucial to get right considering your top hand will be on your stick the entire time you play. Whether you are stickhandling the puck, shooting or defending.
Thankfully, you shouldn’t need to retape this portion too often — if ever.
There are an infinite amount of ways you could customize the butt end, but we like to keep things pretty simple with a candy cane method.
Here is how it works…
Step 1: Apply One Strip at the Top
Starting from the top of the handle, apply one full layer of tape and wrap it completely around the stick.
Step 2: Build the Candy Cane Grip
After applying the top layer, let the roll of tape dangle about a foot or two away from the handle. Next, give it a spin to make the tape curl up in a thin rope-like fashion.
Once you have done this, begin wrapping the thin layer of tape around the top part of the stick in a spiral. You can customize how thin or wide you apply each grip spiral, but keeping them about a two-finger length away from one another should do.
Proceed spiraling down a few inches down or to your personal preference.
Step 3: Layer Over the Grip
Once you have built the candy cane grip, you can unravel the tape back to its normal width, and wrap back up the stick handle — covering each spiral. After you have reached the top, you will want to use your scissors or hands to rip off the tape and stick it down firmly.
Step 4: Create a Knob
Some players choose not to use use a knob, so feel free to skip this step if you do not want to play with one. If you do want to make one, keep on reading.
You’ll first want to take your roll of tape and rip it in half the vertical way. Take the roll of that you have ripped in half and start wrapping around the very top edge of the stick a few times to build a knob. Now use the unused portion and rewrap around the top to add an additional layer.
Finally, take the entire roll and reapply two to three full sized layers to clean up and smooth out the top portion.
How Often Should You Retape?
It is going to come down to personal preference and a bit of instinct, but most players retape their blade every few weeks. Although some prefer a fresh layer before each game.
If the tape begins to peel off, especially on the blade — it may make sense to run through the process again.
There you have it. The complete A-Z guide on how to tape your hockey stick toe to heel and build a candy cane style grip.
These are just a few simple ways to do it, but of course there are many other processes and techniques to customize.