Home Store Project Ideas Project Guide Ask An Expert Blog Careers Teachers Parents Students

She Shoots, She Scores! How Does Hockey Stick Flex Affect Accuracy and Speed?

Difficulty
Time Required Average (6-10 days)
Prerequisites Access to an empty ice rink and knowledge of how to play ice hockey.
Material Availability Specialty items required. You need access to an empty ice rink, hockey equipment and safety gear, a sports radar gun appropriate for hockey, and two volunteers who also have equipment and safety gear.
Cost Low ($20 - $50)
Safety Minor injury possible. Wear safety gear.

Abstract

While watching an ice hockey game, have you ever wondered what differentiates a good player from a great player? For sure, the great player is athletically superior to the good player. But maybe it is a combination of athleticism and equipment. Maybe a great player knows which hockey stick is best for him or her. Hockey players can choose to play with hockey sticks with different flexibilities or "flex." In this science fair project, investigate how stick flex affects shot accuracy and speed. Who knows, if you figure this problem out, you could move from being a good ice hockey player to a great ice hockey player!

Objective

To investigate how hockey stick flexibility affects shot accuracy and puck speed.

Credits

Michelle Maranowski, PhD, Science Buddies

This project is based on the following Dragonfly TV episode:

Cite This Page

MLA Style

Science Buddies Staff. "She Shoots, She Scores! How Does Hockey Stick Flex Affect Accuracy and Speed?" Science Buddies. Science Buddies, 25 Nov. 2013. Web. 1 Oct. 2014 <http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/Sports_p049.shtml?from=Blog>

APA Style

Science Buddies Staff. (2013, November 25). She Shoots, She Scores! How Does Hockey Stick Flex Affect Accuracy and Speed?. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/Sports_p049.shtml?from=Blog

Share your story with Science Buddies!

I did this project I Did This Project! Please log in and let us know how things went.


Last edit date: 2013-11-25

Introduction

Historians are not sure when or where the game of ice hockey started, but the modern version of ice hockey was developed in Canada by J.G.A. Creighton, and the first game was played in Montreal, Canada in 1875. The first ice hockey rink was built in London in 1876. Hockey is a game that requires balance, agility, strength, and hand-eye coordination. Good hand-eye coordination skills are necessary in order to shoot the puck into the 4-ft. x 6-ft. goal.

Watch DragonflyTV hockey video
Click here
to check out the video "Hockey by Tess, Alison, and Christina." This video was produced by DragonflyTV and presented by pbskidsgo.org.

Another thing that helps players play hockey is the equipment. The most important piece of equipment is the hockey stick. The hockey stick has two components: the blade and the shaft. Hockey sticks used to be predominantly made from wood. However, hockey sticks are now made from a variety of materials, including carbon, carbon-graphite, and aluminum. Some players like their hockey sticks to be long and straight, while others like a curve in the blade. Properties of hockey sticks include: lie, blade pattern, and flex. Flex is defined as the amount of weight required to bend the stick 3 inches. The higher the flex number, the stiffer the hockey stick.

Flex has a lot to do with how fast a player's slap shot is. In the act of making a slap shot, the player will scrape the blade on the ice a few inches behind the puck. This pulls the blade back so that when the blade contacts the puck, it acts like a spring. This, in combination with the player transferring his or her weight from the back leg through to the stick, can transfer a lot of power to the puck and give it tremendous speed. You might think that all players should play will a high-flex stick but that's not quite so. Different positions (forwards, defensemen, and goaltenders) require sticks with different flex. Players also vary in physical strength. A weaker player might not be able to play effectively with a high-flex stick. Flex also affects shot accuracy.

In this science fair project, you will look at how flex affects shot accuracy and shot speed. This project is based on a DragonflyTV project called "Hockey by Tess, Alison, and Christina." Click the link on the right to watch how they investigated hockey stick flex. Now it's time to do your own investigation with wood hockey sticks and see if you get similar results as Tess, Alison, and Christina. If people ask why you're headed to the skating rink when you should be doing your science fair research, tell them that's exactly what you're doing!

Terms and Concepts

  • Lie
  • Blade pattern
  • Flex
  • Stiffness
  • Slap shot

Questions

  • What are the different properties of a hockey stick and how does each property help the hockey player?
  • What is the physics behind the hockey slap shot?
  • From what kinds of materials are hockey sticks made? What characteristics does each material give to the hockey stick?

Bibliography

Materials and Equipment

To do this science fair project, you must have access to a hockey rink, all hockey equipment, all safety gear, and two volunteers who have the same. The test will likely be more accurate if you and the two volunteers are adept at playing ice hockey.

  • Poster board
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Permanent marker
  • Duct tape
  • Plastic bin
  • Hockey pucks (10)
  • Measuring tape
  • Volunteer players who are also adept at ice hockey and who have hockey equipment and safety gear (3, including you)
  • Wood hockey sticks (3); you should have three wood hockey sticks, each with a different flex number. Try borrowing these, rather than buying them.
  • Sporting radar gun; these are expensive to purchase. See if you can borrow one from your hockey gear shop or from a sporting goods store. Sporting radar guns are available for purchase online.
  • Lab notebook
  • Graph paper (optional)

Share your story with Science Buddies!

I did this project I Did This Project! Please log in and let us know how things went.

Experimental Procedure

  1. To start this science fair project, you should arrange a time with your local ice rink to do your project. Or perhaps arrange a time with your coach to perform this experiment before or after practice, if you play on a team. Be sure to give them details about what you will be doing.
  2. Make your accuracy marker out of the poster board. Cut out a rectangle that is 1.5 feet x 2 feet. Make a big "X" on the poster board with the permanent marker. This is the shooting target.
  3. Be sure to take all your supplies and gear listed in the Materials & Equipment list with you to the rink. Set up the testing area. Test for shot accuracy first. Place the target in the goal. Tape it to the net with the duct tape and support it from behind with the plastic bin so that the "X" is clearly visible. You will be shooting for this target in the accuracy test.
  4. Measure 60 feet from the goal with the measuring tape. Line up 10 hockey pucks at this location.
  5. Take the lowest-flex stick and shoot the 10 pucks toward the target, one right after another. Note down in your lab notebook the number of times you hit the target in a data table like the one shown below.
  6. Repeat steps 4–5 with each of the different flex sticks. Record how many times you hit the target in your lab notebook.
  7. Repeat steps 4–6 with each of your volunteer players. Record all data in your lab notebook.


  8. Player Flex Did the Player Hit the Target? Shot Accuracy Percentage
                             
                           
                           
                             
                           
                           
                             
                           
                           


  9. Now investigate how the flex affects the speed of a slap shot.
  10. Read the instructions of the sporting radar gun and set it up at the side of the goal.
  11. Line up five hockey pucks 60 feet away from the goal. With the lowest-flex stick, make a slap shot as hard as you can toward the target. Note the speed on the radar gun and have a volunteer player record it in your lab notebook. Repeat for each hockey puck.
  12. Repeat step 10 for each of the different flex sticks, recording all data in your lab notebook.
  13. Repeat steps 10–11 with each of your volunteer players. Record all data in your lab notebook.
  14. Now it's time to work with the data. Make a bar chart of the data on graph paper, or if you need help with plotting or would like to make your plots on the computer, try the following website Create a Graph. Make a bar chart with Player on the x-axis and Shot Accuracy Percentage on the y-axis. The "Shot Accuracy Percentage" is calculated by totaling the number of times the player hit the target, dividing the total by 10, and then multiplying by 100. For each volunteer player, plot the shot accuracy percentage for each flex stick.


  15. Player Flex Slap Shot Speed Average Slap Shot Speed
                   
                 
                 
                   
                 
                 
                   
                 
                 


  16. Make another bar chart with Player on the x-axis and Average Speed on the y-axis. For each volunteer player, plot the average speed for each flex stick. Do you notice any pattern? Is a particular flex stick better?

Share your story with Science Buddies!

I did this project I Did This Project! Please log in and let us know how things went.


Variations

  • Is flex the same? Extend your investigation by comparing hockey sticks of different materials.
  • How does the weight of the stick affect the shooting accuracy and speed?
  • How does the weight and strength of the player affect shooting accuracy and speed?

Share your story with Science Buddies!

I did this project I Did This Project! Please log in and let us know how things went.

Ask an Expert

The Ask an Expert Forum is intended to be a place where students can go to find answers to science questions that they have been unable to find using other resources. If you have specific questions about your science fair project or science fair, our team of volunteer scientists can help. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions, offer guidance, and help you troubleshoot.

Ask an Expert

Related Links

If you like this project, you might enjoy exploring these related careers:

Mechanical engineer building prototype

Mechanical Engineer

Mechanical engineers are part of your everyday life, designing the spoon you used to eat your breakfast, your breakfast's packaging, the flip-top cap on your toothpaste tube, the zipper on your jacket, the car, bike, or bus you took to school, the chair you sat in, the door handle you grasped and the hinges it opened on, and the ballpoint pen you used to take your test. Virtually every object that you see around you has passed through the hands of a mechanical engineer. Consequently, their skills are in demand to design millions of different products in almost every type of industry. Read more
Mathematician at work

Mathematician

Mathematicians are part of an ancient tradition of searching for patterns, conjecturing, and figuring out truths based on rigorous deduction. Some mathematicians focus on purely theoretical problems, with no obvious or immediate applications, except to advance our understanding of mathematics, while others focus on applied mathematics, where they try to solve problems in economics, business, science, physics, or engineering. Read more

Looking for more science fun?

Try one of our science activities for quick, anytime science explorations. The perfect thing to liven up a rainy day, school vacation, or moment of boredom.

Find an Activity