Friday, 13 April 2018

Clap-Bomb Science

Patrik Laine, Alex Ovechkin, and Steven Stamkos may have the most lethal one-timers in the NHL from the face-off circle today. I was involved in a discussion today about how the flex value of their sticks is the reason for the incredible acceleration that they get once the puck leaves their sticks, and I discovered that one of the people in the discussion had no idea what the flex number actually meant. While we all chuckled about this, it dawned on me that many people may not know the science that goes into a slap shot with a composite stick. Let's tackle that with a little help today, shall we?

I'll be honest when I say that I still use a wood stick for my recreational hockey endeavors simply because I can't justify paying $100 for some fun, barely-competitive hockey. There are some guys who swear by the sticks due to their weight and flex, and I've always wondered why one would make that claim in a non-slap-shot league. Whatever the reason, several of the guys claim their 75-flex to be superior to the 85-flex and all the other flexes that teams have produced. But what exactly is flex and what makes it different from other flex values?

Smarter Every Day dove into the science of slap shot down at the NCAA's University of Alabama-Huntsville, and the findings are actually pretty cool. Give this seven-minute video a watch, and you can wow your friends during this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs with your slap shot knowledge!

Pretty cool, right? Yes, there's actual physics in that video, but learning physics while watching hockey is a pretty cool way to gain knowledge. Regardless of the learning, now you know what the flex values mean, you know that not all flex values are made the same, and you know how a slap shot actually accelerates despite the shooter striking the ice inches behind the puck.

You can admit it: science is cool!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

No comments: