Sticks come in four main sizes:
- Youth - for very young players, typically under 8 years old and 4' tall
- Junior - for younger players from about 8 to 12 years old or until they're about 4'9 tall
- Intermediate - for teenagers or adults under about 5'6"
- Senior - for adults or teenagers over about 5'6"
How do you determine which stick size is right for you? Typically you can grab a stick off the shelf, measure it's height with the tip of the blade resting on the floor, and if it's between your mouth and eyebrows, it's likely in the right area. You may have to cut the stick a few inches or add an end plug of a few inches length (for composite sticks) to get your preferred height, but it should start out around that area.
How long of a stick should you use? The short answer is whatever you find the most comfortable, but there is a thought process behind this. The traditional recommendation for hockey players is to cut the stick off at the chin in skates or at the bottom of the nose in bare feet. This is a good starting place for most players.
There are benefits to shorter and longer sticks. Short sticks mean the puck is carried closer to the body, which helps players who like to carry the puck. It's also easier to control the stick as there is less distance between the blade and hands. Skilled forwards typically have a shorter stick for these reasons. A longer stick obviously helps players grab loose pucks and poke check further from the body. It can also help put more power on shots as a hockey stick acts like a lever when shooting. This is why you often see defensemen and checking forwards using longer sticks.
Here's a wonderful video about stick length:
Of course this doesn't take into account blade lie, a player's skating style, and how a player shoots. Most hockey players use a stick cut higher than their collarbone. But it's still fun to see how an old time hockey coach like Howie Meeker does it.
Finally, keep in mind that it's always easier to cut a hockey stick down that it is to make it longer. With composites, you can put an end plug in the stick which does change how it feels (more on that later), but with wood sticks you are stuck with that length!