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Hockey Stick Chart


A Hockey Stick Chart is a line graph that displays data with a sharp increase. This chart is named for its resemblance to a hockey stick, where a flat line representing stable conditions suddenly shoots up at an angle, indicating a sudden and significant change or growth. The chart is often used in business or financial analysis to illustrate exceptional performance or rapid growth after a period of stability or sluggishness.


The phonetics of the keyword “Hockey Stick Chart” is: /’hɒki/ /stɪk/ /tʃɑrt/

Key Takeaways

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  1. Representation of Exponential Growth: A hockey stick chart is often used in finance and business to represent exponential growth and significant uptick in a particular metric such as revenues or customers.
  2. Characteristic Shape: The chart’s name comes from its characteristic shape – flat initially (like the handle of a hockey stick), suggesting a period of slow growth, followed by a sharp, upward turn (like the blade of a hockey stick), indicating a sudden increase or boost.
  3. Interpreting Data: The hockey stick chart is a simple yet effective graphical representation that helps to visually interpret patterns in data. However, it’s important to scrutinize it carefully because its dramatic visualization might make the end results seem more impressive than the initial data in reality.

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A Hockey Stick Chart is a critical tool used in business and finance because it provides a powerful visual representation of a company’s growth trajectory, strategy execution, or financial performance over time. It gets its name from its distinct shape resembling a hockey stick, where the initial period shows a flat, moderate growth (the ‘shaft’ of the stick), followed by a sudden and significant uptick (the ‘blade’ of the stick). Stakeholders such as investors and management teams pay keen attention to such graphs because they can indicate moments of inflection where a company’s strategy has started to yield substantial results or where new market trends have begun to significantly impact performance. Therefore, the Hockey Stick Chart is an essential analytical tool for evaluating a business’s success and forecasting its future potential.


The Hockey Stick Chart is a widely used graphical representation in the world of business and finance, with its application stretching across various areas such as sales forecasts, economic trends and performance metrics. The main purpose of this chart is to provide a visual demonstration of different periods or divisions of a dataset. It has been termed “Hockey Stick” due to its design resembling that of an ice hockey stick, where the majority of the chart displays steady growth or predictable trends and suddenly there is a sharp upward or downward turn representing significant changes, often looking like the ‘blade’ at the end of a hockey stick.Hockey Stick Charts are primarily used in the business world for forecasting and for presentation of growth trends, such as in a company’s sales or profits. They are also popular among economists when demonstrating economic data or trends over an extended period, showing the alterations and anomalies that can occur. Moreover, it is used in the context of climate change studies to represent various aspects such as global temperature data over time. Overall, the use of a Hockey Stick Chart is an effective communication tool that clearly displays trend lines and sudden changes in data.


1. Amazon’s Revenue Growth: A perfect example of a hockey stick chart is Amazon’s revenue growth over the past two decades. The company showed modest growth in its early years from 1995-2005. However, post-2005, the trendline sharply bent upwards, reflecting Amazon’s phenomenal success in e-commerce, digital streaming, and cloud computing, eventually making it one of the world’s biggest companies.2. Tesla’s Stock Price: Tesla’s stock price provides another example of a hockey stick chart. For many years after its IPO in 2010, the stock price remained relatively flat, trading around $30-50. However, in 2020, its stock price skyrocketed from around $130 to over $800 due to strong sales of electric cars and continual profit reports, mirroring the shape of a hockey stick.3. Bitcoin’s Value: The rise in Bitcoin’s value over the past decade can be represented by a hockey stick chart. Bitcoin’s value was very low and relatively flat from 2009 to 2016. However, from late 2016 onwards, the cryptocurrency’s value started to rise at an unprecedented pace, with the price reaching nearly $65,000 in April 2021. The sharp rise in Bitcoin’s value amplifies the hockey stick effect in its pricing chart.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a Hockey Stick Chart?

A Hockey Stick Chart is a line chart used in business and finance that shows a sharp increase or decrease in a variable at a point in time. The name refers to the shape of the graph which resembles a hockey stick, with a flat line leading to a sudden steep rise or fall.

Why is it called a Hockey Stick Chart?

It is named a Hockey Stick Chart because of its shape, which often shows a flat trend for a period of time before sharply turning upward, similar to the shape of a hockey stick.

Where is a Hockey Stick Chart commonly used?

Hockey Stick Charts are commonly used in financial analysis, business planning, and projections. They are particularly useful for visualising exponential growth or sudden increases in data.

How is a Hockey Stick Chart useful in finance or business?

In finance or business, a Hockey Stick Chart can be a powerful tool to illustrate dramatic shifts in revenue, profit, or other key financial indicators. It can visually depict the impact of a certain action or strategy that resulted in rapid growth.

What is the main criticism of a Hockey Stick Chart?

One of the primary criticisms of the Hockey Stick Chart is that it can potentially be misleading. While it accurately highlights a significant increase or decrease, it might not provide insights into the factors driving the change, which could be temporary or unsustainable.

Can a Hockey Stick Chart represent negative trends?

Yes, a Hockey Stick Chart can also show a downturn where there is a sudden sharp drop in a variable, usually following a relatively flat trend.

What does a flat period in a Hockey Stick chart represent?

In a Hockey Stick Chart, the flat period or the handle of the hockey stick generally represents a period of slow, steady, or no growth before a significant event or change leads to a rapid increase or decrease.

Can I use a Hockey Stick Chart for non-financial data?

Absolutely, a Hockey Stick Chart can be used to represent any data that exhibits a sudden large increase or decrease. This could include user acquisition rates, website traffic, environmental data, and more.

Related Finance Terms

  • Forecasting
  • Business Projection
  • Growth Trend
  • Revenue Projections
  • Business Model Scale

Sources for More Information

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