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Intro to Hockey: Equipment 101

By Total Hockey, 10/19/12, 11:15AM CDT

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Tips on finding the right equipment for new players and parents

For kids and parents entering hockey, it is an exciting and new experience. However, sometimes understanding equipment can be a daunting task. We want to break down the barriers and help educate what type of equipment is needed to begin playing.

First of all, safety and comfort are necessary for the player to have confidence and success on the ice. Also, equipment must properly fit and be cared for to assure maximum performance and protection. Age and experience will also be factors in determining the appropriate level of equipment.

It is best to gain guidance and advice from those who are knowledgeable about the differences and key aspects of the equipment. Your specialty retail hockey stores (i.e. Total Hockey) are a good source for expert advice. However, you can also suit up with pieces that are loaner/rental gear from your association, or borrowed or donated from friends or family. There are also second hand sporting goods stores that may have equipment to cover your needs at the start. It is important equipment fits well and has life left to offer proper protection and performance. You will need to buy some new items that are personal to the player including mouth guards, personal protective gear (jock) and undergarments. As your child begins to outgrow pieces, new items can be added periodically rather than an entire set at once.

For kids ages 4-9 who are new to ice hockey, the following equipment is necessary:

• Helmet with face mask – The head is the most important part of the body and the helmet is designed to reduce chance of skull fractures. No helmet prevents concussions, but can reduce the risk depending on padding and design. Construction and design must be approved by HECC which assures they have been tested and meet certain standards. The face mask minimizes facial injury from sticks or flying pucks

• Shoulder pads – Designed to protect the chest, shoulders and top of arms; trying on will determine best comfort and size for mobility and protection.

• Elbow pads – Designed not to move when worn and to protect the elbow from hard falls or impact with boards or other players, and protect the forearms from sticks and pucks.

• Gloves- Protects hands fingers and wrists; must have good finger and hand mobility when worn.

• Shin guards – Should cover the knee and shin completely to protect from collision, sticks, and pucks.

• Supporter/Cup – Essential protective gear; most common includes a one piece short with built-in cup and Velcro tabs at thighs to hold up ice hockey socks.

• Pants/breezers – Protection for lower spine/tailbone, hips and thighs; length should come to the top of shin pads.

• Skates – A necessity for optimum play and performance; the skate should fit well today as opposed to one with too much room for growth as it will hamper skating abilities and comfort. Periodic quality sharpenings are essential for the skater’s success.

• Stick – A straight wood stick is a good start, yet many composite sticks are available too; length should generally extend from the ice/floor to the player’s chin with skates on – an inch or two more of length is okay to allow for growth. Equipment experts can provide recommendations for each player and will cut the stick to the proper size.

• Hockey socks – Part of the team uniform; held in place with garter or Velcro tabs on jock short; pulled over and covers the shin guards. Other socks are needed to wear with skates.

• Hockey Jersey – Part of the uniform and may be provided by the team or purchased separately; should be tried on with shoulder pads to determine appropriate fit. Generally, sleeves will come just below wrists to top of hand and length will cover to thighs.

• Mouth guard – Essential for teeth protection and can help in reducing the risk of concussions.

• Moisture wicking undergarments – Provides warmth and protection from the gear itself while wicking away perspiration during play.

• Neck guard – May be included in a special designed hockey undershirt that covers neck; designed to prevent cut to the neck from skate blade which is an uncommon occurrence; still needed for peace of mind and protection.

Click here for a more detailed fitting guide from Total Hockey.  For instructions on how to put on your equipment, click here to watch a video by USA Hockey.

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