Tips for Gearing Up Your Kids
Like many high tempo sports, the right equipment in hockey is pivotal for one’s safety. With the constant influx on products and new technology, it is always worth knowing the basics for sizing, comfort and safety. There are many pieces of hockey equipment that a player needs in order to stay safe on the ice, and before considering the products themselves, a player should look for size, comfort, and most importantly, protection. There are many opinions on how to buy skates, how to cut a stick, as well as how a player should tie their skates. The following will break down each piece of required equipment, with tips on how to size along with advice on comfort and putting on the gear itself.
There are a variety of different types of cups/ jocks on the market. However, the most common used today is the jock style, which has the cup protector sewed in place. The jock style protector is essentially tight fitted underwear or spandex that fits comfortably and includes Velcro patches on the thigh that helps keep hockey socks in place over the shin pads. Although everyone is different and has their own preference on the type of cup/ jock they use, it’s important to remember that comfort and safety are the main concerns.
Shin Pads [3:10]
Shin Pads are an important piece of protection that protects a hockey player’s legs. Once again, comfort and safety are the main concern. When fitting for shin pads, it’s important to place the cap portion of the pad directly on the knee. Once the cap is directly on the knee, there should be a space at the bottom of the shin pad and on top of the foot. If the shin pad is too long, this may interfere with a player’s performance, impeding on a player’s ability to skate smoothly and efficiently. Depending on the brand of shin pads, there may be one or several straps that will secure the shin pad to the leg. The number of straps on the shin pad does not necessarily matter. The main priority is that the shin pad stays in place, with the knee directly sitting in the cap of the shin pad.
Hockey socks are what cover the shin pads. Once the shin pads are in place, take the hockey socks and pull them over the shin pads, ensuring that the socks are nice and tight at the bottom of the shin pad. This is important because loose and baggy socks at the bottom of the shin pads may interfere with a player’s ability to skate. Once the socks are in place at the bottom of the shin pad, pull the socks up to the cup/jock, securing the sock to the Velcro patches. Keep in mind, most socks can be long, loose and baggy, especially for young hockey players. One thing to consider is to roll the sock at the top of the leg and secure it to the Velcro from the cup/ jock.
Hockey pants are what covers a hockey player’s thighs and middle portion of the body. Like any other piece of equipment, different brands will come in all sorts of different sizes, so it’s important to ensure that a hockey player selects the correct brand and/ or size. When fitting for hockey pants, it’s important to keep in mind that hockey pants need to cover the thigh, however, it should not extend over the knee. If hockey pants are too long, this will interfere in a player’s ability to skate and complete full strides. Finally, hockey pants can be secured one of two ways. First, most hockey pants come with a built-in belt that can be fastened at the waist. However, depending on the hockey player, hockey pants can also be secured in place with hockey suspenders.
The most important piece of equipment are your skates and one that can affect a player’s performance the most. First, it’s imperative that a hockey player select the correct size. One issue that occurs a lot in minor hockey is that parents buy skates for their son or daughter that are a one or two sizes too big. Parents believe that this is an easy way to save money and will allow their son or daughter to have the same skates for several years. Nonetheless, this will create a number of issues for their son or daughter. Skates that are too big will hinder a hockey player’s development and may cause some discomfort in their feet. When trying on skates, the first thing a player or parent should do is tap the heel of the skate so the foot is secured at the heel of the skate. Secondly, a player’s toes should barely touch the front of the skate, leaving a little room for comfort and growth. Once the foot is settled in place, it’s time to lace up the skates. When lacing up the skates, every hockey player is different. Some may like their skates tight, while others may like them loose. It’s okay if the laces are looser at the bottom, as this will give the feet and toes some wiggle room. However, when considering young hockey players, it’s important that their skates are relatively tight at the top of the skate. This is because a young hockey player’s ankles are not as strong and developed as older players. Tighter laces at the top of the skate will keep the foot and ankle strong and supported. Ultimately, this will prevent bad skating mechanics and prevent serious injuries in the future. Lastly, to make skates fit more comfortably to one’s feet, many players nowadays heat up their skates in an oven designed specifically for skates that will allow the skate to form and shape naturally to the foot.
Tape & Shoulder Pads [20:29]
Tape is a must have in every hockey player’s hockey bag, as it will help keep equipment in place if needed. Keep in mind, it’s not a good idea to tape equipment (socks, shin pads, etc.) extremely tight, as this could lead to discomfort, lack of mobility and a potential loss of circulation. Tape is only required to keep equipment secured and in place. Shoulder pads is the next piece of equipment that will prove to be an essential and effective piece of equipment to a hockey player. A common misconception regarding shoulder pads is the bigger, the better. This is not totally true, as shoulder pads need to reflect the specific level of a hockey player. For example, a hockey player who is not yet in body contact hockey should refrain from choosing shoulder pads that are big and bulky. Instead, they should consider shoulder pads that offer enough protection that will allow them to move freely without any interference. A good indicator for this is to see if you can reach and touch your hands over your head. If you are unable to touch your hands, you should consider trying on smaller, less bulky shoulder pads.
Elbow Pads [23:25]
Elbow pads are the next piece of equipment. Elbow pads are what protects a hockey player’s elbows and forearms. Once again, different brands of elbow pads may fit a hockey player differently than others, so choose a pair that fits comfortably and consider the following. First, it’s important to identify the elbow pad that corresponds to the correct arm. Secondly, you want to place the elbow directly in the cap of the elbow pad and ensure that there is a forearm pad that will offer protection for the entire arm. Keep in mind, elbow pads do not need to be large and bulky. This piece of equipment should fit comfortably and offer protection between the shoulder pads and gloves.
Hockey jerseys is not necessarily a piece of equipment that offers protection, but it’s something that you should be aware of when trying on. Most team jerseys come in one size fits all. That being said, a couple problems may arise when trying on jerseys. The most common is some hockey jerseys may be too big, especially for younger hockey players. If this is the case, an easy solution is to tuck the sleeves into the hockey gloves and the jersey itself into the pants. This will allow a hockey player to move freely without any interference from the jersey.
Helmet, Gloves & Neck Guard [26:35]
Helmets are a vital piece of equipment for hockey players, especially when considering the issue of concussions. Like any other piece of equipment, it’s important to choose a helmet that is comfortable, but more importantly, one that offers maximum protection. When choosing your helmet size, most helmets nowadays are adjustable. That being said, helmets are only adjustable in length (front to back), not width (size to side). An important component of the helmet are the J-Clips. The J-Clips keep the face mask in place and takes the majority of the blow if a player was to fall and his/ her chin. Finally, it’s important to keep a screwdriver and some spare screws in your hockey bag. Like most equipment, helmets need occasional maintenance and some new screws from time to time. Gloves and neck guard are the final pieces that complete a hockey players attire. Like any other piece of equipment, gloves vary in size and degree of protection that it offers. When trying on gloves, keep in mind that it is important to be able to open and close the glove easily. This is especially important for the younger hockey players as they may not have the strength in their hands to open and close a stiff pair of gloves. As for a neck guard, this piece of equipment seems to be one that players forget the most, or simply choose not to wear. However, there have been far too many graphic and life threatening injuries that have occurred from a skate or stick cutting the jugular vein of hockey players. Therefore, neck guards are as important as any other piece of equipment. Choose a neck guard that is comfortable and one that will cover the entire surface of the neck.
Hockey Stick [30:57]
Last, but certainly not least, is the hockey stick. Like skates, parents tend to buy sticks or cut the stick at a length that will allow their son/ daughter to grow into it. However, having a stick that is too long will cause a number of problems. A player needs a stick that is functional, and one that fits them comfortably. A general guideline for parents and players is to have the stick cut at a length that will have the stick at chin level when the player is on his/ her skates. This will allow a young hockey player to focus on his/ her skills, like stick handling, passing and shooting. Having a stick that is too long or too short will make it difficult for a young hockey player to learn and perfect these particular skills. As players progress, they may begin to have a preference in length of stick, depending on their position or style of play as well as the flexibility of the shaft. At a reasonable price, Mode Hockey Sticks are a great product for beginners as they provide recommended flexibility as well as improved weight and feel to the junior stick. This will help players develop a natural feel for their stick along with knowing what their personal preference of stick is. For parents, keep in mind that sticks do not last long, so be prepared for your son/ daughter to go through a number of sticks during the course of a hockey season.
HockeyShot Products [Bonus]
As players begin to grow and enjoy the game, there is a natural desire to improve their skills through practicing. HockeyShot provides an array of products that can help a player build on their skills in stickhandling, passing, shooting and mobility. Players may want to focus on one or several aspects of their game, and HockeyShot allows for that flexibility. Especially for beginning players, skating and balance must be the first steps to playing the sport. Skating is a difficult skill to learn itself, but with added gear and stickhandling a puck, skating can be that much tougher. That is why balance is absolutely key. The Slide Board Pro helps with just that as it targets the very muscles the players need to build on in order to be a strong skater. This product is for all levels as it can be used for teaching proper and strong push-offs for speed, as well as integrating intensive core and balance drills for advanced players. It adjusts in size so players of all ages and skill can target their core skating muscles.
To improve on stickhandling, a simple tool like the Extreme Danglers can help players thread the puck side to side through a closed knit (and raised) bar in addition to practicing fun moves such as the toe-drag and deke. This improves players’ stamina with stickhandling as well as puck-handling accuracy. For passing and shooting, the Stick Weight (6oz or 12oz) and the Passing Kits allow for building strength and precision within your game. The Stick Weight is an easy adjustable Velcro piece that can be placed at the base of the stick. This effective accessory can help players build their strength and stamina by adding one or more to the stick shaft. Building strength in forearms and wrists will help tremendously with not only harder shots but also the quick release of the shooter.
Players will learn quickly that the Extreme Dryland Puck moves faster than the legs and quick tape-to-tape passes are crucial for this fast-paced sport. The innovative Passing Kits are a great way to work on passing skills with speed, timing, and even one-time shots with the self releasing bungee chord mechanism that rebounds passes. Not only is the Passing Kit a fun and interactive way for players to practice basic passing and shooting techniques, they can also build on those skills by trying more challenging drills like one-time shots and quick release passing and shooting.
After reviewing each breakdown, we hope you have a better understanding of what and what not to do when purchasing and putting on gear. For a first time hockey player, it is very important to consider comfort and protection before anything else. This will ensure they can focus on their skills on the ice and enjoy their experience fully. Remember, The Future of Hockey Starts Now!
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