A Handy Equipment Guide To Get you Child Started With Hockey
When your child shows a solid interest in playing hockey, don’t feel bad if your initial excitement turns into trepidation. This sport does requires an investment, but with the right information and a hockey pro shop staff at your side, you will be well equipped for their new exciting endeavor! Here are the basics you should expect to shop for:
Helmet With Cage
We think you would agree that the most important part of that little person’s body is their head. The perception is that you can save money on helmets by buying used or though an online retailer, but it’s not worth it to sacrifice quality and fit for cost. For this reason, we highly recommend you have a pro shop expert help you find a great helmet that fits properly. The right sized helmet will be snug with the cage resting upon the chin. Although a little heavy at first, it will protect the entire face and jaw.
This Bauer IMS5.0 helmet is a great value with a consistently good fit for most of our little athletes! It is reasonably priced around $65
According to the USA Hockey Rulebook, all players, including goalkeepers, in the 12 & under (Youth and Girls’) through Youth 18 & under (including High School) and Girls’ 19 & under age classifications are required to wear a colored mouthpiece that covers all teeth of one jaw, usually the upper. You can purchase a boil and bite but it is recommended that players wear a mouthpiece made by a dentist. These custom fitted mouthpieces provide the most comfortable protection without interfering with a players breathing and talking while on the ice. Keep in mind that growing children will need a new mouthguard once a year on average.
Although not a requirement for all hockey players, we do recommend your child have a neck guard to prevent injury from flying pucks. Goalies are much more likely to get hurt since they stay lower to the ice, and in a direct path of pucks, sticks, and even skates.
This seems to be the topping on the cake for any hockey player! A jersey certainly makes a statement and there are so many cool colors and designs to look at. As with many products, sizes can vary quite a bit from one brand to another, so you’ll want to try a few on make sure the jersey will allow for comfortable time on the ice. For a beginner, a simple practice jersey will suffice until your child is placed on a team.
This is another piece of gear that will provide more comfortable protection and a better quality of materials as you spend a little more money. The main requirement with shoulder pads is that you have full coverage and plenty of ventilation. It’s really easy to get overheated while playing such an active sport.
Beginning skaters are going to fall down a lot and even the pros land directly on their elbows many times over. The good thing is these simple pieces of equipment don’t cost much but they will prevent injury. It’s important to find elbow pads that lock into place and won’t slide around.
Jock or Jill
When players are laser focused on getting after a puck, it’s easy to catch a stick to the groin. Traditionally people assume it’s just the male players that need to wear jock straps but girls also some extra padding to protect the pelvic bone. There are a few choices but for boys, the sizes usually go by age range. Good coverage of reproductive organs cannot be emphasized enough but every child is shaped differently so don’t give in to a grab-n- go mentality. Most players find that compression short jocks and pelvic protectors are comfortable after a short breaking in period.
These are necessary to protect those little hands from sticks and pucks in the rink but it’s really important to have your child hold a stick while trying on gloves in the shop. Make sure the cuffs aren’t loose, but you also don’t want them to cut off circulation and/or limit wrist movement. No need to get fancy with a first set of gloves. A simple pair of black and whites will do the trick.
These Bauer Prodigy gloves are typically a big hit with the kids and their parents. They are comfortable and range from $26-$56
One of the first body parts that will take a beating in hockey is the behind! The primary purpose of pants for a beginner is to keep the backside protected during frequent falls on hard ice. Lots of hip and tailbone padding can be found in the top of the line pants while the less expensive options tend to have a thinner foam.
The shin goes from from below the knee down to the top of the ankle but hockey shin guards cover way more than that and are extremely important for preventing a number of injuries. No one should try playing hockey without shin guards!
A correct fit is everything when it comes to buying shin protection. If the shin guard is too long, the skate will push them up and the knee cap won’t be centered. If it’s too short, the bottom of the shin and the top of the ankles will be exposed and venerable to injury. Similar to shoulder pads, spending a bit more will give you increased breathability and protection, but beginners are fine with the entry level gear.
Thin socks are fine for wearing directly on the feet and they don’t need to be fancy. Their purpose is to wick away sweat and keep the skates from breaking down as fast. The outer socks covers the shin guards, has a much thicker material, and is what everyone will see. These come in quite a variety of colors and patterns so let your kid have some fun picking these out.
As you can imagine, ice skates for a hockey player are like shoes for a runner. So, this is where you will want to sit down with a pro at the hockey shop and have your child get sized. They won’t be comfortable in a skate that is too loose or too tight. As far as your budget goes, this is where you want to focus your attention and get the best quality skate that you can afford at the time.
Hockey players will become obsessed over sticks in their own time, and the choices can become overwhelming. It’s just fine to get a solid wood stick with a subtle curve. Kids learning the ropes just need to build up some muscles and get the hang of passing and shooting a puck before an upgrade is really needed.
Composite sticks like the Bauer Prodigy are priced around $55 and the CCM 252 wooden stick is approximately $21. Both are good options for a beginner.
Last but not least, keep in mind that all of the above items and some accessories need to travel so make sure you pick a bag that can handle all of it. The more pockets the better as you will want to have separate skate and jersey pockets, as well as a pocket just for the helmet. Some bags even come on wheels, which makes it easier for smaller children to lug around.
Your child’s job is to have fun on the ice. Our job is to make sure they get properly fitted with all of the essential hockey gear. Just like many other sports, hockey requires quite a few pieces of equipment and most of them are used for keeping your son or daughter safe. Although there are starter kits available, we have found children very rarely fit into a cookie cutter size and the best service we can provide is our personalized attention. It will take your child a little while to get the hang of putting all of this gear on, so make sure you give them some extra time those first few sessions on the ice!
Rinkside Sports is a full service hockey pro shop located in the Ice Sports Forum in Tampa, Florida. Check out their new website for a full schedule of ice skating and hockey events and lessons. In order to participate in the Hockey 101 or Mini Mite skills class, a helmet, stick, gloves, and skates are required. To participate in the skills class, full equipment is required including elbow pads, shoulder pads, shin pads, and pants, in addition to the helmet, stick, gloves, and skates.
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