The “official” hockey season is upon us. Here’s what you need to know before you step out on the ice.
By Joel Hammond
For many, the drop in temperatures as we transition to fall brings about a chance to indulge in pastimes usually not done during the summer months. Things like curling up in front of a warm fire with a favorite book or settling in for a cozy night of Netflix binging.
But for the rest of us, however, the shift from summer to fall and winter offers the opportunity to lace up your skates and take to the ice once again. This article will help those who are thinking of playing get ready for hockey.
As hockey players know, one particularly popular sport that often gets all but forgotten about in the summer months, but picked up with particular intensity once the weather turns colder, is ice hockey.
For millions of fans across the world, hockey is the ultimate winter sport. It combines the speed and gracefulness of skiing and speed skating with the brutal action of football, in what makes for an exciting viewing and playing experience. And for the die-hard hockey player, the game goes on all year long on indoor rinks.
This combination of speed, skill, and a little bit of pugilism has contributed to the popularity of hockey. While the US and Canada see an intense focus of attention around the Stanley Cup—and Sweden has their Komplett guide för JVM that covers the Junior World Championship—it is very clear that hockey is a much-loved sport!
If you’re getting started playing hockey for the first time, getting ready for hockey can often be a daunting task. And acquiring the right gear can prove to be a particularly tricky obstacle to overcome for new players. With that in mind, what are the essential items of hockey gear you need to get started?
Getting Ready for Hockey Means Selecting the Right Gear
Even at the recreational level, hockey can often be a rough sport. For this reason, having the right gear is essential—which is equally true of your skates and stick as it is your protective gear.
When getting ready for hockey, one important aspect when selecting the right gear is making sure that you have equipment that fits properly. This is particularly important when it comes to safety gear. The last thing you want to occur when you take a hit from a stick, puck, or another player is for an essential piece of safety gear to come loose and fail to protect you fully.
Here’s short list of the essential gear you will need:
- Helmet: Probably the most important piece of protective gear for hockey players, and for good reason. In recent years, much attention has rightfully been focused on the issue of concussions, which is precisely why helmets are mandatory at all levels of play. Make sure you have a correctly fitting helmet. Goalies need a good face mask, which protects the face and head.
- Shoulder pads: The better varieties of shoulder pads protect your shoulders, biceps, chest and upper back. They are designed to help prevent the worst damage from any slap shots or collisions you might have with other players. (Goaltenders require a special set of chest pads that include padding for the arms and elbows.)
- Elbow pads: Good elbow pads will protect your elbows from a collision with the boards or a fall to the ice. They will help absorb a slash from an opponent’s stick.
- Gloves: Hockey gloves protect your hands and wrists from sticks and pucks. They also enable you to take those slap shots as they absorb the shock from the hockey stick making contact with the puck and the ice. If you’re a goalie, you will need a blocker to deflect the shots, and a trapper to catch them.
- Hockey pants: Hockey pants—which are really shorts—offer a great deal of protection for the lower body. A good pair not only protects your legs from the knees upward, they can shield your lower abdomen and kidneys from bumps and bruises. Not only are they perfect for absorbing the worst of the blows you might receive from an errant stick or puck, they’ll protect your butt if you get knocked to the ice.
- Jock/cup: An essential piece of protective gear for both males and females. Be sure you have a well-fitting cup that won’t come loose during a game, when it’s needed most.
- Shin guards: These will protect the legs from the knees down to the skates. Shin pads are particularly effective at preventing damage to your knees and shins from a puck, a slash from a stick, or a fall to the ice. Goalies must wear those imposing leg pads, which not only protect the legs but help keep the biscuit out of the basket!
- Hockey skates: Without properly fitting hockey skates, nothing else matters—regardless of how good the rest of your equipment may be. (For goalies, a more protective shoe and wider blade are necessary.) To avoid the pain of ill-fitting skates, take the time to make sure you get yourself the right pair.
- Mouthguard: Unless you want to look like those old-school hockey players who had a mouth full of spaces where their teeth used to be, we recommend that you get yourself a mouthguard! For maximum protection, a proper fit is essential.
- Hockey bag: Finally, given the sheer amount of gear you will need to drag to your games and practices, a decent hockey bag is a must. (For those of a certain age, it might be worth investing in a wheeled gear bag to make the task that little bit easier.) Having the right hockey bag will help you keep your gear more organized.
Now that you’re outfitted, it’s time to look for the right league that’s appropriate for your skill level. Welcome to the coolest game on earth!