When it comes to buying hockey equipment, young players are typically focused on performance rather than safety. But as the speed of the game continues to rise, so does the associated risk with severe injury. Being properly outfitted and prepared is essential for player safety.
To that end, here are five tips for youth hockey parents to ensure your child is ‘equipped’ for injury prevention:
- Blades that make the grade:
Skates are not like your typical Sunday shoes – buy them to fit now and ensure they fit tightly on your child’s feet. The right size is typically a size or two smaller than shoes. For anything but an entry-level skate, the boot should be heat molded to the skater’s foot — preferably in the shop before you leave – and the blades should be sharpened.
- Brain buckets:
Helmets are not the area to bargain shop. A good fit and a full-face cage are essential.
- Body armor:
Biceps, the chest and the upper back all are protected by what falls under the heading of “shoulder pads.” Sizing is crucial, as young players developing proper technique need both the mobility and protection afforded by a secure fit that is not too bulky. Elbow pads take the brunt of many falls for young players. Neck guards protect from wayward skates, pucks and sticks. Shin pads protect from the top of the knees to the top of the skates — and a proper fit will leave no gap between skate and pad, with the knee fitting snugly into the cup. If your little blue-liner likes to block shots, look for something that also protects the calves and the back of the knee.
- Don’t be gum dumb:
Mouth guards are a must and must be worn at all times on the ice. Do not let your child casually dangle it over his / her lips.
- And don’t forget…
Gloves, socks and hockey pants seem more part of the uniform than the safety gear, but consider that hockey pants are padded at the hip, thigh, tailbone and lower back, while socks help hold shin guards in place. Gloves can be stiff, so make sure your young player can close his or her hands well enough to securely hold and maneuver a stick.
This article was produced in collaboration with AJ Lee of Pro Stock Hockey, an online hockey store carrying authentic pro stock hockey equipment.