Hockey is a great activity to take part in, especially for athletes who are looking for a team-oriented sport. As the popularity of hockey grows, so, too, does the level of skill and power increase as you reach more competitive levels.
For hockey players who seek leisurely game-play, recreational leagues are always available for all ages to partake in, and these games are usually much safer and more relaxed. For competitive levels, however, there is certainly an added danger factor that comes into play.
Considering the environment, the higher level of contact, the speed of the game, and the equipment, hockey is one of those sports that sees a lot of injuries. Some of the most common injuries in hockey include concussions, shoulder injuries, elbow injuries, and back injuries. While many hockey players suffer injuries by their own fault, it is much more common that these injuries occur from player contact, hits, and fights.
If you’re looking to play hockey, and you want to know what gear is essential for hockey, consider the following items:
- Quality Ice Skates
Depending on the level of skill you’ll be playing at, you’ll want your ice skates to mirror that level. For most hockey players, a new pair of skates every season is not out of the question, as a lot of wear and tear can break down the skates and decrease their ankle support. If you’re looking to play goalie, these skates are slightly different; goalie skates are lower to the ground and more suited to side-skating.
Be sure that the skates you choose fit comfortably with your socks and any braces you wear. Any kind of rubbing can cause skin irritations and sores.
- Helmet with Cage
Back in the day, hockey players didn’t have to wear a helmet when they were on the ice; however, the change in skill-level and contact has increased dramatically over the years. In 1979, helmets became a mandatory equipment piece for incoming players of the National Hockey League.
If you’re going to be playing hockey, be sure that you’ve got a helmet that fits snug and comfortably. Any helmet that is loose or damaged is rendered useless if you’re hit hard enough. There are two different versions of helmet, either with a wire-cage front or a plastic screen. Both of these options are acceptable, so it’s up to you to determine which is more comfortable for you to use during gameplay.
- Hockey Stick
Although they were originally made of wood, hockey sticks are now mainly created from graphite and carbon fibers. This allows the stick more flexibility and a lighter design for easier stick handling. If you’re buying one for the first time, a hockey stick should reach your nose when you’re standing flat-footed.
- Hockey Pants
Designed specifically for the sport of hockey, hockey pants are designed to create added cushion and protection to the thighs and legs. They may also help to protect the lower stomach area, as they sit fairly high yet still fit loosely enough for a full range of motion.
To protect the hands from slap shots, hits, cuts, and contact, hockey gloves are a very important piece of gear for playing hockey. The outside of the hand is a much thicker piece of material, while the inside portion around the palms is thinner for easier stick handling.
- Elbow & Shoulder Pads
Both of these pads are meant to cover large areas, with the elbow pads protecting the forearm, elbows, and triceps, and the shoulder pads protecting the shoulder blades, rib cage, collarbone, chest, and torso. Both of these pads are required for hockey players, as they are an important aspect of protecting players from contact, falls, and pucks.
- Shin Guards
The lower legs are generally the most exposed to injury, open to slap shots, skates, falls, and more. To help increase protection, skin guards cover the knee caps and frontal bones.
Other safety precautions that can help to prevent injury include mouth guards, neck guards, and jock straps. It’s also a good idea to invest in protective braces for hockey, which can give added cushion and protection to areas such as the back, the knees, the shoulders, and the wrist.
Regardless of whether you’re playing in a recreational league or a professional league, it is always important to protect your body from potential harm. Be sure to go over all of your equipment needs and check that everything fits and is in working order before you hit the ice.