WHEN PURCHASING A HELMET, a correctly sized helmet is essential, but it is also important to look at other features as well as the types of materials used in its creation. Experts recommend the padding in the helmet should be at least 5/8″ thick. Most helmets are made of a polycarbonate material, which is a lightweight plastic.
- One-piece vs. two-piece helmet: While both helmet styles offer proper protection, the two-piece helmet provides the player with a more customized fit, allowing the player to get the exact fit he/she desires. Many two-piece helmets feature tool-less adjustment tabs on the outside of the helmet. This is an easy way to help the player achieve the perfect fit.
- Ear protection: Most hockey helmet models now protect the ears in addition to the head.
- HECC-certified helmets: Most hockey leagues of all ages require players to wear HECC-certified helmets in the United States. Canadian leagues require CSA certification. These certifications are simply used to inform the customer that a helmet has been tested and certified for proper protection. All HECC- and CSA- certified helmets feature a sticker indicating this certification along with an expiration date. Do not remove this sticker.
Selecting the right helmet can sometimes be difficult because there are few noticeable performance enhancements associated with helmets. A helmet does not add speed to your skating or strength to your slap shot. However, the correct fit will make the difference between a contact sport and a possible injury. A properly sized helmet provides crucial protection against one of the most dangerous hockey injuries: a head injury.
When shopping for a helmet, a good fit is far more important than color or style. Fit is the most important factor because there is a direct correlation between a properly sized helmet and safety. You can determine your helmet size by measuring the circumference of your head about 1/2″–1″ above your eyebrows. This measurement also correlates to your hat size. Please note this is an approximation and sizing will vary slightly among manufacturers.
Make sure the helmet fits snugly on the head. Depending on the size and shape of your head, some brands and styles will fit better than others. A properly fitting helmet sits flat on the head and is about 1/2″ above your eyebrows without tilting forward or back. Adjust the chin strap so it fits firmly under the chin. You want the helmet to fit snugly enough so it doesn’t shift but not to the point where it feels uncomfortable. If you feel pressure or pinching, the helmet is too small. Please note that most helmets today feature tool-free clips that allow quick and easy adjustments that not only ensure a custom fit but also allow room to grow.
Remember to make sure the helmet fits properly and provides the comfort and protection the player needs. The extra few dollars is well worth it. If your helmet becomes dented or cracked, replace it immediately. It is also important to maintain the HECC stickers on the helmet. In the event that you would need to replace the helmet, the warranty would be void if the stickers were removed.
Question: My daughter plays on a coed team and is moving up to PeeWee next year. With more body contact, regardless of how things turn out with checking, I’m concerned about concussions. Should we get a new high-tech helmet for next year?
Answer: The most important thing is that your daughter’s helmet fits properly as there is a direct correlation between proper fit and safety. Because the fit will vary among manufacturers, she should try on several, looking for a helmet with a snug fit that doesn’t tilt backward or forward. If she feels pressure or pinching, the helmet is too small. Comfort is key with helmets, so many are adjustable.