BECAUSE THE SOLE PURPOSE of protective gear is to protect the player, manufacturers utilize a variety of strong materials to create a light, yet durable, piece of equipment. All shoulder pads provide integral protection for your collarbone, upper chest, back, upper arms, and shoulders.
- Lower back: Most shoulder pads feature extra lower-back protection in one of two ways: an extension of padding or an attachment pad. Because both options provide similar protection, it comes down to player preference.
- Rib and stomach guards: Some shoulder pads have removable rib and stomach guards. While this extra layer of protection may not be necessary for all players, it is essential for some. If you are a player who is in direct contact with the puck or other players for most of the game, rib and stomach guards are key elements in achieving full protection as well as absorbing the impact.
Fitting Shoulder Pads
Shoulder pads are relatively easy to size, but it is imperative that they fit correctly in order to ensure proper protection of your collarbone, upper chest, back, upper arms, and shoulders. To determine the correct size, make sure the center of the shoulders lines up directly with the center of the shoulder caps. Measure the circumference of your chest just below the armpits. All shoulder pads will have a corresponding size based on this measurement. Most shoulder pads also have adjustable straps in other areas of the pads; this adjustable fit is acceptable as long as the shoulders and shoulder cups line up correctly.
Question: My son got new shoulder pads that provide more protection for his lower back and abdomen. But the neck opening is larger, providing less protection where he (as a smaller defenseman) thinks he needs it most. Is he just complaining, or do these pads really not fit?
Answer: Without a doubt, kids will complain about the relative discomfort of new equipment. Even if they’ve outgrown something, they often prefer the familiarity, comfort, and ease of movement their old equipment offers. In this case, however, your son might be right. Because it is imperative that shoulder pads fit correctly to provide proper protection, recheck the fit according to the instructions on the previous page. If your son’s pads turn out to be too big, your best bet is to set them aside and try them again in a few months.