HOCKEY MAY BE THE GREATEST GAME ON EARTH, but it is also one of the toughest. The right equipment and the right fit are critical for safety, comfort, and performance. First, keep in mind two basic rules of equipment:
- The most important function of equipment is to protect the player from flying pucks, swinging sticks, unforgiving boards and ice, and collisions with other players.
- The less equipment constraining the player’s movement, the better he/she will perform in addition to avoiding falls, collisions, and other contact.
Second, it is important to note a few things that should not guide your purchases:
- Price alone does not make it right. Many people assume the higher the price of an item, the better the equipment is. There is a correlation, but it is not necessarily perfect. It is true that higher-priced merchandise generally can incorporate lighter or stronger materials, but this is no assurance that it is right for the player.
- Improper fit ruins quality. A player’s protection and performance is enhanced more by proper fit than by the underlying quality of the product. While both quality and fit are important, a close-fitting, low-end helmet will generally protect a player better than an ill-fitting, high-end helmet. A low-end skate that provides good heel lock will outperform a high-end skate that is a size too large.
- Size does matter. Even ignoring the specific fit of a piece of equipment, what suits a 6-year-old does not suit a 17-year-old. As players age, they skate faster, the shots get harder, and the distance to the ice gets longer. As skills rise, there are fewer accidents, but everything happens harder and faster.
- All things are not created equal. Some equipment is just more important than other items. From a safety standpoint, helmets are critical at every age; whereas, for a youth player there are almost no safety reasons to choose one glove over another.