Hockey is great fun, but there are some risks involved with this sport. Concussions, broken bones, and soft tissue damage are common hockey injuries. However, that’s no reason to stay on the sidelines. Wearing the right gear significantly reduces your risk of injury. Follow these steps to get yourself and your kids ready for practice and gameplay.
Start With Undergarments
Compression shorts and jock or jill shorts are the first piece of equipment you should put on. You can wear compression shorts on their own if they have a cup pocket, or you can wear them underneath your jock or jill shorts. Jock shorts always have cup pockets and Velcro tabs for keeping hockey socks up. Jill shorts are for females, and they have often have built-in pelvic protectors.
Step into jock and jill shorts like any pair of pants. Most children can manage this step on their own.
Add Groin Protection
After putting on your jock or jill shorts, you should add the cup or pelvic protector if it’s not built in. Slip the cup into the shorts’ pocket with the narrow end facing downward. It should completely cover the groin to provide the best protection.
If you’re helping your child get ready, encourage them to put their own athletic cups in. Have them do some squats and lunges to make sure the cup doesn’t move around much.
Put on Hockey Pants or Girdle
Hockey pants and girdles add an extra layer of protection for your hips, waist, and legs. Hockey pants have a loose fit, so they usually need suspenders to hold them up. Girdles have a tighter, more form-fitting design. They’re worn with nylon shorts, called a shell, over the top. Both options have plenty of padding, so choosing one is a matter of personal preference.
Step into your hockey pants, lace up the front, and clip on your suspenders. If you’re using a girdle, slip into it and then add the shell. Pants should be about an inch above the knee.
Your child might need a little extra help staying balanced when stepping into their shorts.
Protect Yourself With Shinguards
Shinguards fit under your socks and protect both your shins and knees. Fasten the straps around your calves to hold them in place. Line your knee up with the shin guard’s knee cap. The guards should extend down your ankles, leaving enough space for the skates. When helping your child, have them sit down, then fasten the straps around their calves.
Add Hockey Socks
Hockey socks hold your shinguards in place, and they’re open at both the top and bottom. You can put them on just like regular socks. When supervising children, hold their shin guards while they’re putting on the socks to keep them in place.
You can wear either mesh socks or cotton socks. Mesh socks have Velcro tabs that connect to your compression shorts. If you prefer cotton socks, attach them to a garter belt. Wrap sock tape around your shinguards to keep them in place.
Put on Your Hockey Skates
Hockey skates slide on like any shoe. Your laces should be as tight as possible without cutting off circulation, with the tightest part being around your ankles to provide the most support. When you’re done, the bottom of each shin pad should sit just below each skate’s tongue. Tape your work in place.
Since lacing is so critical for comfort and security, lace your kid’s skates for them. Have them stand up and move around some to make sure the lacing is just right.
Add a T-Shirt or Compression Shirt
A compression shirt or T-shirt provides a comfortable base layer for the rest of your upper-body gear. Since compression shirts are tighter, they’re less likely to bunch or chafe under shoulder pads than T-shirts. Tuck your shirt into your hockey pants. You may need to help your child into a compression shirt, but most children can do this step themselves.
Pad Your Upper Body for Safety
Shoulder pads go over the top of your base shirt. Slip your head through the center hole, then put your arms through the armbands as you would put on a T-shirt. Once you have the shoulder pads on, fasten the Velcro tabs. The pads and bands should feel tight but comfortable. When helping your kid, you may need to guide their arms into the armbands and fasten the Velcro tabs.
Then it’s time for the elbow pads. Position your first pad so the cup is right over the elbow joint. Tighten the straps so the pad is snug but comfortable. Once one elbow pad is in place, repeat the process with the other. For your child, have them hold their arms out and attach their elbow pads for them.
Neck guards are optional in most amateur leagues, but they’re highly recommended for beginners and children. Most neck guards have adjustable closures that fasten in the back. Children often find these closures difficult, so have them hold their neck guard in place while you close and adjust it. Alternatively, you could find a compression shirt with a built-in neck guard.
Don a Jersey
Your hockey jersey goes over the top of your padding just like a regular shirt. Jerseys are pretty loose to accommodate shoulder and elbow pads. All of the padding can restrict your child’s movements, so you may need to help them slip their jersey on.
Add Final Protective Touches
Finally, it’s time for your final protective Items. Strap on a helmet, slip on your gloves, and add a mouthguard to protect your teeth. When helping your child put on their helmet, make sure their chin fits in the chin cup and that the mouthguard is in place before snapping all of the straps up.
Hockey gear is adjustable, but choosing the right size is also important. If you’re new to the game or ready for some new gear, visit Gunzo’s Hockey Headquarters. Our friendly staff can help you find all the gear you need to do your best on the ice.