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So You Wanna Play Hockey. Let’s Get Dressed, Let’s Be Safe

Picture of So You Wanna Play Hockey.  Let’s Get Dressed, Let’s Be Safe
As the game of hockey has evolved since its beginning in the late 1800’s so has the equipment.  The equipment I have worn over the past 18 years has evolved dramatically  becoming lighter, stronger and safer.  While the safety of the hockey player has always been important, with increased concussions and injuries, equipment manufacturers have continued to produce better and safer products for players at all levels.  What hasn’t changed is how we players get dressed when we go the rink.  Most players follow a routine out of habit, but some players have certain superstitious rituals they may use because, well, just because.  In the end, when we are ready to skate on the rink we all need to have the right equipment, properly sized and dressed correctly for safety and comfort.   As a young hockey player or the parent of young hockey player, I believe this instructional summary will provide you good direction til you establish your own routine.

Table of contents

Step 1: Before you show up at the rink
Step 2: The Athletic Supporter
Step 3: Shin Pads
Step 4: Hockey Socks
Step 5: Breezers
Step 6: Skates
Step 7: Shoulder Pads
Step 8: Elbow Pads
Step 9: Jersey/Sweater
Step 10: Helmet
Step 11: Gloves
Step 12: Review
 
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Step 1: Before you show up at the rink

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Above is the equipment a player will wear and what the fully dressed player will look like when fully dressed.  This equipment will need to be purchased and sized correctly and skates sharpened prior to entering the rink.  NOTE; if you are not experienced with hockey equipment, be sure to get professional help at the local sporting goods store to get a proper fitting.  Hockey is an expensive sport and often we are playing with used equipment which is perfectly fine as long as it is the correct size.  One last thing, tape, buy lots of tape.

Please follow these instructions as you get ready to walk on the ice whether it is a game or just practice.

Step 2: The Athletic Supporter

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The “cup” or “jock” is critical as the groin area is quite often hit by a stick or hockey puck.   Don’t ever play without it!   The athletic supporter comes in various forms, from the traditional jock and cup to new spandex type short with a cup pocket.  The supporter is typically worn over underwear or athletic shorts to prevent unwelcome chafing.  Some players wear long underwear or an Under Amour product to stay warmer, especially if they are skating outside.

Step 3: Shin Pads

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Your legs will take a beating between ice, boards, sticks and the puck.  Today’s shin pads are normally equipped with Velcro straps to keep them snug to your chins and calves.  The shin pad does need to be the correct size to cover the area just above your skate laces to 2-3 inches above your knee cap.  The shin pad is designed to overlap behind the padded tongue of your skate and also overlap with your breezers (we will confirm both later).  To keep the skater safe your shin pads need to always stay in place.  If they move around we will add tape later.

Step 4: Hockey Socks

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Next you will cover your shin pads with hockey socks.  Hockey socks are typically 2-3 feet long and go 2-3 inches above your shin pad.  Hockey socks inevitably fall down and you should tape the tops of socks to keep them up.  Some spandex type cups have Velcro straps to keep them up.   Some players still use a girdle with hooks to attach to the top of their socks.  All options work fine. NOTE: New technology called Kevlar is starting to be installed in hockey socks to prevent skate blade injuries to legs.

Step 5: Breezers

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Breezers are a durable, padded type canvas knee length pant.  They seem oversized but they are padded to provide significant protection for the thighs, hips, tailbone, and lower back/ribs area.   Properly fitted breezers should overlap top part of your shin pads, be tight to the waist with a belt and extend up the body to the lower rib area.  It is normal for the breezers to have wide legs as provides the skater the flexibility to move fluidly.  Caution, make sure your breezers are long enough, often kids are growing so quickly that a gap evolves between the shin pad and the thigh pad in the breezers which can result in an injury.

Step 6: Skates

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At this point I recommend you put on your skates.  Some players prefer to put them on later.  When you are very young and your parents or someone else is tying your skates, you could also do this later.  The reason I recommend doing it now is I feel it is much easier to lean over and tie the laces without all the remaining upper body gear getting in the way.  I always wanted my skates very tight and this gave me a few minutes of activity to make sure they were tight enough.   Tuck the tongue of the skate directly over the bottom of the shin pad.  Pull your hockey socks down over the top of your skates and tuck your laces under the sock.   Double knot your laces if they are long enough. (If you have shin pads that are loose fitting I would wrap tape around your hockey socks now).

Most arenas have a multipurpose rubber floor but if you ever have to walk on any other surface, be sure you wear skate guards to protect your skate blades. 

NOTE: be very careful as the skate blade has sharp edges and can cause serious cuts.

Step 7: Shoulder Pads

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Shoulder pads must fit properly to be effective.  Typically shoulder pads go directly over your head like a sweatshirt.   Each shoulder has a pad that will hang over your shoulder and will be fastened around each upper arm with Velcro straps.   The shoulder pad also has an upper chest and back pads that have Velcro straps in each arm pit for a snug fit.

Step 8: Elbow Pads

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Elbow pads are designed for left and right arms.  In addition to the elbow they provide protection for the lower bicep and forearms.  Elbow pads are held on by multiple Velcro straps or they slide on. They are not very comfortable but you will get used to them.

Step 9: Jersey/Sweater

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The jersey, or “sweater” as many old school players call it, is like a shirt.  Normally it does not provide any real protection.  It usually has your team or an advertisement displayed on it on it.  Kevlar is also starting to show up on jerseys as another source of protection especially to the forearms.  Jerseys are normally oversized so the player is not constrained in their movements.

Step 10: Helmet

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Technology for helmets has vastly improved over the past 10 years due to concussions and head injuries.  A helmet must fit perfectly and the chin strap must be snapped for the helmet to be effective.  The helmet should be snug with very little movement, but not too tight.  Unless you are in the NHL your face should be protected by a facemask that attaches to the helmet.  The helmet has lot of little screws and parts so carry a small Phillips screw driver with you to keep all the adjustments tight.  Attached, inside the helmet should be the mouth guard - get used to wearing it.  When it gets chewed up, buy another one.

Step 11: Gloves

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Finally, grab your gloves and go have fun.  When gloves are fitted properly they provide protection to your hands, wrists and part of your forearm.   Don’t use gloves with holes in the fingers or the palm of the hand.

Step 12: Review

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The picture above shows a player without his jersey and socks.  The intent is to show you how the pads work together and overlap for the player’s safety and protection.  Injuries will happen but being properly dressed will help keep players safe and let them enjoy this great game.
neck and mouth guards?
mikeasaurus2 years ago
Well written, and I like seeing the cage on your mask. Well done