Introduction: How to Gear Up As an Ice Hockey Goalie

One of the most important positions in ice hockey is the goalie. It is important to know how to gear up as a goalie, or otherwise small mistakes may end with a serious injury. This Instructable will explain how to gear up properly as a hockey goalie to minimize the risk of serious injury.

Table of contents:

Step 1 - Necessary Equipment

Step 2 - “Breaking In” New Equipment

Step 3 - Sports Undergarment

Step 4 - Jock

Step 5 - Knee Protectors

Step 6 - Hockey Pants

Step 7 - Hockey Goalie Skates

Step 8 - Goalie Leg Pads

Step 9 - Neck Guard

Step 10 - Chest and Arms

Step 11 - Jersey

Step 12 - Goalie Mask

Step 13 - Blocker

Step 14 - Catcher

Step 15 - Stick

Step 16 - Watter Bottle

Step 17 - Review

Step 1: Necessary Equipment

Before you start to gear up you should check if you have all the necessary equipment to play as a goalie in ice hockey. All equipment should fit properly when used, so get professional help at hockey shop when you purchase your equipment. In addition to that, your skates should be sharpened and your stick should be taped properly. If your equipment is still new, it may feel uncomfortably stiff in the beginning, but this is normal. To help “break in” your new equipment faster, I included some useful techniques for the skates and pads in the next step. If you already know how to “break in” new skates and pads, you can just skip the next step.

Below you can find the basics of a hockey goalie equipment:

Sports undergarment

  • Cloth that soaks up the sweat
  • Protects against cuts by sticks on otherwise exposed body parts (back of the knee, etc.)
  • Should be comfortable
  • 1 part or 2 part
  • Different materials


  • Also called “cup”
  • Essential to protect groin area from sticks and pucks
  • Under the hockey pants
  • Different shape for men and women

Knee protectors

  • Important to protect the knee and thigh from pucks
  • Comes in many different shapes, colours and sizes

Hockey pants

  • Look oversized many different colours, but usually black
  • Protects groin, upper leg, hip, lower back and abdomen

Hockey goalie skates

  • Essential to be able to skate on ice
  • Goalie skates are flatter and straighter than player skates
  • They also offer good foot protection in the rare case that a puck hits or when pushing off the goal post

Hockey leg pads

  • Very important to protect legs and block pucks
  • Used to land on when going down
  • To bounce the pucks off
  • Protects front leg and often back leg aswell (though less than front)

Neck guard

  • Many types
  • Not all goalies wear one because they have neck and throat protectors on their masks
  • Can be part of the hockey undergarment
  • Protects throat, neck and top part of the chest from hits by ice or sticks
  • Prevents dangerous cuts in the throat area

Goalie chest and arm protector

  • Essential to protect the upper body from pucks, sticks, skates and ice
  • Mainly protects chest, arms and shoulders, but offers some protection in the back


  • Can be any type
  • Must fit over the chest and arm protectors
  • Should leave the goalie free to move around, but should not be in the way of the leg pads
  • Important to see which team the goalie is part of, but not as important as for players

Hockey goalie mask + neck and throat protector

Goalie mask:

  • Protects front and side of the head against pucks, sticks, ice, and the goal posts

Neck and throat protector:

  • hard plastic that protects the throat and neck from pucks and sticks
  • Not all goalies have a neck and throat protector on their mask , but they use the neck protectors mentioned previously


  • A large glove that offers a lot of protection
  • A major part of blocking the puck to keep it out of the goal
  • It depends on the goalie if he/she wants to play with it right or left
  • Has most protection on the back of your hand because that is used to block the pucks
  • It also offers protection to the thumb and a bit to the fingers
  • The inside of the glove is not as thickly padded because the goalie holds the stick with that part of the hand


  • Is another large, protected glove
  • Used on the other hand than the blocker
  • Has a net that is used to catch the puck to prevent it from going into the goal
  • Both the palm and the back of the hand have a lot of protection, though the palm has a lot more protection, since more pucks hit there

Goalie Hockey Stick

  • Used to block and/or shoot pucks
  • Hollow-core composite sticks or wood-core sticks out of wood
  • Have different lengths and curves of the paddle
  • The lower half of the stick is wider than the top because it can block pucks better
  • It is not so wide in the middle and top because the goalie sticks are held in the middle and may be held at the top during different situations on the ice

Step 2: "Breaking In" New Equipment

Some equipment doesn’t need much breaking in, like for example jocks, sports undergarment or knee pads, but other equipment needs quite some breaking in before it is comfortable and can be used effectively. Here are some tips on how to break in the skates and pads, two essential parts in ice hockey.

Hockey Goalie Skates

First of all, make sure that the skates fit properly when you buy them. There are 3 methods to break in skates effectively.

Heat fit (careful: if not done properly at home it may damage skates)

  • Put the skates in a preheated skate oven for 5 minutes
  • Then immediately put on both skates, wearing the socks you would on the ice
  • Make sure that your heal is in the very back of the skate
  • Tie your skates tightly, all the way to the top
  • Wait for 10-15 minutes, wearing the skates
  • Make sure that you sit down with your knees at a 90° angle and your skates on a flat surface
  • Then get up and walk around for a couple of minutes
  • make sure not to step on any material that could damage your blade, like for example stone or metal
  • After this process the skate will not be perfect yet, but after a couple times on ice, it should be good to go
  • Careful: Only do 1 heat fit per pair of skates

Heat Spots (for home use)

  • Use a hairdryer or similar to heat up points inside the skates
  • Be careful not to heat it too much, or else you might damage your skates
  • Then put on the skates
  • Make sure that your heal is in the very back of the skate
  • Tie your skate as if you would be going onto the ice
  • Wait for 5 minutes make sure that you sit down with your knees at a 90° angle and your skates on a flat surface
  • After this process the skate will not be perfect yet, but after a couple training sessions or games, it should be good to go


  • Put your skates into a sauna
  • This will loosen the material without decreasing the quality of the skates

Hockey Goalie Pads

Breaking in pads has become easier nowadays because pads are usually made out of microfiber polyurethane leather, nylon, high density foam, and polyurethane foam. While breaking in the pads be careful not to put too much pressure on the pads, otherwise the pads may actually break and the effectiveness during use will be decreased drastically. The following methods are good to break in flexible pads.

A good method to break in pads is too lean the pads against a wall upside down (with the boot up). Leave the pads standing there for a the night and gravity will make the pads bend slightly, making them more flexible.

Another method is to stick your pads under a heavy object, like a table or stairs, while bending them. Be careful not to add too much pressure onto the pads, or they may break. Leave the pads there overnight or while you are away, and then take the pressure off the pads. After doing this a few times, the pads should be good to go.

Step 3: Sports Undergarment

Sports Undergarment is not a must when it comes to ice hockey, but I would recommend to wear one. Sports undergarment can be a one part bodysuit, or it can be in two parts. I prefer one part bodysuits for goalies because the two part suit may slide apart while doing various movements on the ice, leaving the part around your waste uncomfortably bare. However, everyone has their own preferences.

One part bodysuit: The one part bodysuit can be put on by stepping into the “legs” of the suit and then pulling the rest of the suit up. After pulling the suit up to the waist, your legs should fit into the suit properly and you can continue with your arms. Put your arms through the sleeves as if you would be putting on a jacket. After that you should be wearing the bodysuit with the zipper on the front, so next zip it up.

Two part bodysuit: Two part undergear can be a basic shirt and sports trousers, varying from short trousers to long ones and from T-shirts to long sleeved shirts. You can also buy a special sweat absorbing suit, which you can put on like you would wear a shirt and trousers.

After putting on your undergarment, you should grab a pair of socks (preferably long sport socks) and put them on. If they are long, pull them over the suit as far up as they can go to prevent the suit from sliding up during play.

Step 4: Jock

The Jock is also referred to as jock strap,cup or jill for women and comes in different shapes and sizes. Some jocks are like shorts (but tighter) and have the protective “cup” included in it, while other jocks consist of only the cup attached around your body by elastic straps.

If you have a shorts-like jock, pull the jock on like you would usually wear shorts. If however you have the cup with only the straps, step into the straps like you would step into your trousers or underwear. Then pull up the jock. Once it is in position, adjust the straps so that the jock is comfortable and protects all necessary areas.

Step 5: Knee Protectors

Knee protectors become especially important with growing age. I would recommend to start wearing knee protectors starting at age 10 or 11, but it depends on how much you play and what you prefer. Knee protectors prevent injuries from not only the knee, but also the thigh.

To put on the knee protectors, open the straps and put the knee protector onto your knee while sitting with your knee at a preferably 90° angle. Then start at the top and fasten the straps around your leg one after the other. After all straps are tightened, get up and move around a bit. During the movement the knee protectors should not slide down, otherwise fasten the straps even tighter.

Step 6: Hockey Pants

Goalie hockey pants are more protective than normal hockey pants, so they look oversized. They protect the groin area, upper leg, hip, lower back and abdomen. Hockey goalie pants should be worn from the very beginning, no matter how young or inexperienced the goalie is. Goalie hockey pants come in many different sizes and colors, like red and blue, but are most commonly black.

To put on the goalie pants, step into them like with normal, everyday trousers and pull them up. After the hockey pants are in the right position, fasten the clips and adjust them so that the hockey pants are comfortable and don’t slide down. The hockey goalie pants should overlap slightly with the knee protectors and should be over the jock.

Step 7: Hockey Goalie Skates

Goalie skates are different from hockey player skates because they are straighter, closer to the ice and offer a lot more protection. If you are serious about wanting to be a goalie (for a longer period of time) or want to be a goalie professionally, I would recommend to use these skates instead of normal hockey skates. When walking around on your skates, make sure that you walk on floors that do not damage the blade of your skates. If you are unsure whether or not it is okay to walk over a certain floor, wear blade guards under your skates. Do NOT walk over rocks, metal, pebbles, stone, etc.

Put on the skate like a shoe and make sure that your heel is all the way in the back of your skate. After your skate is on, start to tighten the skate from the bottom to the top of the skate. Some people prefer tighter skates than others, so it is up to you exactly how tight your want to have your skate, but your foot shouldn’t move around in the skate while skating on ice or walking. I prefer my skates tightened tightly all the way up, but some goalies leave the top hole of the skate free. After pulling the skate tight, tie a knot at the top and make sure the remaining laces can’t get in the way of the blade. After you have put on one skate, grab the other and repeat the process.

After your skates are on, they still need to be attached to the lag pads so that those can’t twist during play. Sit down on a chair or bench with your feet on the floor and lay the pads out in front of you as shown in the pictures. Make sure that the pads are on the correct leg by checking if the rim on the face of the pad is on the outside. Then grab the laces attached to the bottom of the pads and attach them to the bottom of your skates as shown in the video included in the beginning of this Instructable. Make sure that these laces can’t loosen or interfere during play, just like the skate laces. Do this for both pads.

Step 8: Goalie Leg Pads

Leg pads are very important as a goalie because you can use them to block pucks and prevent them from going into the goal. The pads also protect your leg, at the front and slightly at the back, from the toes to the hip. This piece of equipment is produced by many different companies and in many different shapes, sizes, colors and types. Every goalie has his/her own preferences for the pads.

After attaching your skates to the pads, your pads should still be stretched out in front of you. Get down from your sitting position and put your legs onto the pads. Make sure that your leg is not on top of the straps and/or clips and that your knee is in the right place. Then start by fastening the velcro straps (if your pads have any) around your knee and calf. After that, fasten the bottom clip under you skate. Pull it through the area between your foot and the blade and then fasten it to the pad. After those steps you can either stay on the floor, or you can continue fastening in a sitting position on a chair or bench. Continue fastening your leg to the pad from the bottom to the top. Do this for both of your pads and finally sit or stand back up.

Step 9: Neck Guard

Not all goalies have a neck guard, but the ones who don’t have one wear a neck and throat protectors attached to their mask. Personally I advise to wear both because it is better to be safe than sorry. Neck guards also come in many different shape and sizes and are produced by various companies.

To wear a neck guard unstrap it, hold it to your throat and fasten the velcro strap. Be careful not to tighten the neck protector too much, it should be comfortable at all times.

Step 10: Chest and Arms

The chest and arms protector offers protection to the chest, arms and shoulders mainly, but it also protects the back a little bit. It is essential because it is not rare that a goalie is hit by a puck, stick or skate in the upper body. Hockey players have separate parts that work as a large upper body protection, whereas a goalie’s chest and arms is one attached piece.

Lift the chest and arms over your head and pull it down, sliding your head and shoulders between the front and backside of it. After your head and shoulders are through, let the chest and arms slide down to cover the rest of your upper body until the chest and arms rests on your shoulders. Then put your arms through the “sleeves” of the chest and arms and make sure that your hands look out at the other side of the sleeves. If necessary you can now adjust the straps to loosen or tighten the chest and arms. The chest and arms should overlap with your hockey pants slightly and it should be over your neck protector.

Step 11: Jersey

The jersey isn’t as important for goalies as for players, but it is still important because it is the only way to know who is on which team. Jersey’s come in many different colors and with different logos because every team/area has their own, unique jersey.

Putting on a jersey can be challenging at times, especially when it gets stuck with the chest and arms. However, after a bit of trying and sometimes a bit of help, the jersey will come on. To put in on simply put your head through top of the jersey, like with a normal shirt, and then put your arms through the sleeves. Make sure that you can still move around freely with your jersey on, and that it doesn’t interfere with the leg pads. If either of these things do apply, then your jersey is the wrong size.

Step 12: Goalie Mask

Goalie mask is another word for a helmet that is used by the goalie. Every goalie has his/her own unique mask, which is often, but not necessarily, custom made. The goalie mask is the most precious thing for a goalie because it is so unique. The mask protects the face and mainly the front and sides of the head, but it also offers a bit of protection in the back of the head. Many goalies have a neck and throat protector attached to the bottom of the mask, but it is not required if he/she wears a neck protector.

To put the mask onto your head, pull the back away from the rest of the mask and slip the mask over your head. Your chin should be in the chin holder and the mask should fit tightly around your head so that it doesn’t fall off. However, make sure that the mask is comfortable and not too tight.

Step 13: Blocker

The blocker basically is a large glove with a straight side that is used by goalies to prevent pucks from going into the goal. The blocker offers a lot of protection to especially the back of the hand. The inside of the hand is not very well protected because it is rarely exposed to the puck and is used to hold the goalie stick. Different goalies play with the blocker on a different hand, which just depends on what the goalie prefers. In the video and the pictures you can see a blocker for the right hand, but it looks the same for the left hand except that it can only be used with the left hand.

Putting on the blocker is fairly simple. Slip your hand into the bocker like a glove and if necessary adjust the velcro straps to make it fit. Be careful that the blocker is not too tight and that it does not fall off during play, or otherwise there is a risk of injury and your glove is the wrong size. You should be able to twist your blocker around freely without it getting stuck with the chest and arms, or otherwise the chest and arms is too big.

Step 14: Catcher

The catcher is the glove that is worn on the other hand. It is has a net between the thumb and the other finger so that it can be used to catch the puck. Both the palm and the back of the hand are well protected, but the palm has more protection because it is hit more often. You should also be able to twist the catcher freely without it getting stuck, or otherwise your chest and arms may be too big.

To put on the catcher, slip your hand into it like with a glove and spread your fingers into the dividers inside the glove. Your middle and ring fingers should be in one section, but all the others should be alone. After slipping on the catcher, make any necessary adjustments to the size by pulling on the straps on the side of the glove.

Step 15: Stick

The stick is held with the blocker and is used to block and shoot pucks. Goalie sticks are different from player sticks. The lower half of the stick is wider, so that it is easier to block pucks and the stick is held in the middle, only occasionally at the very top, depending on the situation. Goalie sticks come in many different colors, curves and lengths.

Step 16: Water Bottle

A water is not required to play ice hockey as a goalie, but it is strongly recommended. When doing sports that are intense, like ice hockey, the body can dehydrate very quickly. To prevent dehydration, always bring a water bottle with you and put it on your goal in case you want to drink during one of the breaks. Especially for younger players and goalies it is easier to drink from a hockey bottle because it has a little “pipe” on top which can go through the mask.

Step 17: Review

Now you know how to dress properly has an ice hockey goalie. Injuries can still occur, but by dressing properly the chance of injury is reduced by a lot. So now get on the ice and have some fun blocking pucks safely.