Selection of hockey equipment is a key issue for players, parents and coaches. When purchasing and fitting hockey equipment, remember two important factors: 1) make certain the player is adequately protected and 2) be sure the fitting allows freedom of movement so the player can properly perform the necessary skills. By carefully considering these two factors, your child will be more comfortable and will have more fun playing hockey.
A complete set of hockey equipment can be purchased for a relatively reasonable cost. Shop around for the best values and remember that you need not buy the most expensive equipment. Inquire about local equipment swaps and team discounts, but keep in mind the equipment must fit properly to provide the maximum protection.
Skates – Purchase skates that will fit your child today with no more than ½” allowed for growth. Seek adequate protection in the ankle, toe and instep areas, improperly fitted skates will hamper your child’s ability to skate. Remember that most skates are sized 1.5 to 2 sizes smaller than US shoe size. It's not that you want a very tight skate, they are just labeled differently than shoes.
Helmet – Must be of a design and construction approved by the Hockey Equipment Certification Council (HECC). Must be sized at the time of purchase to fit properly. The chin strap must always be fastened.
Facemask – Must be of a design and construction approved by the Hockey Equipment Certification Council (HECC).
Mouthpiece – A mouthpiece is recommended for all youth players through the Junior age classification. The Valley League requires Peewee (U12) and older to have a mouthpiece.
Stick – Length should generally extend from the ice to the players chin (with skates on). Quality and price differ greatly, so the choice is yours.
Shin Pads – Check for proper lengths so they protect the knee and shin completely.
Hockey socks - Oddly, they don't go on your feet. These can be knit or fabric leggings that go over the shin pads and cover from the mid-thigh to the ankle. Most AHA team programs will issue game socks along with jerseys. Have a practice pair as well.
Supporter and Cup – Essential protective equipment. Usually incorporated into shorts that also provide velcro attachment for the hockey socks.
Gloves – Check for proper fit with good finger and hand mobility.
Shoulder Pads – Adjust to fit the individual at the time of purchase. A fiber cap is extremely important in preventing shoulder separations and should extend to the tip of the shoulder.
Pants – Pants provide protection for the lower spine, hips and thighs. Can be held in proper position by suspenders.
Elbow Pads – Properly fitted so they do not slide up or down.
Jersey - A hockey jersey is generously sized to accommodate shoulder pads and elbow pads. Too large or small and it can interfere with movement. Most AHA programs will supply a jersey though having some plain practice jerseys is a good idea.
For goaltenders, special equipment is necessary such as catch and blocker gloves, chest and arms protection, goalie skates (with protective shell), and leg pads. The goaltender’s equipment is especially important, so seek advice from a knowledgeable source.
The sequence can be a bit confusing for first time players and parents. Total Hockey produced a quick video running through the steps:
USA Hockey provides checklist flyer as well (PDF):