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Helmet and Cage
WHAT SHOULD BE CONSIDERED WHEN BUYING A HELMET?

The areas to consider when choosing a helmet are protection, comfort and fit. You should always look for equipment that feels comfortable. Although most helmets are lined with a protective foam, some do feel better than others. The helmet should be adjusted to fit snug to prevent any shifting and maximize protection. Make sure the chinstrap is adjusted so it gently makes contact under the chin when fastened.  Cages or Full Shields are also required.  The chin cup of the Cage or Shield should fit snugly on the bottom and front of the chin.  It should NOT be in front of the mouth or below the chin.  SERIOUS INJURY CAN RESULT.

 

SIZING HELMETS
With a cloth measuring tape, Place the tape measure 1" above your eyebrows and measure the distance around your head. Use this measurement to determine the helmet size on the chart below.
 
HELMET SIZE (by BRAND) CIRCUMFERENCE
(Bauer and Nike)
Extra Large 241/2 to 261/2 inches
Large 23 to 25 inches
Medium 22 to 231/2 inches
Small 21 to 221/2 inches
(CCM)
Large 22 to 237/8 inches
Medium 215/8 to 223/8 inches
Small 201/8 to 22 inches
(ITech)
Large 221/4 to 24 inches
Medium 211/4 to 221/4 inches
Small 191/2 to 211/4 inches
(Jofa)
Sr. Large 22 to 237/8 inches
Sr. Medium 207/8 to 223/4 inches
Junior 201/2 to 223/4 inches
 
 
    
MouthGuard
WHY DO I NEED TO WEAR A MOUTHGUARD?
Athletic mouthguards are an essential piece of safety equipment that should never be overlooked. Mouthguards not only significantly reduce the incidence and severity of injuries to the teeth and mouth, but they also act as a shock absorber against more serious injuries like concussions and jaw fractures.
 
 
    
Shoulder Pads
WHAT DETERMINES THE PROPER FIT FOR SHOULDER PADS?
It is very important that the center of the player's shoulder lines up directly with the center of the shoulder caps. Good shoulder pads will provide protection for the collar bone, chest, ribs, back and upper arms.  Improperly sized shouder pads will restrict movement and cause other un-niceties such as chaffing.
 
 
    
Elbow Pads
WHAT DETERMINES THE PROPER FIT FOR ELBOW PADS?
The players elbow should fit comfortably into the center of the elbow pad cup. Also, a good elbow pad will provide forearm protection which extends down to the cuff of the player's hockey glove.
 
 
    
Gloves
WHAT IS THE PROPER FIT FOR HOCKEY GLOVES?
The main concern with the fit of a glove is making sure the gap between the glove and the elbow pad is minimal. The tightness or looseness of a glove is an individual preference. The tip of the fingers should not go completely to the end of the glove.
 
 
    
Protective Cup or Pelvic Protector

WHAT SHOULD BE CONSIDERED WHEN FITTING THIS PROTECTION?

Even the thought of an impact in that area of the body sends a shiver.  They aren't very comfy and they take some getting used to, but the alternative in an impact is magnitudes worse.  Please don't come to a practice or a game without a cup on.  That's no less true for our young female players.  Pelvic Protectors are difficult to find for young girls, but they are available and worth the search.  They can be purchased at Hockey Barn at Blades in Rio Rancho.

Fitting for boys: Cup should be snug but not tight fitting and should allow freedom of leg movement.  The supporter must allow some movement, but should not allow the cup to float.  The cup itself shouldn't be so large to cause chaffing of the inner thigh.  Many manufacturers make cups and supporters for boys. 

Fitting for girls:  Protector should be snug enough to not float around, but it also shouldn't restrict any movement.  For the most part you are limited to whatever fits the waist, and for 99% of players that is fine.  ProGaurd makes a youth pelvic protector. 

 
 
    
Pants
WHAT DETERMINES THE PROPER FIT FOR BREEZERS OR PANTS?
While the fit should be loose and comfortable the pants should have the ability to be secured firmly by a belt around the waist. Approximately 90% of all players will be able to use their waist size as their guide for choosing the correct size pant. The bottom of the pants need to overlap the top of the shin pad kneecaps by 1 or 2 inches.

Suspenders are a good option for hockey pants, especially for young players without a well defined waist for a belt to work well. 

 
 
    
Garter Belt

WHAT SHOULD BE CONSIDERED WHEN SHOPPING FOR A GARTER BELT?
We won't touch the social implications of male players wearing garter belts, but you will need a method of holding your socks up.  Fitting will be according to waist size.  Try to find one with a wide waist belt. 

An alternative to a garter belt is a JOCK short or effective equivalent.  The Itech JOCK short is a pair of mesh shorts with or without an integrated cup and supporter and vecro sock retainers on the front and back of each leg.  There are other manufacturers as well.  A well equiped shop will have what you need.

 
 
    
Shin Pads
WHAT IS THE PROPER FIT FOR SHIN PADS?
A player's kneecap should fit directly into the center of the kneecap cup of the shin pad. The shin pad should then extend down the full length of the lower leg. It's important to make sure the shin pad isn't too long. If so, the skate would push it up out of position.
 
 
    
Skates
WHAT IS THE PROPER FIT FOR SKATES?
Skates normally fit 1 to 1½ sizes smaller than your street shoes. While wearing the sock that will be worn when skating, slip your foot into the skate, pressing the ends of the toes against the front of the skate. In this position, you should be able to place one finger between the inside of the boot and the heel of your foot.

Skates that are too big will severly hinder your players learning and confidence.  Don't think that buying a size too big is a good investment, half size is OK.  The skates need to be comfortable and supportive.

 
 
    
Stick
HOW DO I KNOW WHAT LENGTH OF STICK TO USE AND WHERE SHOULD I CUT MY STICK OFF?
A good way to measure your stick is to stand, without skates in your stocking feet, on a flat surface. Place the toe of your stick on the ground between your feet. Lean the stick straight up-and-down so the handle of the stick touches the tip of your nose. A general rule is to mark and cut the handle of your stick where it touches the players chin.  This is contradictory to most conventional rules of stick length.  Yet those general rules apply to players that have already learned proper puck control. 

HOW MUCH CURVE?

Beginning players should have very little to no curve to their stick in order to develop good puck control habits. 

YOUTH vs. JUNIOR vs. SENIOR

Senior sticks should never be cut down for young players to play with.  Many manufacturing companies and even retailers would have you believe that a JUNIOR stick is suitable for players 12 years old and younger.  If you have a large 8 year old then that may be suitable, but the average young player under the age of 8 should be using a YOUTH stick.  The shafts are just the right size for small hands and the blades are managable while controlling the puck.

Here are three great YOUTH sticks available.

Bauer Supreme 3030YTH        JOFA-TITAN 7000        KOHO 2260

You should consider buying two sticks and only cut one down as needed.  Then as the player grows they are getting the same familiar stick with only the length changing.  Stick selection is rather individual and sometimes it's like having a lucky charm. 
 
 
    
Stick - Left or Right

STRAIGHT !!

Ok so it's not that big a deal, but coaches prefer straight sticks for teaching the fundamentals of puck control, passing and shooting.  Not only is a straight stick great for teach proper technique, it allows the player to experiment with which way they want to shoot - Left or Right.

There are three primary arguments for how to determine which way a player should shoot.  All are important considerations but ultimately it will come down to player preference and comfort.

Dexterity argument - Players who have a natural dominant hand should use that hand on the top of the stick.  The top hand is the control hand for puck control and manual dexterity is important for puck control.  This means that a right handed player would shoot left.  This can be important for puck control.

Dominant Eye Argument - Most people have a dominant eye.  That is, an eye that naturally picks up and tracks moving object better than the other. The difference is subtle, but important.  Batters who naturally bat right often have a Dominant Left eye.  Right handers catch with their left hand often times because their left eye is dominant and their hand-eye coordination is better to thier left side.  This is especially important in Passing and Shooting.

Strength Argument - Many players exhibit a dominant side for speed and strength which may be independant of dexterity.  This often occurs natually as a defense to protect their dexterity dominant side.  Many right handers for example would prefer to use their left side as a "shield" if you will.  They commonly give and receive checks prefernetially with their left shoulder and hip, they commonly skate with a preference for their left skate, stopping for example.

So how do you determine which is the best for your player?  All of these arguments are valid and important considerations for a well rounded player.  One should not take precedence over another if it makes the player uncomfortable.  Learning the fundamentals is tough enough for a young player, they shouldn't be distracted by awkward body mechanics imposed upon them by a coach or parent. 

Did we mention that a straight stick is a really excellent teaching tool!?