What you need to know when choosing junior hockey equipment

As the hockey season gets closer, it’s time to take the equipment out of storage, air it out and see what condition it’s in. Does it still fit your child? Maybe it’s time to replace it. Your goal: ensure your child has everything he or she needs to perform in optimal conditions.

Questions to think about when purchasing equipment

Well, that’s done, you’ve checked out all of the equipment in your child’s hockey bag.  You've determined which items you need to purchase and the money you want to spend.  To make the best purchase possible, ask yourself the following questions.

  • What is your child’s level of play?
  • How frequently will each item be used?
  • What is the priority: durability, comfort or protection?
  • What did my child more or less like about the previous piece of equipment?

The answers to these questions will allow you to accurately determine what your child needs while giving you specific direction to share with the sales consultant in the store so that your purchase meets your child’s needs.

Tips to keep in mind

The level of play certainly has an influence on your purchase, but the skill level of the player is also important.  Playing defence versus offence brings different needs into play once on the ice. 
That’s why your child needs the right equipment for his or her needs. 

Here are a few tips that will help:

Skates

What you need to consider: It's important for your child to be comfortable, but the right size is equally important. Skates fit 1 1/2 sizes down from a regular shoe size. You should also allow for no more than a finger gap between the heel and the skate to account for growth.

Tip: Be sure that the heel fits firmly in the skate and that there is not too much space at the front. The tighter the skate, the better the performance.

Stick

What you need to consider: You’ll need to determine if your little player prefers a stiff or flexible stick, which will in a way determine the flex point of the stick.  As for height, the stick should come up to the player’s nose when not wearing skates. With skates on, the stick should be between the mouth and chin.

Tip: Pay particular attention to the number indicated on the stick, which is the flex rating. The lower the number, the more flexible the stick is.  The higher the number, the stiffer it is.  The same applies to height.  The longer the stick (but not too much), the more power it provides; the shorter the stick, the easier it is for the player to handle the puck and keep it close.

Gloves

What do you need to consider: The fit of the glove is as important as comfort and mobility. Allow for a bit of space at the finger tips.

Tip: If you choose gloves that are too large, the player will not have a good grip on the stick. Gloves stretch over time and become more supple.

Shin guards

What you need to consider: The way the player wears the shin guard will determine the correct length. If the shin guard is worn over the skate, it should be one inch longer. The shin guard should however be two fingers above the malleolus (prominent ankle bone) to prevent the skate from riding up.

Tips: Be sure the knee is in the right place and that the shin guard is aligned for the utmost efficiency. 

Elbow pads

What do you need to consider: when trying on elbow pads, both comfort and mobility are important.

Tips: If the elbow pads are too tight, you will have trouble securing the Velcro straps. If the pads are too loose, the elbow will tend to slide around.

Helmet

What do you need to consider: Determine what your player needs, whether it be a cage, a visor or a combination visor/cage.  It’s important that the helmet stays in place but follows the child’s head movement.  It should not produce any pressure points.

Tips: Try two or three models before making your choice. 

These tips will allow you to gain a good understanding of the vocabulary related to the purchase of hockey equipment for your child and will allow you to better understand what’s at stake when selecting suitable equipment.

Considering that your child may grow in the next year, keep in mind that it’s preferable to purchase less expensive equipment rather than purchase equipment that is too large.