How to Fit Hockey Equipment
Fitting Hockey Equipment
When you go out to purchase some hockey equipment there are a few things that you should know. You should never skimp on quality or fit for price, or the thought that you may get an extra season out of it. There are some equipment shops that sell new and used equipment which may prove to be economical when you have a growing child. Remember that proper fitting equipment should be comfortable and also will provide efficient protection from injury. Here are some guidelines to follow for fitting equipment properly.
When buying a HELMET the athlete should look for protection, comfort, and fit. All helmets must be approved by the HECC (Hockey Equipment Certification Council) or the CSA (Canadian Standard Association). There will be a sticker on the helmet to notify the athlete. The helmet should not be too tight or too loose, you need to have a snug fit. Watch that the helmet does not have enough room to crash down on nose. The helmet should rest 1-2 finger widths above eyebrows and fit snug enough so that the helmet does not spin or shift on head. The proper fit will maximize the protection factor of the helmet. The chin strap should be adjusted so it gently makes contact under the chin when fastened.
Cage vs. Shield
Here the choice is up to the athlete. Each individual will have their own preference between the two masks. The basic differences between the two are visibility and ventilation. The CAGE offers good visibility with excellent ventilation. They are made out of strong durable materials that allow the helmet to take a little bit of a beating. The SHIELD has decreased ventilation and excellent vision. The shields have the tendency to fog up and scratch easily, but when taken care of properly the shield can prove to be the choice face mask. All masks are not made to fit all helmets so be sure that the cage or shield that you choose fits onto the helmet properly leaving no gaps or space at the chin. Shields fog up much more in older rinks that do not have de-humidifiers for ambient air.
A mouthguard is a must in the older age groups and should not be viewed as a choice to wear one or not. The purpose of a mouthguard is multifaceted. They decrease the risk of mouth/tooth injuries and decrease concussions by dispersing the force and also decrease jaw fractures. Mouthguards are an inexpensive way to protect yourself in a number of ways. They can be bought in a store and molded at home with the use of hot water. Mouthguards can also be custom fit by your dentist to make an exact fit for the athlete. Here each individual will have a personal preference. If the mouthguard is not properly fitted then the ability to communicate can suffer and sometimes breathing is compromised. To insure proper fit follow package directions for fitting store bought mouthguards. Be sure to soften the mouthguard using hot water, after 30 seconds or more (read package) insert the mouthguard into mouth and place on top teeth, press tongue along back of mouthguard and suck all of the air out pulling mouthguard onto teeth. DO NOT double dip be sure that your first attempt makes the grade, you run the risk of biting through the mouthguard and decrease the protective qualities of the mouthguard.
All players have to wear a neck guard. A neck guard will offer protection for the athlete's neck. Protection from sharp objects such as skate blades and sticks. When worn properly, the guard will protect the player from potential dangerous situations.
The center of the shoulder should fit in the center of the shoulder cup of the pads. The pads offer a foam cup, that should fit comfortably around the shoulder girdle. Most pads have a universal sizing system, but trying them on will have to be the judgment factor. The athlete should get into their positions stance. A defenseman may benefit from a pair of shoulder pads that cover more area. When on defense players have a greater chance of blocking the puck with their bodies, therefore, a larger chest protector is a good choice. For the forward, they need to be less restricted and tend to wear a smaller pair of shoulder pads. The choice for smaller pads should be for comfort but not for compromising protection. Shoulder pads should offer protection for the shoulder girdle, clavicle (collar bone), chest, ribs, back and upper arms. the straps that hold shoulder pads in place should fit snug and hold pads comfortably to the body without restricting movement or breathing. When trying the pads on athletes should raise their arms up over their heads to be sure that the pads do not move and compromise coverage, or decrease cervical range of motion or vision. Move your head around with the helmet on and wear your elbow pads to make sure one does not bind on the other.
Elbow pads are to protect the elbow from injury. The pad should fit comfortably around the joint and offer protection from outside hazards. The elbows should fit into the cup shape of the pad and be covered completely to protect the elbow. The pad should fit comfortably but should also fit properly in order to provide the appropriate coverage. The pad should extend to the shoulder pad without compromising or interfering with the gloves to provide additional protection. All pieces of equipment should be tried on in conjunction with their adjacent parts. This will ensure a proper fit, there should not be any discomfort created or any restricted range of motion while providing the protection the hockey payer needs. The player should also put the equipment on and get down in their stance to see if the equipment fits correctly and does not interfere with movements or vision.
Gloves are another piece of equipment that should fit comfortably, not too big or too small. Gloves offer protection for the hand, fingers, thumb and wrist. Therefore, a proper fit will provide this protection. The top of the glove should come up to meet the elbow pad leaving little or NO gap to prevent injury. The player's fingers should not go all the way to the end of the finger pockets of the gloves. This will decrease the risk of injuries such as lacerations. Most gloves come standard with a thumb lock feature. This will prevent the thumb from bending backwards causing injury.
Most people can use their waist size as a guide for fitting pants. Pants come a variety of sizes S-M-L or numerical sizes and also different lengths. The pants should overlap the knee pads/shin pads by 1 to 2 inches when standing and still cover while kneeling. Proper fitted pants should cover athlete appropriately leaving no skin or body part exposed to potential injury. Any gap is exactly where you will be hit by a puck.
Shinguards or knee pads provide protection from a number of things. Impact with the ice, a puck, a stick, opposing player, the boards...Therefore, you want properly fitted pads to provide the most protection possible, The patella or kneecap should fit directly into the center of the patella cup of the pad. The pads are made in a variety of densities. the padding should provide ample protection but not bulkiness that would compromise the fit and protection of the pad. The pad should extend down the length of the leg, making sure that the pad is not too long or not too short. Be sure to try the pads on with their skates in order to get the proper fit. If the pad is too long the skates will push the pads out of position and not provide proper protection. As the player will develop a personal preference, to wear the pads tucked in the skate or outside the skate. Either is acceptable. Be sure that with either choice the pads offer full coverage leaving no area exposed. The older the player, the thicker the pad required to block slapshots. The more expensive pads come as "left and right".
Skates normally fit 1-11/2 sizes smaller than street shoes. They also come in a variety of widths; to assure proper fit the athletes feet should be measured with a foot measuring device, for length and width. When trying on skates push toes forward to the front of the boot. You should be able to put between one pencil to one finger between the heel and the boot. Before lacing the skate up, slide the heel back into the boot, snugly lace up the first three eyelets, lace the next three loosely, and the rest laced up tight. The eyelets should be 11/2-2" apart.
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