Do Hockey Players Wear Cups?

Posted on April 20, 2024 by Dan Kent
ice hockey player

There are many pieces to a hockey player’s equipment and gear setup — and some people may be wondering if modern-day players still wear cups. There are many instances on the ice where a player may want extra protection, as hockey pucks are solid and can move up to 100 miles an hour from a slap shot.

Hockey players wear cups, though they don’t always guarantee protection against an awkward hit or a perfectly timed puck. Protective cups are standard among players who participate in rough sports such as football, soccer, and ice hockey. The dangers are evident if a player were to forgo this extra protective measure. Many players aren’t willing to take the risk and gamble with their lower regions.

What is a Protective Cup?

While many are already well versed with what a protective cup is and its function. In short, they consist of a hard outer layer lined with softer padding that protects the athlete’s groin area.

It’s important to note that a cup is not the same as a jockstrap, as they serve two different purposes. A jockstrap offers extra support but not so much in the way of protection against hits.

Non-contact sports such as running and bicycling don’t require extra protection, as no projectiles are coming their way. A jockstrap is adequate in these sports but doesn’t offer enough protection for a game as contact forward as ice hockey.

The Dangers of Not Wearing a Protective Cup

While the risk of forgoing a cup before a game should be obvious to many males, there are a few horror stories to convince the most stubborn person. Several players have ended up in the hospital after brutal hits and opted to leave their cups in the locker room and paid dearly for the decision.

Defenseman Sami Salo of the Vancouver Canucks was hit in the groin by a puck while blocking a shot and required hospitalization for the injury. The puck was coming off a slapshot by Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Salo was taken by stretcher into a waiting ambulance as a precautionary measure to ensure he hadn’t ruptured a testicle. All in all, it’s best to wear a cup to avoid this painful and agonizing experience.

Do Protective Cups Hinder a Player’s Ability?

Some players think that donning a cup affects how fast they can skate and how much mobility they have on the ice. It may take some time to get used to wearing a cup, as it is made of hard plastic and can feel slightly uncomfortable at first.

However, many players get used to the feeling and can continue playing without hindrance. The extra level of protection may, in fact, boost their confidence in their ability to block shots and slam an opponent into the boards.

Multiple options on the market can fit a variety of different comfort and fit preferences for players. It may take some time to find the correct fit for you, but it’s worth the effort, and you’ll likely be thankful that you did at some point.

Do Goaltenders Wear a Cup?

Regarding the likelihood of getting hit with a puck during a game — no one is higher on the list than the goalie. They’re getting shots directed at them for the entirety of the game, so several will likely make contact throughout the night.

It may come as a surprise to find out that many goaltenders opt to wear multiple cups for added protection. When goalie stretches out their pads to block a shot, they’re left in a vulnerable position, so it’s no wonder they want to protect their groin.

This trend of wearing two or three cups may have started in 2014 when the goaltender for the Calgary Flames, Brian Elliot, posted a photo of his cracked cup to his Twitter account. Imagine taking a shot hard enough to crack the plastic in such a sensitive area!

Many goalies have spoken up on the topic and shared their personal preferences as far as options for a traditional goalie double-cup and whether or not they use a regular cop on top of this one. This position in ice hockey needs all of the extra paddings it can get, as it’s arguably one of the most dangerous and groin injury-prone spots on the ice.

Do Female Hockey Players Wear Cups?

Women and girls in hockey don’t wear cups as commonly as their male counterparts — and in fact, they’re not referred to as cups but as Jills. However, they’re an option; some wear them before hitting the ice.

Jills offer firm padding to protect the pelvis area and a decent level of protection against pucks and contact from another player or a slashed stick. At some levels, especially with younger children, this extra protective piece of gear is required for safety reasons.

Even Jill shorts have a built-in protector for girls that can be a more comfortable and efficient option for players. They’re often not very expensive but can be a great long-term investment for the safety of a player and can even save money from a costly hospital visit.

Don’t Forget Your Cup

Next time you’re about to get onto the ice, don’t forget to throw on a cup, or else you may regret it later. All it takes is a perfectly timed slap shot, and you could end up in the hospital with some lasting consequences.

Modern-day cups have improved comfort and safety features, and many players skate with them on and barely notice that they’re there. They’re a key gear feature for many NHL players, and they’re the ones who would know best.

Photo by Amanda licensed under CC BY 2.0

Dan Kent

About the author

Growing up in a hockey hotbed (Calgary, Alberta. And yes, I'm an Oiler fan), I decided to put my love and knowledge of the game to work. I started at five and am still playing today into my early 30s. By acquiring Brave Stick Hockey and rebranding it to Big Shot Hockey in 2023, I plan to teach people about this great game and educate them on the best equipment and history of the game. On a career level, I am in finance, running one of the largest financial websites in Canada,

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