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Hockey players wear a wide range of protective gear to keep themselves as safe as possible when it comes to injuries. Amateur and recreational leagues typically enforce the wearing of some mandatory pieces of equipment while professional players have more freedom of choice.
A full set of NHL hockey gear costs approximately $3,000 U.S., with goalie equipment costing up to about $10,000. Of course, pro players have their gear and sticks supplied by their clubs and they wear top-of-the-line equipment. There are less-expensive options for recreational players however such as purchasing lower grade items or used equipment.
Player’s Size and Age
The age and size of a hockey player will influence the price of equipment as younger and smaller players won’t be required to buy and wear adult-sized gear and sticks.
But on the other side of the coin, younger players who haven’t stopped growing yet may need to purchase new equipment every year or two as they get bigger. The parents of still-growing children often buy used hockey equipment because of this.
Smaller adults can sometimes get by with wearing youth-sized equipment and there’s nothing wrong with that as long as it fits properly and offers the right amount of protection.
Basic Hockey Equipment
Below is a list of the most common articles of equipment worn by hockey players of all ages and skill levels:
Skates, ankle guards, undergarments, socks, shin pads, pants, jock/jill, shoulder pads, elbow pads, gloves, helmet, visor or cage, neck guard, mouthguard.
You usually need a few miscellaneous items too such as tape, skate guards, water bottles and pucks.
In addition, an equipment bag is needed to store and haul of of your gear around in from game to game.
Basic Goalie Equipment
Goaltenders need to wear additional specific pieces of equipment due to their position.
Typical goaltending gear includes:
Skates, socks, undergarments, jock/jill, pants, knee pads, leg pads, chest and arm protector, catching glove, blocker, throat guard or dangler, facemask/helmet, stick, equipment bag.
Some items of goalie equipment such as the pants and jock/jill differ from those of other players as they’re designed specifically for the position. These pieces of equipment are built with more padding for goaltenders.
The list of mandatory hockey equipment will depend on what league you’re playing in. Most youth leagues enforce the wearing of a full face mask (cage) and a neck guard.
You’ll find that some recreational leagues might not enforce shoulder pads but it’s highly recommended that you wear them to protect against possible dislocated and separated shoulders.
Pro players aren’t required to wear a full face mask but NHL players who entered the league after 2013/14 must wear a visor. Pro players aren’t forced to wear mouthguards and neck guards either.
Some leagues require specific articles of equipment, such as helmets and visors be safety-certified by a government institution. Be aware that certified articles of equipment such as helmets and visors often lose their protective qualities with repeated use and the certifications may expire after a certain length of time, such as five years for example.
Most leagues don’t make ankle guards mandatory but they’re a good idea for defensemen who are in the habit of blocking shots.
Most Expensive Equipment
In general, skates are the most expensive piece of hockey equipment as a good pair can cost several hundred dollars. However, some players can even pay up to $300 for a top-notch stick these days.
The other articles of equipment can usually be found for under $200 unless you’re buying the absolute top-of-the-line option. Socks are typically the least expensive but need to be replaced more often when holes start to appear in them.
Goalie equipment is definitely the most expensive though as a brand new set of customized senior leg pads can come close to $2,000.
Used Hockey Equipment
Hockey players can often find top-quality used equipment and this can save them a substantial amount of money. Many sporting goods stores sell new and used equipment while some shops focus on used equipment only.
Stores that deal in new and used gear will often allow you to trade in old gear for a credit or price reduction on new equipment. Many players can also find good used equipment on internet sales sites such as Ebay, Craigslist and Kijiji.
When buying used equipment is recommended that you do so in person so you can inspect the items and try them on to make sure they fit properly.
Cost Doesn’t Always Equal Quality
When it comes to hockey equipment the most expensive gear doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best. It may often be the case but not always. Higher-priced equipment is generally better made due to stronger materials but the most important thing is that the equipment fits properly.
Buying the most expensive pair of skates or shoulder pads won’t do much good for a player if it they are ill-fitting. Hockey players need a combination of fit and quality. Not only does proper-fitting equipment enable you to maneuver better on the ice but it will also provide the proper amount of protection.
When players get older they become bigger and stronger and they need equipment that is properly proportioned to help reduce injuries.
Top NHL-quality hockey gear isn’t exactly cheap but it’s very durable and strongly made. Most adult recreational players find they can effectively wear their equipment for several years. The items that tend to wear out the fastest and need replacing on a consistent basis are socks and gloves.
Even hockey sticks can last a few seasons these days since the majority of players prefer to use one-piece composite models.
Again, it’s imperative that your hockey gear fits properly and is in good shape. Remember, the reason you’re wearing equipment in the first place is to reduce the risk of injury.