Ice and roller hockey necessities guide
Hockey is a dynamic sport for all ages. It can be played indoors and outdoors, on the ice, street, gym floor or carpet at home. The type of equipment you'll need to stay safe and maximize fun and scoring will depend on the type of hockey you're playing. Here are some guidelines to help you make equipment choices for ice hockey, roller hockey, street hockey, floor hockey and mini hockey.
Ice hockey can be a dangerous sport — due to the slippery playing surface, sharp-edged skates and hard puck that can fly at top speeds — so protective equipment is required for both kids and adults. Here's a list of the necessities:
- Ice skates: Skates for ice hockey are not the same as figure skates, so be sure you're getting ones that have a smooth edge along the entire blade. Kids and new players benefit from ice skates with ankle supports.
- Hockey pants: These have thick padding and hard plastic inserts to protect you from the knees to the lower back. Be sure your pants are not too baggy, which will inhibit your freedom of movement, or too small, which will expose parts of your body to injury.
- Protective athletic supporter: Choose the style you're most comfortable with, from a traditional jock strap to compression shorts with a hard cup insert that protects the groin area from impact. These are necessary for kids and adults, men and women. Women's protective supporters are often called jills or pelvic protectors.
- Helmet with a cage: The cage is essential to protect your face, and it can be made of wire or shatterproof plastic. Both are safe, so the style depends on your preference. Full face guards add more protection. Add a mouth guard to protect your teeth.
- Hockey gloves: These protect the outer part of your hands and forearm with thick padding but allow you to grip the hockey stick with a thin fabric that covers your palm. If you can give a thumbs up and raise each finger individually, the gloves are flexible enough for you.
- Pads: Hockey shoulder pads, elbow pads, neck guards and shin pads protect the areas your pants, helmet and gloves don't cover. Shoulder pads and neck guards are often optional — although recommended — for adults but necessary for youth hockey players. Pads should be made of both hard plastic and foam padding. Hockey socks go over your shin guards.
- Hockey sticks: Having two sticks is recommended in case one breaks, and it's perfectly fine to start out with a more economical wooden stick. Sticks for kids should come up to the chin. Choose a right- or left-handed stick according to your hand dominance.
You might also want a practice jersey if your team doesn't supply one. Additional optional hockey accessories include skate guards for when your blades are not in use, hockey tape for getting a better grip on the stick or protecting the stick blade, and an equipment bag to carry everything to and from the rink.
Hockey goalie equipment
If you're a goalie, be sure you're getting hockey goalie equipment, which is necessarily more protective than that of other players. Look for items labeled goalie pads, goalie pants, goalie chest protectors, goalie gloves, goalie face masks, goalie sticks and goalie skates.
Use inline skates instead of ice skates for roller hockey, and play it indoors on a rink or outside on the street. Street hockey often uses inline skates, but you can also play street hockey in regular tennis shoes. Floor hockey is also played with tennis shoes, but indoors.
The equipment needs for roller hockey are very similar to ice hockey. Required items for most roller hockey leagues usually include a mouth guard, helmet with full face protection, elbow pads, hockey gloves, protective athletic supporter, shin guards, a stick and inline skates.
Skates for roller hockey are different from inline skates you might buy for rolling on sidewalks or through the park, so be sure you're selecting those labeled for roller hockey or street hockey. Get soft wheels if you plan to play on a court and hard wheels for playing outside so they don't wear down as fast.
For setting up your own street hockey or floor hockey games, choose two street hockey goals or street hockey nets. Hockey sets make it easy to get the goals, sticks and pucks or balls you need in one economical package.
A ball or a puck?
If you're going to play in tennis shoes instead of skates, get hockey balls instead of hockey pucks. Street hockey and floor hockey are often played with balls instead of pucks. Street hockey balls are made of a hard material and have little to no bounce, so they're easy to maneuver.
Knee hockey and mini hockey
Let the kids — and adults — play hockey inside with a knee hockey set, also called a mini hockey set. Knee hockey requires little equipment except for two mini nets, mini sticks and a foam ball or puck. Padding and helmets are not required, unless you play for a league or on a court, but knee pads are recommended for comfort.