It’s no secret that hockey is a gear-intensive sport, and new players to the game of hockey inevitably face the task of putting on all their gear for the first time. While getting dressed in all that gear seems like a daunting task, it's really not as difficult as it sounds. New players may want to practice a few times at home until they feel comfortable.
Remember that all your gear is adjustable. If it doesn't fit quite right the first time, try adjusting them until you find the right fit. Here is a step by step guide to putting on hockey equipment:
Before getting suited up, there are a few things you will want to make sure are squared away. Some examples are making sure your skate blades are sharpened and free of any nicks, stick is taped, mouth guard is moulded, and so on. Once you get into the routine of checking for these things, being aware of them will come second-nature.
Undergarments can be compression shorts or jock shorts. Jock Shorts have a pocket for a cup and velcro tabs on the front and back of each leg to attach your hockey socks to. Jock shorts can be worn over compression pants. Some compression shorts also have a cup pocket with the velcro tabs.
Put both feet through the elastic waistband. If you wear compression shorts without velcro tabs, you will need a garter belt to help hold up your hockey socks. Secure the garter belt around your waist, making sure that it fits snugly and comfortably around the groin area but is not too tight.
Tighten your pants with the belt so that the pants fit comfortably but provide for adequate flexibility. If they are still too loose, you can use a pair of suspenders to keep them up. Properly fitting hockey pants should be around one inch above the kneecap while standing. This will ensure the best balance of protection and mobility.
Shin guards will go under your hockey socks. Secure them by fastening the straps around the calves. It is important that you leave enough space near your ankles for your skates. Your knee should fit directly into the kneecap of the shin guards. The pads should extend down to your ankles, or one inch above, depending on whether you wear your shin guards over your skate tongues or underneath.
Hockey socks are long cotton, or mesh, socks that are open on the top and the bottom. Your hockey socks go over your shin pads and help keep them in place. Cotton socks can be attached to your garter belt, whereas mesh socks come with velcro tabs on the front and back of each thigh that will attach to velcro tabs found on most compression shorts.
While the mesh socks require one less piece of gear (no garter belt), the cotton socks plus garter belt combination can potentially keep socks more secure. Use sock tape to secure the shin guards and socks in place.
Tie your hockey skates very tight without cutting off circulation to your feet. The general rule of thumb is to lace them progressively tighter as you go up so that the tightest part of the lacing process is at the ankles. This prevents potential ankle injuries due to the skates being too loose. The bottom of your knee pad should come to just below the tongue of your skate. Tape everything in place.
Shoulder Pads go over the compression shirt or t-shirt. Slip your head through the middle hole and put your arms through the armbands underneath the shoulder plate. Fasten the velcro tabs to the front of the pads so that the pads fit snugly but comfortably. This will allow for maximum protection with an adequate range of motion.
Elbow Pads go over your long sleeve compression shirt. The joint of your elbow should rest squarely in the cup of the elbow pads. Adjust the straps so the pads fit snugly but comfortably.
Neck guards fit around the neck to protect against cut-type impacts. Most models fasten in the back with an adjustable closure.
Finally, put on your jersey, helmet, and gloves. Grab your hockey stick, put in a mouth guard and you are ready to hit the ice!
After practice or games, be sure to remove the gear in the opposite order you put things on. Everything will then go back in the bag in the order you need them next time.