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HOCKEY 101

Helpful links for new parents

Equipment

Don't feel like you have to go run out and buy new equipment for your if they are just getting started in hockey. CAHA has obtained many complete sets of equipment from USA Hockey's One Goal Program. These sets will come with most everything your child will need and are loaned out to kids trying hockey for the first time. In addition to the One Goal sets CAHA and the Wex also have a selection of used equipment. This equipment is available to your child at an extremely low cost or through a trade up program. If your child has outgrown their current equipment simply trade in the old for newer, bigger equipment. CAHA coaches and Wex staff are available to help you and your with all your equipment needs.

How Can My Child Get Started in Hockey?

  1. The best place to start is with The Wex "learn to skate" programs. The Wex "Learn To Skate" program is 3 (6 week) sessions (register at https://www.thewex.com/learn-to-skate ). There is a $30 refundable fee for the program. This fee can also roll over session to session. CAHA also holds a "Learn to Play Hockey program which also runs in 3 (6week sessions). There is a $60 refundable fee for this program. This program is coached by CAHA coaches.
  2. If your child likes it, also go to public skates with him/her (get on the ice yourself too).  Also roller blade and play street hockey in the driveway (players of all abilities do this) . . . there's all sorts of outdoor sticks, pucks and nets.
  3. Sign up for hockey starts around mid-August. The season runs from October to March, and consists of two or more practices a week depending on which level (Mini-Mite to Bantam) your player is in. Each practice is one hour.
  4. Go to "power skating" clinics or camps (don't be put off by the term "power").  Improving your skating is the best way to become a better hockey player.    

What equipment does my child need in order to play hockey?

Selection of hockey equipment is a key issue for players, parents and coaches. When purchasing and fitting hockey equipment, remember two important factors: 1) make certain the player is adequately protected and 2) be sure the fitting allows freedom of movement so the player can properly perform the necessary skills. By carefully considering these two factors, your child will be more comfortable and will better enjoy their participation.
 

A complete set of hockey equipment can be purchased for a relatively reasonable cost. Shop around for the best values and remember that you need not buy the most expensive equipment. Inquire about local equipment swaps and team discounts, but keep in mind the equipment must fit properly to provide maximum protection. USA Hockey members receive special discounts on equipment purchased through Play It Again Sports retailers nationwide.

Skates — Purchase skates that will fit your child today, with no more than 1/2" allowed for growth. Seek adequate protection in the ankle, toe and instep areas. Improperly fitted skates will hamper your child's ability to skate. Brand new skates have to be sharpened before use.   

Shin Pads — Check for proper length so they protect the knee and shin completely.

Pants — Pants provide protection for the lower spine, hips and thighs.

Helmet — Must be of a design and construction approved by the Hockey Equipment Certification Council (HECC). Must be sized at the time of purchase to fit properly. The chin strap must always be fastened. All helmets are adjustable for a proper fit. 

Facemask — Must also be of a design and construction approved by the Hockey Equipment Certification Council (HECC).

Mouthpiece — Required for ALL players. USA Hockey encourages players of all ages and ability levels to use a mouthpiece.

Neck Guard — Required for all players.

Gloves — Check for proper fit, with good finger and hand mobility.

Elbow Pads — Properly fitted so they do not slide.

Shoulder Pads — Adjust to fit the individual at the time of purchase. A fiber cap is extremely important in preventing shoulder separations and should extend to the tip of the shoulder.

Supporter and Cup — Essential protective equipment.

Stick — Length should generally extend from the ice to the player's chin (with skates on), or from the floor to the player's nose (with shoes on). Quality and price differ greatly, so the choice is yours. Most players have two sticks in case one breaks during a game or practice.

Practice Jersey — player is to supply their own practice jersey unless CAHA requires specific jersey for practice.

Game jersey and socks — game jersey's are provided by CAHA, Socks can be purchased through the pro shop.

In many areas the equipment overlaps to reduce exposed skin and bones such as: tongue of skate and shin guard, shin guard and pants, glove and elbow pad, elbow pad and shoulder pad. Some shoulder pads extend down as low as the pants.     

For goaltenders special equipment is necessary such as: gloves (catching and blocker), goalie stick, chest and arm protector, leg pads, and, as players get older and stronger, special goalie helmets, goalie cup and goalie skates (with a protective shell). The goaltender's equipment is especially important, so seek advice from a knowledgeable source.

Equipment Tips


SKATES- skating is the most important and difficult skill of hockey, if you can afford a new pair of good quality skates it will make a whole world of difference  in your child’s development. If you can’t, purchase the best possible used skates that fit and have good ankle support.

  • Skates must fit snugly but not cramp your toes and have good upright ankle support. one  pair of thin 100% cotton socks is all you should wear.
  • Skates are usually one size smaller than street-shoes.

LACING- the criss-cross method is considered the most comfortable

  • the  bottom 3 eyelets should be semi- loose to allow blood to circulate to the toes.
  • the  middle 3 eyelets should be semi- tight to allow an up and down movement of the top of the foot when starting and stopping.
  • the  top 3 eyelets should be tight to keep the ankle in an upright position and prevent the child from going over on his/her ankles.
  • Do not wrap the laces around the ankle to tie then, this prevents the forward flex of the foot and ankle and will impair your child’s skating speed and turning.

BLADES- the skate blades must be sharp, but not razor sharp, in order for you to stop and start without falling.

  • if they are dull, your child will slip and slide all over the ice and have a hard time standing up.
  • if they are too sharp, they will dig into the ice and prevent smooth stops and  create a stutter stop and possibly cause him/her to fall.
  • if you get a deep nick or burr on the bottom blade you will fall. It should be immediately sharpened by an experienced skate sharpening professional.
  • a good skate sharpening can mean all the difference between a great game or a poor game

SHARPENING- you should not need your skates sharpened every game, but 2 to 4 times a season is average unless you are playing in a “AAA” league that practices and plays 4 to 6 times a week, or get a nick or burr on the blade.

  • a good skate sharpener will cut a hollow ground U shape in the bottom of the blade, this provides 2 edges, an inside edge and an outside edge, both used for different aspects of skating.
  • the depth of the cut should be based on your child’s height and weight.
  • a medium sharpening, not razor sharp is all you require. It will keep you with a stable upright position and allow you to bite into the ice, to push and glide without falling down.

HOCKEY STICKS- after skates, the stick is the most important piece of equipment used for scoring and preventing goals.

  • it must fit properly, just like skates if it you are going to develop you shooting, passing, puck handling and stick handling skills.
  • 2 sticks should be taken to practice and games in case one breaks.
  • the sticks length when in an upright position, and while you are standing in your skates should come up to between your chin (maximum) and your collar bone (minimum).If it is any longer or shorter you will have trouble shooting or carrying the puck.
  • lie is the angle between the stick’s shaft and blade.- the higher the angle; example. 125% lie- the further the puck is away from your feet. The lower the angle;  example. 110% lie the closer the puck is to your feet.
  • it’s trial and error to see which lie is best for your child based on the way they skate either bent over like Wayne Gretzky did or up right like Mario Lemieux does, as no stick manufacturer puts the lie angle on the stick.
  • youth size hockey sticks are now available which are lighter, shorter and have a smaller shaft radius for a better grip by children.
  • sticks are made for Left or Right handed shots. The lower hand on the stick when shooting determines whether you shoot Left or Right.
  • a slight curve is ok because a straight stick is hard to find and I don’t believe is necessary. A big curve is out of the question until your child gets to Bantam and even then I don’t think it’s necessary.

UNDERWEAR- light cotton, or a breathable material, long john type, top and bottom underwear should be worn under your equipment.

HOCKEY BAG- a hockey bag large enough to carry all your equipment is suggested.

  • pockets on the outside to carry your skates and wet underwear are advisable.
  • keep an extra pair of skate laces, proper length in the bag for emergency and a small towel to dry your skate blades after the game or practice to prevent rusting.

General order for Getting Dressed, either at home or at the rink

  1. light cotton socks
  2. light underwear, top and bottom
  3. jock or jill strap
  4. garter belt to hold up your hockey socks
  5. shin pads
  6. hockey socks, tape shin pads in place using Velcro strips or clear shin pad tape
  7. hockey pants, use suspenders or a special hockey belt on some models to keep them up
  8. skates, tie your skates now and use skate blade protectors if dressing at home
  9. shoulder pads
  10. elbow pads
  11. neck guard
  12. sweater
  13. helmet with full visor or metal cage
  14. mouth guard
  15. hockey gloves
  16. stick, take 2 sticks to the bench in case 1 breaks

 

Have a great game!

 

Hopefully these basic tips will help the new players and their parents get some idea of the equipment their child will need to have for an enjoyable, safe and rewarding hockey experience.