Why it’s Important to Invest in the Best Protective Gear for Youth Ice Hockey Players

Hockey Protective Gear

Ice hockey is a sport celebrated for its speed, precision, and the sheer thrill it offers both players and spectators. For young players stepping onto the ice, hockey presents an exciting blend of teamwork and individual prowess unlike other sports out there. The physical nature of ice hockey, however, also brings the risk of injuries should your young players not be prepared prior to stepping on the ice. Investing in the proper protective gear can offer the assurance of the well-being of your young players, allowing them to focus on developing their skills and enjoying the more physical elements of the game with peace of mind.

Understanding the Importance of Protective Gear in Ice Hockey

Ice hockey is inherently fast-paced and physical and it’s quite common for players to dart across the ice at high speeds while maneuvering the puck, blocking shots, and colliding with opponents or the boards. In such a high impact environment, skimping on equipment instead of investing in quality protective gear can lead to serious injuries. Concussions, bone fractures, and lacerations are not uncommon when it comes to hockey players of all ages and levels. The right protective gear can provide young players with a safer environment where they can fearlessly embrace the sport’s challenges and continue to show up motivated each day.

The Essentials of Protective Hockey Gear

The right protective gear covers every part of a young player’s body, offering as much protection as possible without hindering the necessary movements or their performance. Here’s a look at what we recommend you start with, bare minimum:

  • Helmets: The helmet is arguably the most important piece of gear. A high-quality helmet comes equipped with advanced materials designed to absorb and distribute the force of impacts, thereby protecting the brain from concussions and other head injuries. Quality helmets offer additional features like adjustable straps for a snug fit, adequate ventilation to keep the player cool, and options for added facial protection, such as visors or cages, to guard against cuts and facial injuries due to the many objects that fly around in a typical hockey game.
  • Shoulder Pads and Elbow Pads: These pads are designed to protect the upper body’s critical points that tend to get the brunt of the impact during practice and games. Shoulder pads cover the collarbone, shoulders, and upper arms, cushioning them against common things like falls and body checks. They are constructed from a combination of foam padding and hard plastic shells to absorb and disperse impact forces. Elbow pads safeguard the sensitive elbow joints, minimizing the risk of joint injuries during collisions and falls. The best pads offer a balance between robust protection and flexibility, allowing players to move freely and execute the moves they need for their positions on the ice.
  • Gloves: Gloves in ice hockey are multifunctional. They protect the hands and fingers from stick or blade slashes and other impacts while providing players with the grip and control they need to handle the stick effectively on the cold ice. Quality gloves combine foam padding with durable materials like leather or high-performance synthetic fabrics. Some gloves may also feature wrist protection to prevent sprains and more serious injuries in this vulnerable area.
  • Shin Guards: Shin guards are indispensable for protecting the lower legs, a region frequently exposed to puck impacts and slashes from other players’ sticks and blades. Ideally, they consist of a hard plastic shell for deflecting these impacts and foam padding for absorbing the shock without being too bulky. A well-designed shin guard wraps securely around the lower leg, offering full coverage from the knee to the ankle, and stays in place with elastic sleeve straps or velcro.
  • Mouthguards and Neck Guards: This is an area we recommend every parent invests in, after all, your child’s smile brings a joy like no other! High quality mouthguards protect against dental injuries and can even reduce the severity of concussions should the impact affect the front of the face. A properly fitted or, ideally, custom fitted mouthguard cushions blows that might otherwise cause broken teeth, jaw injuries, or cuts to the lips and tongue. Neck guards, while sometimes overlooked due to them being less ‘cool’, provide essential protection for the neck area, reducing the risk of serious injuries from skate blades or errant sticks. For younger players getting into ice hockey, we highly recommend a neck guard to alleviate the likelihood of fatal injury due to the physicality and competitiveness of the sport.

Selecting the Right Size

The protective capabilities of ice hockey gear are directly linked to how well it fits. Gear that’s too loose can and will likely shift out of place, leaving parts of the body exposed to injury. On the other hand, gear that’s too tight can restrict movement or cut off circulation, affecting performance and comfort – sometimes unbeknownst to the player.

It’s important to take the time to measure your child accurately against the sizing charts provided by manufacturers with tailor measuring tape. For helmets, measure the circumference of the head a few times to make sure you’re finding the best fit. For pads and guards, measure the chest, waist, height, and the length of the arms and legs while having your child stand in different stances, similar to the ones they’re likely to experience while playing.

If you’re uncertain or uncomfortable doing this properly, consult with a professional at a reputable hockey or sports equipment store. They can provide valuable guidance, ensuring that every piece of gear fits the way it’s supposed to fit and guarantees maximum protection on the ice.

Maintaining and Replacing Gear: Ensuring Ongoing Protection

Protective gear requires regular care and maintenance to keep its protective qualities. Inspect the gear periodically, ideally before a practice or a game, for signs of wear and tear, such as cracks in the plastic, frayed straps, or compressed padding. You should also clean the gear according to the manufacturer’s instructions to prevent the buildup of bacteria and unpleasant odors that may arise due to the likelihood your little athlete is giving it their all on the ice. Store the gear in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, as UV rays and heat can degrade the materials over time and ruin your investment.

Despite even the best care, protective gear will eventually wear out and need replacement – especially with ice hockey. Regularly assess and review the condition of each piece of gear, especially after a heavy fall or impact. If you notice significant damage or if your child has outgrown any of the pieces, it’s probably a smart time to invest in new equipment.

Finding the Best Brand for Your Young Athlete

The market offers a bunch of high quality brands, each promising the best protection for your young athlete. However, not all gear is created equal and it’s important to understand what to look for and why. Brands like Bauer, CCM, and Warrior have stood the test of time, consistently delivering products that set the standard in protection, comfort, and performance and are a great place to begin your search for the ideal equipment to meet your young athlete’s needs.

  • Bauer: Bauer has a long-standing reputation for quality and innovation in hockey gear. Their helmets are known for their superior protection and comfort, featuring advanced materials and customizable fit systems. Bauer’s gloves and pads are designed with the player’s mobility in mind, offering protection without sacrificing performance.
  • CCM: CCM’s gear is the result of extensive research and a deep understanding of the sport’s demands. Their protective equipment, including shoulder pads and shin guards, is engineered to provide maximum safety while allowing for a full range of motion. CCM’s commitment to quality ensures that every piece of gear enhances the player’s safety and confidence on the ice.
  • Warrior: Warrior is recognized for integrating cutting-edge technology into their gear. Their products are designed to meet the rigorous standards of professional play, making them an excellent choice for young athletes aiming for the top. Warrior’s protective gear is not just about safety; it’s about empowering players to give their best performance.


Ice hockey is an incredible game with a phenomenal culture across several countries. Finding the right protective gear is a fundamental aspect of the sport and there is no shortage of knowledge out there to help you guarantee you’re investing in the right equipment to help your child enjoy the sport as much as you do. By making informed choices about gear, ensuring proper fit and maintenance, and opting for trusted brands, you’re already well on your way to finding the best fit for your child’s needs. If you’re joining a league for the first time, we recommend you connect with the coach or the association that is running the league, as they will have plenty of information about what to expect, what to buy, and more importantly what to avoid.

These posts are for informational purposes only and should not be considered as specific financial, legal or tax advice. Depending on your individual circumstances, the strategies discussed in this post may not be appropriate for your situation. Always consult your legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. In providing such information, Great American does not warrant that all potential hazards or conditions have been evaluated or can be controlled. The liability of Great American Insurance Company is limited to the terms, limits and conditions of the insurance policies underwritten. ©2024 Great American Insurance Company. All Rights Reserved. Great American Insurance Group’s member companies are subsidiaries of American Financial Group, Inc. (AFG). AFG is a holding company whose common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Policies are underwritten by Great American Insurance Company, an authorized insurer in all 50 states and the DC. Please see Great American Insurance Company’s Legal Disclosures/Terms and Conditions here.  https://www.greatamericaninsurancegroup.com/contact/legal-disclosures

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