IS YOUR HELMET EXPIRED?
Spring is a good time to evaluate the size and effectiveness of your player’s equipment. It’s surprising how much youth players grow over the course of a season. Improperly sized equipment can create an unsafe situation that can lead to player injuries.
Did you know that helmets have an expiration date? The Hockey Equipment Certification Council’s (HECC) mission is to seek out, evaluate, and select standards and testing procedures for hockey equipment. All youth hockey helmets should have a HECC approved sticker on the rear of the helmet that contains an effective date that expires 6 ½ years after manufacture. The expiration date it “to acknowledge that time and use may have an effect on the protective qualities of the helmet that would prevent it from continuing to meet the minimum standards for protection.” Check the sticker on the back of your player’s helmet, make sure screws are tight, ear protection is in place, the helmet is in good general condition, and it fits properly.
Protective equipment should cover body parts and leave little exposed. Gloves and shoulder pads should slightly overlap elbow pads. Pants and shoulder pads should overlap. Pants should overlap shin guards. Skate tongue and shin guards should overlap each other.
Having the proper level of protection is critical. A goalie’s mask suitable for an 8U player, will not provide adequate protection when that player reaches the 12U level where shots are harder, faster, and more unpredictable.
Skates should fit properly. It is best to have them professionally sized at a reputable retailer. Skates that are too large will allow the player’s foot to move inside the skate, causing blisters, and will not allow the player to skate as effectively. Skates that are too small will cause discomfort and can be painful for the player.
Mouthpieces are required at the 12U age and older, and recommended for the 10U age and younger.
Neck guards are a good idea as they cover likely the only exposed body part. Neck injuries are somewhat rare, but can be very severe.
Sticks are important. Players will not be able to perform at their best without an appropriate stick. Here are some factors to consider when buying a stick: