With the start to hockey season here, it’s important that kids have the correct equipment on.
Having properly fitted equipment, including helmet down and skates, is going to keep your kids safe on the ice and performing at a high level. It can be tough for parents to determine the best buy for their buck, but purchasing safer equipment will keep kids protected on the ice.
Brett Payne, Owner of Canadian Tire in North Battleford, told battlefordsNOW how important it is when it comes to keeping the correct equipment on the young, developing players.
“There’s two reasons, first off is the safety issue,” he said. “You want to make sure if something happens, their gear fits them and it protects them. The second thing is making sure that they have the mobility to move around, if it’s too tight and doesn’t fit them, they will be restricted, but if it’s too big for them, it will also hurt their mobility.”
One thing hockey families always try to do around this time is hand their used equipment down to the younger players in the family. This is always the cheapest option, but it can also pose a risk when the kids hit the ice. Payne sees this as something that would help many families, especially with the skyrocketing cost of the sport, but says it's important to make sure that the equipment they’re wearing fits.
”As long as the gear fits,” he said. “They have to try it on, and make sure it’s not too big and not too small. Once it fits properly then it’s okay to use those hand-me-downs.”
The price on the equipment isn’t always the best indication of a value of actual safety when your kids take to the ice. Sure, the more expensive equipment is what kids see on the pros, their idols when they grow up falling in love with the game. But that equipment also is the highest end, and those players need the more expensive equipment to play at the highest level. Payne reiterated that the cost of the equipment doesn’t always have to be high, but something cheaper that fits correctly will help the next generation thrive on the ice.
“For instance, a hockey helmet,” he said. “If you buy a $200 hockey helmet, but if it doesn’t fit properly and it's rattling around on their head and they fall down, they're more susceptible to get a concussion. It’s better to have a $50 helmet that fits properly than a $200 helmet that doesn’t fit properly. With the gear fitting properly, you’re protecting them as much as you can."
In the younger years, there’s no reason to buy the expensive, $200 pair of gloves. A $30 pair of gloves is going to do the same thing at that age. As they get older, and do get more competitive, they may want to go into the higher-priced products, just for performance. In the younger years, it’s way more important to protect them.”
Once the young players start developing, however, it’s important to start looking at that more expensive equipment to keep them excelling and developing to get to that higher level of performance. The game gets faster, hits get harder, shots get quicker, and having the correct equipment on will help the chances that the players make it to the next level of their development in their performance. It’s important to keep them safe, because they aren’t going to get to that higher level unless they’re on the ice, rather than injured and off it. Payne knows this, and knows the importance behind it.
“As you get older, the puck is flying a lot harder, and there’s body checking, you really want correctly-fitting equipment at that age,” he said. “For instance, shin pads, you don’t want them too high on the shin or you’re susceptible for a puck to get in between the shin guard and the skate. For shoulder pads, you want to cover your breastbone and breast, make sure the pads themselves are in the centre of the shoulders. Pants, you want them to come just over the edge of the shin pads and the knees so there’s no gap in between the shin pad and the pants.”
It may get tough to hit the pro shops once your young athlete feels or thinks they know what they want. Sitting down with your child before heading in to pick up equipment and talking about safety, rather than what Auston Matthews or Connor MacDavid are wearing, is important to keeping them happy on the ice.
Payne, being a hockey parent as well, sees this first-hand and knows how difficult it is when it comes to purchasing equipment.
“I’m a hockey parent too,” he said. “I’ve seen that over the years that one kid gets it on the team and everyone else wants it. It’s tough because there’s peer pressure. When it comes down to it, as long as your kid is safe, that you have something that keeps them covered, you’re going to be fine.”
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