Finally, you’ve decided to get off the bleachers and hit the ice. Making the choice to cross the gap from fan to player can be a difficult one, we’ve outlined some tips in our article, Is it Possible to Become a Player this Late in the Game, but once the choice has been made you’ll never look back. Of course you probably thought making the decision to play was the hardest part, but then came the dreaded realization that you need equipment.
Duh, you need equipment to play. Any beginner in the game gets anxious when it comes to picking what suits you best, what you actually need and how to go about getting it. Some of us have infinite bank accounts, others have a tighter budget to work with, the good news is, the options for getting equipment are almost endless. Whether it’s top of the line, slightly used, or well loved, the breakdown is the same. If you’re female, you’re going to need the following:
Stick, they say when wedding dress shopping the dress picks you, when you know, you know. The same theory can be applied to stick shopping. The debate over composite or wood has been ongoing, but truth be told a wood stick will certainly suffice (and save you some dough) if you’re just starting out. Don’t be afraid to pull out and test each and every stick in the aisle that catches your eye. Test it with a pair of gloves on, test it without, ask a store employee for a puck or ball to play with in the aisle. Your stick is one of your greatest tools, so make sure it’s going to suit you for the long run.
Skates, it’s a no-brainer that your skates are the most important piece of equipment, they make you a hockey player. Choose wisely, because even when you aren’t suiting up for a game, you might be using them at a public skate as well. You’ll use your skates more than any other piece of equipment you own! Focus on finding a skate with a good fit and a boot stiffness level you can live with. If heat molding is an option, take it. Heat molding shapes the boot to your foot. The skates are warmed in a special oven and then put on your feet for about 20 minutes, which molds the inner lining to the foot. It helps to ensure a “perfect” fit.The store will do an initial skate sharpening and some places may throw in a few extra if you ask.
Gloves, make sure they fit you, like a glove. Hockey gloves are certainly something you’ll get used to over time, initially they feel a little odd, that’s normal. Many women have smaller sized hands, junior sized gloves often do the trick.
Helmet, you aren’t going to be skating in the big show anytime soon and chances are you value your teeth -so, wear a cage. Many women’s leagues require it. Sure, it might look silly, but ensuring your face stays bruise and break free is well worth it.
Mouth Guard, you’re probably wondering why, if you’re already wearing a cage, do you need to wear a mouth guard as well. The helmet protects your head when it slams into the ice, the boards, another player… but the mouth guard will help prevent your teeth cracking together upon impact.
Shoulder Pads, make you feel like a linebacker in the NFL, it’s a fact. But they protect you on impact from tough hits, this is a necessary piece of equipment. Wearing a larger junior size has proven to be a better fit over the years. Women don’t often have broad shoulders and the junior sizing seems to mimic the female frame a bit better than the senior sizing.
Elbow Pads, it doesn’t matter if you’re new to hockey, or you’ve played the game your whole life… you will repeatedly, fall on your elbows. Just because you’ve got the extra padding, try to avoid getting two minutes in the sin bin for using them on your opponents. Elbowing, it’s a real issue.
Jill Strap, just like men wear jock straps to protect their private areas, women wear Jill straps or pelvic protectors to serve the same purpose.
Shin Pads, made to protect what else, your shins. Shin pads give you armor from over your knee all the way down to the top of your skate. They feel awkward until you get used to them and that might be quite a few games and practices in. Be warned.
Hockey Pants, padded pants that assist your body in the art of falling down. Seriously, it doesn’t matter how much junk you’ve got in the trunk — hockey pants will prove to be life savers. Not only are they required, but why would you want to skate without a built in airbag?
Hockey Socks, no, they aren’t socks with little team emblems on them, they’re big, thick, knitted socks that cover your shin pads. They often reflect the color of your team, but many players own them in varied colors and mix it up for practices and learn to play programs.
Jersey, the name on the front, is a hell of a lot more important than the one on the back. But as a player, you’ll have team jerseys and then blank colored versions as well. Over the lifetime of your hockey “career”, you’ll more likely than not own a rainbow of jerseys.
Hockey Bag, the black hole for your equipment. You’ll lose pieces of equipment on a nightly basis and have to rummage through the bag that’s most likely bigger than you are to find it. They come in over the shoulder versions or rolling versions. If you’re going to play the game without getting chirped, probably pick the aforementioned variety. Nothing is worse than a hockey player rolling their bag into the rink.
Relish in the fact that as women, we often fit in junior sized equipment.
Purchasing equipment online is a fantastic money saving solution, in a game where fit is important, try to find the same make and model at a local store to try on before you buy, that way you’re certain of which size to order.
You’ll also need, stick tape, t-shirts, Under Armor/ sweat wicking clothing, regular socks and shower supplies.
Be prepared to own your rink stink, it’s an inevitable part of the game – although we outline a few suggestions to help in our article, Change Your Rink Stink Life Forever… you, your car, your loved ones and your equipment will thank us later.
Most importantly love the game, because it will absolutely love you back.