Top Hockey Equipment Tips And Tricks
Ice hockey requires a high-skill threshold in order to succeed, meaning that your equipment needs to be able to keep up with your feet and hands, or else you won't get the velocity or acceleration needed to score goals. Hockey equipment is durable by nature, seeing as how it's worn in freezing temperatures and designed to block 80-mile-per-hour pucks, but everything breaks down eventually and even the most expensive set of pads or gloves are no exception. Get the most out of your equipment during a long season by following these tricks:
The purpose of goalie pads is to protect a team's keeper from slapshots, meaning that the pads can endure a lot of wear and tear. The weak areas of pads, however, deteriorate faster than others. Usually, these are the clasps and straps that allow pads to fit snugly. Most vulnerable are the straps that attach through the skates, as these are prone to being stepped on with sharp blades. The easiest way to keep skate straps intact is to tie them slightly loose so that none of the excess can be wedged under a skate during an in-game pivot. The clasps that buckle on the legs, by contrast, are more vulnerable to the plastic bits breaking when a puck is hit at an unsteady angle. Keep these clasps working by pulling the straps farther outward so that they lie behind the goalie's legs rather than on the side, making it much more difficult for a shot to hit them and break the plastic.
As the most important piece of any gear in a hockey player's arsenal, helmets need to be carefully inspected before and after each game. Keep a screwdriver in your gear bag to tighten the rivets that attach the plastic shell of the helmet to the padded interior, as well as the rivets that connect a cage or a visor to the frame. Inspect a helmet around the ear protection for any signs of cracking; including the white stretch marks indicating that the plastic shell has been weakened by a shot. Finally, always air-dry a helmet so that the sweat from your head does not rust the metal parts — and to reduce the smell.
While elbow pads are some of the easiest pieces of gear to wear — strap them in and they're ready to go — the straps have a higher failure rate than other pieces of gear, due to the elbows’ range of motion. Ensure that the Velcro attachments do not start to lift off the pads’ fabric; while superglue can temporarily keep these attachments in tact, it is not a permanent solution. When putting on your jersey, firmly press the elbow pad with the opposite hand so that the friction does not pull the Velcro.
The amount of contact between your hands and stick in a hockey game will give gloves a shorter lifespan than some other pieces of gear. In addition to air-drying gloves after games to eliminate moisture, players can increase the lifespan of their gloves by sewing small leather patches (no larger than the size of a coin) into the seams between the palm and fingertips. The first NHL gloves were nothing but leather; today's mitts are lighter and easier to maneuver, but lack the durability of gloves from yesteryear.
One of the easiest ways to ensure expensive sticks survive is to tape them often. Tape prevents ice from melting and seeping into the wood or composite core of a stick, chewing at the interior. Also, consider using a double layer of tape to cushion the pass, if you find that you're bobbling too many outlets. Tape the heel and the toe thoroughly, as these bear the brunt of pressure from shots. You can tape the stick shaft, as well, in order to get a better feel for your release and the flex point of your stick.
About the author:
AJ Lee is a Marketing Specialist at Pro Stock Hockey, an online resource for pro stock hockey equipment. He was born and raised in the southwest suburbs of Chicago and has been a huge Blackhawks fan his entire life. AJ picked up his first hockey stick at age 3 and hasn’t put it down yet.