Coach Conroy Hockey Equipment Recommendations

Hi all, in the beginning skating and hockey is incredibly difficult for the kids. They have all this “stuff” on them, its heavy awkward, smell, sure it may look cool but it’s awkward, unfamiliar and prohibitive.

And hockey is expensive and I always recommend being practical in spending money on equipment, (save your money now for when they are older).

In this memo I have addressed all of the equipment your child will need. I think That used equipment is perfectly acceptable just wash and wear.

These recommendations are designed for younger kids just starting out but much of it has value for all players.

CUP and GARTERS: At this stage I am not sure the kids even need a cup and it is one more thing to get in the way but they need garters!!

Today’s underwear, cups and garters are incorporated into one device; they are good but are more expensive than just a garter belt to hold up ones socks. It is up to you.

The less impeding the kids from crossing their legs and movement in general the better especially in the beginning.

ELBOW PADS: BUY GOOD ELBOW PADS! A good elbow pad has a hard shell covered in fabric and inside is good padding. These kids will fall on their elbows and this hurts. So we need to protect their elbows.

Make sure the elbow pads do not interfere with the glove as in the beginning gloves are hard enough to move as it is. Kids need freedom in their hands to move.

There is always a right and left elbow pads and concurrently and a top and bottom, there will be a small sticker but here is how you know. Typically a good elbow pad has 3 straps and the lowest strap will be in the form of a pad that wraps from the outside of the arm to the inside of the arm, designed to protect the lower forearm from slashes.

Try to avoid BIG again the less we can impede the movements of their little bodies with the better and faster they will learn to use them and this is frankly allot more fun, I am not sure anyone enjoys suits of armour.

FACEMASK: I ask that all kids have a Facemask on their helmets as they will need one to play and the sooner they get used to wearing one the better.

There are two basic choices: clear plastic and wire. I recommend the wire cages simply because they are lower maintenance and way lower cost.

The plastic masks need to be protected from scratches, I recommend wire and the kids do not seem to mind.

No need to spend big money here, they all work.

GETTING DRESSED: Kids age 5 and up can dress themselves and SHOULD dress themselves and undress themselves other than Skates and Helmets.

Encourage them to be self-sufficient, leave them in the dressing room, it’s a fun social place and my way is FAR EASIER on your back. Don’t fight with your child, don’t make this a stressful time, it they are let have coach punish them to discourage this behavior! INDEPENDENCE!!!!!

I dressed my son Mikey at home 2 times before the season started at age 5 and have not done it since!!!

GLOVES: Cheap, light and loose, not to big again are the best choice. I personally still hate wearing gloves so the less glove the better. At this level protection from being stepped on is our making concern.

No one will be slashing them until their 5th or 6th year of hockey.

The more they can be encouraged to play with their gloves on (off the ice) the better, it strengthens their hands and gets them used to them.

HELMET: A Helmet is 1 of 2 items I recommend that you spend money on at this stage. No need for the best as they are expensive but ensure a good fit. A sports store will assist you in fitting the helmet.

Helmets are designed to expand so buy a big one and put it on the smallest fitting, this will ensure it last a 2 – 3 years.

HOCKEY STICK: Ensure it is a “junior” stick, light; thin, STRAIGHT, STRAIGHT, STRAIGHT and cheap.

I know parents that buy their kids $200.00 sticks and their kids could not break a pane of glass with their shots, trust me they don’t need a fancy stick yet. The other downside of an expensive stick is these sticks often get stolen.

Save your money cause when they are 8, things go up in price and when they are 11 or 12 they may have the skills and power to take advantage of a superior stick (that is if costs equates to utility).

As many of you have noticed their best shot in the beginning is a backhand, this is a good thing and we will develop it.

HOCKEY STICK LENGTH: The #1 error I see is a hockey stick that is too long. A stick that is to long impede how they learn to skate, alters how they play the puck, how they shoot, how they do EVERYTHING!

To the right is a picture of 2 of the BEST players to have ever played the game.

Please note the length of their sticks! That is all that needs to be said!

MOUTH GUARDS: They are not needed for my Hockey and if you play in Chestermere there is no need. Many kids in Atom and up here in Chestermere wear one.

Younger kids will rarely get hit hard enough to need one. At this stage the kids have enough to worry about.

NECK GUARDS: They are not needed for my Hockey but will be needed when you start. When you start hockey, buy TWO in expensive ones because this is the # 1 items lost and be sure to put your name in it.

PANTS: Cheap light and loose are again good, not to big again. Try the pants on with the shin pads and make sure the pants are large enough to slide over the shin pads easily. It is important they are able to freely move their legs, they will fall on their bums but for most of us we already have some good padding there.

Pants are 1 item that you can buy big, other than the excess weight bigger pants are not a bad thing. Tight pants are restrictive and that is bad.

SHOULDER PADS: I would even suggest not to have shoulder pads as they are very overbuilt for the needs of a young player.

If you want to wear shoulder pads then I suggest buying the cheapest, lightest, softest, smallest pads you can.

Big, hard, shoulder pads impeded the kids more than any other piece of equipment. Kids need their balance and need to be able to move to maintain their balance.

The kids will not be able to move fastest enough to sustain injuries to their shoulders for a few years and due to Hockey Canada infinite “wisdom” there is no hitting in Hockey until the kids are 13 now. They do not need shoulder pads for my Learn to Skate.

I have not worn shoulder pads since I was 16 and I played very aggressive full hit hockey until I was 32.

SHIN PADS: Cheap, light and proper fitting are the keys here. Now we are working on the parts of the body needed to skate so here we need to focus.

DO NOT buy shin pads they will grow into. Buy the right size for now and next year buy another pair, buy used trade them in.

To size them bring your skates and try them on with their skates on and when standing the front center of the kneecap. Buying shin pads that are too tall dramatically affect their ability to bend their legs and skating is ALL about bending ones legs.

SOCKS: Socks are needed to go over the shin pads. Thin and light are great. When you tape the socks to the shin pads NEVER tape above the shin pads as this restricts the blood flow to the legs and restricts the legs.

SKATES: Cheap light and proper fitting are key. I like skates that are angled forward, a lifted heel. Used are fine. The GREAT news is that for the next few years new skates are cheap, wait until they are 10 then the price doubles. Again do not buy big, if you hear the words, “he will grow into them” keep looking.

The smaller the skate the easier they are to turn and use. Most of us that are considered to be great skaters wear skates that might be called too small, “no pain no gain”. No one ever confused good hockey players with being geniuses!

In order to size your skates there is only one way as a 4 year old often does not provide the most articulate feedback. Remove the footpad from the skate and have your child stand on them there should be 1.25 cm or ½ inch out the end of the footpad maximum.

When tightening the skate, the sides (being laced together) should not come closer than 2.5 cm, 1 inch as this means the skate is to wide, and conversely if the sides cannot come within 5.5 cm then the skate is to narrow.

Skates need to be tight so when you get the skates please have the kids wear them at home as much as possible prior to starting the program. The more they walk in tight skates the better they will progress.

DO NOT WRAP THE LACES AROUND the ANKLES. This reduces flexibility and we need to be able to bend our ankles to skate properly!

Some brands create a greater forward angle in the boot, Easton I believe, I recommend these, as skating with bent ankles and knees is KEY!

Skates will of course be uncomfortable so I leave it to you to encourage the kids and to determine if it is the skates or just the fact that they are a new experience and new to them.

I do not think special socks are needed that protect them from being cut, in my 1,000,000, hours at rinks in the past I have never seen such a cut and at this level it is virtually impossible.

I suggest no socks are worn so that one can feel the skate, socks do not keep feet warm and thick socks prevent a good fit for the skate. Typically it is a wet sock that leads to cold feet.

The downside of bare feet is stinky feet but I can live with that. Thin socks if you feel socks are to be worn are recommended.

SKATE SHARPENING: This is critical, the chances of getting a bad sharpening at a place not focused on it, is 1 in 3 and what is worse is that your child cn not really tell you what is wrong.

There is only 1 place that touches all Conroy skates and that is Dun-Rite Sports located at 3-5301 21A Ave SE ask for Elaine tell her George sent you and she will advise you accordingly.

Sharp skates are important; I leave the rest to Elaine and strongly advise you to drop by. Elaine also has some used equipment available; I purchased some there last summer.

I skate about 8 – 10 hours a week and get my skates sharpened a maximum of 4 times a year and I skate year round.

SKATE GUARDS: These are a good idea, I prefer the cheap expandable plastic type as I lose 2 pair a year. If you are better organized than I then they are expandable and can last years.

Your kids can walk around in their skate guards. I suggest the kids walk around the dressing room in their skate guards until they are ready to hit the ice this protects the other kid’s toes. Then please make sure they come off before stepping on the ice!

STICK TAPE: Sticks are taped from the heel to the toe allowing the snow and ice to not get caught. Using an old candle to rub the stick afterwards is not a bad idea as this keeps the stick dryer and lighter and the tape last longer.

The butt end is created to assist kids in knowing where the end of the stick is and where to hold and it assists them in picking up a dropped stick.

I suggest NOT to put tape on the shaft anywhere else as the lower hand should slide up and down easily and often.

UNDERWEAR: Wearing something underneath your equipment is a good idea. The underwear needs to be thin and light. You can spend allot of money on the fancy stuff that they will outgrow but any set of long underwear is certainly good enough.

Please do NOT wear jeans, or thick and heavy undergarments. Again the less inhibiting their movement, the better.

USED EQUIPMENT: I highly recommend buying used equipment including skates. If you do purchase used equipment simply put the equipment into the washing machine on delicate and hot and wash it. Both myself and my sons wear and have worn used equipment. Better to get a proper fit and a great price than the proper brand.

Spend what you want but until a child has actual strength, skill and power they can’t receive any values from expensive equipment. Instead of wasting money on expensive equipment please donate $ 100.00 to a sport charity.

I hope that this helps please feel free to call or email me to discuss. coach@conroyhockey.ca or 587-888-1097.

Sincerely,

Coach Conroy