If you're new to inline hockey, or you're a parent looking to outfit your child for their first season, you're probably wondering what equipment you'll need. Some discrepancies exist between what most leagues require kids and adults to wear—while a full cage with the helmet is required for kids, it may not be for adults, for example. But what to buy?
Here's a list of the gear you'll need to get your child, or yourself, in the game:
- Inline Hockey Skates
- Helmet and Cage/Visor
- Padded Shirt/Shoulder Pads
- Inline Girdle/Inline Pants
- Elbow and Shin Pads
Inline Hockey Skates
The most obvious equipment difference between street and ice hockey is the skates, where inline skates have a chassis and wheels instead of a blade and blade holder. That said, the boots are almost exactly the same, so much so that ice hockey skates are often converted into inline skates.
When shopping for inline skates, look for many of the same fit characteristics you would in an ice hockey skate: support, lightweight durability, and comfort.
You'll want to make sure the stock wheels are appropriate for the surface you plan to play on—wheels come with durometer ratings that indicate their hardness. Some surfaces pair better with harder or softer wheels.
Hockey Helmet and Cage/Visor
The hockey helmet is one piece of equipment that is the same for either ice or inline hockey. Helmets are available at a variety of price points and come with a variety of features, from hands-free adjustments to a host of protective foams and designs. If you're going to spend significant money on one piece of gear, make it the helmet. Buying new is the smartest option, as helmets actually have expiration dates because their plastics crack and foams degrade over time. Similarly, when buying new, you can purchase the helmet that provides the absolute best fit possible.
This is important: though no helmet can protect against every head impact, a helmet must fit the player's head perfectly if the protective features are to perform as intended. With today's heightened awareness of sports-related head and brain injuries, it makes sense to invest in a helmet that provides maximum safety.
Most leagues will require your child to wear full-face protection. This means your helmet will need a cage or a cage/visor combination. Cages can be purchased as part of a helmet/cage combination, or bought separately and then added to the helmet.
Inline Padded Shirt/ Shoulder Pads
Though inline hockey is a contact sport, checking is not allowed. Consequently, many players choose to not wear shoulder pads because they're bulky and add extra weight. Instead, padded shirts designed specifically for breathability, mobility, and performance have become popular.
Padded shirts weigh less than traditional shoulder pads and provide adequate levels of protection if a player does take a spill or collides with another player.
Inline Girdle/Inline Pants
The inline hockey girdle is significantly different from either the ice hockey girdle or pants. The inline girdle is constructed to be form-fitting and contoured to the player's body, compared with its ice hockey equivalents.
Inline girdles are also designed to provide air circulation. Remember, inline hockey is often played all year and in warm conditions (inside or outside). The equipment should be able to handle elevated temperatures. An inline girdle features air pockets that allow air to circulate, cooling the player.
Protection is a little lighter in street hockey girdles because the puck/ball weighs less and moves at a lower velocity than ice hockey pucks. That being the case, padding in inline girdles is concentrated in the hip and tailbone areas to protect against falls. Many girdles have a jock/jill built in, and some come with a cup, as well.
Some leagues or teams will require inline hockey pants to be worn over the girdle. These pants are not protective. Instead, they're a covering for the girdle and shin guards, more accurately viewed as part of a uniform than as a piece of protective gear. They come in breathable mesh/nylon or polyester, with an adjustable waistband or waistbelt, and reinforced knees.
Elbow Pads/Shin Guards
Elbow pads and shin guards reduce the likelihood of injuries in the event of a collision or a fall. They are often not required but are recommended for inline hockey players.
They're the same equipment you'd use in ice hockey, and fit the same way. The benefit of an ice hockey shin guard—as opposed to a soccer shin guard that fits under the sock and only over the shin—is the knee protection it provides. It's also designed to absorb the puck and stick impacts unique to hockey.
Inline Hockey Gloves
Gloves are another item used in ice hockey that also work well for inline hockey. Hockey gloves provide protection for the fingers, backhand, and wrist, and usually come with vented finger gussets for air circulation and coolness.
These days, manufacturers like Bauer and Mylec are making gloves designed specifically for street hockey. These gloves are generally more vented, contoured, and lighter weight than their ice hockey counterparts. They also lack the thick, bulky padding common in most hockey gloves.
Street Hockey Stick
On a basic level, the inline hockey stick is the same as an ice hockey stick. Because inline hockey is played on a variety of surfaces, stick choice is important.
If you're playing indoors on a smooth surface, consider a full-composite stick and enjoy the great performance, feel, and energy transfer it provides.
If you're playing outdoors on asphalt, the rough surface will degrade your expensive carbon stick blade quicker than you'd like.
A more durable option is to assemble a two-piece stick with a shaft and blade designed for a given surface. A component stick makes blade or shaft replacement easy, and you can use the stick both indoors and outdoors if you opt for an ABS or wood blade.
Either way, think through your options—do you need an expensive stick if you're a beginner? If you or your child is large sized, would it make sense to spend a little more money on a composite stick?
It sounds like a lot, but you can acquire all your inline hockey equipment, with skates, for a few hundred dollars. Shop around for deals. Last year's models can be had at deep discounts. If you can find used gloves, shin guards, elbow pads, and girdle, you'll save a little more money. Remember, it's worth it to spend up for a helmet.
New to hockey or buying inline equipment for your child? Check out our handy Hockey Resource Center for helpful content on fitting, sizing, and buying equipment. And then browse our selection of roller hockey gear—all of it's backed by our Low-Price Guarantee so you can buy with complete confidence, knowing you'll enjoy the most competitive prices available.