Wheel Bearings: The ABEC rating system consists of 1,3,5,7, and 9. The higher the ABEC rating, the tighter their tolerances. High precision and small tolerances are required for bearings to function at very high RPM, in products like high speed routers that must spin at 20 to 30,000 RPM. In an application like this, an ABEC 7 or 9 bearing rating may be appropriate. However, a skate with 59mm wheels turning 20,000 RPM will be traveling about 127 MPH! Since virtually all skating is less than 30 MPH, the realistic maximum RPM your skate bearings will see is about 4,700 RPM and probably 90% of skating occurs under 2,000 RPM. Thus, very high precision is not required at skating speeds.
The dimensions and tolerances controlled by the ABEC standards include the diameters and widths of the raceways, their shapes to some extent and the smoothness of the running surfaces. The ABEC rating system ignores side loading, impact resistance, materials selection and grade, appropriateness of lubrication, ball retainer type, grade of ball, the clearance between the balls and the races, installation requirements, and the need for maintenance and cleaning. All these bearing design requirements are very important to the performance of your skate bearing, even though the ABEC rating says nothing about them.
Do not continue to use bearings that don’t spin freely on your skate. If you continue to ride very dirty or un-lubricated bearings, you run the risk of permanently damaging them and/or yourself. Dirt in your bearings will cause pitting of your ball bearings and races, increase friction, cause extra heat, and can eventually cause the bearing to “freeze up” or stop rolling. If this happens to your bearings, the skate will stop abruptly, causing you to fall and be injured. Keep bearings clean, dry and lubricated with Speed Cream.
When purchasing new gloves, there are many stylistic and functional options to consider. A good way to begin on your venture of finding the perfect glove is to compare fabrics, design, materials and functionality aspects of a variety of gloves. Deciding what aspects are most important to the player will assist in choosing a pair of gloves that best fits the player’s specific needs.
Materials: The materials used in gloves provide the player with options in durability as well as comfort. The basic exterior of the glove can be constructed of leather or a variety of different nylon materials. Each offers unique qualities. Underlying the material choice are specific needs of the player: weight, maneuverability, comfort and durability.
One way to easily narrow down glove choice is to determine if the gloves will be used more for inline or ice hockey. Ice hockey conditions tend to lead to more wear and tear on the glove. Leather gloves typically provide the player with a higher level of durability. At the same time, leather gloves are heavier than most Nylon materials, so many inline players’ games benefit from the lighter Nylon gloves. Some gloves offer a hybrid of both materials, which could offer the player the best of both worlds.
There are also multiple material options for palm of the glove. Higher-end gloves feature higher quality materials. A flexible material not only provides comfort but also enhances the player’s range of motion. Other palm materials offer a double overlay to increase durability of the gloves.
Design: The design of the glove offers the player an infinite amount of possibilities in personal fit and performance. On the other hand, the design of the glove will offer a player infinite possibilities in personal fit and performance.
Narrow vs. Wide Fit: Gloves can feature a narrow or a wide fit. Narrow fitting gloves decrease the negative space and provide the player with better overall glove control. A wide fitting glove, on the other hand, can provide the player with more comfort and less constriction. Not all manufacturers offer all models of gloves in narrow and wide. However, this option can help the player find a comfortable glove.
Cuff: The cuff of the glove can be angled for increased wrist mobility. Some gloves provide an adjustable cuff flap for a more customized fit. This can also enhance the overall fit of the glove and offer better wrist protection.
Protection: High-end gloves offer options for improved protection. Plastic inserts can be used in the roll and fingers of the gloves, as well as on top of the foam construction to optimize protection. Thumb locks are also utilized in many gloves. This mechanism helps prevent hyperextension of the thumb.
Color: While appearance of gloves shouldn’t be the main feature a player looks for, it is definitely an important one for many players. Color and style options allow the player to match their team colors or show some personal flair. Most loves will come in a vast assortment of color schemes. If you cannot find the perfect look, many manufacturers have custom glove programs, providing players the opportunity to create exactly what they want.
Since the sole purpose of protective gear is to protect the player, manufacturers utilize a variety of strong materials to create a light, yet durable piece of equipment. All shoulder pads provide integral protection for your collarbone, upper chest, back, upper arms and shoulders.
Lower Back: Most shoulder pads feature extra lower-back protection in one of two ways: an extension of padding or an attachment pad. Since both options provide similar protection, it comes down to player preference.
Rib and Stomach Guards: Some shoulder pads have removable rib and stomach guards. While this extra layer of protection may not be necessary for all players, it is essential for some. If you are a player who is in direct contact with the puck or other players for most of the game, rib and stomach guards are key elements in achieving full protection as well as absorbing the impact.
Elbow pads protect sensitive areas of the player’s elbow. Most elbow pads are adjustable with Velcro straps, allowing the player to secure the pads and achieve a comfortable fit. Be careful not to adjust the elbow pads too loose because the pads will move during your game and not provide proper protection; on the other hand tightening the elbow pads too snugly will constrict your mobility, ultimately hindering your game.
Shin guards protect your legs from the puck and the opponent's stick. Most shin guards are adjustable with Velcro straps, allowing the player to tighten or loosen the straps to a desirable fit. Depending on your skill level and position, there are different types of shin guards to choose from. The defensive player needs a shin guard that offers the highest level of protection and padding that will absorb the impact of blocking shots. Forwards tend to prefer lighter shin guards because they allow for more flexibility and speed.
When purchasing a helmet, a correctly-sized helmet is essential, but it is also important to look at other features as well as the types of materials used in its creation. Experts recommend that the padding in the helmet should be at least 5/8” thick. Most helmets are made of a polycarbonate material, which is a lightweight plastic.
One-Piece vs. Two-piece helmet: While both helmet styles offer proper protection, the two-piece helmet provides the player with a more customized fit, allowing the player to get the exact fit he/she desires. Many two-piece helmets feature tool-less adjustment tabs on the outside of the helmet. This is an easy way to help the player achieve the perfect fit.
Ear protection: Most new models of helmets offer protection for the ears, in addition to the head.
HECC-certified helmets: Most hockey leagues of all ages require players to wear HECC certified helmets in the United States. Canadian leagues require CSA certification. These certifications are simply used to inform the customer that this helmet has been tested and certified for proper protection. All HECC and CSA certified helmets feature a sticker indicating this certification along with an expiration date. Do not remove this sticker.
All ice hockey players, from the mite to minor and including college-level, are required to wear a face mask on their helmets. Masks can be purchased as part of the helmet or separately. There are three kinds of masks: wire cage, face shield and combination.
Hockey Wire Cage: A wire cage consists of a metal or composite wire shield that covers the entire face and jaw area. Some models come with a chin cup for added protection. Wire cages provide more protection and do not fog up like face shields, but they are generally heavier. Metal cages are made of several types of tubing: steel, Stainless Steel, Titanium, painted and chrome. To increase vision, there are also options for tubing types. These include two-tone paint, dual finish, oval and box.
Hockey Shield: Hockey shields are composed of a high impact-resistant, anti-scratch clear plastic. There are full face shields and half shields. Full shields cover the entire face, while half shields cover the top half of the face to right below the nose. Some players prefer shields over wire masks because they offer better overall vision and no wires to hinder your vision. However, shields do tend to fog up during use. Many modern shields are made with fog-resistant coatings. There are also a variety of de-fogging sprays that help decrease this.
Shield Tints: One advantage of the shield is the variety of options for the visor. The most popular colors are clear and smoke. Smoke provides the player with a slight tint that helps cut down on the glare. Amber shields help brighten a dark rink. A mirrored shield also helps decrease the glare.
Combination Hockey Mask: A combination hockey mask utilizes the components of both the wire cage and the shield. The top half features a plastic shield while the bottom features the wire cage. This option provides the desired airflow and protection of the wire cage paired with the visibility of the hockey shield.
Hockey pants are designed to protect the spine, tailbone, kidneys, thighs and hips. Most hockey pants are made primarily of Nylon with foam and polyurethane padding inserts.
Adjustments: There are a variety of adjustment options on pants that provide the player with fitting options.
Zippers: Some hockey pants feature zippers on the inside leg to allow for easier dressing and removal. The player can also opt to open the zippers part way to allow for more mobility while playing.
Belt: Most pants feature an adjustable belt that allows the player tighten or loosen the pants to a desirable fit. This feature helps accommodate the different types of padding the player wears.
Suspenders: Some pants offer an attachment feature that allows the player to attach suspenders to the pants. Some players prefer suspenders because they can adjust the waist belt to a looser fit.
Styles: There are two styles of hockey pants: European and North American. European-style pants generally have a little a little less padding, but are slightly longer than North American-style hockey pants. Tackla and Graf are European-style manufacturers. Players with more speed tend to wear the European models because they offer more flexibility and freedom of movement. More physical players tend to prefer the extra padding North American pants provide.
Women's pants: Women's hockey pants are specifically designed to fit a woman’s body shape. For proper protection and game enhancement, women should wear these pants.
: Goalie pants provide a more complete sense of protection than player pants because of the degree of contact the goalie has with the puck. This makes goal pants appear much bulkier than player pants. This size not only offers more padding and protection, but also provides the goaltender with a larger blocking surface. Some goal pants feature knee pads on the inside of the pants. For other knee pad options, please see the Goalie Buying Guide
Inline pants are very different than ice hockey pants. Inline pants are full length from waist to ankle. They are made from different types of nylon materials that incorporate different features such as weight, durability, and breathability. The basic inline pant features a lightweight mesh material throughout the entire pant to increase breathability. The knee area features thicker padding to enhance durability. Inline pants also typically feature an adjustable waistband. When shopping for your next pair of inline pants there are a few questions to ask yourself:
- How often do I play? Different models of inline pants offer more durability than others. If you play several times a week, look for pants that feature reinforced fabric. Typically, the most wear-and-tear occurs on the front of the shins and knees, so if you play frequently, look for pants that incorporate very durable materials in these areas.
- Are there any convenience features I am looking for? When shopping for inline pants, it is important to consider these features: the type of waistband or belt, breathable materials in the back of the leg and shin guard straps or slings. More basic pants only use an elastic waistband, much like athletic shorts. Higher-end pants feature adjustable waistbands and belts to offer the player better fit and comfort. Some pants also incorporate shin guard straps or slings on the inside, allowing the player to secure the shin guards without using tape.
- Do you wear a girdle under your inline pants? Not all inline players choose to wear a protective girdle under their pants. Those players who do wear a girdle will need to take this into account when deciding the correct pant size.
In addition to the functional aspects of inline pants, there is also a style dimension. Inline pants come in a variety of colors and styles, allowing each player the option to select a pant that fits his/her personal preference.
Many of today’s leading manufacturers make base layer garments to wear under your equipment. Most base layer clothing fits like a second skin and helps moderate your body temperature. Snug-fitting base layers will help improve the fit of your pads as well as increase mobility. Base layers that bunch or gather in any area will not help enhance your performance; rather it will help hinder it. Some base layers include rubber grip pads that help keep your shoulder and elbow pads in place and prevent them from slipping up and down your arm. Most base layers are made of light-weight fabrics that do not hold moisture and weigh you down. Depending on personal preference, you can choose between long and short base layers in tops and bottoms.
A mouth guard may be one of the smallest and most inexpensive pieces of hockey equipment, but certainly one of the most important. A mouth guard can help prevent concussions, cerebral hemorrhages, unconsciousness, jaw fractures and neck injuries.
Mouth guards come in general sizes to fit youths, teenagers and adults. There are also available in a variety of colors. Many officials recommend color mouth guards so that they can be easily spotted in the event of an accident.
Mouth guards come pre-formed, but will mold to the mouth during use. You can speed up the molding process by boiling the mouth guard in water, placing it in your mouth and biting down on the softened mouth guard to mold to your teeth. Dentists can create a custom mouth guard for you as well.
There are different types of mouth guards to fit the various needs of individual players. Shock Doctor is a mouth guard manufacturer that provides the player with a variety of options. They offer a popular model made specifically for braces. Shock Doctor also utilizes Gel Max lining, which custom molds the mouth guard to the teeth for a tight, yet comfortable fit. The Shock Doctors Gravity Fit helps the player speak and breathe easier.