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How To Buy Goalie Equipment

With a hard rubber puck heading at you in a blur, it is imperative not only for your performance but also for your safety to have proper-fitting performance hockey equipment. From your stick to your pads to your helmet, your goalie equipment has to perform and protect.

How to Buy Goalie Pads and Gloves

All goalies need leg pads and a chest protector, as well as two different types of gloves. Most modern leg and chest pads are made of a foam interior with a synthetic leather material wrapped around it.

Leg Pads

  • Most goalie leg pads come in light colors to blend in with the ice and board colors
  • Goalie pads come with two types of clips: plastic and metal
    • Plastic clips are easier to close and open and are recommended for younger players
    • Metal clips will last longer but are a little more difficult to manipulate

Determining Your Leg Pad Size

  • Goalie leg pads generally come in sizes ranging from 26 to 34 inches
  • To determine your proper size, measure your leg from your ankle to the top of your kneecap. Then measure from the middle of your kneecap to half way up your thigh.
  • Add these two numbers for your goalie leg pad size
  • If you are between sizes, choose the larger size for additional protection
  • Some goalies prefer their pads an inch or two shorter for increased maneuverability

Chest Pads

  • Chest pads offer protection to the vital chest and heart areas
  • Chest pads are generally made of nylon wrapped around layers of foam or harder padding
  • Chest protectors actually protect most of the upper body and generally include a clavicle protector, extended shoulder caps and bicep muscle floaters in addition to an air-cushioned or foam pad chest protector
  • Chest protectors also include a spine protector for your back

Goalie Gloves

  • There are actually two different types of goalie gloves, the catcher and the blocker
    • Catcher
      • The catcher looks very much like an oversized first baseman's mitt and is worn on your non-stick hand. Catcher gloves have an oversized catching area, a molded one-piece thumb area, a precurved palm, and individual finger areas.
    • Blocker
      • The blocker is worn on the stick hand and has a padded leather or synthetic leather palm to hold a stick, and a wide, solid blocker to deflect shots

Determining Your Glove Size

  • Gloves range from youth sizes of about 9 inches up to full adult sizes of 16 inches
  • Use a tape measure to measure the distance from the end of your elbow pads to the tips of your fingers
  • This number equals your glove size

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How to Buy a Goalie Mask and Helmet

  • Modern goalie masks come in a variety of styles that depend on your personal preference, but all offer superior protection and varying degrees of comfort
  • Masks also include a stainless steel or composite wire mesh cage for better peripheral viewing as well as enhanced protection
  • Helmets are made of an extremely durable hard-shell plastic or composite similar to a bicycle helmet
  • Many helmets come with adjustable padding for a better fit
  • The helmet should fit snugly but comfortably on the head so it does not wiggle
  • Sizing differs according to manufacturer, so refer to the sizing indicators on each helmet to determine your proper size. Many helmets are adjustable as well.
  • Most teenagers and adults should purchase an adult medium or large helmet

Determining Your Helmet Size

  • Helmets come in variety of sizes and are usually measured in inches
  • To ensure your safety it is important that your helmet fit properly
  • For the perfect fitting helmet, see Determine Your Helmet Size before making your purchase decision

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How to Buy a Goalie Stick

  • Goalie sticks are much larger and heavier than regular hockey sticks with a wider blade and a wide paddle area between the stick and the blade
  • The paddle area can be up to 26 inches long
  • The blade can be 3 1/2 inches wide and up to 15 1/2 inches long

Determining the Proper Length Stick

  • The length of your hockey stick must be correct for your size, since it is very difficult to control an oversized or undersized stick
  • In choosing the length of a goalie stick, remember not to buy one that is too short. The shaft can always be cut down if it seems too long, or you can choke up on the shaft to make it easier to handle.
  • To determine the proper stick length:
    • Stand in your skates
    • Put the toe of the stick on the ground
    • The stick should reach somewhere between your chin and the tip of your nose

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How to Buy Goalie Skates

Skate Construction

Hockey skates are composed of two basic parts--the boot and the blade.

  • Boot
    • Most skates are manufactured with a combination of leather and synthetic materials for durability, performance and comfort. The exact mixture of these components, with names like Kevlar® and graphite, depends on the quality of the skate and the cost.
    • Goalie skates are similar in construction to regular hockey skates but are designed differently with a wider blade and lower boot with more ankle and foot protection
  • Blade
    • Skate blades are made of steel and have a concave (hollowed out) shape
    • An important factor in performance is blade radius- the amount of the skate blade that is actually in contact with the ice
    • The radius is measured by placing the blades together, bottom to bottom and holding them up to the light. The length where the blade edges make contact is the radius.
    • Goalie blades have a less hollow grind and a larger radius

Determining Your Skate Size

  • Tips
    • Choosing the proper size for your hockey skates is different than choosing the size for a pair of sneakers
    • Hockey skates need to be tighter to offer more stability and less abrasion when skating
    • Remember to measure yourself wearing thick hockey socks
    • Do not buy larger sizes for children to grow into. This hinders their ability to learn how to skate, and could hurt their feet and ankles.
  • Sizing
    • In order to determine the size skate you will need you must first determine your shoe size, see Determine Your Shoe Size
    • Once you have determined your proper shoe size, you can figure out what size skates you will need depending on the brand of the skate:
      • For CCM skates find your athletic shoe size and subtract 1 shoe size. This is your CCM skate size.
      • For Bauer and Nike find your athletic shoe size and subtract 1 1/2 shoe sizes. This is your Bauer or Nike skate size.
      • For Mission the size of your skate is the same as your atletic shoe size

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Breaking in New Pads

Every goal pad has two breaks, one at the knee and one at the foot. You want to make sure that these breaks are really broken in before using because movement will be impaired if it is not. Here are some tips:

  • Hold the pad upright as if it was on your leg. Standing over it, push down on the top of the pad so the knee bends and the foot articulates. Push as far as it will go and then tie the pad in that position with a skate lace and leave overnight.
  • Untie the pads the following day and give them a few good hits with a hockey stick. This stretches the leather and softens the padding. Then tie them up again and repeat the entire process. After a few cycles, the pads should be ready to wear on the ice.
  • From the time you get your pads, be sure to tie them up after use to retain shape.
  • After time on the ice, allow your pads to dry properly. Hang them up in a well-ventilated room. Do not put them in direct sunlight, which will dry and crack the leather.

Kevlar® is a registered trademark of E.I. du Pont de Nemours and company

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