Hockey Protective Equipment Guide and Checklist

Playing hockey requires a decent amount of protective equipment. With so much happening at a fast pace in a physical sport, it’s essential that you have the right equipment to keep you safe while you’re on the ice. Below, we’ll outline every piece of equipment you should have to play hockey and what to look for with each piece.

Hockey Helmets

Hockey protective equipment guide and checklist
Hockey Helmets by Rhys A is licensed under Creative Commons

One of the most important pieces of equipment is the hockey helmet. Hockey can be a dangerous sport and it’s essential that you have a properly fitting helmet to protect your head and face. When shopping for a hockey helmet, you’ll want to find one that an organization like the Hockey Equipment Certification Council (HECC) has certified. Beyond that, you’ll also want to learn the requirements of your league in terms of whether you need a visor or face cage. Finally, make sure the helmet fits well, where it sits level on your head with the front brim just above the eyebrows.

For more information, check out our guide Choosing the Right Hockey Helmet.

Hockey Shoulder Pads

Moving down the body, the next piece of equipment are the shoulder pads. Shoulder pads provide protection not only to the shoulders but also to the chest and back areas. Some modern shoulder pads also help to protect the arms along with the collarbone for added safety.

The level of protection and style of shoulder pads can vary depending on a player’s position, playing style, and personal preferences. Defensemen may opt for bulkier pads with extra protection, while forwards may prioritize mobility and flexibility. Additionally, some players prefer low-profile shoulder pads for a sleeker look and better range of motion, while others choose more robust protection.

For more information, check out our guide Choosing the Right Hockey Shoulder Pads.

Hockey Elbow Pads

The primary purpose of hockey elbow pads is to protect the player’s elbows from impact, collisions, and falls. They consist of padded sections that cover the elbows, helping to absorb and distribute the force of impacts to prevent injuries such as bruises, cuts, or fractures. They use adjustable straps to secure the pads in place without hindering movement. Some elbow pads also extend to provide protection to the forearms.

Hockey elbow pads come in various styles and designs, and players can choose pads that best suit their playing position, style, and preferences. As with shoulder pads, defensemen, who are more likely to engage in physical play, may opt for larger, bulkier elbow pads with extra protection. Forwards, who require greater mobility and agility, may prefer lower-profile pads that allow for a wider range of motion.

Hockey Gloves

Hockey gloves provide critical protection to the hands and wrist, while allowing the player to firmly grasp their stick. Most hockey gloves contain padding along the back of the hand, the fingers and the cuff area to protect against stick slashes and errant pucks. When shopping for hockey gloves, there are a few factors you’ll want to consider, including:

  • The cuff style, which impacts wrist mobility
  • The thumb design, which impacts grip and flexibility
  • Moisture management, which helps the gloves stay dry during play
  • The size and fit, with properly fitting gloves feeling secure without restricting movement

Our guide on Choosing the Right Hockey Gloves goes into more detail to help you make your decision.

Hockey Pants and Shells

Next, there are your hockey pants and the shells that cover them. Hockey pants are a piece of protective equipment that the player wears directly against their skin. They have a lot of padding, especially around vulnerable areas like the hips, thighs and tailbone. The purpose of hockey pants is to absorb impacts from things like pucks, body checks, hockey sticks, and falls to the ice. Players secure their hockey pants in place using a belt and suspenders, which typically come with the pants.

A separate piece of equipment are the shell pants. These go over the hockey pants and are largely there for aesthetic reasons. They help to provide a cohesive look to the players uniform. Hockey shells are available in a range of colors, which makes it easier to find ones that match with your team’s colors. Shells are typically made of a lightweight and breathable material, meaning they won’t add much weight to your equipment, but also don’t offer much protection.

Other Hockey Protective Equipment

With the major pieces selected, there are just a few more pieces of equipment you’ll need to complete your hockey attire. First, if you’re a male player, you’ll want to get a protective hockey cup and jock strap. For women, there are jill alethic shorts. After that, many leagues are either now requiring or recommending tendon pads. Tendon pads are like socks and cover the sensitive tendons near the heel of the foot. As these tendons are very close to sharp skate blades, these tendon pads can help protect the player from serious injury.

Finally, your league may also require that all players wear an internal mouthpiece. This mouthpiece, or mouth guard, helps to protect your teeth during gameplay. Hockey players are known for losing their teeth but you can help avoid this with a simple mouth guard.

Hockey Protective Equipment FAQ

Below are some answers to frequently asked questions related to hockey equipment:

What do hockey players wear under their pads?

Clothing underneath pads comes down to personal preference. Many players go with a t-shirt and a jock/jill, along with some shorts. Others prefer compression pants and a compression long-sleeve shirt. You’re going to sweat underneath your equipment, so find something that absorbs sweat well enough. Some people also don’t mind the feeling of the equipment on their skin and decide to go without a shirt.

Should I get my child larger hockey equipment to grow into?

It’s not recommended that you get children larger protective equipment. Understandably, many parents get their kids equipment that they can “grow into” so that they don’t have to buy new equipment as often. However, if the equipment is too large for the player, it won’t protect them as well. Whenever possible, make sure your child’s equipment fits well now rather than in the future.

Do I need to wear a mouth guard when playing hockey?

Many leagues require their players to wear a mouth guard while on the ice. However, even if your league doesn’t have this rule, it’s still a good idea to wear one. Mouth guards can protect you against serious oral injuries and are worth the minor inconvenience.