How to Buy Hockey Goalie Equipment

Learn about the hockey goalie equipment you need for the season and how to determine the proper sizing for goalie leg pads, chest pads, helmets and sticks.

Safety is critical for hockey goaltenders. With a hard rubber puck coming your way, you need to suit up in proper-fitting hockey goalie equipment. Learn about the basics before heading to the rink.

Leg Pads

Hockey Goalie 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

  • Goalie 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 aclavicle 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 two different types of goalie gloves.

  • Catcher gloves look very much like an oversized first baseman’s mitt. They are worn on your non-stick hand. They have an oversized catching area, molded one-piece thumb area, a pre-curved palm and individual finger areas.
  • Blocker gloves are worn on the stick hand and have 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


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

Hockey Goalie Mask

  • 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


How to Buy a Goalie Stick

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

Determining The Right 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 thetoe of the stick on the ground
    • The stick should reach somewhere between your chin and the tip of your nose


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.