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 the basics on key gear before heading to the crease.
How To Fit Goalie Leg Pads
Hockey goalie leg pads play a crucial role in creating a barrier between the puck and the back of the net. Your pad preference may depend on your personal playing style, but there are a few guidelines every goaltender should keep in mind.
Most goalie leg pads come in light colors to blend in with the ice and board color. They will also come with two types of clips: plastic and metal. Plastic clips are easier to open and close and are recommended for younger players. Metal clips will last longer, but are a little more difficult to manipulate.
Goalie leg pads are typically available in a four size ranges based on age, leg length and level of play:
- Youth: 20-24 inches
- Junior: 24-30 inches
- Intermediate: 29-32 inches
- Senior: 33-37 inches
To determine your size, you will first measure your leg from the floor to your knee. Next you will:
- Sit down and put on your skate with the toe attachment tied up.
- Place the pad against your leg so it is flush against your knee and shin.
- Your knee should be right in the middle of the knee stack. Is there a more clear way to say this?
- For younger players that may be looking for a pad with room for growth, the knee should sit in the bottom third of the knee stack.
If you are between sizes, it is recommended that you choose the larger size for additional protection. However, some goalies prefer their pads an inch or two shorter for increased maneuverability. Some brands, like Bauer, also have their own size conversions, which can be referenced in the chart below.
How to Break in New Pads
Every goal pad has two breaks, one at the knee and one at the foot. You’ll want to ensure that these breaks are really broken in before using on the ice 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. 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.
How to Fit Hockey Goalie Gloves
There are two different types of hockey goalie gloves.
- Catcher gloves look very much like an oversized first baseman’s mitt and 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 shield to deflect shots.
Typically, the size range of your catcher glove and blocker will match that of your leg pads. For example, if you wear an intermediate leg pad, you will likely also wear an intermediate size catcher glove and blocker. However, to ensure a proper fit the following tips are recommended:
- Measure the distance from the end of your elbow pads to the tip of your fingers. This number should equal your glove size.
- When trying on a blocker, look at the inside and pay close attention to your finger length on the gusset. Your fingers should go all the way to the top of the glove without going through the gusset.
How to Fit a Goalie Chest Protector
Chest protectors are used to help protect most of the upper body. There are three key areas to focus on when fitting a goalie chest protector:
- Shoulders: Ensure that it is sitting flush on the shoulder and collar bone to make sure they are not exposed.
- Arm length: The sleeve of the chest protector should come just to the top of the wrist bone. This helps prevent your sleeve from catching your glove or blocker so you can maintain full mobility.
- Body length: The chest protector should fall below the belt line allowing you the option to tuck it in or wear it outside.
How to Buy a Goalie Mask and Helmet
Modern goalie masks come in a variety of styles that depend on your personal preference. Masks include a stainless steel or composite wire mesh cage for better peripheral viewing, while helmets are made of a durable hard-shell plastic of composite similar to a bicycle helmet.
Your helmet should fit comfortably, but snug enough so that there is not any wiggle. Sizing differs according to manufacturer, so refer to the sizing indicators on each helmet to determine your proper size. Many helmets also feature adjustable padding for a better fit and room for growth. Learn more helmet fit and sizing with our buying guide.
How to Buy a Hockey Goalie Stick
Hockey goalie sticks are much larger and heavier than regular hockey sticks with a paddle area that can be up to 26 inches long and a blade that can be up to three and a half inches wide and 15 and a half inches long.
An oversized or undersized stick may impact your game, so it is important to choose the correct length for your size. However, keep in mind that the shaft can 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 for you:
- Stand in your skates.
- Put the toe of the stick on the ground.
- The top of the stick should reach somewhere between your chin and the tip of your nose.