At Willies, one of our most frequently asked questions by parents and new starters is: what equipment do you actually need to start playing ice hockey?
In this guide, we’re listing all the player equipment that you need to get started safely and comfortably!
What Equipment/Gear Do I Need To Start Playing Ice Hockey?
In a lightning-fast, high-contact sport like ice hockey, safety is one of the most important factors for players in choosing their gear.
To play ice hockey safely and effectively, you need:
- Neck guard
- Shoulder pads
- Elbow pads
- Jock or jill
- Shorts or pants
- Shin pads
- Ice skates
- Ice hockey stick
- Ice hockey socks and a jersey
The kit that ice hockey goalies need is slightly different, so we’ve got an equipment guide for goalies right here.
Your helmet is one of the most essential pieces of protective equipment you’ll wear — with pucks, sticks, other players and the ice itself posing a risk, it’s vital to protect your head.
While the fit profile of an ice hockey helmet comes down to personal preference, it must fit your head shape and size perfectly to protect you when you need it most. Player helmets are adjustable to dial in the finer fit details, and our expert team at Willies in Coventry are on-hand to help you find the perfect helmet for you.
Junior ice hockey players up to the age of 18 and ladies playing in the women’s league are required to wear complete face protection as either a full face cage or a full visor attached to their helmet. For senior players, a visor is the only requirement, although we recommend that new ice hockey players go for full face protection while they learn the game!
Wearing a neck guard helps to keep an important (and vulnerable!) area of your body safe from pucks, sticks and skates; they’re mandatory for under-18 players, and we highly recommend them to senior players too.
Neck guards for ice hockey players are made of shock-resistant padding and fit around the neck like a cushioned collar.
Shoulder pads protect an ice hockey player’s shoulders, collarbones, chest, upper arms, ribcage, belly, upper back and spine — so it’s essential that you get correctly fitting, comfortable shoulder pads.
When trying on shoulder pads, your shoulders should fit squarely in the shoulder caps without restricting your movement, and the pads themselves shouldn’t move around too much.
There are different styles and fits of shoulder pads available, so no matter if you’re an agile player that needs low-profile gear or a defensive player that values additional protection, you’ll find the perfect shoulder pads for you.
Elbow pads protect not only the elbows but the forearm and a portion of the upper arm, so they must integrate well with your shoulder pads and gloves.
When you’re trying on elbow pads, it’s a good idea to take your shoulder pads and gloves with you to see how they all interact with each other. Your elbow pads should stay in place, cover everything they should without leaving any gaps in protection, and not interfere with your movement — as this could affect your stick handling.
Like most other protective equipment for ice hockey, there are different elbow pads designed for different play styles. Check out the shopping list at the bottom of this guide for a detailed breakdown of our top recommendations based on your ice hockey experience and playstyle.
Gloves are obviously vital for protecting a player’s hands, but they also need to be comfortable and responsive enough for a player to handle their stick effectively.
When trying on ice hockey gloves, they should integrate well with your elbow pads and not leave any gaps in protection. You also want to ensure that the tips of your fingers don’t reach the end of the finger stalls for maximum protection. Player gloves come in a few different fit profiles, including:
Choosing the best gloves for you comes down to personal preference, so pop into Willies in Coventry to try on a range of gloves and find the style that suits you best.
Shorts / Pants
Your ice hockey pants (also known as shorts) are designed to protect your thighs, kidneys, butt and lower back. They provide the maximum protection in critical areas while also allowing for a free range of movement on the ice — this means they should integrate well with your shoulder pads and shin guards.
Your ice hockey pants should fall to about halfway down the kneecap of your shin guard and, depending on your playstyle, will either be streamlined and low-profile or bulky and protective.
Jock or Jill
A jock or Jill protects, well, your private parts! Anyone who has ever taken a puck or stick there will tell you this is a crucial bit of kit.
Jocks are for male players, and jills are for female players; their design is pretty similar, with one main difference being that jills have slightly more pelvic protection.
Shin pads are designed to protect an ice hockey player’s shins and knees. With pucks, sticks, and other players’ skates flying around, making sure your legs are covered on the ice is crucial!
Your shin pads should fit comfortably and be the right length and width, as poorly-fitting shin guards could hinder your skating. The size of the shin guard you need will depend on how you prefer to wear your shin pads (tucked into your ice skate tongue or over it), so it’s a good idea to bring along your skates when trying them on.
Different ice hockey brands have different styles of shin guards for you to choose from, so whether you want a modern, streamlined fit or a traditional, bulky shin guard, you can find the perfect gear for your playstyle. At the bottom of this guide, we’ve included our top gear recommendations for different ice hockey players!
Perhaps the most important bit of kit that an ice hockey player needs: your ice skates. Once you get the right ice skates for your ability, playstyle and foot shape, you’ll dominate on the ice!
Your ice hockey skates should fit snugly but not be uncomfortably tight — we usually recommend players go for a size down from their regular shoe size to ensure a responsive, comfortable fit. It’s also a good idea to go for thermoformable skates so that you can bake them for a personalised, near-custom fit to your unique foot shape.
You must choose the right hockey skate for your current skill level — elite-level boots are stiffer than beginners need and will actually hinder your skating while you’re learning the basics of ice hockey.
Once you’re a more experienced player, you can tailor your ice hockey skates depending on your playstyle by sharpening them to different radii, profiling your skates, or even getting a fully custom skate built around your specifications.
Ice Hockey Stick
Your ice hockey stick affects every interaction you have with the puck, so it’s vital to choose your weapon carefully! Once you find your perfect stick, it’s a match made in heaven, but it can be a bit of a mission to find it with all the different lengths, curves, flexes, kick points, and even materials out there.
When trying out an ice hockey stick, it should be long enough to reach your nose when you’ve not got skates on. The curve should complement your playstyle with a flex that you find easy to use.
We stock a vast range of ice hockey sticks, so pop into our store at Willies in Coventry to find the one that feels best to you.
Ice Hockey Socks and a Jersey
Ice hockey players wear socks over their shin pads to help hold them in place. If you find that your shin pads are still moving around under your socks, you can use tape or shin guard straps to keep them where they should be.
Your ice hockey jersey is worn over your shoulder pads, keeping straps secure and everything in its place. It’s also how you wear your team colours with pride!
Extra Ice Hockey Player Accessories
Now you’ve got all the critical bits of ice hockey kit, it’s time to make the most of it! Grab all these essential player accessories to take your game to the next level.
- Hockey bag: Transport all your gear safely and never forget anything again by keeping it all in your hockey bag.
- Base layer or sweats: Worn underneath all your protective gear, a base layer helps to wick away sweat and keeps you comfortable during your games.
- Helmet hardware: Never miss a shift from a broken helmet by always carrying spare bolts.
- Hockey leg and stick tape: Keep your shin pads in place and protect your sticks by always having extra tape with you.
The Best Ice Hockey Gear For Beginners: Shopping List
When you’re just getting started with playing ice hockey, the equipment list can look daunting (and pricey!). Here are our top budget-friendly protective equipment recommendations for beginner players that are learning the basics of the game:
- Helmet: Bauer IMS 5.0 or CCM Tacks 70
- Neck guard: CCM X30
- Shoulder pads: CCM Tacks 9550 for a bulkier fit or CCM Jetspeed FT475 for a lightweight option. The Warrior Alpha LX 40 or the Bauer X are great anatomical choices.
- Elbow pads: CCM Tacks 9550 for a bulkier fit or CCM Jetspeed FT475 for a lightweight option. The Warrior Alpha LX 40 or the Bauer X are great anatomical choices.
- Gloves: Warrior Alpha LX 40, Bauer X or CCM Jetspeed FT475.
- Shorts or pants: CCM Tacks 9550 for a bulkier fit or CCM Jetspeed FT475 for a lightweight option. The Bauer X is a great anatomical choice.
- Shin pads: CCM Tacks 9550 for a bulkier fit or CCM Jetspeed FT475 for a lightweight option. The Warrior Alpha LX 40 or the Bauer X are great anatomical choices.
- Ice skates: Bauer X-LS, CCM Super Tacks 9550 or Bauer X-LP
- Ice hockey stick: Sher-Wood Rekker Element 4
The Best Ice Hockey Gear For An Agile Player: Shopping List
If you’re an aggressive, agile forward or an offensive-minded defenseman, you need lightweight, low-profile, and anatomical ice hockey equipment. Here are our top suggestions:
- Helmet: CCM Tacks 210
- Neck guard: CCM X30
- Shoulder pads: Bauer Vapor or CCM Jetspeed
- Elbow pads: Bauer Vapor or CCM Jetspeed
- Gloves: Bauer Vapor, CCM Jetspeed or Warrior Covert
- Shorts or pants: Bauer Vapor or CCM Jetspeed
- Shin pads: Bauer Vapor or CCM Jetspeed
- Ice skates: Bauer Vapor or CCM Jetspeed
- Ice hockey stick: Bauer Vapor, CCM Ribcor, Warrior Covert or Sher-Wood Rekker
The Best Ice Hockey Gear For A Defensive Player: Shopping List
Defensive defencemen or physically larger forward players should go for ice hockey equipment that provides as much protection as possible. For these players, we recommend the following:
- Helmet: Warrior Alpha One Pro
- Neck guard: CCM X30
- Shoulder pads: Bauer Supreme or CCM Tacks
- Elbow pads: Bauer Supreme or CCM Tacks
- Gloves: Bauer Supreme, Bauer X, CCM Tacks or Warrior Alpha
- Shorts or pants: Bauer Supreme or CCM Tacks
- Shin pads: Bauer Supreme or CCM Tacks
- Ice skates: Bauer Supreme or CCM Tacks
- Ice hockey stick: Bauer Nexus, CCM Tacks or Warrior Alpha
Where To Buy Ice Hockey Equipment
Willies can get you kitted out with all the player equipment you need for ice hockey from top brands, regardless of your skill level, playstyle, or age.
Order all your ice hockey equipment online with free delivery on orders over £99, or visit us at our Willies store in Coventry to chat with our expert team of ice hockey players and enthusiasts to get personalised gear recommendations for you.