The Complete Guide for Beginner Hockey Parents

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Hey friends!
Hockey season is approaching fast for us here at the Howard home. It is a very busy time of year for us. Both of my kids, Kade and Leighton, play hockey; and my husband, Ty, coaches & plays as well. Hockey was very foreign to me for most of my life. When I met Ty, he introduced me to the sport and I fell in love with watching the fast paced and exciting game. When our kids started taking interest in it,  I REALLY had to learn the ins and outs. It can be a little overwhelming; if it wasn't for Ty I am not sure how I would have figured it all out, to be honest. Lots of equipment and not a whole ton of information about it online, that I could find. That is why I have decided to create this complete guide for new hockey moms, dads and players!

First I will start off with the equipment run down; what you will need and what you don't need but might want. **Keep in mind all hockey associations are different and many offer rental gear, what is included will probably vary!**

Hockey Equipment

-Helmet with Face Cage

Helmets range greatly in price depending on the quality. Typically at the younger age groups it is not necessary to buy the "top of the line" $300 helmet, because body checking is not allowed until age 13 or older. The fit is the most important thing when looking for a hockey helmet for your kiddo. It should fit tight, but also comfortable. The helmet should not fit your kid like a bucket, because ultimately it is what will protect your child from getting a concussion or any other serious head injury. Most helmets are adjustable in size & it is always a good idea to keep a phillips screwdriver in your bag so you are able to make adjustments when necessary, on the fly. It is best if you can go to a store where your child can try on the helmet in person, but if you are forced to order online, be sure to pay close attention to the sizing charts and follow directions for measuring your child's head. 
Most youth helmets come with a face cage. Keep in mind that if you play in an outdoor rink, the clear "fish bowl" style facemasks tend to fog up. PRO HOCKEY MOM TIP: If your child does have a "fish bowl" style facemask, a quick spray of Pledge Furniture Spray, will prevent fogging.
 Here are links to the helmets our kiddos have; Leighton's helmet (6 years old) & Kade's helmet (3 years old).
Another thing about helmets, when you are putting it on your child, you really have to PUSH HARD to get the snaps into place. The first time I did it I thought it was going to break! They do "wear in" after a while and become a bit easier. Don't be alarmed if it takes a little elbow grease to get the mask and chin guard snapped into place. 

-Hockey Skates

It is not difficult to find youth hockey skates online in the $500-$1000 range; but let's be honest, no beginner needs a skate that is designed for elite level play. Bauer and CCM typically make the best quality and most durable skates.
When finding a skate, much like a shoe, it is best that your child can try it on in person to find the best fit for them. Hockey skates tend to run a size or two smaller than a normal shoe size, this can make online shopping that much more difficult. If your child is still growing, it's a good idea to go for a cheaper pair, since they may grow out of them by the end of the season. Another option, if you anticipate them playing more than once season, is to purchase a higher quality pair in a size bigger so they can have room to grow into them and potentially use them for more than one season, without them wearing out. 
After you find the right skates, you kiddo will need to break them in.
Here is how we do it;

STEP 1: Put a hair dryer inside the boot of the skate, on high heat and high flow, for 3-5 minutes. STEP 2: Take the hair dryer out and have your kid stick their foot in immediately.
STEP 3: Tie the skates as tight as you can, then have the kids walk around the house in them for about 15 minutes. (If you don't have carpet make sure the skates have skate guards on them, click HERE to see the ones we like)

The heat from the hairdryer loosens the gels inside the boot of the skate and then molds to the child's foot, making for a perfect fit. Another way of "baking" the skates is to actually bake them in your oven. HERE is a video describing that process in more detail, if you are interested.
Before the skates actually hit the ice, they will need to be sharpened. You can take them to your local ice rink, or hockey pro shop to have this done. Beginner hockey players should have their skates sharpened at about 5/8". 

Here are the links to the skates our kids have; Leighton's skates Kades skates.

-Hockey Stick

First and foremost, when it comes to a hockey stick PRICE MEANS NOTHING. Crazy huh? 
Here are the main things you need to consider when choosing a stick:

1.) Material
Composite is the best material for an ice hockey stick. Wood sticks are cheaper, but they are super heavy, and not very durable. What you save in price will be made up in replacement sticks. 

2.) Flex
All sticks have a "flex number", this basically represents how "bendy" the stick shaft is. The lower the number, the more bend in the stick. The ideal flex number for your child will be roughly half of their body weight. For example, my daughter weighs 60lbs, so the flex on her stick should be around 30.  Here is a picture of a hockey stick "flexing", I just found it on Google!

3.) Brand
There are a lot of different brands out there. The three we like to stick with are CCM, Bauer & Easton. These companies have been around forever and their technology is top of the line compared to any other brands. They also offer high quality sticks at affordable prices. 

Curve is personal preference, which a beginner/child won't typically have. The curve won't make much difference for beginners. Leighton, Kade and Ty all have the same exact curve but in three different brands. The circled column in this picture is the curve they have. This curve is the best for overall performance. Ignore all the other stuff; it's a little confusing!

5.) Length
Your child's stick should come up to their nose height, when they are standing flat footed without shoes or skates on. When they have skates on, it should be just up to their chin. This is Leighton with her stick, flat footed. 

Here are links to Leighton's Stick, and Kade's Stick. 

-Shoulder Pads, Shin Pads & Elbow Pads

Does this remind anyone of rollerskating when they were younger? I remember we all wanted matching sets of these! Ha, ha! Shoulder pads, shin pads and elbow pads are all about comfort. You will want to chose the brand and size that fits your child the most comfortably and each child is different. Typically you can find these three items in sets for a discounted price. Here is the link to Kade's set. Leighton's did not come in a bundle but are part of the Bauer Nexus 7000 line, and all the pieces are available at 


The cheaper the better! Yep, you heard me, you can't go wrong with any gloves. Find a good deal and you're set. 

-Hockey Pants (Breezers)

Breezers vary in price, but they are all pretty much the same performance wise. Be sure to use the sizing chart closely to make sure to get the right fit for your kiddo. Leighton's we got used, and Kade has these. 


Only 12U and older need mouth guards. You can get them at pretty much any sports equipment store. 

Those are all of the "NEED" items. Here is a list of some other things that you may want to get but don't absolutely need. 

- Shock Doctor Shorts

These are super cool shorts that have a built in jock strap, and velcro at the bottom of the shorts that you can stick your hockey socks to. Both of our kids wear these and it makes keeping the hockey socks on WAY easier. (They work for girls too, even though they have a jock strap! Just take out the cup and enjoy the conversation starter...)

- Hockey Water Bottle

Because the helmets have masks and are pretty difficult for kids to get off by themselves, it's best to get a water bottle for them that has a long bent straw or one that squirts water out into their mouths in a steady stream when it is squeezed. These are the ones we like. 

- Base Layer

Basically the same thing you would wear underneath your snow suit when you go skiing or snowboarding. The ones we have for the kids were from costco, they usually have them every year. It's nice to have at least 2 so you aren't having to wash them super quickly in between practices and games. The first year Leighton just wore sweatpants and a sweatshirt underneath her gear, but a base layer is nice to have.

- Skate Guards

I already linked the ones we like above, they are adjustable and stay on the kids skates well. We dress at home often times so it makes it so the kids can get fully dressed, and be able to walk from the car to the rink with their skates already on. 

- Practice Jersey & Socks

It is nice to have a practice jersey and socks to help with laundry and to keep the game jerseys/socks looking AND smelling and fresh. You can order socks through your association or on Amazon; same goes for practice jerseys. 

- Stick Tape & Sock Tape

Stick tape is thicker and colored, sock tape is usually clear. You can find them on Hockey Monkey, Amazon or your local hockey store if you have one. Some ice rinks sell it as well, (Ours will have them this year!). 

- "My First Book of Hockey", by the editors of Sports Illustrated Kids 

The kids got this book last year as a gift and it is a huge hit! It helps to explain the rules of the game (for the kids and the adults) in a fun way. I wish we had this book from the beginning! 

That is it my friends! I sure hope this helps some cold and confused hockey parent out there. Thanks for reading and please share this with anyone you think would enjoy or benefit! I'll be posting soon about the must haves for your hockey mom/dad bag, too! Happy Hockey Season!



  1. Thanks Kaci! Great info for all the wished you had this last year and I wouldn't have had to ask so many questions.

    1. You are very welcome! I am so glad it has been helpful to all the hockey newbies! I wish I had something like this when my kids started, too! Hockey is such a unique sport. Thanks for reading! :-)


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