How to Properly Maintain Hockey Equipment
Young players often outgrow their equipment long before it wears out. However, proper care of the equipment helps make sure that it continues to provide safety in case of an accident and doesn’t interfere with making plays. The most common complaint with hockey equipment is that it can smell bad after usage. Just like clothes left in the washing machine, wet hockey equipment starts to mildew and smell. The easiest fix for this is simply to air the equipment out after every game and let it dry properly. When putting on each piece of equipment, players and parents should inspect it to make sure that:
- The equipment still fits
- There are no loose screws on the helmet
- There are no cracks
- There is no rust on rivets
- All clasps are working
- Velcro is still holding well
- All pads are intact and laced as needed.
Some equipment, like helmets and hockey pants can be adjusted to compensate for growth. Other pieces must be replaced. A basic repair kit kept in the hockey bag can help solve problems when they are most likely to occur — two minutes before game time. Handy items to have are:
- Extra Laces
- Helmet Screws
- Practice Puck
In order for the skates to grip (cut into) the ice properly especially while turning, they should be properly sharpened. Skate blades have edges that cut into the ice and help a skater stay upright while turning. If the edges are nicked, a skater has difficulty making turns and going full speed.
The amount of blade sharpness and hollow are often a matter of skater preference. Sharper blades have a deeper groove in the blade that helps with pushing off, stopping, changing direction, pivoting and turning. However, if a blade is too sharp, a player can have problems gliding and stopping as the overly sharp blade tries to grab the ice. Sharper blades are more dangerous and may also be damaged more easily.
To see if a skate needs sharpening, hold it sideways up to the light so that only one edge is between the light source and your eye. Look for any nicks along the blade. Flip the skate and over and examine the other edge in the same way. Then, look lengthwise down the blade to make sure the edges are level. If you have trouble, place a dime on the edges of the blade and make sure it lies flat. If there are no nicks and the edges are level, then the blade does not need sharpening.
Key Points for Parents
- Don’t let you child skate with the wrong sized equipment; make sure that it continues to fit properly.
- Replace any problem equipment immediately.
- Make sure skates are always sharp.
- Use skate guards to protect the blade and guard against injuries;
Key Points for Players
- Always wipe down your skates after use and air out your hockey gear.
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