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First Time Hockey Players & Parents

08/23/2014, 5:00pm CDT
By admin

New to hockey?  Welcome!

Starting hockey is one of the most exciting and fun times for children and parents, but it sometimes can be an intimidating experience if you're new.  Keep in mind, that it's all for fun, but the child's season and development depends on you as parents!  If you're unsure if your child is ready for hockey, please read this article.

The first few years of hockey are about developing fundamental skills, and learning the basics.  It's about teaching children sportsmanship, and the fun in sports.  Have open, calm, respectful discussions with conveners and coaches, and remember that they're all volunteers. 

Your help is needed in tournaments, fundraising, and getting your kids to practice on time, and regularly.  As a rule of thumb, be at the arena half an hour before any ice time.  Keep updated by communicating with other parents, reading signage at arena, and reading via website or phone app.  Ensure you have all their equipment labelled with their name, as it's common to misplace or exchange equipment by accident.

Attendance is expected at practices.  If you are not attending, please let your coach know.  Please know that if you sign up for a practice, or a tournament, you are expected to attend.  Coaches, behind the scenes spend many hours rostering, making teams, preparing drills - when your name is on a sign-up sheet, the Coach and your team is depending on you to attend.  If your parent cannot drive you, ask other hockey parents or coaches - most likely a ride is available for the player.

Skates

Proper skates are a basic necessity for all hockey players.  Kids who are just starting do not require very expensive high-end skates, but it's ever-so more important to have the proper fit.  Skates that are too loose, or too tight will make it harder for them to learn.  Also, because kids sometimes go through growth spurts, you may need to upsize them mid-season.  Listen to your kids if they are saying their skates hurt!  However, keep in mind that if they're new skaters, it may take time just getting used to them, so some of their discomfort may just be them getting used to having skates on their feet. 

There's nothing wrong with using previously owned skates, just keep in mind to ensure they're safe, laces aren't frayed, and the blade is freshly sharpened regularly.  If your child doesn't like how tight you lace them up, consider loosening just a tad, and then using clear hockey tape to tighten up the ankle - loose fitting skates on the ankle make it more probable to injury.  If your child doesn't already know how to skate, it will be easier for them to learn if they have walked around in them, just to gain a sense of balance.  You can purchase skate blade-covers so they can practice walking in them at home.


Stick

When picking out a stick for a beginner, it's often wise to choose a flat-bladed stick, if you're unsure what way they shoot (left or right handed).  Children will usually decide within a few weeks what is comfortable and you can then bend their stick, or buy a new one. Keep in mind, that just because a child writes with their right or left hand, or play other sports one way, this doesn't necessarily mean they will play hockey that way.  A hockey stick should be the correct length, generally this means if they're on skates and the stick is held vertically, it should be between their chin and nose.  You can mimic this by having them stand on their tippy-toes if you're out shopping.


Gloves

Hockey gloves are among the most important pieces of protective gear a player has, and they are for much more than keeping the hands warm. During the course of play, players often hit each other with their sticks, particularly on the hands, as they battle for the puck. Hockey gloves should provide enough padding and protection on top of the fingers and thumb to prevent injuries to the hands. The palm of the hand and under the fingers must also provide some protection while providing enough sensitivity and flexibility for the player to hold the stick properly.

If your child is new to hockey, one of the most difficult things will be getting their tiny fingers in each finger hole, so it's a good idea to practice a few times before the season.


Helmet

One of the most important pieces of equipment is the child's helmet.  Ensure it fits properly, not too loose, and not too tight.  It should just be snug, and depending on their growth, may have to be adjusted or replaced during the season.  Ensure all the rivets are fastened properly and that it has a cage.  It's sometimes a good idea to carry a screwdriver in your hockey bag in case you need to make adjustments on the go.  Please put the name that your child responds to (proper or nickname) on the front of his/her helmet with white hockey tape and permanent marker.  This is necessary for the coaches and assistants in distinguishing the kids, especially in the beginning of the season.


Pads

Shoulder / chest pads, elbow pads, shin guards and neck guards are all mandatory.  Proper fit is important.  Equipment too small will inhibit movement and be uncomfortable.  Too large of equipment will chafe and be unsafe. If you're just starting out, you can purchase very economical equipment second hand, or starter-kits are available at some sporting goods stores.  A jock/jill is required, and often are built into hockey shorts.  Specialized undershirts and long underwear are not mandatory, but some children prefer the moisture-wicking properties, and comfort level.  Hockey pants and socks are to fit properly, as other equipment.  Remember, there's nothing worse that being in the middle of a game or practice, and the coach or assistants have to stop play to deal with equipment - ensure all your equipment fits your children properly and is in proper working condition.


Mouth Guard

Mouth guards are also a mandatory item, and there are many different types you can buy.  Some parents prefer the type that attach to the inside of the helmet cage, as children do have the tendency to not want to wear them, and they do get lost easy.

Mouthguards, although imperative, are one of the more difficult things to get used to, so make sure to purchase the best size suited for them.  Many times, you can cut these down even further for a better fit.  It's usually a good idea to get your kids to wear them a few times in the days and weeks before the first practices, just so they're used to them.

Water Bottles

Finding a proper water bottle is often overlooked, but remember that with beginner kids, it's a battle to do things wearing gloves, and sometimes the water breaks are very short.  Find a bottle that will work for your child, often the skinnier types fit best with small hands.  Using the type with a long spout helps beginners who cannot easily remove their cage to drink.  Keep the bottle labelled, it's important your child has their own water and that they keep hydrated.

Goalies

Goalies have specialized equipment such as stick, and pads.  Because children are just learning and may not know if they want to play in net or not, The Pas Huskies have the basic equipment in case your child does decide they want to play in goal.  If your child already does have equipment, they're more than welcome to bring it to practice.

Jerseys

You will be provided with practice jerseys to use during the season.  These are not to keep, but rather are used to colour coordinate groups during the practice season.  It is wise to keep a jersey of your own in your hockey bag in case it's needed - especially in the beginning of season.

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For the beginner player or parent, your best resource for information is the experienced parents who have came before you.  Feel free to ask questions, talk to the coaches and admin, and welcome to the hockey family.

Go Huskies Go!

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