Picture this: Your beautiful baby comes home and tells you they want to play hockey. So off you go to get equipment. That by itself is overwhelming enough.
But then you show up to the rink, open up the brand new bag and …..
Your brain short circuits. And it’s not because of the smell….that comes later.
Don’t worry, friends. It happens to the best of us. I’ve told you before, I had zero hockey experience before I brought my six year old Boy #1 to the rink. HockeyDad put the equipment on the first few times. After that, we muddled through by ourselves. Now, almost five full years later, I can get a kid dressed in under five minutes if I need to.
Here’s my step by step guide for getting your hockey player dressed.
First things first: the jock or jill. If you had any help/advice or did any research whatsoever, you will have purchased one with Velcro at thigh level. I did not do this my first time out and as a result one boy has no Velcro. Trust me, this small detail will save you some frustration later on.
So, on with the jock/jill.
Next comes the shin guards. Velcro is once again our friend and these are fairly simple to put on. Knee goes at the top and most shin guards will taper towards the ankle. Put it on the leg, wrap the Velcro strap around the back, ta da. Repeat on the second leg.
This is where you should put on the hockey socks. Our association always provides them, so they match. If you have the Velcro on your jock or jill, you pull the socks up and attach their Velcro pieces to the sock Velcro pieces and you move on.
If you do not have the Velcro on the jock/jill, never fear: this is what hockey tape is made for. Wrap it around your player’s leg at the thigh level (not too tight) and tear. Be careful not to punch yourself in the face. I may or may not be speaking from experience.
Next go on the hockey pants. Up over the shin guards and snug into place. Then tie/tighten whatever strings or straps you have. There’s many a kid who does this themselves and then almost loses their pants on the ice.
You’re halfway done! Woot. Internal happy dance.
Now grab the shoulder/chest protector. Over the head. A set of straps around the waist/ribs and one around each arm. Easy peasy thanks to Velcro again.
Elbow pads come next. Now, for bonus points, you can leave the arm straps on the shoulder/chest protector undone, slip the elbow pads on and secure the Velcro of the shoulder pads in the middle of the two elbow pad straps. Boy #1 and Boy #3 prefer it this way. Boy #2 would rather feel like he has a bit more mobility.
Now we move on to neck guard. Mandatory equipment for minor hockey in our area. Around the neck, again not too tight and if there is a “bib” to it, a) do not call it a bib in front of your player and b) tuck the not-bib into the chest protector.
You are in the home stretch now. Promise.
Skates come next. Make sure you have enough room for your player to get their foot into the skate then *carefully* secure the skate between your thighs to tighten them. I am sure there are other ways to do this, but this is how I can get the darn things tight enough for my boys. And tight is important. Otherwise skating gets tough on the ankles. I speak from experience here.
Last piece of equipment, the helmet. On to the head, being careful to not snag the ears. If you do that, there will be a delay in dressing to comfort and examine to make sure you haven’t taken their ear off. You won’t actually take their ear off but sometimes they may carry on like you have. With the helmet on, secure the strap under the chin and on either side of the head. This occasionally takes some oomph. I don’t know why. Sometimes it goes on easy, other times you fight with the thing until you are sweaty and annoyed.
TA DA, you have dressed your hockey player. Hand them their stick, and send them out of the change room. Good job, Rockstar.
See you at the rink,