Thursday, 19 April 2012 11:02

Taking care of your equipment

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Equipment is expensive maximizing its lifetime is therefore quite important, these few tips will help you get the most out of your equipment and save you some money. I personally have been using the same chest protector, pants and helmet for over 10 years. The only reason I have changed my pads, blocker and trapper were that I grew out of them (or they settled down too much). Every time I sold a piece of equipment, it still had many years of life left. Too many times have I seen another goaltender have newer pads that seemed completely worn out compared to mine - all due to poor maintenance.

Pre-Game

Before leaving for every game you should visually inspect your equipment while placing it in your bag. Tighten any loose screws and ensure your equipment is in adequate shape for the upcoming game. Make sure any issue you find is adressed as soon as possible. A small tear can become severe during a game as the piece of equipment moves and is loaded during play. This can be as simple as tying up loose straps, using adhesive tape or sewing your equipment back to an acceptable state (as I have done a few times!). You can also bring your equipment to a local pro shop to get it repaired.


 

Post-Game

Your game is finished (hopefully you had fun!). You now have to take off your equipment. While doing this visually inspect it for any damage that may have occurred during your game. This is usally done without any active effort. Damage should be evident while taking the equipment off and putting it in your bag. Make sure everything is well ordered in your bag so there is no damage during transport (see transportation below). If you are a goaltender you must take a few extra steps: putting your helmet in its protective casing and doing up all your pad buckles. Although it may seem tedious, this prevents the belts from dragging on the ground and getting damaged prematurely. Replacing these belts costs money, can be aesthetically unpleasing and may reduce the performance of your pads (depending on where the replacement straps were mounted). Also, making sure any velcro straps are done up properly will reduce wear that can occur when the rough velcro side rubs against pad material. In the following picture, notice all the straps are done up, the laces are tied and all velcro is secured.

Goalie pads with all straps done up

Once you arrive home, hang your equipment up to dry and make sure air can circulate in your bag to dry your helmet and gloves(if they are not hung up). Notice in the following picture, the chest pad and jersey are hung up on a set of hooks while the under layer and pants are hung on the other. 

Hockey equipment hung up to dry

In the following picture, notice the helmet cover is open to allow air to circulate. The gloves are also placed in a position to allow good air flow.

Goalie equipment layed out to dry


 

General points

Storage

You should store your equipment in a cool dry place to ensure it dries out properly and there is no material degradation. I personally hang all my equipment in the basement near the furnace. The temperature is constant throughout the year, slightly cooler than the rest of the house and the furnace gets rid of most humidity. Although it is tempting to put your equipment in the garage and save the trip to the basement, this is not good for the equipment long-term. In the winter, your equipment cannot dry out in the garage (in a northern climate where it is usally around -10C) the moisture will freeze on the equipment and it will be wet for your next game. In the summer, the high heat can damage certain plastics components (helmet, skates). You also want to avoid contact with UV light (sunlight) as this may also damage the plastic. Of course depending on your local weather and available facilities (heated/insulated garage) you may be able to store your equipment in various places without damaging it.

Transportation

Transporting your equipment is something you do more often than playing! Ensure you have a bag that is adequate for the task and free of holes so you don't lose any equipment. Some newer bags have wheels on them in order to facilitate transportation. Personally I am not a fan of this type of bag as the backing and wheel placement is rigid and may interfere with getting in/out of certain areas. However some people love them, especially kids that may not be big enough to carry their gear on their shoulder. 

When transporting your equipment, make sure it is placed properly in the bag. Use the skate and accessory compartments if you have any! If you do not have skate compartments use skate guards. I have seen too many pieces of equipment damaged by skate blades during transportation or skate blades becoming dull due to contact with a hard material. Also, make sure your equipment is sheltered from rain. Having your equipment soaking wet and frozen is not a good way to start a game! In warmer weather, ensure there is enough air circulation in your vehicle when parked so the temperature does not go too high and may increase bacteria or damage the equipment itself.

Use outside of the rink

You may want to use your equiment outside the rink for practises or just for fun. If at all possible, try and use an old set of equipment when not on the rink. If you don't have a second set, make sure your equipment is well protected from abrasive surfaces (asphalt, concrete etc.) and moisture (rain, standing water etc.) so they will make it through the season! For goalies in particular, using your equipment for road hockey is a bad idea. The asphalt will rip up those nice pads extremely quickly. For ball/roller hockey on a concrete surface I recommend taking an old hockey sock, cutting it lengthwise, placing it on top of the goal pads and cutting holes for the straps (this will keep it secure on the pads). These will ensure the sock takes most of the damage instead of your pads.  For gloves you may need to get creative, I personally have used duct tape on the surfaces which would come in contact with the ground. However you have to ensure the glue on the tape is not too sticky so there is no residue when you take it off. Also ensure you take the tape off immediately after a game to minimize the contact time.

Washing

Even if you properly store your equipment it can get quite stinky! In some cases you may not realise it but your team mates certainly do. In some extreme cases they may even offer to wash your equipment for you (One of my teams has done this to a player in the past!). The point is stinky gear is ... well ... stinky. The easiest way to prevent odour is to wash the equipment that comes into contact with moisture regularly. For players this means washing your under layers, socks, jersey and shower towel every few games at the most. For goalies, you can add the sweat band in your helmet to that list. As these items are regularly machine washable (unless specificly indicated) you can throw them in the machine on a gentle cycle and have it fresh smelling. 

It is also a good idea to bring your equipment to a commercial washing facility designed for hockey equipment every few seasons (or when it starts smelling). Some players throw everything they can in the washing machine but I would strongly recommend against it as this will put excessive wear on both your equipment and the washing machine. The commercial facilities are able to handle large equipment pieces without any risk of damage. Besides, the cost of getting your gear washed every 2-4 seasons is minimal compared to your equipment costs.

 

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Read 7234 times Last modified on Saturday, 25 August 2012 01:19
Jean-Michel Roy

15+ Years experience as a goaltender

20+ Years experience playing hockey

Currently a goalie coach for Phil Martin's Goalie Academy.

E-mail: jm@thehockeyresource.ca

Connect with me on Google +

Website: www.thehockeyresource.ca
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