There's no doubt that sticker shock in the hockey shop can spark thoughts of participating in cheaper sports. We've identified some traps and pitfalls that will cost you more money even when you think you'll be saving money. So read along – if you insist on spending more money than you need to, then let us know and we'll set a special registration fee just for you.
Stick Choice - A nicely made wooden stick is more than adequate for more than 90% of the players at LAHA. "Must Have" composite shafts or even one piece sticks are sure to break the bank. If you are skipping an extra tournament because it's not in the budget and your player has a stick that costs more than the registration fee... We've gotta tell ya - You're wasting your money!
Now before all the "special" stick owners start throwing things at their computer monitor and swearing at us - we'll need to qualify our position a little. Better equipment doesn't make a player better. ALL the hockey greats you watch on TV learned to play with wooden sticks, they didn't even have "special" sticks when most of those guys were kids. There are better places to spend your money to help your player enjoy hockey more.
Stick Length - So you've found a stick that your player likes and you didn't give in to the "MOM I'll be way better with this $150 stick". You ignore the advice of your coach and the guy at the shop and think that by cutting it about an inch longer than they said would keep you out of that shop between sticks longer. WRONG!! A stick that is too long will have exaggerated wear and pre-mature failure in the heal of the stick. A stick that is properly sized will wear evenly along the entire bottom of the blade. A stick that is too short is better in the long run, promoting more knee bend to reach the ice better is never a bad thing.
Stick Choice 2 - You've got a young player who's just learning the sport. Hand-me-downs always save you money. Or do they? If you cut down a Senior stick to fit a very young player, you've slowed their shooting, passing and puck control development time. Ice time isn't cheap and youth sticks will run you about $15. Get them a stick that fits their hands best and one that has a manageable blade. If you aren't sure if they really shoot left or right, then get them a straight bladed stick. DON'T DICTATE TO THEM WHAT DIRECTION TO SHOOT - They'll figure it out naturally.
Skate Choice - The number one most important skill in Ice Hockey is Skating. So it would seem logical that the number one most important piece of equipment is the skates. Skates are NOT the place to save your money on gear. That's not to say that you won't find some smokin' deals but you should buy the best skate that you can afford. Please don't read that to mean that every skater should be wearing the top of the line skates and give in to the "MOM I gotta have these skates or I just won't get any better" Read along -
2nd Hand Skates - A good place to save a couple bucks. Most players will grow out of their skates before they wear out the skates. THE PITFALL: Used skates that are broken in were broken in by a different skating style and sometimes with poor mechanics.
Internet Deals - Another good place to save a couple of bucks. You can find some great deals on skates from the internet, sometimes a good enough deal that you would buy them a better skate than what you could normally afford. THE PITFALL: It doesn't matter what the brand or what model it is, or how much you are saving. If the skates don't fit you'll be setting your player up for problems with skill progression. Be prepared to send them back and forth a couple of times, be prepared to lose out on your great deal when they don't fit well.
FIT - If the skates don't fit then don't buy them and certainly don't force your child to wear them. Every skate will have some break in period where they may be uncomfortable - players have to accept that. If they aren't comfortable they won't want to be in them for the long term and that means that your player will either want another pair or quit playing. Save the aggravation and get them fit properly the first time. Paying a little more at a pro-shop is never a bad investment for a properly fit skate.
SIZE - Fit and Size are related most of the time. But, some Brands and models fit different than others even when they are the same size. Buying skates that are too big so that they can grow into them is buying skates that don't fit properly. You are wasting your money, and potentially hurting your skater. First they won't be comfortable and hockey enjoyment will suffer. Second, they will break down prematurely and potentially won't last that extra season.
Brand/Model - Who Cares? If they fit well and your kid skates like the wind, nobody is going to care what skates are on his feet. Once again, get what you can afford but there's no economy in the top of the line. For very young players, you don't have a lot of options and the entry level skate is certainly adequate.