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Hockey Shoulder Pad Guide
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Design is crucial – the right size in the wrong pad just won’t work.

More money will get you better hockey shoulder pads – if you need good shoulder pads. If you play in a casual recreational league, odds are you play with a few guys that don’t even wear shoulder pads. If you are shopping for a youth hockey player or are looking for a great pair of shoulder pads, there are a few things to consider and pay attention to. In particular, proper fitting combined with a good design will get you what you need.

Fitting

Of course, finding the right size is important and every equipment salesman in the world will talk about sizes because its the easy part. Most manufacturers have actual body measurement guidelines for hockey shoulder pads. Only those with overlapping measurements who qualify for 2 different size recommendations have to do any real thinking. Having made this clear, it is important to remember that the right size with the wrong pad just won’t work. Hockey shoulder pads have a large primary shoulder cap to cover each shoulder joint. How your shoulder fits into this primary cap is the most important part of fitting the shoulder pads and the cap itself is a huge part of the discussion.

Design

The hockey shoulder cap is the most important detail of hockey shoulder pad design. The flatter the primary shoulder pad, the more protection you will need from additional pads. A flat pad will allow your shoulder to pop out from underneath the pad upon contact and there is simply no way to fix this. The pad might also force your shoulder joint to absorb all the impact because your shoulder is the only part of your body in contact with the pad. A nice round cap that cups your entire shoulder joint will leave less of your shoulder exposed to direct impact and will help direct the force of impact to surrounding areas.

Your shoulder should stay protected by the cap regardless of how you move your shoulder. For example, if you tuck your shoulder in like you instinctively would when contact is impending, your shoulder should not become exposed between the primary shoulder cap and the chest protector. You will not like how you feel more of the blow than you should every time you hit someone. This means that your shoulder pads are too big or that the shoulder cap is too small. If your hockey shoulder pads are a size too small, you will feel more than you should on lower portions of the outside of your shoulder – usually more towards the side and back of the shoulder. If your shoulder pads are properly fitted with a competent shoulder cap design, you will feel protected on all sides when your shoulder is tucked in or fully extended.

When determining whether the design of the pads will work for you, consider how the upper arm pad is attached to the main body of the pad. Some designs will have an attachment point that falls on a sensitive part of your shoulder joint underneath the primary shoulder cap. The attachment material or mechanism may be hard or soft, wide or narrow, or located in completely different positions.

This may sound a bit ridiculous, but if you’re having a hard time determining whether or not your hockey shoulder pads fit correctly, trying bumping into a wall or door frame a few times. Hit the front of your shoulder and hit the back. Tuck your shoulder in and see if you can make it sting a little bit. This is the easiest way to tell if your pads are leaving you exposed without actually hurting yourself - if the design is leaving you with a few doubts.

For more information and discussion, visit HockeyConsumer.com


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