Hockey safety begins with education. Education for the toddler to young hockey player is essential to reduce or eliminate the risk of injuries sustained on the ice. Of course, safe equipment plays a major role in hockey safety as well but it is a combination of proper equipment and education of the young skater. Hockey and skating accidents occur as skates are sharp and hockey sticks are utilized in a hockey game. In addition to the obvious risk associated with sticks and ice skates, hockey is a very strenuous activity and physical injuries are prevalent. Muscle strains and sprains are commonplace. As safety starts with the basics to the toddler and young hockey enthusiast. First and foremost, a young skater is required to learn how to skate properly.
The initial stage and a prerequisite to playing hockey is satisfactory ice-skating. Skating properly for hockey means skating forward, backward, sharp turning, stop and go and learning how to get up quickly after falling (remember, everybody falls from time to time, even the professionals).
Safe Equipment (helmets)
The next essential element for toddlers and youth skaters is equipment. There are many choices for the youth skaters but the most integral and first piece of equipment to purchase is the helmet. Helmets should be purchased for anybody who touches foot (or skates) to the ice. Many facilities provide helmets for toddlers and young skaters but we highly recommend purchasing the right helmet for your young skater. The helmet should fit properly and be comfortable. The helmet should be certified by the Hockey Equipment Certification Council (HECC) and should include a full face mask, with a chin cup and chin strap. It must fit properly and must be fastened in place at all times while on the ice. this is essential and will prevent serious injury for all skaters, regardless of age.
Ice Skates are the next essential safety equipment element. Of course, Ice skates are essential to anyone playing ice hockey or learning how to ice skate in any fashion whatsoever. However, for the toddler and youth skater, it is of the utmost importance that the skates fit properly. If the ice skates are too loose, the young learning skater will be at a disadvantage because it will be too difficult to learn to skate properly. If the ice skates are too tight, pain will occur and it will defeat the enjoyable experience attained by the young skater. Ice skates for the beginner should offer Ample support and have a hard plastic toe. Additionally be sure to keep skates sharpened as it is easier for young skaters to maintain balance and maneuver on the ice.
In addition to the hockey helmet and Ice skates other equipment is available to players wishing to play ice hockey and all are designed for safety of a hockey player at any level. The Majority of the equipment is required for players at any age and skill level if they are playing in any organized hockey facilities. The additional hockey equipment consists of, but is not limited to the following: Mouth guards; shoulder pads; hockey pants; hockey gloves; athletic supporter; neck protector; elbow pads; and Shin guards. These items are not required for the beginner skater but will be required when the skater reaches the level of learning how to play hockey.
Stretching and Warm-up
Since ice hockey is such a strenuous activity, it is essential that a warm-up and stretching routine is performed prior to skating. It is important to stretch the muscle groups utilized when Ice skating and playing hockey before any intensive skating begins. These muscle groups include the groin, back/torso muscles and hamstrings. Most exercises can be done on the ice and should be done before the activity begins. Toddlers who are just learning to skate do not necessarily have to exercise before a class because learn to skate classes are not very strenuous. However, it would be a good idea to create good warm-up habits for players and skaters at any age.
Ice hockey is the most exciting sport to play and provides a rush of adrenaline to the young player. However, due to the speed and nature of the game, a risk of injury is present. The best way to lessen the risk of injury is to wear proper protective equipment, to be educated about how injuries occur and how to avoid and reduce the risk of those injuries. Enjoy!