Last month I was at the rink watching a fellow coaches son play in one of the annual spring hockey tournaments. As I came into the rink and then sitting in the stands I noticed how everyone had the very best equipment, bags, and sticks. When the teams got on the ice for warm-ups you could have put that same equipment on NHL players it was that good.
I started to wonder if this was normal, or if this being Los Angeles it was only a local thing. Later in the day I made some phone calls to people on the east coast and in Canada to see if what I experienced was a similar sight. What I have come to understand is that hockey players throughout North America are wearing the very best gear at all ages.
When did all of this happen? I mean I coach hockey and work with players off the ice and guess I never really noticed it before that one Saturday. As a kid I learned how to shoot (and played with) a straight Titan wood stick. My skates were a pair of used Bauer 2000’s, and the rest of my gear was a combo of CCM, and Bauer. We could afford new equipment, but always seemed to buy gear at the annual swap shop held at our community center (where the rink was). Since I went through gear nearly every year I certainly don’t blame my parents from buying used stuff, and I never put much thought into the used gear I had versus new gear. I guess it didn’t matter to me much. I simply loved to play the game, both organized team type hockey and the outdoor shiny games with buddies and older kids.
I wonder why all of these parents who most likely grew up how I did want to go the other way and buy their kids all the best stuff. Is it a sense of giving our kids more than we had, or is it we think our kids are the next Sidney Crosby’s or Alex Ovechkin’s and want to outfit them with the latest and greatest equipment so they have the best chance of ending up in the NHL? I can tell you from a coaching standpoint (both on and off the ice) that while the new gear is good, it won’t make you that much of a better player. If you can’t skate with $150 dollar used skates, having $600 Grafs won’t make any difference. Similarly with the composite $150 dollar plus sticks…in my mind no kid who is not playing at the junior level or above should have one of these sticks. It’s not needed, and certainly doesn’t help the player perform better or the parents bank account.
What’s your take on the topic of equipment? I’d like to get some feedback on this issue from both players and parents. In the meantime please check out my book on DRYLAND training as this will have a profound impact on a player’s abilities for many years to come with a very minimal investment.