Children's Hospital Colorado

Young Hockey Players: Are They Safe on the Ice?

A girl hockey player skates on the ice with her stick.

Regardless of the level of a young hockey player or team, wearing appropriate protective equipment is the best defense against injury. Find out if you’re doing the right things to keep the hockey player in your life safe.

It’s all about the gear

Simply wearing the right equipment has dramatically reduced the risk of eye and dental injuries, concussions, and lacerations (cuts), which are commonly associated with ice hockey.

At a minimum, all hockey players should wear:

  • Helmets and face masks with a mouth guard
  • Shoulder pads
  • Elbow pads
  • Shin pads
  • Padded hockey pants (breezers)
  • Gloves
  • An athletic supporter with a cup
  • Hockey skates

What about goalies?

Goalies should wear proper goalie gear with a proper helmet and mask with a mouth guard, shoulder pads, pants and shin/leg pads, as well as a glove and blocker.

What are common hockey injuries?

  • Concussion
  • Knee injuries including cartilage injuries (OCDs), meniscal injuries, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), and medial or lateral collateral ligament (MCL/LCL)
  • Shoulder injuries to the acromioclavicular joint (AC joint) and clavicle (collarbone)
  • Ankle injuries
  • Foot injuries due to the puck hitting the foot through the skates
  • Wrist injuries
  • Hand injuries

If you or your child has any of these injuries and would like further information or an appointment at Children’s Colorado, we have a team of sports medicine specialists with expertise in getting young athletes back on the ice. Call us at 720-777-3899.

How to have fun and be safe

Protective equipment is the first step to keeping young players safe, but good early coaching also helps prevent injuries.

Key coaching lessons include:

  • Proper handling of the stick
  • Good skating techniques
  • Good checking techniques when they get old enough to check, or teaching how to avoid checking when younger
  • How to be a team player
  • Respect for the game and everyone playing, including the other team

Check out more sports safety articles.

Written by: Jason Rhodes, MD, Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery, Children’s Hospital Colorado. Dr. Rhodes is also a hockey player.

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