Selecting the right helmet can sometimes be difficult because there are few noticeable performance enhancements associated with helmets. A helmet does not add speed to your skating or strength to your slap shot. However, the correct fit will make the difference between a contact sport and a possible injury. A properly sized helmet provides crucial protection against one of the most dangerous hockey injuries: a head injury.
When shopping for a helmet, a good fit is far more important than color or style. Fit is the most important factor because there is a direct correlation between a properly sized helmet and safety. You can determine your helmet size by measuring the circumference of your head about ½ - 1” above your eyebrow. This measurement also correlates to your hat size. Please note this is an approximation and sizing will vary slightly among manufacturers.
Make sure the helmet fits snugly on the head. Depending on the size and shape of your head, some brands and styles fit better than others. A properly fitting helmet sits flat on the head and is about ½ inch above your eyebrows, without tilting forward or back. Adjust the chin strap so that it fits firmly under the chin. You want the helmet to fit snug enough so that it doesn’t shift, but not to the point of where it feels uncomfortable. If you feel pressure or pinching, the helmet is too small. Please note that most helmets today feature tool-free clips that allow quick and easy adjustments that not only ensure a custom fit, but also allow room to grow.
Remember to make sure the helmet fits properly and provides the comfort and protection the player needs. The extra few dollars is well worth it. If your helmet becomes dented or cracked, replace it immediately. It is also important to maintain the HECC stickers on the helmet. In the event that you would need to replace the helmet, the warranty would be void if the stickers were removed.
All youth through college level players are required to wear a face mask. There are three types to choose from: wire cage, face shield and combination masks. At minimum, all three options offer protection for the top half of the face (Youth through college players are required to wear full facial protection—wire cage, full shield or combination mask; junior hockey players have the option to wear a half shield). Personal preference guides which mask a player chooses.
Wire Cages cover the entire face and jaw area. The mask should fit snugly against the chin. If the mask is too long, it is possible that the nose and mouth will come in contact with the mask on impact. When the player’s mouth is closed, the chin should fit comfortably into the chin cup. To ensure the mask is attached properly to the helmet, follow the specific manufacturer instructions you received with the face mask. Wire cages provide more protection and do not fog up like face shields, but they are also generally heavier.
Face Shields are made of a high impact-resistant clear plastic and come in either full shield or half shield. Half shields generally cover the face to just below the nose, leaving the bottom half of the face unprotected. Some players prefer shields instead of wire cages because shields offer better overall vision since no wires are in the way. Shields do, however, tend to fog up during use. Most shields today are made with fog-resistant coating. If you still experience fogging, try using a de-fogging spray or wipe.
Combination Masks combine the best of both designs: a plastic face shield to protect the eyes and upper part of the face and a wire cage to cover the lower half of the face and to add ventilation.