Monday, September 10, 2012

Gear Up - The Anatomy of A Ball Hockey Player

With the arrival of September comes the start of my full ball hockey season. I have been playing this summer in the ECBHL but soon will also begin playing Thursdays and Sunday afternoons in an ad hoc pickup league in the Bloomfield rec centre.

I play all positions, including goalie, so Sundays usually sees me in net for two hours then playing out in the evenings with ECBHL. As I was gearing up last night it occurred to me how physical ball hockey can be even when playing "no contact". I suppose it is the nature of any game that has players swinging sticks and shooting mylex balls on playing surfaces the size of basketball courts and school gyms.We use the yellow or pink Mylec balls that are not as hard as the traditional orange but can still do this.......

In essence it is a simple game only needing some kind of footware and a hockey stick but having played the game for forty five of my forty nine years I have learned the hard way the benefits of proper protective gear.

So here we go....the  gear anatomy of THIS ball hockey player.


Soccer shinpads work offering minimal protection to the lower leg but offer no protection to the knee. Any strong slash or impact with a stick can do this........

There are two decent models of ball hockey specific pads on the market but I prefer the Protek over the Mylex brand. The Proteks are ergonomically designed to fit better and have adjustable velcro fasteners. Slightly more in cost over the functionable Mylexs but worth the extra expense in terms of comfort and strapping.


I recently discovered the benefits of indoor soccer shoes for playing ball hockey. Both games are very similar requiring sprints, sudden stops and pivots. The shoe is designed for that with a low profile sole that has an excellent floor feel, grip and limits the chances of rolling an ankle often seen with running shoes that place the foot higher off the ground. An added benefit to the indoor soccer shoe is the extra protection for the top of the foot provided by the "flap" that covers the laces.

Athletic Supporter( jock/cup)

Designed for ice hockey you can now find mesh shorts with built in athletic support. Easy, cool and convienent without the need for the traditional jock strap. The advantage is they can be worn alone, or if you want extra leg length, worn under a soccer style short.


All kind of options for hand protection. Most organized leagues require a specific level of protection that can be found in hockey, ball hockey specific or even lacrosse gloves. I prefer ice hockey gloves but since I have a small hand I am able to use a junior sized glove. It still offers maximum protection but is smaller and lighter. You never appreciate gloves until you take an errant slash of the thumb!

Helmet(and shield)

Organized leagues require the use of helmets for liability reasons. General pickup hockey does not. I am mandated to wear a helmet in ECBHL games. My other ad hoc pickup hockey does not as we simply rent the gym but are not an official league.

I am a cyclist so wearing a helmet is not a big deal. After six concussions in forty nine years I know full well the misery of head injuries. Not sure what I will do this year and whether I will wear my lid at Bloomfield. I do feel safer with it on especially when slapshots are whizzing around my head.

Shields are another matter. I only recently added one to my CCM hockey helmet and I actually like it for no other reason than the protection if affords from high sticks and balls. Last year playing defense at Bloomfield(without helmet and shield) this happened. I was really lucky......

Previous to that I got a stick in the face.......

Generally I will at least wear protective eyewear if I opt to go without helmet. That said helmets today are not the same as the ill fitting clunky things of the past. They are ergonomically designed, very light and comfortable.In some cases you have no choice but wear one if you want to play. In others it is a choice to make - as is using a visor.

Mouth Guard

Gotta look after the pearly whites...have you seen the prices of dental surgeries of late? They actually serve dual purposes; teeth protection and concussion prevention. My understanding of the science is that a mouth guard locks tight the jaw which limits the concussive effects of a fall and or hit. I wear one ALL THE TIME either with or without a helmet. I have not spent a small fortune on dental care over a lifetime to lose some teeth from a high stick or a shot follow through. I know what you will say - "I can't breathe with it..." - but you will get used to it. Ten bucks and training yourself to be a better nose breather is a small price to pay compared to reconstructive dental surgery.

For the love of the game!

1 comment:

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