Hockey Glove Considerations
Picking out the proper gear is essential for all hockey players, but it is even more vital for the younger youth players. This is because youth players are still learning the game and just what they are capable of, meaning that the wrong equipment can have a much longer-lasting negative impact on their development, both as a player and as a person.
There are various factors to consider when picking out the best hockey gloves for youth players, including fit, construction, protection, liner, and cost. These qualities are what will determine the durability, comfort, and mobility of the glove.
In this piece, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at all these elements, see the various options out there, and why it is essential to pay attention to them. We won’t leave out the goalies either, as so often happens in these types of posts. Note that the major difference between youth gloves and intermediate or senior gloves is size, so read on knowing that all these considerations are applicable across the board.
There are practically countless options available for those looking for hockey gloves suited for younger players or beginners, who often do not fall into the same grouping. Singling out the most appropriate glove will involve taking many factors into account. Thankfully, a straightforward way of categorizing the various glove types out there is by the level of play they are designed for. This is what we’ll delve into first.
For the beginners out there, the recreational class of hockey gloves will be the hands-down choice. These are gloves that will provide a solid starting point for the players hoping to make a real go at higher-level hockey, as well as the seasonal pond-hockey players out there who just want to keep the frost off their hands. These are the stats:
These gloves will come with an exterior made out of standard nylon material, which is reasonably breathable while providing good playability and comfort coming straight out of the package. You won’t have to break them in for suitability. At the palms, soft Nash materials will be the norm, with many types featuring additional overlays to increase the glove’s durability as a whole.
As is the priority with all gloves, these are typically single-layer foam implants that help act as shock absorbers or impact dampeners.
The traditional nylon materials incorporated in this class of glove will provide adequate breathability and moisture control for youth players and beginners while affording acceptable levels of comfort.
These are the types of gloves you would want to have as a youth-intermediate player, meaning that they are suited for those whose level of playing ability or potential call for and merit some more effective equipment. You will have a much-increased level of comfort, protection, and durability compared to recreational glove types.
The main points in their favour are that they offer features found in elite-type gloves while still maintaining somewhat reasonable price-tag levels, especially if you’re considering youth gloves.
These gloves are typically made out of higher-end nylons on the outer surfaces, which are paired in combinations with logos that are stitched-in rather than printed so as to enhance their visual richness and durability. You will find quality, pro-like materials such as Clarino or Nash at the palms of the hands. However, some of the better types will have different overlays that further increase their toughness.
The player’s hand dexterity and range of motion will be significantly better due to the more sophisticated segmentation found in the cuff and backhand regions of the gloves.
These gloves come in dual-density, well-upgraded foam materials that will be capable of enduring and absorbing impacts of a much higher intensity than recreational gloves will be able to withstand.
Often, plastic reinforcements will be found in the glove’s key regions, prone to taking the impacts of shot-blocking and stick-slashing. Players donning these gloves will still enjoy protection against hyperextension, but they should also benefit from the increased dexterity of the two-piece thumb segments, which allow for enhanced stick control.
You will find that these gloves are lined with a soft microfiber, which accomplishes the job of managing moisture and dampness levels much more efficiently through a full hockey game session than recreational glove liners would. You may also get performance gloves odour-control features that would be more commonly found in elite-level glove types.
These are the types of gloves you want if you are looking to get to the highest limits of hockey performance, whether you’re just stepping into the bantam class or making a bid for the Stanley Cup. Serious business is what we’re talking about here. They will provide professional-level mobility, comfort, and durability.
Youth and intermediate players looking to step up their game, especially in cases where the opponents will be bigger and stronger, would be well advised to look into these. They just might give them the edge they need to overcome the odds.
The strategic segmentation that you find in elite gloves will give you that same feeling that you get with a glove that you’ve broken in yourself – it fits and feels almost perfect. Elite gloves are made out of synthetic leathers and high-end nylon composites and are finished off with high-end stitch-work to ensure superior resistance to abrasion.
At the palms, you will usually have Clarino or Nash placed in overlaid patterns at high-stress areas to prevent the development of bald patches and holes. These gloves will afford the ultimate stick-feel.
At this level of glove type, there is nothing to be spared in terms of technology and material selection in order to afford the very best protection to the player’s hands. Elite gloves feature multi-layered foam setups placed in tandem with strategically placed plastic reinforcements for optimal shielding.
The fibers you will find lining elite gloves are of the premium sort, not only superlative in their comfort but exceptional in the technologies that allow them to manage bacteria and moisture levels in even the most intense games. All gloves will start to smell eventually with regular heavy use, but these gloves will push that inevitable eventuality a long way off.
Note: For all the importance we place on proper hockey equipment, it has to be kept in mind that your gear won’t give you superpowers. A talented player with the very best equipment might still be outshone by a hard-working but average opponent playing in nothing but patched-up hand-me-downs. The movies are actually right on this one. The game is as who plays it, especially with hockey, so don’t get too caught up in the more expensive gear.
As we mentioned earlier, the main element differentiating what suits a youth player from what will be suitable for other player categories will be the exact size of the gloves themselves. For more info on this, be sure to read through our article going over the difference between youth and junior sizes.
The dynamics of hockey play and other variables will hold constant, meaning that players’ gloves will be going through the same motions and demands, which is why proper sizing will be essential for optimal youth player hockey glove selection.
Here, we only have two options; either the gloves fit correctly, or they don’t. Here’s how to tell the difference.
A properly fitting glove should have the player’s wrists covered up entirely by the glove cuffs. Your fingertips shouldn’t be dangling short of the ends of the glove – it should be a somewhat snug but comfortable fit. Another definitive measure of glove fit is that the cuff tops will meet the bottoms of your elbow pads. Should there be a gap or an overlap between these two gear pieces, you can be sure that either your elbow pads or your gloves are not of optimal size.
For more in-depth information on fitting hockey equipment, be sure to read our article describing how to size hockey equipment for the best fit.
It’s easier to tell when a glove doesn’t fit right on the oversize side than when it’s a bit too small. An improperly fitting glove will not have the palm of the hand fully inserted into the glove and will leave the cuffs at a distance from the tips of the elbow pads. Even without the aid of elbow pads as a point of reference, the fingertips should be as flush as possible with the tips of the glove fingers.
Gloves that are on the larger side will see the cuffs overlap the elbow pads, which will inhibit the mobility of the player’s wrists and negatively impact their game. Hockey stick manipulation calls for a certain amount of dexterity in the fingertips, which will be hampered should a player’s fingers not reach to the very ends of their gloves’ tips.
Sizing can be a challenging aspect of hockey glove purchasing. Still, it’s a very understandable trouble spot since only the wearer will really know how the glove fits, which makes buying them for younger players and beginners somewhat tricky.
Keep in mind that different brands and manufacturers might have their own guidelines when it comes to fitting standards, so your best bet will be to check the retailer’s page for their particular conventions or ask for help if you happen to be shopping at a physical sporting goods outlet.
Aside from the type of glove and the size you need it to be in, another consideration you will have to keep in mind is its fit. This runs very close to the size of a glove, but there are nuances in how hockey gloves are designed and cut, which different players might have preferences regarding. The three types of fit, encompassing all categories and sizes of gloves, are elaborated below.
These are the classic glove types that feature a 4-roll design, which serves to accommodate the most volume or space running from the fingers to the cuffs of the gloves. This is a longstanding favourite for many due to the relatively expansive allowance it offers in terms of wrist mobility and superlative comfort.
At the polar opposite end of the traditional fit glove is the contoured glove. These gloves will stick closely to the player’s hand at every point and minimize the volume of space within them. This might seem like a deficiency, but it depends on what you’re looking for in a glove. Contoured gloves afford a much higher level of responsiveness and hand-feel due to eliminating empty space within them.
Should you wish to have the best of both worlds, then the tapered fit hockey glove will be your best bet. While these gloves provide a tight-fitting experience at the fingertips, as with contoured gloves, the cuff regions are more akin to the traditional type of glove with a generous allowance for wrist mobility and cuff roll.
For this amalgam of qualities, tapered fit gloves have quickly risen to become the most preferred types of gloves in every category or skill level of players, all the way from junior bantams to pro-level elites.
When it comes to hockey gear, gloves happen to be some of the most consumable pieces of gear that a player will go through, meaning that the replacement rate for gloves will likely exceed that of other pieces of equipment. This is to be expected, of course, since gloves experience a great deal of friction and rough usage in the course of their lifetimes.
They will fall apart much sooner than anything else in a player’s gym bag, which is why it matters how much you dip into your wallet to pay for these essential items. In anticipation of the inevitable split backhands, torn palm regions, and fallen-out pads, here’s a quick run-through of what you can expect to get within the various budget brackets available.
Also, if you’re interested, we’ve got another article that looks into the average cost of hockey equipment for youth players.
While we wouldn’t like to use the term ‘cheap’ to describe this tier of gloves, they do offer the most pocket-friendly options. You will find these gloves ranging from 30-60 dollars for youth sizes and 50-70 dollars in intermediate to senior sizes. For beginners and youth players, they make for adequate starting gear.
Most of these gloves will fall into the recreational category of gloves and feature thick, but not particularly strong, padding material in the palm region. The backhand and sides will offer thinner and less dense protection as well. Look out for pressed nylon logos situated on the cuffs that lie flush with the glove padding and so tend to get friction-rubbed away over time.
These are the gloves you will find at a price range of between 60-90 dollars for youth sizes and 70-100 dollars for senior sizes. Although their palm covers will usually be thinner, they will often have a second layer of material on the surface, such as Nash, that will improve the gloves’ durability and gripping capabilities.
Look out for logos on the cuffs that are stitched on rather than pressed, meaning that they will not rub off with continuous wear, though they still lie almost flush with the surface of the cuffs. At the fingers, they should have a two-piece structure that will allow for more flexibility in the player’s fingers. The main improvement on entry-level gloves here, however, is the increased amount of polyethylene inserts and double-density foams that offer up greater protection.
You will find these gloves ranging from between 100-125 dollars in youth sizes and 120-150 dollars for senior sizes. The reason for their differentiation from top-shelf and mid-tier gloves is that although they share many similarities with top-tier gloves in terms of comfort, protection, and the foams that make them similar, they somewhat lack in the palm material technologies that characterize the very best gloves on the market.
The palms in these gloves will usually be of a relatively simple, though sensitive, Nash that is very similar to the type used by the pros. Colour coordination and increased grip capabilities will often be included by means of an extra strip or layer of material in their construction.
Look out for raised, stitched cuff logos that give off a 3-Dimensional effect. They are constructed with thrice-separated finger stalls for a more natural range of finger mobility and flexibility as players grip their sticks.
These are the gloves you will find retailing for approximately 130-150 dollars in youth sizes and 160 to 210 dollars in senior sizes. In terms of material quality, comfort, and protection, these are the best gloves available on the market.
Expect to find double-density or triple-density foam inserts, flexible thumbs, and three-piece finger stalls. You might even encounter gloves with double thumb stalls that allow players the option of choosing whether they wish to have flexible thumb fits, locked thumb fits, or combinations of the two fits.
In terms of material, these gloves will usually be made from triple fiber blends coupled with reinforced grip coatings for unsurpassed durability. On the outer layers, expect to find pro-level cable meshes made of nylon or synthetic leather.
The protective foams on the highest-end gloves will typically have the manufacturer’s place labels on their proprietary protective foams, which you can spot on the backhand of the gloves. For example, Bauer high-end gloves will have POROX XRD® foam indicated, Warrior gloves have Phantom foam, and CCM gloves make use of D30® foam. These foam types are designed for the maximum protection and comfort possible.
Look out for bevelled, stitched, and raised cuff logos that make for very attractive 3D appearances and textures.
Although we can broadly conclude that the more expensive a glove is, the more durable, comfortable, and protective it will be. With proper care, we should also remember that cheaper gloves can last a long time and provide adequate service, especially for youth or beginner players. Always air out your gloves after use to help them last longer.
Note: Again, your gloves will not determine your playing ability, no matter how expensive or inexpensive. In fact, it is often recommended that beginners and younger players start with cheaper options that may somewhat steepen their learning curve but will serve to sharpen their hockey aptitude more quickly. Give a player who’s been training in cheap gloves a pair of elite-level mitts, and they may start to make magic on the ice – but it doesn’t really work the same in reverse.
It’s easy to forget about the goalie in hockey – until the moment he or she is the one thing standing between your opponent’s speeding puck and the back of your team’s net. Let’s take a quick look at their glove selection needs, which vary in significant points from those of the rest of the team.
With goalie gloves, three primary considerations are made, aside from the obvious size and fit considerations. These are cuff style, pocket style, and catch angle.
There are two styles to choose from here:
Traditional Two-Piece Cuff: This is designed to allow for flexibility in the wrist of the goalie, which will enable them to bend their glove backward with much greater ease while trying to catch pucks in motion, which helps with this effort. On the other hand, the space between the pieces may sometimes leave the wrist exposed and result in painful contact with speeding pucks or sticks. It hurts.
Solid Cuff: These are newer cuff designs that do away with the flexibility of traditional two-piece designs in favour of a more solid surface. This allows the goalie to use this area to block incoming pucks in cases where catching it might not be a feasible option. There is increased protection as well, but the trade-off is the decreased wrist flexibility the goalie will have to work with.
The goalie gloves on the market today are available in two different pocket styles.
Single T-Web Catch: This is the original glove design that was traditionally used in goalie glove manufacture. It features a single leather piece that serves to hold the glove lacings together.
Double T-Web Catch: The more modern innovation of goalie gloves introduced the double t-web, which features smaller laced portions situated between the T-web and the pocket edge, as well as an additional laced portion right between the leather’s ‘T’.
This design feature aims to allow for a deeper and bigger pocket, which will allow for much easier puck capture. A deeper pocket will also minimize the chances of puck pop-outs, which refers to situations where a captured puck ‘bounces’ out of the glove pocket due to its high velocity. Puck rotation will also be kept at a minimum.
Goalies nowadays have the choice to choose between three distinct catch angles, although there happens to be one glove - the Warrior G2 Catch Glove - that allows goalies to change the angle to fit their own particular preferences.
90 Degree Catch Angle: This is the angle preferred by goalies that tend to hold their gloves in the vertical position while tending the goal. Should you position your glove in the handshake attitude with this type of catch angle glove, you will find that the T-web is pulled down towards the thumb, which can reduce your puck-catching effectiveness.
75 Degree Catch Angle: This is the ‘medium’ catch angle setting, being halfway between the 90 and 60-degree angle gloves. This type of glove has the T-web situated closer to the mid-point of the space between your pointer finger and your thumb, although it will still lean slightly closer to your thumb. The 75-degree angle glove is favoured by goalies that tend to hold their glove somewhat steeper than the traditional handshake position.
60 Degree Catch Angle: These gloves have the T-web closest to the mid-point between the player’s pointing finger and thumb. Looking through the shelves at retail outlets, you’ll find that these are the most common gloves since they make the job of opening up and closing the gloves easiest for their wearers. This makes it ideal for younger players and beginners, and it is favoured by those who hold their gloves in the handshake position. However, it can be used in steeper attitudes as well.
You might want to consider a couple of other minor considerations, such as the colour palette (it’s always best to get a glove that matches your team’s colours) and the lacing material used. Nylon is traditionally used here.
While many assume that any hand-me-down gloves that may be found lying around will do for a beginner, this may not be the way to achieve hockey success. It’s essential to take the factors we’ve covered here into consideration and measure them against your expectations of the game of hockey for yourself or for your young one if that’s the case.
As you’ve seen, not all gloves are created equal, so give your youth hockey glove selection some proper consideration before making your decision. Inadequate equipment can be highly detrimental to the development of hockey talent, and youth players are especially vulnerable to discouragement and frustration, so here’s wishing you the best of luck as you make your choice.
- Ice Warehouse: How to Select a Hockey Glove
- New to Hockey: Hockey Gloves Guide - Fitting and Buying
- Dummies: Choosing Hockey Equipment for Yourself and Your Kids
- Campusmen: How to Choose Hockey Gloves