Wondering How Much Youth Hockey Costs? Find Out!

Wondering How Much Youth Hockey Costs? Find Out!

Youth Hockey Equipment Costs

If you are reading this, it is probably because your child has been begging you to play hockey for some time. You might have concerns, such as whether they will get hurt or how much it will cost. If your problem is the latter, then you have come to the right place.

Youth hockey will cost between a few hundred and several thousand dollars per year. It depends on several factors, but hockey is one of the most expensive sports. It is also a significant time commitment from both the parent and the player and can be financially unattainable for many families.

If your child is an aspiring hockey player, the costs might be worth it to you. This article will detail everything you might want to know about how much ice hockey costs. Continue reading for information on hockey gear, fees, travel expenses, and a few ways to save.

The Problem With Hockey’s Cost

Hockey has been one of the most expensive sports available to youth today. It can be so costly that it is unattainable for many families, particularly low-income families. In addition to registration fees, players’ families are expected to pay for most of their equipment themselves. Many youth teams, especially those ranked as AA or AAA, require travel to other cities and states for regular games and tournaments, which are fully funded by the parents.

Most hockey players come from upper-middle-class families. On average, only 4 percent of hockey players come from households making less than $25,000 per year. In contrast, over 50 percent of players come from families making more than $100,000 annually.

Many groups believe that hockey should be accessible to all families, despite status or income. Fortunately, organizations like Minnesota Nice Skates are working to alleviate economic barriers to playing hockey by leasing hockey equipment to aspiring players at a not-for-profit rate. Their hope is, by making hockey equipment available to players from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, they can expand children’s love of hockey and diversify the sport.

Hockey has gained quite the reputation as an expensive sport, only available to higher-income families who can afford the equipment and travel costs. Many factors might help determine how much it will cost your child to play hockey. Here are a few things that might influence the price of your child’s hockey season.

Location

Yes, that’s right. The price can vary based on where you live, which may not be surprising, as housing, food, and electricity also vary based on your geographic location, and hockey is no different.

Hockey costs more in regions where it is less popular, like the west coast or the southeastern United States, partly because they tend to travel more than families living in hockey hubs like the midwest. In Minnesota, known as “The Hockey State”, hockey is everywhere, making it more accessible to these families.

Age

The price of entry also depends on your child’s age. Children can play youth hockey from the time they are walking until they are off to college. It gets more expensive with age for a few reasons. First, the gear gets more costly because it has increased in size and complexity. They also might be more likely to travel, which hikes up the costs.

Type of League

Hockey leagues are ranked using a single A, double AA, or triple AAA system, with AAA being the most elite. The higher ranked your team, the more you should expect to pay in travelling costs, coaches fees, and ice maintenance and rental fees. As we have alluded to in the above sections, being on a travelling hockey team is where it begins to get very expensive.

Unfortunately, travel teams seem to be the norm, particularly if your child excels on the ice. However, club teams are an option in some parts of the United States and would be much more friendly to your bank account.

Gear and Equipment

A full hockey uniform has many components and is quite complicated. It includes a lot of protective equipment and several pieces of apparel. The gear gets even more complicated for goalies, as they require more equipment to protect themselves from many pucks coming at them at high speeds.

Another thing to consider when purchasing hockey equipment is the fit of that equipment. We’ve written an article covering how to properly size youth hockey equipment for the perfect fit to help with this. It is definitely worth the read.

This section will detail all of the hockey gear and equipment you might need for a safe and fun season. Also, as a quick disclaimer, all prices are estimates and might not reflect accurate pricing for your area. The cost of used equipment varies widely based on condition, location, and time of year.

Helmet

A helmet is an essential piece of protective equipment you can provide your child. Depending on your child’s age and the league they participate in, hockey can be a full-contact sport. Helmets are essential for people of all ages, but even more so for children during early brain development.

At one of the more affordable pieces of protective gear, you can find a used helmet for around $30 and a new one for up to $120, depending on the brand and the size of your child’s head. Be careful buying used helmets, as they might wear down over time. More expensive helmet brands include Warrior and Bauer, and a more affordable brand to look into is CMM.

Shoulder Pads

Hockey players also need to wear shoulder pads while playing hockey. These help protect the chest area and upper back of the player while also adding some protection to the shoulder area.

Typically a used pair will sell for $10 to $20, while brand new ones will usually cost between $50 and $80 depending on the size and brand purchased.

Hockey Pants

Hockey players also need a pair of padded pants for protecting the upper leg, groin and backside areas. They’ll also need to wear a protective cup before putting on the hockey pants.

This piece of equipment can usually be purchased used for $10 to $20. However, if you want to go for a brand new pair, you’ll be looking at spending in the neighbourhood of $50 to $150 depending on the brand, quality, and size of the purchased pants.

Shin Guards

Shin guards are moderately affordable protective gear. Of course, they are essential to keep those sensitive shin bones protected from pucks, sticks, and other players’ skates during a game.

A quick search at Play It Again Sports tells us that used shin guards are surprisingly hard to come by. The only pair available was very affordable at less than $6. On the other hand, new shin guards will cost between $25-$40, depending on the brand.

Elbow Pads

Like shin guards, you need elbow pads to keep the more boney and sensitive parts of your body protected. Used ones will cost you around $10-$15, and new ones will cost up to $35. These are certainly one of the less expensive pieces of equipment.

Gloves

Gloves are also an essential piece of protective gear required to play hockey. Gloves keep your hands warm while you skate, allow you to deflect flying pucks out of the air, and are padded to protect your hands from getting hit. Most new gloves will cost around $50-$60, depending on the brand. You can find a decent used pair for approximately $20.

Skates

Skates are one of the most critical pieces of equipment to play ice hockey. Skates are one of the pieces of equipment that we do not recommend buying used. Instead, if it is a possibility, opt for a new pair of skates so that the shoe will form onto your child’s foot. It will be a lot more uncomfortable for them than using a skate that has already formed around someone else’s foot.

A used pair of skates could cost as little as 50 bucks, maybe less. However, if you decide to spring for the brand new ones, you will undoubtedly spend close to $100 or more. Brands such as Bauer have youth hockey skates costing close to $200. The price will also depend on your child’s skill level and experience, as each pair of skates has nuanced differences that affect how they skate.

For a more in-depth look into the pricing of hockey skates, be sure to review our article looking into why hockey skates are so expensive.

Another thing to keep in mind about skates is that they require weekly maintenance for daily skating players. Even if they skate less frequently, they will need the occasional sharpening to keep performance in tip-top shape. Sharpening hockey skates does not seem very expensive but should still be considered in overall costs. One sharpening costs about $5, which can add up to $20 per month for frequent skaters.

Stick

The stick is another piece of equipment that you can’t play without. It is the tool used to get the puck into the net, pass to teammates, and steal it from other players. Sticks are another piece that might be worth considering purchasing new. A lot goes into choosing the right stick for each player, and it might be challenging to find the right one used.

To get the right hockey stick, it has to be a good fit in relation to your child’s height. That one is obvious. However, it would be best if you also considered the flex (how stiff or flexible it is when it hits the puck), the type (composite, wood, or two-piece), the blade pattern (how it curves), the kick point (the area on the stick with the most flex), and the stick lie (how the blade is angled in relation to the stick).

If you are looking for any old stick, you can find a used one for as cheap as $10. However, choosing one with the specs that you are looking for will cost quite a bit more. On the more expensive end of the spectrum, they will cost close to $200. On the cheaper end, they are around $70 or $80. Two-piece sticks will require purchasing two different pieces, and they might need to be replaced occasionally if the blade breaks.

Hockey Bag

Clearly, hockey players need a lot of equipment to play the game safely. How on Earth do they carry all of this? Well, a hockey bag comes in handy for parents and players when toting all of the equipment back and forth between the ice rink and home.

They are specially designed for hockey players, with ventilation for stinky gear, materials that don’t absorb odour, and compartments for all equipment. It is also large enough to carry everything you’d need to fully equip a hockey player.

You may not be surprised to learn that hockey bags are a little expensive. A used hockey bag might cost you between $20-$40. However, new ones could cost as much as $240, or a smaller one might be as low as $80. Of course, the price will also depend on the size and brand of the bag.

Goalie

You might be surprised to learn that goalies have almost a completely different set of equipment than the other players. They have to use a special catching glove, a helmet with a face mask, full leg pads, blockers, goalie skates, and a goalie chest protector.

Goalie gear is bigger and, you guessed it, more expensive than equipment for other players. To purchase all new goalie gear, you should expect to spend $1000 or more. If you decide to get everything used, you might save about 20-30% on your entire purchase.

  • Glove: The glove is essential for goalies, as they are continually using their hands to block shots coming at them at high speeds. You want a goalie glove to be thick and well-padded but offer enough dexterity to play the game. Used goalie gloves are approximately $20, which is much less than new ones. New goalie gloves range from about $80-$100.
  • Helmet: Like other goalie equipment, the helmet has a little more protective components. Their helmet is required to have a face mask because they are continually getting pucks shot at them. A new helmet is between $50-$200. Again, we highly recommend purchasing a new helmet, as they are not meant to last a long time and protect the head.
  • Leg pads: Leg pads are one of the more expensive protective items for a goalie. They are similar to shin pads and serve basically the same purpose but are much larger and protect the whole leg. New leg pads will usually cost b*etween $100-$270, and used ones will be closer to $25-$35.
  • Blocker: A blocker is a large foam-filled rectangle with a glove sewed to one side of it. They wear a blocker on the same arm with which they hold the stick. It provides extra padding and surface area to block shots on the goal. Used blockers cost approximately $10-$20, and new ones cost around $80-$120.
  • Goalie skates: Goalie skates are different from other players’ skates. They are designed for more ankle mobility because the goalie must make quick movement on his feet, have thicker and longer blades, and a shorter tongue. Skates are one of the more important investments for a new hockey player and should be bought new if possible. One of the more expensive pieces of equipment, new youth goalie skates cost around $180.
  • Chest and arm protector: Instead of elbow pads, goalies have to wear a single large piece of equipment that looks similar to body armour. It is nearly a full upper body suit protecting the chest, stomach, shoulders, and arms. A new chest protector for youth will cost around $80-$100, and a used one will cost about $50.

Fees

Fees are the once per season cost of playing hockey as part of a league. They typically include the cost of maintaining and renting the ice rink, paying coaches, paying referees, and other miscellaneous things.

This can range significantly depending on where you live, the level of hockey your child is playing, or the league. A glance at the Chicago Blackhawks Community Ice Rink tells us that registering brand new toddlers is just under $200, and the more advanced youth players will cost over $300.

They also require varying levels of equipment. Again, this is just one league, and the prices you see will vary depending on where you live and your child’s age and experience.

Travel

If it is in the cards, travelling is one of the most significant expenses for a hockey family. The player’s parents are responsible for footing the bill for hotels, flights, gas, and food during the trip. These expenses can add up very quickly. This section will outline some of the high costs of travelling for regular-season games and tournaments.

Be sure to look at our article investigating if travel hockey is worth it and the pros and cons of it.

Hotel

The average cost of a hotel room in the United States before the Covid-19 pandemic began was $130 per night. While you may be travelling nearly every weekend, it might not be the case that you have to stay in a hotel. Especially in hockey hubs like the northeast or midwest, many of the teams you will be playing are located within a couple of hours’ drive, saving you hotel costs.

However, hotel stays will be required at least some of the time if your child is on a travelling team. At $130 per night, you could potentially add several hundred dollars to the total of your season. The specific cost will vary significantly based on your geographic location, how long you stay, and how many rooms you have to book. Later on, we will share a few ways to save on hotel costs.

Flights

Indeed, most of your games will not require a flight, as many of them are played within the same region and can easily be accessed by car. However, that may change during playoffs or other tournaments where the competition pool gets a little smaller.

According to Business Insider, the average domestic flight costs a whopping $359 in 2019, up almost $30 from ten years ago. You will not likely let your youth player travel alone, so you could easily spend over $1000 on flights and checked luggage alone for only one trip.

Driving

Driving is potentially the smallest cost associated with travelling that you might accrue, depending on whether you can carpool, your gas mileage, and your car’s maintenance requirements. The current national average gas prices are $2.39.

Costs have to be considered for driving the player to the rink for practice, which can be as often as daily or as little as weekly. You also have to consider driving to and from tournaments in other cities.

Miscellaneous Costs

In addition to the long list of protective gear required by the sport, several miscellaneous costs are associated with playing hockey. There are first aid kits, hockey tape, doctor’s visits, protective cups, mouth guards, replacement sticks, pucks for practice at home, and athletic undergarments. This set of miscellaneous costs will vary significantly in price based on your location and the experience your child has playing hockey.

Of course, the required team uniform consists of one or two jerseys and a few pairs of socks to match. While these may not seem like much, they certainly add up over time and combine with the above costs. Sometimes these are included in the registration fees.

It is also essential to keep in mind that many of these costs, the gear and equipment, in particular, can be recurring costs. Depending on how old your child is and how fast they grow, you could be purchasing new gear annually or every other year. It also will likely get more expensive as they grow because the bigger equipment costs more.

How to Play Hockey on a Budget

By now, you are probably running for the hills after reading about all of the costs associated with hockey. However, there is some good news. If money is a concern for you, don’t worry. There are a few ways you can keep your child engaged in the sport without spending a fortune. This section will detail a few ways to play hockey on a budget.

We’ve also written an article looking into if hockey equipment is cheaper in Canada if that’s something you were considering looking into.

Street Hockey

Street hockey is an action-packed sport that is very similar to ice hockey. They follow many of the same rules, use a lot of the same gear. Even the object of the game is the same: score the ball into the net. The best part is that you can play year-round! There are a few key differences that make it a much more affordable option.

First, as you might have guessed, it is played on asphalt instead of at an ice rink. It is popular among neighbourhood kids, who you might find playing it on playgrounds, tennis courts, or the community church parking lot. This means you don’t have to pay any coaches fees, travel costs, or ice maintenance fees, saving you potentially thousands.

Second, it requires a lot less gear if it is not played at a club level. If your child wants to play with a few other neighbourhood friends, all they need is a stick and a no-bounce orange street hockey ball. If you are comfortable spending a little more money, they could also use inline skates to make it more fast-paced and protective gear such as helmets, elbow pads, knee pads, and maybe gloves.

Pond Hockey

If you live in colder climates, such as the midwest or northeastern regions of the United States, this might be a good option. It will be similar to street hockey in that you are saving money in terms of travel costs and fees, but it will still require a little bit of gear. This option is suitable for those children who have their hearts set on playing on the ice but is only attainable for a few months out of the year.

Buy A Starter Kit

You may be able to save some money by buying a youth hockey starter kit. Winnwell makes one available at amazon.com that includes shoulder pads, pants, gloves, elbow pads, shin pads and a carrying bag.

This would cover most components of what is required to play hockey. You’d only need to add a helmet, skates and a stick to finish the set.

Buy Used Gear

If you don’t like the options above, there are a few other ways you can save a few bucks on your child’s ice hockey season. The simplest way is to purchase all of their gear used. Gear can be surprisingly expensive, and youth grow out of skates and pants each season anyway.

Finding used gear is relatively easy, especially with used sports equipment stores such as Play It Again Sports. These stores are also great because you can go back and re-sell the equipment after your child grows out of it. Find out if there’s one near you here.

You can find beginner packages for hockey gear, which is an easy way to save a little on equipment. Occasionally, hockey programs might provide some parts of the outfit included in the registration fees. Be sure to ask your local ice rink if this is something they offer.

Share Travel Costs With Hockey Families

Another suggestion is to partner up with other hockey families to share the burden of travel costs. You can alternate who takes the children to practice and games, saving you time and money. Furthermore, you could split the travel costs with that family by either sharing a hotel room or alternating who takes the kids to away games.

Sign Up for Low-Cost Hockey Programs

Lastly, some organizations, such as the National Hockey League, support low-cost hockey programs for youth. Check out Pure Hockey’s Learn to Play Hockey program, an initiative aiming to connect lower-income youth with the sport.

They support families by getting players connected with the proper equipment, work with local hockey organizations to help reduce the cost of playing, and personalize the experience to ensure new players develop a love for the game.

Final Thoughts

Hockey is a unique and expensive sport, requiring tons of expensive equipment, fees, and travel costs. While the cost can vary based on your geographic location, your children’s age, or the type of hockey, many of the expenses are unavoidable.

However, if the costs are too much for your family, there are a few ways to cut down on spending. Your child could play street hockey with a few neighbourhood friends, pond hockey in the wintertime, or get thrifty by buying and selling used gear each season.

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