In the physical nature of hockey, it is important to have properly fitting shoulder pads. One of the common tendencies when fitting shoulder pads is to look at the shoulder caps themselves. While this is important, there are many other factors to look at when evaluating the fit of a shoulder pad. Below are some of the key features of a good shoulder pad:
- Shoulder Caps- Shoulder caps come in many different shapes and sizes. One of the common misconceptions is that a bigger shoulder cap is more protective. Bigger is not necessarily better. Many shoulder pads now come with a more tapered fit around the shoulder, but offer the same level of protection. You want to make sure the shoulder caps sit directly on top of the shoulders. A shoulder pad that is too large, will slide down the arms of the player and will be more susceptible to shifting around. One that is too small will not properly cover the shoulder.
- Clavicle Protection- Many shoulder pads do not come with a reinforced clavicle protection, so it is important to make sure that there is a reinforced piece of protection over the collar bone. A good shoulder pad will offer this protection.
- Upper Arm Protection- This part of the shoulder pad is often adjustable, and can be slid up and down to offer the best overall protection for the upper arm. The arm of the shoulder pad should meet the top of the elbow pad to ensure the most quality fit.
- Sternum Protection- One of the often overlooked pieces of protection is the sternum. A quality shoulder pad will contain a reinforced piece of padding directly over the sternum area. Many cheaper shoulder pads will offer limited or no protection through this area of the chest.
- Spine Protection- Another extremely important piece of the shoulder pad is the spinal protection. A quality shoulder pad will have a reinforced padding all the way down the spinal cord to ensure protection in an extremely sensitive area of the body. A cheaper shoulder pad will not contain this piece of padding.
Fit Instructions- You want to make sure that the shoulder caps sit directly over the shoulder bone, fully covering the collar bone on each side. The upper arm should meet the top of the elbow pad to fully cover the arm. The shoulder pad should also cover down to at least the middle of the stomach in the front, and midway down the back, where it should meet the hockey pant for full back and kidney protection.