Is Youth Ice Hockey Still Safe? Examining Risks and Rewards

Posted by maridanielle annicchiarico on

Is Youth Ice Hockey Still Safe? Examining Risks and Rewards

Ice hockey, with its fast pace and physical play, can conjure images of flying pucks and bone-jarring collisions. This raises a crucial question for parents: is youth ice hockey safe anymore? The answer, like most things in life, is nuanced. Let's delve into the world of youth hockey safety, exploring the statistics and highlighting the potential benefits.

Safety First: Numbers Don't Lie

While the intensity of hockey increases with age, research suggests it's actually quite safe at the youth level. Studies by the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) show that youth hockey players fare well compared to other sports. For example, the rate of Emergency Department visits for basketball players aged 12-17 was four per 100 participants, while soccer had three injuries per 100, and football had a higher rate than both [1].

Here's the key takeaway: youth hockey's injury rate falls in line with, or is even lower than, many popular sports. However, it's important to acknowledge that injuries do occur. Most frequent are minor bumps and bruises, especially during the crucial skill development stage of learning to skate.

Modern ice hockey gear plays a significant role in mitigating risks. Certified helmets with full face masks, padded pants, gloves, and shin guards are mandatory for all youth players. Leagues often have additional safety protocols, such as stricter rules for body checking at higher age groups.

Now with the USA Hockey Mandate, all players <18 years old must have  maximum protection, including a Neck Guard to protect from cutting injuries:

  • Ice hockey protection from cuts and lacerations: Wrist protectors specifically designed with cut-resistant materials like those meeting the ASTM F2992-15 Cut Resistance A5 standard or BS EN ISO 388:2016 with EN ISO 13997 Level E protection can significantly reduce the risk of injuries from sharp skate blades and be the difference between life and death in the very rare instance of a skate injury to the neck..
  • Neck guards as a standalone collar/ ringlet or built-in shirt models: These pieces of equipment offer additional safeguarding for the major blood vessels of the body located in the neck area and can prevent tragic loss of life. What’s key to look for ? There’s so much writing on the packages!?
  • Comfort is important for players to use the gear. Find one your player likes!  
  • Cut protection/resistance is rated Level 3 OR higher.
  • Fits properly, should rest on the neck, circling the neck, not strangling and leave space for full head movement and breathing.
  • Must Protect the vital areas of the neck ( carotid arteries -red  and jugular veins-blue on each side of your neck). If it doesn’t cover,  then it is not protecting your player's life. 
  • Look for material that should stay in place, and will not slouch or slide down when wet.
  • Closure  system that’s easy to use - easy on and off for play but durabie.  Glues tend to breakdown on washing and fall off.   Check for a closure option that is sewn in or integral to the gear itself.  Look for quality and durability.  Sewn in closure options are a better durability choice, and potentially less interfering with hair or other gear during play. 
  • Washability, totally not a word… but to every hockey parent it is ! Being able to put the gear in the washing machine without it breaking down is huge!  There’s plenty of equipment sprays on the market including our own, “Orange You Glad” all natural citrus and plant extract   anti odor,  antibacterial spray which is also amazing if washing is not an option !  

Look for options that utilize mineral infusion or mineral fabrics. These technologies are scientifically proven to promote muscle recovery, reduce muscle spasms, and offer joint pain relief through anti-inflammatory properties.They are also naturally antibacterial and anti-odor.  Companies like G Force Athletics with their StealthWare and other lifestyle lines are leading the way in this exciting field, and providing current testing models to further prove that athletes can “Play Longer, Play Stronger” naturally ! 

Looking Beyond the Ice: The Benefits of Youth Hockey

Safety is paramount, but youth hockey offers a wealth of benefits that extend far beyond the rink. Here are a few key advantages:

  • Physical Fitness: Hockey is a demanding sport that builds strength, endurance, and coordination. Players develop exceptional cardiovascular health and agility while navigating the ice.
  • Teamwork and Sportsmanship: Hockey is a team effort. Players learn to communicate effectively, cooperate towards a common goal, and celebrate each other's successes. Sportsmanship is fostered through respecting opponents and adhering to the rules.
  • Discipline and Work Ethic: Mastering hockey skills requires dedication and practice. Players develop a strong work ethic, learn time management skills, and understand the value of perseverance.
  • Mental Toughness: Hockey challenges players physically and mentally. They learn to deal with pressure, bounce back from setbacks, and maintain focus during intense competition.
  • Confidence and Self-Esteem: Mastering new skills and achieving goals on the ice builds confidence and self-esteem in young players. The camaraderie and support of a team further enhance these positive feelings.

Making Informed Choices: Gearing Up for Safety

If you're considering enrolling your child in youth hockey, here are some tips to prioritize safety:

  • Choose a reputable league: Look for a league with certified coaches who prioritize safety and emphasize proper skill development before introducing competitive play. Safe Sport is the basic requirement. 
  • Invest in the right equipment: Ice hockey protection goes beyond the mandatory gear. Cut-resistant  neck protectors are essential and mandatory for play in USA Hockey, and wrist guards are highly recommended . Ensure all equipment fits properly and is certified by a reputable organization like the Hockey Equipment Certification Council (HECC) / NHL or most commonly the national boards CE / UKCA / BNQ.
  • Focus on skill development: Strong basic skills like skating and puck handling help young players gain confidence and control, reducing the risk of falls and collisions.
  • Open communication: Encourage your child to communicate any concerns or injuries, and don't hesitate to talk to the coach if you have questions.

The Final Face-Off: Safety and Benefits Can Coexist

Youth ice hockey, with proper precautions, can be a rewarding and enriching experience for young athletes. By understanding the safety statistics, prioritizing protective gear with the latest cut-resistant innovations, and choosing the right league, you can ensure your child enjoys the many benefits this sport offers, all while minimizing risk. So lace up those skates, hit the ice, and embrace the exciting world of ice hockey ! Make sure to get your cameras ready,,to capture priceless memories, because the time goes by quickly !!

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  • I feel much safer wearing these neck guard shirts! They’re a must-have item for athletes. When you feel protected, it definitely has a positive impact on your game. I highly recommend them!

    Elina on
  • The neck guards are very comfortable great for playing hockey.they are fitted and they are not loose.I recommend GFA for their high quality products.

    Abby on
  • These neck guard shirts are like no other very breathable a mineral infused for long play with better blood circulation. As well as the other products I highly recommend you to check out G Force Athletics and their products ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    Bill on
  • Great article!

    Karolyn Denson Landrieux on
  • These shirts are baggy, the gray quality they fit really well

    Travis on
  • This is a very Good product it is comfortable, great quality, not baggy like the other hockey shirts

    Jake on
  • This is an amazing site for hockey players and more. They have great quality neck guards. There are also amazing products more than just the neck guards. I highly recommend their products. They are great quality and very comfortable. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    Madelyn on
  • This article brilliantly balances the concerns and benefits of youth ice hockey, providing a thorough and reassuring overview for parents. The emphasis on safety, backed by solid statistics, and the introduction of innovative protective gear like neck guards, highlights a proactive approach to minimizing risks. Additionally, the detailed explanation of the sport’s physical, mental, and social benefits underscores the enriching experience youth hockey offers. A must-read for any parent considering enrolling their child in this exciting sport!

    Ebony S Hall on

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Is Youth Ice Hockey Still Safe? Examining Risks and Rewards


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