Shoulder Pads vs. Padded Shirts vs. Nothing
It's time to finally answer the question that every hockey player has asked at one point or another: Do I really need to wear shoulder pads? The short answer is yes, but before the roller hockey players start saying how hot it is wearing all those extra layers outside or how you skate better on the ice without shoulder pads, please remember that safety is always a top priority when playing our great sport. The safer you are, the longer you can play, and in the end, the happier you will be! So let's dive into this great debate and settle this topic once and for all.
There seem to be three options amongst the hockey community for types of upper body protection that should be used: Shoulder Pads, Padded Shirts, or nothing at all. Lets talk about the shoulder pads first. Shoulder Pads are hands down the only piece of upper body equipment that we recommend you wear during an ice hockey game. They will provide a sufficient amount of protection on your back and chest from sticks, pucks, and bumps from other players. The shoulder caps will protect you when battling down low along the boards. We have seen too many players who either don't wear shoulder pads or wear padded shirts break collarbones, ribs, and sternums. Even if you are playing a pickup game or play in a lower level of hockey, the puck can still do some serious damage to you and the falls will hurt much more than if you had just worn a shoulder pad. That being said, we understand some players will be stubborn and not want to wear a shoulder pad because they find that it is too bulky for them. Here's our advice: Find the lowest profile shoulder pads that fit you. The Winnwell Classic Shoulder Pads (Identical to the Sher-Wood 5030) are incredibly popular for these kinds of players as they are lightweight, have pretty minimal padding, and are some of the lowest profile shoulder pads out there. That being said, they aren't going to offer you that much protection, but hey...It's better than nothing!
Next up are padded shirts. These should really only be used by roller hockey players. They will offer sufficient protection from the high speed lightweight roller hockey pucks, but they won't do much for you when falling down. Most of the time players fall on the knees or butts so it shouldn't be too big of a deal for falls, but battling in the boards is always a sticky situation. Luckily, most if not all roller hockey leagues are non-contact and players tend to play with a little less aggressiveness. This means that when you are battling for the puck along the boards you are less likely to get rocked by some all-star who plays his 10PM Tuesday night game like it's game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Last but not least, let's address simply not wearing shoulder pads. I mean, sure, don't wear shoulder pads if you like getting bruises, if you have great health insurance, and pain brings you happiness. Shoulder pads are made and designed for a reason and that is to keep you healthy & protected. There are always people who can argue that they feel safe and fine without them or that they play better without wearing them, but that still doesn't take away from the fact that you won't be playing better when you inevitably get some bruised ribs, a cracked sternum, or a broken collar bone. I know so many guys who have gone down hard and regretted ever not wearing a shoulder pad. So as for a closing statement... There is never an excuse to not wear shoulder pads. They protect you from injury and that is really the most important thing. If you don't like the bulky shoulder pads, give the Winnwell Classic Shoulder Pads a try and see what you think. They are lightweight, cheap, and very popular amongst roller and ice hockey players.
We hope this information helped you see the light. Thanks for reading and we'll see you on the ice!