When you’re suiting up to hit the rink for a game, of course it’s all equipment on - but what about when you visit an outdoor rink? Take the family to public skating or play some pond hockey? Do you dress in all your gear, just some or none at all? 

While it might not seem logical at first to put all your gear on for a few, low-key laps around a rink with the family, think about the impact it might have on your next game. Think about the first time you try to play with a new pair of hockey pants, new shin guards, new gloves – anything. There is always an adjustment period while you get used to everything. While going without isn’t exactly the same as trying out something new, it can throw off what you’re used to. So, while taking a few strong strides around the rink without the bulk of hockey pants or shoulder pads might sound liberating, it might take you a bit longer to settle back into your gear for the next game, when those strides actually matter.

We heard from one coach that suggested that players that take their game even a little seriously should suit up 100% for even casual skates. Why? Because it’s like training, and if you train without your equipment you’ll never perform at your peak with it. Your equipment should be like a second skin, it should feel natural and comfortable and wearing it is generally the only way to keep that feeling in place. Not only that, but hockey gear is protective and no one wants to miss out on actual games because they were injured during a shinny game.

Another tip for looking at fun a little more like training is if you practice shots in your driveway, basement or ball hockey gym, consider setting up a small platform to shoot from. The platform or riser just needs to be tall enough to simulate the height of your skate blades, then keep the puck or ball on the ground when you take the shot so you don’t mess up your shots when you’re on the ice with skates. The balance of your stick, your shot windup and point of contact can all be thrown off by a few inches of height.

So how serious should you take this advice? It depends on how often you hit the ice outside of a game, or practice shots on dry land and how seriously you take your game. Tell us what you wear when you’re on the ice but not in a game and why on Twitter or Facebook, we’d love to hear your thoughts!