Shop Talk: Learning how to choose the right off-ice hockey net
These days, you get different points of view from those who think athletes should diversify and play other sports in the offseason and those who think you should train year-round for your specific sport.
I’m not going open that can of worms.
But what I do want to talk about is off-ice hockey nets.
I remember each Christmas like clockwork when I would get a new hockey net. Then until the next year, I would shoot balls, pucks, and sometimes other things that I probably shouldn’t have, at it. Many times, my allowance for the week or month went to pay for broken windows and other items around the house.
I remember one time calling my mom outside to watch my new big slap shot, only to have the puck go straight through the front-door window.
But I would spend hours outside shooting, pretending I was playing in the Memorial Cup Final.
A hockey net is a must for any hockey player. Players over eight years old should get a full-size 72-inch net, while those under eight should get a 52- to 56-inch net.
Be advised that with hockey nets, you get what you pay for.
I strongly advise against getting a plastic or PVC net. Although cheaper, in the long run, you will go through more and have the headache of a constant broken net or one that falls over when you shoot.
I suggest for those under 12 or those shooting only tennis or inline hockey pucks a net in the $130-150 range. These metal nets are light enough to easily move around.
For those over 13, and definitely those shooting ice hockey pucks, I encourage getting a heavy duty hockey net. These run around $200 or more.
What is the difference between a regular metal net and a heavy duty hockey net, you may ask? It’s the thickness of the pipe. Most nets have two-inch pipes, but the thickness of the steel makes the difference. A cheaper metal net might have 1mm thickness, where the heavy duty one might be 1.6mm. The better nets also come with better netting, which translates to better durability – from 25,000D polyester mesh on the more expensive net to 8,000D on say, a street net.
Pick up the nets in a store and you can see the difference. Plus, from personal experience, maybe look into a backstop. These are extra metal and netting that goes around the outside of the net – for those shots not on target. I wish these were around when I was young!
Don’t forget the targets to practice your accuracy. Shooter tutors go over the net and give you openings to shoot for as well as various other hanging targets. Plus, all these extra ad-on items make great birthday, holiday or any other occasion gifts for the hockey player on your list.
Randy Exelby is the owner of Behind The Mask Hockey Shops.