This page is going to look at a variety of equipment issues while focussing primarily on equipment repair. Since I first put this page up, the second-hand equipment market has really grown with the internet, so I think a lot of goalies will find this page useful not only for extending the life of the equipment they have, but also for modifying equipment they buy sight-unseen over the web.
When manufacturers make equipment, they are in the unfortunate position of having to make it for the average person, which ends up being a very thin slice of the population. Every once in a while, you'll buy a piece that is perfect and stays that way, but you'll often have to settle for a close fit, and close is not good enough in goaltending. You must get in the habit of making your equipment perfect so that it responds instantly and doesn't fight you in any way. If you have a piece of equipment that is bothering you, and you probably do, then learn how to fix it yourself. Taking it to the local repair shop will cost you money, and the chances of them fixing it properly are slim. This is because it usually takes two or three times to get it right, not just to fix the piece, but to have it mix with the rest of your equipment properly. Many times, I have fixed a piece, tried it on with my other equipment, and then got on the ice to find that it's not quite right. Fortunately, since I first put his page up, equipment has improved a whole lot, so hopefully the changes you have to make will be minor, but in any case, knowing how to modify your equipment is important and will improve your game. Also, don't be squeamish about operating on your equipment because any and all mistakes are easily fixable with a needle and thread. And this brings me to some news that will make mom happy - you need to learn how to sew. It's not hard, you can learn how in 5 minutes, and mom will have to show you, because that's not my job. Finally, I'm going to assume you'll be doing major surgery on your equipment and you have no money to spend. This way, you'll get all the info and you can take from it what you need.

When to repair: The obvious answer is - RIGHT AWAY - for your game and for your equipment. The sooner your equipment is right, the sooner you can focus on your game. As for your equipment, if you wait, it will only get worse. A tear in your pads will get bigger, a soft spot will only get softer. Past a certain point, the repair will require major surgery that might be beyond you. If a piece has a few of these untended problems, it may be pointless to fix it and you'll have to buy a new one. Staying on top of repairs can keep a piece alive and looking good for a long, long time. Goaltending is expensive, and there is always something to spend money on, so don't waste money. A lot of goalies get caught up in fashion and have to wear the latest thing, but unless that equipment is free and custom fit, your asking for trouble. Looking stylish only counts in the warm-ups, and the best style is to just stop the puck.

The first thing you'll need are needles (1). An assortment is a good idea, and all of them should be heavier and longer than normal. You'll also need some curved needles for sewing flat surfaces. Any sewing store should have a pack like in the picture, and it'll cost about $3.00.

Thimble:(2) You'll need on because pushing a needle through hockey equipment is tough and it can hurt. Sewing is a blood sport.

Thread: (3) The heavier, the better. I buy a brand called Koban; it's all polyester. The more cotton in it, the weaker it is. If you can break it with your hands, it's not strong enough. If you draw blood...perfect. Also, this is hockey equipment, so you won't get points for artistic merit. The sewing can be rough enough to simply hold things in place, but if you plan on selling the piece later, try to make it look neat and hide the stitching with matching thread.

The hand tool above (4) comes with a great waxed thread that is really thick and never breaks. You can get it at camping stores and it's the best. Thread like in the picture above (3) can weaken and break over time because of sweat, puck hits, and general use. Repairing your equipment is a pain, and you don't want to have to do the whole thing over again when the thread breaks six months later (been there). Use the heaviest thread you can. Also, save your skate laces because they come in handy. Sometimes I've just drilled a hole in the piece and run a lace through it. It isn't pretty, but it's really fast and as long as you knot it several times, it will hold forever. Below is a shot from the 'Pads' page, and the red circle shows where I joined the upper and lower landing gear with a lace. No way was I going to sew that because it would break in no time. I drilled two holes, ran the lace through, knotted it and was done in two minutes. I haven't yet explained why I joined those pieces, but it's a good reason.

Hand Tool:(4) One of these hand tools is essential for repairs on the heavy material on pads and gloves. I got mine at a place called Mountain Equipment Co-op, a camping store. The thread it comes with is great and don't forget to buy extra spools; you'll go through it quickly. It's easy to use and has instructions. They cost about $15.00, but it's worth it because working on pads and gloves is hard on the hands with plain needles. It will save you a lot of time and a lot of pain.

Scissors:(5) I've destroyed a few pairs cutting through heavy stuff so don't borrow mom's. The ones above wouldn't last long. Get a heavier pair at a dollar store.

Needle-nose pliers:(6) Not essential but they're handy for pulling needles through tight spots.

Glue Gun:(7) Can come in handy, but the cheap glue always disappoints. They cost a few dollars and you can get them at the dollar store.

Exacto Knife:(8) Get a heavier one than in the picture. I break them in record time, and that was all I had when I took the pic.

Bandages: (9) See #8.

Most of your protection is made up of 'sandwiches', and the idea behind them is to distribute and absorb shock so that you feel as little as possible. Below right, the top layer (#1) is always harder, either HD (Heavy Duty) foam or hard plastic. By taking the impact of the puck without denting or distorting, it distributes the shock over a wider area. Below this, you need an absorption layer because only distributing the shock can still really hurt. Layer #2 is usually a softer foam that squishes down, but not too easily, and quickly returns to its shape. Layer #3 is the soft, light, cushy foam that sits next to your skin and takes the sting out of shots. Have a look at your equipment and you'll see that most of your protection follows this model. However, within that model, you have infinite possibilities because there is all kinds of foam out there. For example, you could use 2" HD + 2" soft foam, or a layer of plastic + 1" HD + 2" soft foam.

In the shot of my pad above, I've numbered the 4 layers of the knee stack, which I altered a bit. Layer 4 is the standard hard plastic to distribute the shock of landing backed by a thin layer of foam. Layer 3 is the standard higher density foam, but still soft. Layer 2 is quite soft. Layer 1 is very soft and cushy. I wanted it to be like landing on a pillow and I wanted that big long piece (#1) in there for two reasons. First, the shock of landing is distributed down the leg instead of just at the knee. Second, with smaller knee pads, your knee can miss the landing gear and slip off the stack, especially when you wear your pads loose. The knee needs a bigger target to land on, and this is one of several problems with the knee stacks as they usually are.

While it's not hard to make up a foam sandwich that will protect you, the trick is to make it thin enough to use, because that sandwich has to mix with all your other equipment. You can beef up your arm pads so you won't feel a sledgehammer, but your arms have to move, and it's often a fine line between protection and mobility. Often, I have added a piece to my arm pads, tried it on, it felt OK, but out on the ice it slowed me down or felt too bulky. The knee stack above was a problem because that soft cushy foam takes up a lot of space, and I also wear knee pads. It ended up being a tight fit, and if things are too tight it can irritate the knee as the pads rotate going down. You'll need to experiment.

There is all kinds of foam out there, and a lot of it can be used in hockey equipment. For example, above left is a roll of soft foam (good for layer 2) that you can get at a camping store for about $15.00. I've used this foam a fair bit and it's good for beefing up soft spots, but don't depend on it too much because it thins out quicker than hockey foam. Also, yoga mats are pretty good. They're thinner, and for $10.00 at a dollar store, you get a lot of it. It's a little heavy, but it might have its uses. If you wander through Home Depot, you'll occasionally run into some pretty neat foam that has nothing to do with hockey but will serve your purpose. Proper hockey foam is usually the best, but it can be hard to get hold of and cost a lot more.

The foam I really like is HD (High Density). Your equipment is filled with it. It's usually black, and it comes in various densities, e.g. HD 80, 100, 120. I bet you could make furniture with it. It can be thick like a piece of toast (in your pads and blocker), or thin and somewhat flexible (in your trapper). HD is a great invention and it changed goaltending. The extra protection meant that goalies could stop collecting bruises and start practicing more. Goalies now face hundreds, maybe thousands of shots in a practice, but before HD foam, that would have killed them. If you plan on modifying your equipment, keep any HD foam you find.

Like any foam, you can cut HD with an Exacto knife, but you want to make a good cut. If you cut it too small, you've ruined the piece, and if you do this too often, you'll run out of foam and money. To prevent this, make a template out of paper or thin cardboard. Just trim the paper as if it's the piece and fit it where the piece will go. If it fits well, place the paper on the foam and use it to mark the outline of the cut. Because of the different thickness (paper vs. foam), the foam piece may be slightly bigger, so you'll have to trim it back a bit.
For most changes, you won't need to do much more than chop the foam up, but if you want to reshape it with heat, you'll have to go online for expert info, because you can easily ruin it. A lot of hobbyists (model planes and drones) work with foam, and that community can give you all the info you need on making major changes to foam.

HD is a harder foam that can serve as layer 1+2, but you'll still need an absorption layer of softer foam (layer 2). The blue foam above left isn't bad, but there is a lot of good hockey foam that holds its shape longer. It's usually the white stuff in your equipment, and it comes in various thicknesses and densities.

Above left is the cuff of a trapper with the outer layer of HD foam to distribute the shock and absorb a little bit, while the inner layer is a slightly softer HD, but still very stiff. Above right is a softer foam, but it's interesting because it's only about 1/3" and has three layers in it.

Below, all three pieces are about 1/3". I'm sorry to say that foam is not very photogenic, but I hope these help. Left is some HD that probably came out of my C/A. Middle is an all-purpose hockey foam that isn't bad and lasts longer than the blue stuff above. You can see where I marked it before cutting. Right is a pretty good lower layer for taking the sting out.

Most of the time when you make up these foam sandwiches, they'll fit snugly in your equipment and won't move around. But if you do need to join them together, don't glue them unless you are a glue expert, because it will break through expansion and contraction from impact. It's better to just tape them together, but don't use the shin pad tape that players use, because it breaks. Packing tape is good, cloth tape will hold forever. But, be aware of how much you use, because you are adding weight. You always have to be aware of how much weight you are adding to your equipment, and extra tape here and there as well as all the other stuff you add can make a big diff.

What you want from your equipment is to feel very little even on the hardest of shots. Every goalie knows that if your equipment is soft, when a player winds up, you'll naturally flinch, even if you like pain. Flinching tightens the muscles, and tight muscles are slow to react. When a player winds up from 10 feet away and wants to put a hole in your chest, you have to feel loose and comfortable leaning into those shots. If you flinch or go back on your heels, it's a fatal flaw in goaltending. When you hold your stance and lean in, you'll soon be tracking even the fastest shots. Obviously, your equipment has to be perfect for this to happen. Until you learn exactly what you want, the best way to go about perfecting your equipment is the tried and true method of trial and error, or pain and repair. When you get hurt or feel a shot a little too much, fix it right away, and soon you'll be fearless.

As I said above, it's easy to pack on the padding until you don't feel anything, but the trick is to make your equipment disappear so that it's a second skin responding instantly to every move. And it's not just that poorly fitting equipment can slow you down, but that it can also be really irritating. Goalies have to process a huge amount of information, and any mental hitch is as bad as a physical hitch. My latest blocker had a seam on the pinky that really bugged me (I'm not kidding). The last thing I want to know about on the ice is my pinky, so I fixed it and it's gone forever. Your mind should never be on your equipment; you have enough to deal with.
Also, poorly fitting equipment is usually poorly protecting equipment. When you move, holes will open up in the wrong places and one piece can pull another piece out of the way. I think this is a bigger problem with young goalies. The equipment is expensive and youngsters grow quickly, so parents have to buy pieces with the future in mind. I see a lot of young goalies out there who look like little snowmen. They also have trouble moving because the pieces are big, which is too bad, because kids are so incredibly agile. Everyone loves new equipment, but for young goalies, I think it's better to save money by getting used pieces that fit properly. They'll move better and save the break-in time. I've had a few pieces of equipment that felt perfect from the very first second I wore them, but that happens rarely. If it takes a week to get used to a new C/A, your game is breaking during that time, so a new C/A can cost you a week + the time to get your game back to normal after the adjustment = maybe a week and a half, and that's a lot of time in a season, enough to put you on the bench. Break-in time is always a factor and has to be kept to an absolute minimum. You can reduce this by getting used equipment or repairing what you have.

Below are more beauty shots. Left is a piece from the knee stack: no HD, but high density squishy stuff and a slightly softer layer below. Middle is a three-layer HD foam that I think they (Goalie Heaven) used for forward thigh guards. Right is a yoga mat, which is interesting, and strangely calming. Some of the foams I've shown are pretty fancy and will be hard to get. If you can do it, great, but don't worry if you have make up your own stuff. It's good practice.

Puck deflection: As if protection and mobility weren't enough to consider, I'm going to throw 'puck deflection' into the mix, and if you're up to it, you might want to consider this, because it can cost you goals. When you stop a puck, you don't want to feel it, and you do want it to rebound somewhere safe. Nothing is more frustrating than stopping a puck and having it continue through to the net only because of the shape of the equipment. The worst culprit is the thigh protection. There have been times when a puck has hit me in the middle of the thigh, and because of my angle or the shooters angle, the puck has scooted through and in. Below shows how this can happen. Imagine you're looking down towards your feet, and the red curve is the curve of your thigh protection. When the puck (blue arrow) hits, your thigh protection will rotate a bit (red 1 to red 2), so instead of rebounding in the direction of blue arrow x, it continues behind you (smaller blue arrow). Since your thighs are curved, it is a tough problem to solve, and it drives me NUTS.

Below right shows how you can fix this a bit by changing your type of thigh padding. Most thigh protection is hard plastic with a thin foam on top, so when the pucks hits (blue arrow a), the rebound can still scoot behind you. With a thicker layer of soft protection on top, when the puck hits (purple arrow b), it will dig into the padding more, and this will change the direction of the rebound so that it won't scoot behind you as easily.

Below #1 shows another thigh pad, and the blue arrows 'a' show how the puck can scoot along the perimeter of your thigh pad and through. Equipment companies used to put blocks of foam along the outside of pants to reduce this. Purple arrows 'b' show the puck running down and then hitting a green block. This worked really well with new pants, but once they got old and loose, the effect wasn't as good. The NHL outlawed these blocks and stipulated that thigh pads should be curved and a certain width (#1 green arrow). Happily, there is a way around this - by using different densities of foam. #2 shows a legal thigh pad that is curved and the proper width, but it has two layers of foam. The bottom layer (red) is hard with a ridge (green arrow), and the top layer (light blue) is much softer. The pad is within the rules, and the soft outer layer will deflect pucks better. The NHL may try to outlaw this, but it'll be hard writing that rule. All of this also applies to your arm pads, which have the same problem. The only drawback is that the outer, softer layer will wear out quicker through impact. Below #3 shows a flat thigh pad, which some companies once made. I used them for a while and they had the same problem of rotation when they got hit (that red circle is my thigh).
One other problem area is your butt. When shooters have no other angle, they love to bounce it in off your butt. Every shooter knows this move and they love it because it drives goalies nuts. The fact that the pad on your butt is big and hard and curved make it a perfect surface to deflect a puck in, and almost anything that hits it goes in.
Below left is my thigh guard from an old pair of pants, and you can see how the soft outer layer gets destroyed through impact against the plastic. It's probably also why that 'skipping through' happens more on old pants - because that outer layer is gone. Have a look at your thigh protectors to see what's up. Some of them are sewn in and inaccessible, but just cut the pocket open (at the top only) and sew it up later. That yoga mat stuff might actually work here. Just for comparison, below middle and left is a brand new thigh piece that attaches to the pads, and you can see how the foam is layered around the plastic.
Below are two more foam shots taken at Toronto Hockey Repair (AKA Goalie Heaven). On the left you can see a couple of templates that they use to mark pieces. Right is a shot of a bunch of foam: a thin, blue all-purpose foam; the white, thicker all-purpose foam, which is also left; that yellow cushy stuff; and below it is some HD.
One thing you may want to keep in mind is that what you buy from a company may not be the best available, but the best they can make while still turning a profit. Even a top-of-the-line piece may have some lower-grade foam in there because of cost. To use an extreme example, kevlar is a lot stronger and lighter than the plastic in your equipment, but it's way too expensive. The foam used in Croc shoes is apparently great, and the running shoe companies use all kinds of hi-tech foam. If you have access to better materials, like some of the super-duper running shoe or HD foams, you may be able to switch things up for higher grade protection. In this way, you can turn a mid-level piece into something better than top-of-the-line. You'll have to look into this for yourself, and I recommend that you go to the online forums (Goalie Doctor) and discuss this with other goalies before you start.
Have a look at your equipment and see where plastic is used. Pants, C/A, and you trapper have a lot of it. It's handy for when the protection 'sandwich' has to be thin. Although nothing beats it for impact distribution, equipment manufacturers use as little of it as possible because it adds a lot of weight. You should do the same, because the weight can quickly add up. Because of weight considerations, manufacturers also try to use thin and lower density plastic, which can crack over time. Once a crack develops, the piece is dead and has to be replaced, because the crack will only get bigger with each additional hit, and soon you will be feeling a lot of pain.
Plastic pieces are easy to cut and re-shape with heat. If you don't have a cutting tool, just use an exacto knife. Draw your mark with a felt pen, score it with a knife, and then score it repeatedly until it you're done. You can re-shape plastic by heating it over the stove. Put on gloves and hold it with pliers over a hot element (not too close). When it softens and before it starts to go clear, shape the piece and run it under cold water to lock the shape in. Do this slowly and don't hold the piece near the element. Also, do this when mom is out, but you had better have your Dad standing by the first few times (if you're under 30). One of those industrial strength hair driers can do the same thing, but it's slower. For better info on this, go online.
Sometimes, the protection on a piece is perfectly fine, but because the elastic holding it together has gone loose, holes will open up. This happens on the arms, especially at the elbows. Water, sweat, and stretching will break down the elastic so that it loses its flexibility and sags. You can sew it tight to give it a lift, but then it won't stretch all that well, and past a certain point, there's no repairing it. But it doesn't make sense to spend $500 on a new C/A just because the elastic has gone loose, especially if you like the piece. Repairing the elastic takes time but is really easy: you just cut out the old piece and sew in a new one, and do them one at a time, not all at once. It doesn't have to be a beautiful sewing job like the original; just get it in there so that it holds. The problem is finding the same kind of heavy-duty elastic that comes on hockey equipment. Sewing stores usually have the lighter stuff. You might be able to cut elastic out of your old pieces, but as for getting brand-new heavy duty stuff, sorry but I can't help you. I'm assuming it's on the internet, and you can always check the goalie forums.
Goalie equipment uses a lot of Velcro, and like the elastic pieces, it's very easy to replace. Just take out the old piece, cut a similar piece and sew it on. Before you do this, check to see if the Velcro isn't working because it is clogged with stuff. Take a needle or something pointy and clean it. Note that Velcro comes in different strengths, and you want the strongest possible, otherwise it will come undone on impact. I've had this happen a lot and it's a pain. You can buy Velcro at a sewing store, but it's not heavy duty. Again, you'll have to go on the forums for advice on this.
If you have a rip in your equipment, sew it up before it gets too big, because it's a pain in the neck replacing nylon. And use the tough nylon so you don't have to do it again. The problem is with sewing, which you will come to dislike. Patched equipment isn't going to look pretty, because the nylon will never match and it's tough to make the sewing job look neat. Just fix it and forget it. Also, using a glue gun on top of the stitching will protect it so it doesn't break on puck hits, but use the good glue, not the dollar store stuff. If you want, just pour glue on the stitching. It's ugly, but having to re-sew a piece is uglier.

I've already mentioned a few ways to get hold of supplies, but let's just make sure I've covered everything on the subject, because it's important to get the right pieces; they will protect better and last longer. If you have old equipment lying around, you can always tear it apart for pieces. I've done this a lot, but you may prefer to resell your equipment. Another option is to buy an old second-hand piece of equipment and tear it apart, and don't forget that forward equipment can be torn apart for useful parts. Instead of spending $20 on foam, I once bought a used pair of pants for the same price that had the piece ready-made on it. Goalie Heaven does a lot of repairs, they have all the foam, etc., and they're around the corner from me, so I often buy foam from them. If you have a repair place nearby, you might want to look into buying pieces from them, but be careful on price. Also, you can look up 'foam' in the Yellow Pages, and of course you can search online. If you're new to repairs, it will save you time and money to go online and ask other goalies how they got hold of their supplies. This page serves only as an introduction to repairs, and for step-by-step info, there is a huge community of very helpful goalies out there, especially at the Goalie Doctor.

Even if you aren't going to make big repairs, it's a good idea to have some spare parts on hand, because it's often hard to find the perfect piece for a repair, or you will make mistakes that ruin a piece, or you will need to make changes down the road. Below is my bag of spare parts. It's more than I need, but I keep it around just in case. #1 is some of that fat foam that used to go in blockers. #2 is HD foam. #3 is a couple of foam sandwiches taped together made up of 1+2, and I have no idea what I was doing with them, but they look big and useless. #4 is some of that general purpose hockey foam. #5 is a hip protector from a pair of pants. #6 is a thigh protector from the same pants. #7 is a thinner and more flexible plastic from a thigh guard that attaches to the pads. #8 is a cutting tool that I use a lot.

Below is a shot of my mask, and it's a good example of the problems you can have when you glue layers of foam. The mask is not custom, but it was a very good fit and I've never had a problem with this manufacturer's masks in decades. When I got it, all of the inside had two layers of foam: a black base layer, and a blue inner layer. Both foams are very good, but they didn't get along very well, and in no time flat, they were separating. In fact, every piece of blue foam came off within a couple of months, and not only that, the chin cracked after a few shots, and the straps were no good. Anyways, I glued some of the blue foam back in and still have to do the side pieces (green arrows). To the left is the glue I've always used; it works well, and the blue foam is still holding.
I didn't mind when the chin foam came out, because I wanted to beef it up anyways. To the right is the foam I used, and I'm pretty sure it's one of the best mask foams available. It's a very high density soft foam backed by a super-duper sticky layer that holds way better than glue. In both shots, I'm peeling the paper backing. What I did is I removed the old chin piece and used it as a template to mark the new foam. Then I cut the foam, checked the fit, peeled off the paper backing and put it in. Before you do this, use a blow dryer to dry the area.

After a few years, the glue holding the foam to the mask can degrade from sweat and loosen from puck hits, so you'll have to re-glue it. Unless the piece completely falls out, I just glue the sections that have loosened. I don't rip the whole piece out and re-glue it, because that's more work and the original glue is usually really strong. Also, any foam degrades by compressing and becoming brittle, so you'll have to replace it after a few years. Obviously, fooling around with your mask is a serious business and you should be very careful of any changes you make. With my chin piece, I was using foam specifically used in masks, so I knew it was safe and I knew I was upgrading the protection. Be absolutely sure you have the proper foam, otherwise, just take the mask in to a repair shop.

The gloves on blockers are always really nice when you first get them, but that soft, comfy feel means that they can degrade quickly. On this blocker, some of the finger stitching came undone (green line), so I had to sew it up. The green arrow points to a spot I stitched, and now a hole has formed. The blue arrow points to a hole that has formed through wear and tear. This always happens and it's the price you pay for a soft, comfy glove - it's just weaker. You can sew it up but that won't help much, because holes will soon form where you poked the needle through. Yes, like a spot on a lung, that hole portends a long, slow decline. Other holes will form on other fingers, and eventually you'll have to take it in for a re-palming.The blue circle shows where my pinky was bugging me. The padding was always pressing against the finger, so I sewed it.
Most blockers are very easy to open up, and you can do this by undoing the lacing across the top (red line). My last four or five blockers had just a big block of HD foam inside (below right). This is great for weight savings, but I've always had a soft spot develop on the back of the hand in no time flat (red circle), and I'll start feeling hard shots, especially when I punch out the hand to make the save.
I can't live with something like that, so my solution has always been to just tape another piece of foam on the soft spot. That will solve the problem, but if you have to do this, don't go too thick, because there's not a lot of room for more thickness. Another solution is to tape a layer of plastic on the outside, where the red circle is.
Below is a blocker being made at Goalie Heaven in the old style, with a layer of plastic on top of some HD. I'm sure this configuration is heavier, but you'll never feel anything on the hand, and your rebounds will likely go were you want them. With the big foam piece, it can become a little bumpy from repeated puck hits, so that will affect your rebounds.
 

While blockers are now pretty well state-of-the-art with only a few minor flaws that can be easily fixed, trappers still have a long way to go. Incidentally, I don't expect the 'cheater' cuff to last much longer; it's only a matter of time before the NHL reduces it. What is surprising to me is that after all the nibbling away at goalie equipment, they've left the trapper cuff untouched, and it's the most obvious case of excess blocking area. Any wrist protection issues as the hand rotates could easily addressed, so again, the NHL leaves me mystified.

The big problem with trappers now (2014) is protection of the palm, especially along the index finger. When you play nets, you learn to appreciate just how much damage a puck can do and how much padding they can penetrate. For example, the big piece of HD in my blocker is about 1 1/2" thick, and I still feel the puck through it, enough to need more padding. Have a look at the palm of your trapper and you'll see that parts of it, especially along the crease, give you about 1/4" of padding. There is no way that is enough to protect you from a hard shot, and as your trapper breaks in, that spot softens. As you take repeated pucks hits there, you can develop a deep bone bruise that will never go away (been there). Further, as shooters wind up, you can't help but flinch. All it takes is one soft spot in your equipment to make you tighten up, and if it's your trapper hand that tightens, you're in trouble; it's going to be very hard catching the puck.

What the equipment companies have done is beef up the palm of trappers, which is good, but this makes the trapper so inflexible that they're hard to close. A trapper that doesn't close quickly doesn't move quickly, but the strange thing is that this has forced goalies to position their trappers properly. Watch on TV and you'll now everyone hanging their glove up in the air, 'fingers up', even when a shot isn't coming. (BTW, I recommended this about 7 years ago, and it's on the 'Trapper' pages). To recap, trappers are so stiff that they don't move well, so goalies have been forced to position the trapper properly, putting it where the puck will go to make up for a lack of speed. So what's the problem then? Well it's great for when you are setting up for a shot, but in a game, shots come in from every direction, and there's a lot of improvisation you have to do. You need a very mobile trapper for shots that come in from the side, or for rebounds that pop up above and behind you, or simply for shots that go where your trapper isn't. One thing you don't see much of anymore is goalies catching pucks on their blocker side, or trapping them against their blocker. I know this isn't proper form, but it works. On long shots, on odd rebounds, or even on easy shots from the point, this is a great way to kill the play. Instead, goalies bounce the puck off their blocker and keep the play alive. A mobile trapper can easily catch those pucks, but not if you have trouble closing the glove. You'll see on TV that goalies often have pucks bouncing in and out of their trappers, or they have to sort of scoop it to keep it in their glove. That is the price they pay for the palm protection they need: (1) a slower trapper, (2) less range, (3) more rebounds, and (4) you don't shoot the puck very well.

So am I wrong? I don't think so. Go into a store, put on a brand-new trapper and see how fast your hand moves. Now compare that with how fast your hand move without a glove on. Now put the trapper back on and move it above and behind you and over to your blocker side. Then compare the same moves with no glove on. Now try and catch a tennis ball with it, and do the same with no glove. Obviously, it's unfair to compare a trapper with your bare hand, but it gives you an idea of ideal movement versus the price your pay with your trapper. The gap between the two is huge, and I know for a fact that it can be narrowed considerably, because I have done it. It isn't easy, and it requires a lot of modifications to your trapper, but it is possible to have a trapper that is almost as fast as your hand, has all the range, and gives up fewer rebounds (although it still gives them up).

Having said that, I'm going to disappoint you by saying that I don't recommend fooling around with your trapper unless you have some experience with it. The only reason I am posting all of this is because I have given all of this info to an equipment company, they weren't interested, I'm too busy to deal with it, so maybe someone else can deal with it.

To be continued when I sort this mess out. John.

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