Whether you are just playing in a neighborhood pickup game or participating in an outdoor inline league, these are the street hockey gear essentials you will want to have to protect your body and to improve your game. While you could always play in just your skates, shorts and use a stick you picked up from your neighbor's trash, you will probably end up with more road rashes and less goals than your better equipped opponents and teammates.
- Good quality inline skates equipped with outdoor, inline hockey specific wheels is your first street hockey gear essential. Outdoor wheels use a harder compound-look for a hardness rating of 80, 82, or 84-than indoor wheels, as the rougher surfaces of a street or an outdoor rink tend to eat up soft wheels pretty quickly. Make sure to have an extra set of wheels and bearings and a wheel changing tool in your bag in case you have an equipment failure.
- A hockey helmet. You are going to fall. You want your head protected. It is very important that this essential piece of your street hockey equipment fits snugly. Whether you get a full cage or a visor is a personal preference, but remember that errant sticks and pucks can cause a lot of damage to teeth. The toothless look may work for an Alexander Ovechkin, but then again he has millions and he isn’t playing on the streets. If you value your teeth, wear a full cage.
- A good pair of hockey gloves. Invest in a pair of good quality gloves if you intend to play a lot, as the cheaper ones tend to wear out quickly. Try on different brands to see which ones feel the most comfortable to you. Don't forget to test the gloves out while holding and maneuvering a stick. If you already own a pair of ice hockey or even lacrosse gloves, they will work for most street hockey situations.
- Elbow, shin and knee pads. Even for a pickup game on a hot day, these pads are a street hockey essential, since these are the areas of your body that will take the brunt of any fall or unintentional (or intentional) swing of a stick. Very few inline players use a chest protector like ice hockey players since you aren't supposed to check in inline. For an outdoor street hockey league game, where the action can get intense, players will wear hockey pants for added protection.
- Hockey stick. If you are playing a pickup game out on the street, use a cheap wooden stick with a cheap plastic blade, as the asphalt can tear blades up pretty quickly. Street hockey league players tend to buy pricier composite sticks to use in serious games at an outdoor or indoor rink, but those sticks can cost over $250 and it isn't worth the risk of breaking one in a pickup game. Make sure that the stick is the appropriate length for you and your style of play.
- Street hockey puck or ball. What surface you are playing on will determine whether you will be using a street hockey ball or a puck designed specifically for street use. The balls work better on asphalt, but if you are playing on a smooth enough outdoor rink surface, the specially designed, street hockey pucks will give players a more ice hockey-type experience.