Figure skating is way behind other youth and recreational sports in not only developing, but even in tolerating safety gear. I have had coaches contradict me in front of parents when I have suggested safety gear as rudimentary as gloves and hats. Adults who wear knee and wrist guards are ridiculed and often, as happened recently, feel compelled to apologize for using this basic protection. Padded boards are not even considered because of the expense, and yet padded boards would have prevented two career-ending injuries at the Ice Rink of the Damned. So I guess two crippled children is considered a reasonable trade off. All national and international events now have padded boards. (Write your local and state elected officials demanding padded boards at ice rinks.)
Anyway, all polemics aside, here's a guide to helmets.
Many rinks require helmets for skaters in hockey skates. If you're going to be playing hockey, then go ahead and invest in this. If you're just in hockey skates for spit and giggles, any helmet is fine, but you really should be in a helmet if you're not experienced in hockey skates.
|Never wear this type of helmet for skating.|
You also need to wear it properly. Wearing a helmet too far forward or too far back is pretty much equivalent to not wearing a helmet. Wearing a helmet that is too small or too big is also pointless. Never wear a hat under your helmet, even outdoors. I always wonder, when I see a helmet precariously perched on top of a hat, if parents are expecting heavy objects to drop directly onto the top of the skater's head, because that is the only scenario in which this makes any sense.
This is the best type of helmet for skating, largely because it was designed for, well, skating. Google image search gives you the idea.
I've seen some kids wearing these lately; I suppose they like them because 1. they're discreet and 2. they've already got one. They're for head shots (see? other youth sports have figured out that head injuries are a bad idea and should be mitigated.) But unless you get the full-head ones, they don't really do the job, because they have no padding on the back. These are getting the idea, though. Skating falls do not tend to be the 20-foot projectile falls you're getting with bikes and skate boards. They're head knocks--you've already fallen and need something for that last 4 inches of air between your head and the ice.
This is currently the only commercial helmet created especially for the ice. I've been wearing one for several months and can attest that they are comfortable, reasonably cool, and attractive. I think they're great. I don't get any remuneration from Ice Halo, but you can get 5% off if you mention Xanboni when you buy one.
"Oh, but Johnny won't wear a helmet," says helpless mom. Fine, then Johnny doesn't get to skate, just as he doesn't get to play hockey without gear, or baseball without a cup, or soccer without shin guards. Really, folks, grow a pair. You're bigger than them.
Originally posted January 2012.