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Chest protectors are meant to fit snug to the body and give as much surface coverage as possible without restricting movement. When trying on a chest protector, it should fit 1.5” below the T shirt or collar line at the neck. The bottom of the belly should fit right at the waist line and the arms to end 1-1.5” from the wrists. Chest protectors should always be worn with goalie pants to ensure a spot on fit. If possible trying them on with a helmet be even better to allow greatest range of motion to know that the shoulder floaters do not interfere.
The biggest preference in chest protectors is if a goalie tucks the unit into their pants or allows it to sit outside of the pants. Another style is how broken in a goalie likes their chest protector. For instance, some goaltenders prefer to have a chest protector be extremely mobile right out of the box. They want their first time on the ice to feel just like their old extremely mobile unit. On the other hand, there are goalies who feel that they like to take some time to break in a chest protector, they want the stiffness and squareness that some units give. There are also different preferences to how high the shoulders sit and where the stomach flex’s. Again, some goalies would like their units to sit very long on their stomachs and feel stiffer and longer. As where other goalies would prefer to have the unit feel like there is a hinge at the waist to allow full range of motion. Now, some units are providing more torsional flex which is bending your body on a 45 degree angle forward, not just allowing vertical flex which would be like bending straight down and touching your toes.
Goalie chest protectors are offered in different levels of protection and are made of certain materials to hold up for different uses. Pro chest protectors are designed be used 4-7 times per week, senior chest protectors to be used 2-5 times a week and lower senior chest protectors are to be used 1-3 times a week. Of course, the quality of shots a goaltender faces will determine the correct level of protection, but other factors can be considered to keep new gear last longer. The undergarments that are used can help reduce the amount of sweat and corrosion that may collect in the units and even reduce smell. Regular maintenance on the elastics and straps will also help in the longevity of the unit. Lastly, the amount of care and drying system a goalie uses can help determine its durability.
Chest protectors, much like pants, generally might not have many modifications off the shelf, but at the Pro level, custom chest protectors are a must. Not only would goalies want their own colors, but they want extra protection where they may have felt exposed before. It is normal to see goaltenders order units with reinforced should floaters, heart guards, bicep and forearm protection and even custom neck heights. Also, goalies can order custom sizes and can order a Large body, but with Medium arms. Wrist lengths are also a personal preference as to how far they channel into the gloves.
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