Being a keeper is a special sort of privilege. When people ask what position I play, and I respond with “keeper”, they always, I guarantee you, say “oooh, you’re brave”. Brave? Maybe. Determined to pounce on that ball whenever someone comes into the D? Definitely. One on ones with the keeper? What we live for!
However, one slight problem with the goalkeeper kits (which cost hundreds upon hundreds) is the fact that your knee is still exposed. Might sound like a tiny, forgettable problem that’s easy enough to brush on past, but no, when that hockey ball is launched at you, and you make every effort to save a goal, no matter what you look like, and it hits your knee, the searing pain is enough to make you want to crawl off the pitch and cry a little bit.
It’s happened to me a few times. When a short corner is given and that ball is hurtling towards you, with a dip intended to hit the back board, exactly the same height as where your knee cap is, and they connect! Oh my goodness, the pain. I’ve rolled around on the floor after one of these ball to knee collisions more than once, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
The shocking thing is though, knee pads aren’t part of the goalkeeper kit. You have leg guards, shoulder guards, elbow pads, whole arm guards on some kits, but your poor old knees are vulnerably left to bear the brunt of a hopeful, flying hockey ball, should you bend your leg in a certain way. “Don’t expose your knee then” I hear some of you think. Good point, but when you’re a keeper, you just lose it, completely and utterly focused on saving that goal no matter what it takes. If everything else is protected, what about the knees?
The only option I’ve managed to find is an open patella knee guard made by OBO. I’ve never bothered with these because the part I’m so concerned about is still uncovered. I’m not sure I want to run the risk of fracturing my patella, that moveable bone at the front of your knee that put you out for over 6 weeks. One of the main causes is a sharp, sudden trauma to the area. One of the pieces of advice I’ve read in an article related to patella injuries explains “wear proper padding and safety equipment when playing sport”. I think it’s pretty horrendous I’ve had to invest in ill-fitting skateboard pads to wear under my leg guards because there’s no hockey company who have designed and manufactured goalkeeping knee pads that instil confidence in me.
Ice hockey players wear knee pads, as do skaters, and even volleyball players. Our sport is proudly offers that little bit of extra excitement by playing a ‘dangerous sport’ according to the government. I plead with the companies that create these incredibly smart and eye catching goalkeeping equipment to design and manufacture knee pads that will not only protect hockey knees across the world, but give our keepers an extra bit of confidence to make even more of their dramatic and skilful saves.