How to Choose the Right Types of Hockey Gloves?

How to Choose the Right Types of Hockey Gloves

There are many types of hockey gloves out there, so it’s normal if you feel overwhelmed when choosing your next pair of mitts. Selecting the right model is vital, as they protect your hands, provide grip, and shelter you from the cold. But what types of hockey gloves exist?

Hockey gloves come in three types based on levels of play:

  • Recreational
  • Performance
  • Elite

Each of these types have different protection levels, construction materials and surfaces, that increase in quality according to competition intensity. Hockey gloves also come in three distinct fitting profiles:

  • Traditional
  • Tapered
  • Contoured

Traditional gloves offer more volume for wrist mobility; contoured models have the least space, increasing responsiveness, and tapered is a combination of both.

Understanding profiles and levels of play are essential for choosing the ideal hockey glove for you. Plus, knowing which brands offer which type makes it easier to buy. So, read on to find out how to choose the right hockey glove.

How to choose hockey gloves according to the level of play.

According to Ice Warehouse, hockey gloves come in three distinct levels of play, and these are recreational, performance, and elite.


Recreational hockey gloves offer basic protection in single-layer foam and a locking thumb to prevent hyperextension. Materials include a standard nylon liner and Nash material for the palm, making them ideal for pond hockey games and entry-level matches.


The next level is performance, and these gloves fit most hockey players in intermediate and advanced skill levels. With increased protection and quality materials, they last longer, offer more comfort and usually weigh less.

They come with double-layer foam and plastic reinforcement to better manage impacts. At the same time, their liners are softer, with better moisture control.


Elite hockey gloves are of the highest quality. They offer superior protection, lighter materials, and a better feel, thanks to multi-layered foam separated in packages.

The fingers, cuffs, and palms are all segmented for a non-intrusive sensation. For the best moisture control, many of these elite gloves come with anti-microbial additives.

But there’s another category by which you can choose your hockey gloves, which is the type of fit.

How to choose a hockey glove according to the type of fit.

Hockey gloves generally come in three different fit profiles. These profiles are anatomical (sometimes known as contoured), tapered, and classic or traditional. Choosing which of these works best for you is down to personal choice, but each has its specific traits.


Traditional gloves offer the most volume, meaning they have the most room and fit looser on the hand. The classic fitting mitt is ideal for those players who like having the most wrist mobility. Still, this style might sacrifice some of the responsiveness.

Contoured (Anatomical)

The contoured, or anatomical, fit is the tightest. It provides skaters with a close-to-the-hand feeling and increases responsiveness because there is almost no open space between your hand and the glove. This style sacrifices wrist mobility.


The tapered fit combines the best of both worlds, as it provides a snug fit for the fingers but more mobility for the wrist. With these features, this combination has become one of the most popular amongst competitive leagues.

Now that you know how to choose gloves by the level of play and type of fit, we can dig deeper to find out which is the best for stick handling.

What are the best types of gloves for Stickhandling?

If your game focuses more on stickhandling, anatomical or contoured, gloves are ideal for you. Since they fit snuggly on your hands, you will feel the stick closer, and your fingers will have a better grip on the stick.

As the level of play increases, players can opt for performance or elite gloves. Their lighter construction and top-level materials mean they will not intrude with your game.

Elite, contoured gloves can feel snug at first. Pure Hockey recommends that you choose gloves with at least 1/4″ of clearance between your fingers and the end of the glove to prevent discomfort.

Try not to exceed ½” of space, as anything more than might make for loose gloves.

An example of a highly-touted contoured glove is the Bauer Vapor 2X Pro, ideal for intermediate and advanced skaters. A tapered option for advanced skaters is the True XC9, with mostly positive reviews.

Forwards and offensive defensemen tend to focus more on stickhandling. So, what’s the ideal glove for a defenseman? Let’s find out.

What are the best types of hockey gloves for Defensemen?

Defensemen regularly do the dirty work: fishing pucks out of the corners, sweeping and poke checking pucks away, and checking forwards. All the while, they take slapshots and block shots with both their stick and their body.

This position requires a lot of wrist mobility, essential for reaching for pucks, and plenty of protection all around the wrist. It’s common for defensive-minded skaters to resort to traditional or tapered fits to ensure an adequate volume while not sacrificing puck control.

One thing to consider is that traditional gloves might have more room in the wrist, leading to injuries from errant pucks and sticks, so a longer cuff is ideal.

With ideal protection, durability, and feel, the CCM JetSpeed FT1 is a perfect glove for defensemen looking for a traditional fit. Another glove with a standard fit that defensemen can consider is the Bauer Nexus N2900.

But younger skaters might not have their ideal positions or playing styles defined, so choosing the best glove for them takes other factors into consideration.

What are the best hockey gloves for Youth Players?

The main challenge with youth skaters is that they might outgrow their gloves rapidly. Also, since they’re still developing their game, positions sometimes vary, depending on their evolution.

Since their hands are still growing, youth players should aim for ½” of clearance, but always considering that the glove has as much protection as possible. Traditional gloves, then, might not be ideal as they can leave the wrist exposed.

Tapered gloves might prove an ideal type for youth players. The balance between mobility and feel makes them an excellent choice for finetuning their stickhandling and play style. Contoured or anatomical gloves aren’t ideal because they can be uncomfortable, especially with growth spurts.

Youth gloves with excellent reviews include the Bauer Supreme 2S, the CCM Super Tacks, and the PHX Elite.

But, a question might arise? Are these gloves also ideal for players with small hands? The answer isn’t necessarily yes, especially if we’re talking about adult players with smaller hands.

Since they won’t continue growing, these players can opt for contoured gloves for a snug fit that gives them plenty of control. Should they want more protection, then a tapered fit is ideal. Traditional gloves might feel too bulky and leave the wrist unprotected, so they’re not the right choice for smaller hands.

The opposite can be said for players for larger hands. A traditional glove can offer that extra room those skaters need, and a tapered option can provide a better feel. In contrast, a contoured glove could feel restrictive.


There are currently many brands out there producing high-quality gloves in various fit types and levels of play. Fortunately, manufacturers are continuously improving on their models and offering more variety.

As you have seen, there’s a glove practically for everybody, so choosing the ideal model for you is easy once you’ve understood the differences between them. The next time you need to buy a new pair of mitts, consider your style of play, your personal choice when it comes to volume and feel, and your level of competition.

With those factors and this article, you will find the best model for you.

Clinton Holley

Clinton has three boys along with his wife Maria. Each of his three boys play hockey. He continues to incorporate his family and his love of hockey into his career as a pediatrician.

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