Remember that you don't have any traction sliding your feet forward or back( like what you would do in socks to build a static charge on carpet ), your control is side to side with your edges. Turning your feet will give you control in the direction you want. Most people have balance and strength issues in the beginning because they don't often use those balance and control muscles everyday. Try doing simple balance exercises like standing on one foot for an extended period of time or even 1-leg hops. Also try 1-leg squats, which will help with power as well as balance.
I'll second that. There is no need for unplanned dental work, it can happen even in pickup. Some people complain about the bars getting in the way, but I'd rather play with a cage than spend a ton of time and money suffering at the dentist's office.
As far as the gear to spend time and money on, I have to go with skates and helmets. Poorly fitting skates can ruin the whole experience by how much your feet hurt and be a hazard to your skating. A poorly fitting helmet can be a problem too; You want to keep your brain on the inside of your skull.
Shin pads of any sort should suffice. When you pay more for them, its often a comfort and side-padding upgrade. They almost all have the same plastic on the front and will provide great protection. You should always face the puck when blocking a shot.
Pants are ones I think you can save a few bills on too. They may not fit *perfectly*, but they don't need to. Not like skates, helmets and elbow pads. I recommend using suspenders.
Shoulders and elbows are ones I like to spend a few bills on. I had a pair of elbow pads that slipped down constantly and eventually went down and banged the back of my elbow on the ice. Enough to sideline me for a couple weeks. Make sure the elbow pads you get don't slip. The protection most provide will be good, though I'm not a fan of the all-soft elbow pads I have some teammates that like them.
Most shoulder pad upgrades will provide tougher foam for protection and maybe some design changes. The level of protection is up to you and how many pucks you might be stepping in front of.
You don't need to use the super duper sticks either. They are for the kids whose parents pay for everything and want to spend money. Sure the expensive sticks will be better, but the cheaper ones will surely get the job done. Make sure it is about the right length and flex for you though and go from there. If you're not sure about what curve to use, try something like the Easton Iginla or Heatley curves to start. They are very 'neutral' in that they don't go to extremes like the Easton Chara( deep curve ), Getzlaf/Lidstrom( wide open heel ), Easton Sakic/Hall( open mid-toe ) or Zetterberg( closed mid ). I used Easton because those are the curves I know, all manufacturers will have the same general types of curves and you can match one to another( The Bauer Backstrom and Toews curves are pretty similar to the Easton Sakic/Hall ).
Did I forget anything in particular?
You could do without the disparaging remarks about people who buy nice sticks. I'm 26 and live on my own and bought a Vapor APX cause I can and I wanted to.
x100 on the helmet, it will expand your comfort zone, worrying less about falling allows you to focus more on skating and trying new things. First day out at public skate I didn't have a lid and watched some guy take a face plant into the ice splitting his forehead open, only way that lesson could stick harder is if it happened to me. $20 wooden sticks will suffice, composite gets expensive and shatters without notice.
Yeah, the stick thing is pretty preferential. Some need expensive sticks I get by just fine with <$50 twigs. I definitely wish I could justify spending $100+ on sticks but my shot is still my shot no matter the stick. Up to you though. With music gear I'm a total snob so I know both sides of the argument pretty well.
As for the helmet, I don't think you need an expensive helmet starting out. Just something to cover your head and face if you choose to. When I had to retire my Bauer 7500 I really wanted to try out the 2100 and they both protect my head just the same. The 7500 was more comfortable but I'll deal with hard foam and save myself the $70.
It's actually not, catching your face on the dasher or the bench boards probably isn't the best way to learn something new lol. Especially for kids, they should all wear cages with their helmet.
I agree. I had one of my students fell like a chopped tree on center ice.
One would think that a 25-year old would at least have the reflex to use their hands or something.. but nooo, he had to land on his lips...
Still, i blame myself for not telling him to wear a cage.