One piece of equipment I had a hard time wrapping my mind around is the Jill, the female "pelvic protector" jockstrap. I emailed several women's teams and searched online but could not get any straightforward information on Jills and whether I needed to wear one. Worse, I could not find a single female player who could answer my questions. I wondered if this invention was some Victorian-esque quaint but well-meaning womb guard -- a waste of money fielded by manufacturers -- or a legitimate piece of protective gear. I put on my journalism hat and made some phone calls.
"It does not seem like a lot of protection; that's how they manufacture the female protection," advised Mike at Gunzo's Hockey Headquarters in Chicago. "That is what [the manufacturers] usually sell for the females. Plus with the hockey pants, it will give you extra protection. A lot of the pants will have no padding in front."
That lead me to question how much I need to worry about taking a hit to the babymaker, even though it safely tucked inside me, unlike some other player's reproductive parts.
"It's extremely necessary. There's bones down there that can be broken from sticks and shots," said Brandon at Total Hockey in Downer's Grove. "We recommend them always for males and females."
I asked if a pelvic protector was needed for classes or lower level, no-hit rat and recreational games.
"Still recommended," Brandon insisted. "People usually get more hurt in those leagues than in any other leagues."
"Because no one plays well?" I asked.
I asked a third equipment sales guy -- coincidentally also named Brandon -- if more people get hurt in beginner leagues.
"For some reason, you get more high sticks and shots to face in the beginner leagues than in any other league," said Brandon with Hockey Monkey in Los Angeles. "[New players] have not gotten the habit of keeping their stick down on the ice and other skills."
What about the Jill? Is it needed or not, helpful or not? Should I buy one?
"I know most women opt to use them just for added protection," said Brandon with Hockey Monkey. "Most women I have played with and [talk to] opt to have something there. I'm under the impression they are more comfortable than the men's, like padding, in case you get a puck there. If you just have the ice pants, you typically have nothing there; just a thin layer of material almost for clothing, zero protection otherwise."
"I've been trying to get my wife into it and got a little cheapy one, the least expensive one just to try it," Brandon with Hockey Monkey continued. "It is not something that you need to spend a lot of money on. I recommend to go with something."
I took into account the points made by all three equipment sales reps I spoke with and bought a Bauer loose boxer shorts style Jill to protect my "there". My hockey pants do not have any protective covering in front and I needed something to hold up my hockey socks anyway. It's not very noticeable, essentially being a curved plastic triangle with rounded corners, covered in foam padding and tucked into a pocket. The Jill stays in place and does not get in my way while skating.
Sadly, and probably due to a lack of demand, Jills do not seem to come in any attractive colors or patterns.
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Filed under: Equipment