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Do White Pads Give Goalies An Edge?

Do White Pads Give Goalies An Edge?

Do white pads give goalies an edge? On Tuesday, Winnipeg Jets’ goaltender Michael Hutchinson weighed in on the question in a series of tweets.

After posting pictures of himself in a new set of navy pads, Hutchinson received a number of replies to the effect that the darker colored pads appeared smaller than his white ones. He noted that they were actually half an inch taller and appeared smaller in part because he had them strapped differently, so that “[they] sit lower on my skate.”

As for the idea that white gear simply looks bigger, Hutchinson doesn’t buy that:

For those who aren’t able to see the image here, Hutchinson notes that all pads are made the same way, regardless of color. White pads aren’t any bigger by virtue of their color, and to shooters at the level he’s playing at, it doesn’t matter anyway.

“They know exactly where the net is and where the corners to pick are,” he writes. “It doesn’t matter if you wear white gear or dark gear, professional shooters are going to hit their spots.”

It is a good point. The color of your gear doesn’t make you faster or slower and all NHL gear is manufactured to NHL specifications. White gear is not actually covering any more net.

A number of goalies and goaltending coaches, however, note that white gear may give a benefit in a slightly different way: by forcing shooters to find the nearly all white net behind nearly all white pads. In other words, darker gear makes it easier to quickly discern where the equipment ends and the open net starts, so maybe wearing white really can slow a shooter down just a tiny bit. After all, hockey is as much a game of milliseconds as it is of inches.

Karen Muncey, CEO of Dynamic Edge Sports Vision Training, told the Toronto Star in 2013 that it seems logical white pads would be an advantage over darker ones:

“It all goes back to that fact that if you’re presenting a dark outline, it gives (scorers) a much better place to not shoot,” Muncey told the Star. “If the pads are dark, they’re going to aim at the holes. So if you present them with a white pad or a little bit of a grey line that mimics the net behind them, with that fast rush up they have much less time to concentrate on the five-hole or other holes that are being presented.”

When Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury ditched his trademark yellow pads in 2008 it was because an Ottawa optometrist pointed out yellow is the most sensitive colour for the human eye, meaning it was easiest for shooters to see where his equipment ended and the net opened. Fleury returned to yellow pads in 2014-15 for special events and to wear with Pittsburgh’s third jerseys, but some still see colour as a disadvantage. In fact, some goalies, goalie coaches and even NHL teams won’t use colored pads at all, citing this reason.

Then again, other goalies think they get quicker whistles in dark equipment because referees have a harder time finding the puck in their black gear.

So what do you think, InGoal readers? Does white gear give you an edge or not?

About The Author

Clare Austin

Clare Austin is a reluctant "stats nerd" living in Nashville, where she has never worn a cowboy hat or boots.


  1. Davit

    I can see a difference at rec hockey levels, players need to take that extra second to delineate where the equipment ends and the net begins. As a goalie, I trust in my skills to react to the puck better than the players, that is why I wear white gear. I also ref, and it is true that the ref can loose sight of the puck more if the goalie is wearing black gear. However, so can the goalie, and a goalie who looses sight of the puck can be in big trouble!

  2. Joel Petty

    In the rec levels shooters are usually looking down at the puck when shooting anyways. I prefer black pads, and have had occasions where the ref will lose sight of the puck in the black gear and get a quicker whistle. At least once, the puck was sitting wide open on top of a black pad, and the opponents couldn’t find it for the rebound either.

  3. Brock

    I have noticed one distinct difference between black pads and that is you can sometimes lose the puck in a goal mouth scramble scenario. It is much easier for both the shooter and the goaltender to pick out the puck in that scenario.

  4. Marty Seto

    I am not a big fan of white pads I use black as it camoflouges the puck when it is in tight and you can sometime get a quick whistle from the ref. And when I am on top of my game the black pads cover the net so they cannot see the net and they will should wide. I noticed when I wear a white jersey I get hit more, but with a black it forces them to go for the corners or they do not see any net and shoot wide.

  5. steve

    As a goalie who switched to all white pads from all black; white has several advantages:
    -it is easier for a goalie to see the puck at his feet in white pads, rather than losing sight of it with black pads.
    -On many quick shots, the forwards rely more on their peripheral vision, which is less sensitive and therefore forces them to rely more on equipment colors and backgrounds.
    -in photographing a goalie, it is harder to discern his body from his equipment if he is wearing a dark/black jersey.

  6. James

    I prefer whatever gear I can afford (meaning buy off ebay or craigslist) which is the single most important thing as a rec hockey goalie who has to support a family. If hockey becomes too expensive, it has to go and no one wants that.

  7. Benny ILL

    I thought thats why pads are designed with the strips or pattern showing the five hole as bigger when the inside of pads is usually white. As a shooter you notice that hole quicker with split seconds to aim.

  8. Max

    I always thought that they wear white pads so that they can locate the puck instantly when the puck is loose and everyone is poking their sticks at you. I think it would be close to impossible to quickly find a puck that is resting on its side against your black or dark pads. I think it is more of a trend these days when the margins are so small, that anything that gives a little edge is used. That being said, I do find them boring. If I was a goalie, my pads would be so awesome. Vintage brown leather mixed with accents of the team colors, all shiny leather with some nice trim. It’s nice that we get to customize the pads on our Xbox though.

  9. Michael

    I am a goalie myself, and I generally use bright colors because at my level it seems to shock the other players into shooting at the crossbar so there’s my two cents


      Based on bruins playoff game tonight, having black pads at least down by the skate would have prevented the replay from seeing the puck had gone in over the line by the pipe! Sure you can find replay on youtube at some point Bruins/columbus blue jackets 5/4/2019 is the game.