Hockey is a fast-paced and physical sport that requires players to have excellent vision and focus. Many athletes in various sports wear eye black, which are strips of adhesive material under the eyes, as it helps reduce glare caused by bright lights or sunlight.
Does the same hold true for hockey players? Do they also wear eye black during games, given the bright indoor lighting in arenas?
“I love wearing blackout on game day,” said NHL player Jagr, who has been known to wear eye black in his career. “It looks cool, but it serves a purpose too: It reduces the visibility of sun rays and stadium lights into your eyes.”
While some players like Jagr may find it helpful, others do not see any benefit from using it. Some players simply prefer not to use it due to discomfort or lack of habit, while others believe their equipment already provides enough protection against glare.
So, what’s the verdict? Do most hockey players use eye black during games, or do they skip this practice altogether? Read on to learn more about whether or not hockey players wear eye black and the reasons behind their decisions!
Why Eye Black is Popular in Sports
The Origins of Eye Black in Sports
Eye black is a black grease or paint applied under the eyes, primarily used to reduce glare from sunlight and stadium lights. The origins of eye black can be traced back to Native American tribes who wore it during rituals, as well as ancient Egyptian warriors who believed that the make-up would protect their eyes from the sun.
In modern sports, eye black became popular among football players in the 1940s and 1950s, with baseball players adopting the tradition shortly after. Today, many athletes across various sports wear eye black for both functional and aesthetic reasons.
The Psychological Benefits of Wearing Eye Black
Besides its practical use in reducing glare, eye black also provides psychological benefits for athletes. The visual effect of wearing eye black can intimidate opponents, instill confidence in teammates, and help athletes focus on the task at hand.
“It definitely gives you an edge when you’re running out there,” said former NFL cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. “When they see your dark eyes, people know you mean business.”
Furthermore, many athletes view applying eye black as a ritual or superstition that helps them get into the right mindset before games. For example, NHL player Shea Weber has been known to apply eye black before every game as part of his pre-game routine.
While eye black is most commonly associated with football and baseball, it is not uncommon to see hockey players wearing it as well.
Hockey players face similar issues as football and baseball players when it comes to dealing with bright lights and sun glare. Additionally, the physical nature of hockey often results in sweat dripping down players’ faces, which can create additional visibility issues. As a result, many hockey players have turned to eye black as a solution.
Although it is not as common in hockey as it is in other sports, there are still several high-profile NHL players who wear eye black regularly.
“It’s mainly just to reduce glare, but I also think it looks cool,” said Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman.
In short, while the primary purpose of eye black is functional, its psychological benefits cannot be ignored. Whether it’s used as a pre-game ritual or simply to intimidate opponents, eye black has become a staple accessory for athletes across multiple disciplines, including hockey.
The Benefits of Wearing Eye Black in Hockey
Hockey players are known for their aggressive play on the ice. This intensity requires not only physical strength and skill, but also proper gear and equipment to stay safe and perform at their best. One piece of gear that many players choose to wear is eye black. But what exactly is it and why do hockey players wear it? In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of wearing eye black in hockey.
Reducing Glare and Improving Vision on the Ice
One of the primary reasons that hockey players wear eye black is to reduce glare on the ice. The bright lights and reflective surface of the rink can cause significant glare, making it difficult to see the puck and other players. Eye black may help reduce this glare by absorbing some of the light and preventing it from reflecting off of the skin beneath the eyes.
In addition to reducing glare, eye black may also improve vision on the ice. By blocking out excess light, players may be able to see more clearly and react faster to changing situations on the rink. This improved vision can potentially give players an edge over their opponents, allowing them to make smarter plays and score more often.
Enhancing the Intimidation Factor for Players
Besides providing practical benefits on the ice, eye black can also enhance a player’s intimidation factor. Many professional athletes, including hockey players, use black under-eye paint as a sort of warpaint before games to intimidate their opponents. The darkness of the eye black can create a more menacing appearance and instill fear or uncertainty in the other team.
This psychological effect can be particularly effective in high-pressure situations, such as playoffs or rivalries. If opposing players are intimidated by the appearance of a particular player, they may be more likely to make mistakes or feel hesitant on the ice, giving that player an advantage.
Protecting Against Sun and Reflections in Outdoor Games
In addition to indoor arenas, hockey is also played outdoors on frozen lakes and ponds. When playing outside, players may face a different set of challenges than they do indoors, including sun glare and reflections from the snow or ice. Eye black can help protect against these environmental factors by reducing glare and improving visibility in bright conditions.
Some players also use tinted eye black to provide further protection from the sun’s rays. This type of eye black contains sunscreen and provides additional benefits beyond what traditional eye black offers. By protecting their skin and eyes from harmful UV rays, players can stay safe and comfortable during outdoor games.
Reducing Eye Fatigue During Long Games
Hockey games can last for hours, particularly if there are multiple overtimes or shootouts. These long games can take a toll on a player’s body and mind, leading to fatigue and exhaustion. Eye strain is one common symptom of this fatigue, as the constant bright lights and movement on the ice can cause significant stress on the eyes.
Wearing eye black may help reduce some of this eye strain and prevent fatigue during long games. By blocking out excess light and improving vision, players can potentially play for longer periods without experiencing as much discomfort or weariness.
“Eye black works best when it’s applied in heavy, uneven layers. You clearly don’t want any sunlight reflecting off your cheekbones or forehead.” -Dan Peterson, Sports Science Expert
While eye black may not be essential gear for every hockey player, it does offer several practical benefits that can improve performance and safety on the ice. Whether used to reduce glare, intimidate opponents, protect against environmental factors, or prevent eye strain, black under-eye paint can be a valuable asset for players at all levels of the sport.
The Different Types of Eye Black Used in Hockey
Eye black is a staple among hockey players and has been for years. It not only looks cool, but it also provides practical benefits on the ice, such as reducing glare from arena lights or sun reflecting off the ice. There are three main types of eye black used in hockey: grease-based eye black, stick-on eye black, and paint-on eye black.
Grease-Based Eye Black
Grease-based eye black comes in small tubes and can be easily applied to the skin with your fingers. This type of eye black is known for its staying power, as it tends to last longer than other forms of eye black. Grease-based eye black is made up of waxes, oils, and carbon, making it highly effective at reducing glare and improving visual acuity on the ice. However, some players may find that grease-based eye black feels heavy or uncomfortable on their skin.
“When I put grease under my eyes, it helps me see the puck better.” -Chris Kunitz, Pittsburgh Penguins left winger
Stick-On Eye Black
Stick-on eye black is straightforward to use, typically coming in pre-cut strips that you can place directly onto your skin without any additional tools or products. Stick-on eye black does not require much preparation and is easy to apply. While this type of eye black may not offer as much durability as grease-based varieties, it still provides adequate protection against glare and offers excellent value for money.
Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings center, was known for rocking stick-on eye black during games. He claimed he wore eye black because “it reduces glare and makes me look more intimidating on the ice.”
Paint-On Eye Black
Paint-on eye black is a liquid form of eye black that can be applied with a small brush or applicator. This type of eye black offers the most customization, as you have full control over the shape and size of your eye black markings. Because paint-on eye black does not come in strips or tubes, there may be a learning curve when it comes to applying this product correctly. However, once mastered, paint-on eye black provides excellent durability and flexibility.
“I’ve always worn paint-on eye black because I like the way I can customize my look on the ice.” -Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning center
The type of eye black used by hockey players often comes down to personal preference. However you choose to wear it, whether it be grease-based, stick-on, or paint-on, eye black remains an essential piece of any hockey player’s gear.
How Eye Black Became a Trend in Hockey
Eye black, which is a black grease-like substance applied under the eyes to reduce glare and improve vision, has become a trend in hockey over the years.
The Influence of Professional Players on Youth Hockey
The use of eye black in hockey started with professional players before it trickled down to amateur and youth levels. Some of the earliest adopters of this trend include Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, and Cam Neely.
Youth hockey players tend to look up to their heroes for inspiration, both on and off the ice. Consequently, many youngsters began applying eye black to emulate their favorite pros and eventually made it an integral part of their game-day routine.
The Role of Advertising and Sponsorship in Popularizing Eye Black
The rise of advertising and sponsorship deals also helped popularize eye black among hockey players at various levels. Major sportswear brands such as Nike, Under Armour, and Adidas have all released lines of eye black products, capitalizing on its popularity and demand among athletes. One of the most significant supporters of eye black in sports history is probably Brian Leetch, a former NHL player who often wore eye black during his games. As one of the faces of Oakley’s sports division in the late 1990s, he signed a deal that allowed him to promote the product by wearing Oakley-branded black stickers under his eyes. This move caused a sensation in the hockey world and pushed other kids to follow suit.
The Impact of Social Media and Celebrity Endorsements
In recent years, social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter have played a crucial role in promoting eye black in hockey–especially when celebrities and influencers are involved. Many well-known NHL players, such as Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews and P.K. Subban often apply eye black before hitting the ice on game day. Moreover, some NHL teams have also embraced this trend and started to capitalize on its popularity by creating their own branded lines of stickers for fans to buy. For instance, the Chicago Blackhawks, Edmonton Oilers, and Pittsburgh Penguins all offer their unique twists on traditional eye black designs.
“I think every player likes wearing it—like guys who never wore it now put it on, kind of switching up different styles… but it’s a small thing that gets everyone pumped up.” -Connor McDavid
Eye black has become one of the most recognizable trends in hockey today, thanks to professional players’ influence, advertising, sponsorship deals, and social media endorsements. As long as young athletes continue to see their idols donning it, hockey aficionados can expect to see this fashion statement remain prominent.”
The Controversy Surrounding Eye Black in Hockey
Eye black has become a common sight in many sports, with athletes wearing it to reduce glare and improve their vision. However, its use in hockey has stirred up controversy for several reasons. Here are some of the concerns people have raised:
Concerns About Skin Irritation and Allergies
Since eye black is applied directly onto the skin around the eyes, some people worry that it could cause irritation or even allergic reactions.
“There’s always going to be somebody who is hypersensitive or has an allergy,” said Dr. Chad Asplund, medical director for athletics at Georgia Regents University, in an interview with USA Today. “And anytime you’re applying something close to mucous membranes, you don’t want to take chances.”
A study conducted by researchers at the Medical College of Georgia found that 27% of college football players experienced skin irritation after wearing eye black. While this may not seem like a high percentage, it’s still a concern for those who might experience discomfort or more severe reactions.
Debate Over Performance-Enhancing Effects
Another issue with eye black is whether or not it actually enhances performance. Some argue that it helps players see better on the ice, especially when playing in brightly lit arenas.
“It really does get rid of the sun glare if you look up into the lights,” said former NHL player Jamie McLennan in an interview with ESPN. “But also, just trying to track pucks…it makes everything crisper and stand out a little bit more.”
Others believe that any potential benefits are minimal at best. In fact, some studies have shown that darkening the area around one’s eyes can actually decrease depth perception.
Issues with Inconsistent and Inaccurate Application
Even if eye black does help players see better, there are concerns about its inconsistent application. Because there are no guidelines for how much or where it should be applied, some players may end up wearing too little or too much, which could affect their vision in different ways.
In addition to inconsistency, there’s also the issue of accuracy. Since many players apply eye black themselves, there’s a risk of getting it into their eyes, which could cause irritation or even impair their vision temporarily.
“If you don’t get it on right – and I know this from experience – when you sweat, that nasty stuff just drips down into your eyes,” said former NHL player David Ling in an interview with TSN.
While eye black may have some benefits for hockey players, it’s clear that it also comes with risks and controversy. As more research is conducted and regulations put in place, we may see changes in how often and how effectively it’s used in the sport.
How to Properly Apply Eye Black for Hockey Players
In recent years, you may have noticed that many hockey players wear eye black on their faces during games. This trend originated from baseball, where players use it to reduce glare from the sun and improve visibility.
But do hockey players really need to wear eye black? It’s up for debate. While some players swear by its effectiveness, others find no difference in their performance with or without it. Regardless of your stance on the matter, if you choose to wear eye black, it’s important to know how to apply it properly.
Clean the Skin and Apply Moisturizer
The first step to applying eye black is to clean your skin thoroughly. Use a mild soap and water to remove any dirt, oil, or sweat from your face. This will ensure that the eye black adheres well to your skin.
Once your face is clean, apply a light layer of moisturizer. This step is important because it creates a barrier between your skin and the eye black, preventing it from clogging your pores or irritating your skin. Make sure to choose a non-comedogenic (non-clogging) product. If possible, avoid using products with added scents or colors.
Apply Eye Black in a Thin and Even Layer
When applying eye black, less is more. Start by lightly rubbing a small amount onto your finger, then gently dabbing it onto the areas around your eyes. Avoid getting the eye black too close to your eyelids or tear ducts, as this can cause irritation or discomfort.
“Applying a thin layer of eye black can help decrease glare and sun reflection off of the ice.” -Dr. Ravi Dandu, ophthalmologist at Cleveland Clinic
Make sure to apply the eye black in an even layer. Clumps or uneven coverage can be distracting and may actually hinder your visibility rather than improve it.
Reapply Throughout the Game as Needed
Eye black tends to wear off after a few hours, so it’s important to reapply throughout the game if necessary. This is especially important if you’re playing outdoors or in bright arenas with lots of lights.
“Eye black can get smudged easily due to sweat and contact, so athletes should check it at periodic intervals during gameplay.” -Dharani Persaud, registered dietitian nutritionist and certified strength and conditioning specialist
Be careful not to overapply. Too much eye black can make you look clownish or unprofessional, and may also be difficult to remove later on.
Whether or not you choose to wear eye black as a hockey player is up to personal preference. However, if you do decide to use it, following these steps will help ensure that you do so safely and effectively. Remember to clean your skin beforehand, apply in a thin and even layer, and reapply as needed throughout the game while being mindful of how much you are using.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do professional hockey players wear eye black?
Yes, professional hockey players wear eye black to reduce glare from arena lights and improve their vision on the ice. It also helps to reduce eye strain and fatigue during long games. Many players also use it for its traditional and intimidating look.
Is eye black beneficial for hockey players?
Eye black can be beneficial for hockey players as it reduces glare and improves vision on the ice. It can also help reduce eye strain, allowing players to stay focused for longer periods. However, the benefits may vary from player to player, and some may choose not to use it at all.
Do amateur hockey players use eye black during games?
Yes, amateur hockey players also use eye black during games for the same reasons as professional players. It can help reduce glare and improve vision on the ice, making it easier to track the puck and make quick decisions during the game. Some players may also use it for its traditional look.
What are the different types of eye black used by hockey players?
Hockey players typically use two types of eye black: a stick-on, pre-cut eye black that comes in various shapes and sizes, and a grease-based eye black that is applied with the finger. The stick-on eye black is more convenient, while the grease-based eye black is more customizable and can be applied in different shapes and designs.
There are no major safety concerns related to wearing eye black in hockey. However, some players may be allergic to the materials used in the stick-on eye black, and the grease-based eye black can sometimes run into the eyes, causing irritation. Players should always make sure to use eye black products that are safe and suitable for their skin type.