Body Checking and Injury in Youth Hockey

Body checking has been a controversial issue in the youth ice hockey community. In North America, about 900,000 children and teenagers play ice hockey. A study found that body checking was a risk factor for all injuries and concussion. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not allowing body checking for children 15 and under, however the practice continues.

What is Body Checking?

Body checking in hockey refers to the fair block of an opponent in which a player uses top half of his body to block an opposing player who has the puck. The player bumps with the body, shoulder to hip, from the front or side.

Body checking was seen to be associated with an increased risk of injury in players. It is the most common cause of all ice hockey injuries. The practice has raised particular concern because it can lead to severe injuries such as fractures and concussions.

Among youth ice hockey players, 45% to 86% of injuries have been associated with body checking, according to a study. Players in contact leagues are 4 times as likely to be injured and 12 times as likely to receive a fracture. And concussion accounts for more than 15% of all injuries in young players.

Among hockey players aged 11 to 12, playing in a league in which body checking is permitted compared with a league in which body checking is not permitted was associated with a tripled increase of risk in all game-related injuries, concussion, severe injury, and severe concussion.

How Body Checking Increases Injury Risk in Youth Hockey

Young players are yet physically vulnerable because of wide discrepancies in physical maturity. Aside from being a significant risk factor for all levels of injury in youth ice hockey, body checking is also associated with more aggressive play that further increases the risk of injury.

Study authors suggest that consideration should be given to the age at which a player can make an informed decision about playing under these conditions of increased risk, perhaps after they have finished a critical physical growth period that could be focused on skill development.

Body Contact vs. Body Checking

Body contact is an individual defensive tactic used to legally block or hinder the progress of an offensive puck carrier. The defensive player will restrict the actions of a puck carrier through skating, angling, and positioning. The defensive player must not hit the opposing player by travelling in an opposite direction to him or by physically extending toward him to initiate contact. The puck carrier must not be pushed, hit or shoved into the boards.

Body checking, on the other hand, is also an individual defensive tactic but is designed to legally separate the puck carrier from the puck. Here, the defensive player can physically extend his body toward the puck carrier while moving in an opposite or parallel direction, a planned and forceful move not solely determined by the movement of the puck carrier.

Your child is at stage of growth and development, don’t let hockey injuries hinder your child’s potential of being a great athlete. If your child has been injured from body checking or any other causes in hockey, call us today at 9272 7359!