Body Checking is a fundamental skill in hockey that changes the game for players as they transition from Peewee to Bantam. With the new USA Hockey rules implemented over the last few years body contact and body positioning has been expanded to allow the transition to body checking a little easier. The biggest issue with checking is that as a players move into their Bantam years (12 and 13 year old kids) they are all on different growth patterns. You may see a 12 year old kid who has had his growth spurt playing against peers who have not. This leads to size mismatches that cause many potentially capable players to stop playing hockey because they are not big enough to endure the physical game. Added to this is many players have not been properly taught how to check and disregard safety that leads to serious on ice injuries.
There are many other types of checking then body checking. Stick checks, poke checks, and back checks to name a few. We are concentrating our discussion to body checking. Checking can be defined as using physical force, without breaking the rules to either gain possession of the puck or to disrupt the other player’s play. All experts will agree that the most important aspect of checking is body positioning. It is important to position yourself before the check and be in the correct position after the check. Causes of poor body checks are penalties, injuries, and errors that cause the other team to score. Delivering a proper check relates to the position of the other player and the position of the checking player. Proper checks are made to the front and side of the other player. Poor checks are to the head or back of the player you are checking. As a person receiving the check it is most important to keep your head up while skating. Many injuries are caused by not being attentive to the play around you while skating. So what should you expect when checking starts:
1) Poor checking. Watch out for misguided players who don’t know what they are doing. Hopefully this will not last more than 2 months into season.
2) Injuries. More concussions, more injuries related to additional body contact. Medical professionals agree your body is probably not ready for body checking until age 15.
3) Penalties and Fights. Player will have to control emotions and focus on the game.
4) Faster game. Player will need to increase speed and skills to out smart the physical play.
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