Hockey is a very popular sport among Canadian children and youth. But while there are many health benefits to physical activity and playing sports, hockey-related injuries are on the rise, especially concussion. The most common reason for hockey injury is bodychecking.
The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends that bodychecking be banned from recreational (non-competitive) ice hockey for all children and youth, regardless of age.
In competitive leagues, bodychecking should be delayed until players are at least 13 to 14 years old.
Does the CPS recommend against body contact as well?
No. Body contact and bodychecking are different:
Body contact is a player’s defensive move to block someone from the other team who has the puck (puck carrier). The player moves to stop the puck carrier anywhere on the ice by skating, angling, stick checking or with body-positioning. The defensive player does not hit the puck carrier but places his body in the way of the puck carrier. The puck carrier cannot be pushed, hit or shoved into the boards.
Bodychecking is a defensive move where a player tries to separate the puck from a player on the other team. During a check, the defensive player purposefully uses his upper body to hit the puck carrier with force while moving in the opposite or same direction.
Bodychecking is taught based on a four-step skills development program by Hockey Canada.
At what age is bodychecking allowed?
Hockey Canada policy says that bodychecking should be introduced in peewee leagues (11 to 12 years of age).
Quebec has delayed bodychecking until the bantam level (13 to 14 years of age).
Bodychecking is not allowed in girls’ or women’s hockey.