Bodychecking in ice hockey: What are the risks?
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 concussions. The most common reason for a 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. 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?
- As of September 2013, Hockey Canada states that bodychecking should be introduced at the bantam level (13 to 14 years of age).
- Bodychecking in bantam level hockey has been eliminated in many less-competitive Canadian leagues.
- Bodychecking is not allowed in girls-only hockey.
How can I protect my child or teen?
- Your child or teen should always wear a CSA International-certified hockey helmet while playing hockey.
- Talk to your children about the importance of fair play and non-violence in sport.
- Read our detailed information for parents, trainers and coaches on sport-related concussion. Everyone involved in sports should know the risks, symptoms/signs and how to manage a concussion.
Reviewed by the following CPS committees
- Healthy Active Living and Sports Medicine Committee
Last updated: February 2018