BODY CHECKING IN MINOR HOCKEY

   

We don’t intend to get into the debate on whether or not body checking should be allowed at younger ages. Some jurisdictions permit body checking as early as in the Atom Division, while others don’t even allow it at the Midget Category. Many House Leagues have removed body checking at all levels, while most elite level clubs introduce it at a very young age in order to allow for development of this very important skill.

It is the opinion of After The Whistle that there is nothing wrong with body checking if it is used for the proper purpose. The whole point of hitting another person with your body is to separate him from the puck and thus prevent him from scoring. The critical element here is that the use of the body is supposed to be intended to separate the puck carrier from the puck.

Body contact will occur as a natural element of the game of hockey at any level. It is important that you understand the difference between body contact and body checking as the terms are applied in hockey.

The main difference is that “body contact” is caused by the puck carrier moving “into” contact with the defensive player. In other words, the defensive player positions his body in the way of the attacking player, thus preventing him from carrying the puck around him. The attacking player is moving, and in many cases the defensive player is stopped or moving slowly into a position for interception of the player. This is the kind of body contact that is permitted at the younger levels and it is the kind of contact that is allowed in leagues where body checking is not permitted. Body contact is something that is inevitable in the sport.

Body checking, on the other hand, is the exact opposite. With body checking, it is the defensive player who initiates the contact and actually skates into the attacking player, either from the side or in the opposite direction. It is the defensive player who is moving, and often the attacking player is standing still or trying to get out of the way.

The other thing to consider is the difference between having possession and having control of the puck.

A person is said to have “control of the puck” if he is in direct contact with the puck. In other words, the puck is on the end of his stick, or in his skates. He may even be shooting or passing the puck. In that case, as soon as the puck leaves his stick, he is no longer in control of the puck.

In the example above, even once the puck leaves the player’s stick and is traveling towards the net, a teammate, or another spot on the ice, he is still said to be in “possession” of the puck until another player touches it. Possession refers to the last person to touch the puck. Control means the person who can actually do something with the puck, such as shoot or pass it.

Body checking was once used to take away “control of the puck from another player”. In other words, it was used to hit a player and separate him from the puck. Over time, body checking was permitted on the person who is in possession of the puck. This means that once a person propelled the puck somewhere, he was still eligible to receive a body check in order to prevent him from regaining control. It was considered legal because he was the one in possession of the puck.

Therefore, the rule of thumb in hockey is that as long as a person has possession of the puck, you can hit him. The problem with this is that a person shooting the puck down the entire length of the ice is still considered in possession until another player touches it. This can result in some very late hits. And when a player gives a body check to an opponent who no longer has control of the puck, he is definitely not interested in the puck. He is interested in body checking for the sake of body checking. This is where the problems occur in the whole issue of checking. Referees will use their judgment and penalize players who throw excessively late checks that occur more than a couple of seconds after the player has released the puck.

We cover the issue in much more depth on the web site at www.afterthewhistle.com, but for now you must be aware of the fact that when it comes to body checking, this is an action that is initiated by the defending player moving into the attacking player, either from the side or in the opposite direction.

Body contact refers to the defending player positioning himself so that the attacking player is actually skating into the defending player, thus being prevented from advancing any further. Control of the puck means having contact with the puck, while possession simply means that you were the last player to touch the puck.