Footing: Potential For Serious Injury
Footing, which is the action of a player using his feet to knock an
opponent’s skates out from under him with a kicking or leg dragging
motion from behind, has become a common infraction throughout Minor Hockey
leagues across the country. Although slew footing is dangerous, it has
become a desirable tactic used by smaller, weaker players to gain an
advantage on larger, stronger ones by placing them off balance and making
it easier to get the puck.
move, however, is very dangerous because of the way that a player who gets
slew footed lands on his back or his head. When a player slew foots
another player, this player being slew footed usually lands on his
back/tailbone or his head and it can result is severe pain to the back and
concussions to the head.
way that a first time fan to the game of hockey can signify a slew foot is
by looking at the way a player lands after being checked. First of all,
the player throwing the body check is not hitting the person from the
front, but from the side and more to the back of the player. The player
being checked will usually have his feet up in the air when his
back/tailbone or his head hits the ice as this player is forced to fall
backwards from the illegal body check.
signal for slew footing is the ‘Tripping’ signal and a slew foot will
also be announced over the public address system as a ‘Tripping’
|This photo shows a "Slew Foot" but the
white player is not only using his leg. He is also using his arm/elbow to
push the blue player’s upper body in the opposite direction of where his
feet are about to go. This sends the player to the ice at a greater speed
and increases the chance of an injury.
||This photo shows what is the most common end result
of a "Slew Foot". The blue player’s feet will be flung up into
the air (sometimes above his own head) and either the back of his head or
his upper back will contact the ice first. The concussions due to
"Slew Foots" result mostly from the back of the player’s head
hitting the ice.
EXAMPLE: In the following example, Gary
Roberts of the Toronto Maple Leafs will be the player being checked and
Mike Fisher of the Ottawa Senators will be the player throwing the slew
foot. Also, in this example the two ways a person can slew foot an
opponent will be explained.
Roberts gains possession and control of the puck and is now skating a few
feet from the boards through the neutral zone. Mike Fisher is skating fast
and is in hot pursuit of Roberts. Roberts is looking for a teammate to
pass to as the Ottawa defenceman in front of him is cutting off his
skating lane. As Roberts begins to slow down Fisher is catching up quickly
and is only a few feet behind Roberts. Fisher sees that Roberts is slowing
down and sees a perfect opportunity to hit Roberts who doesn’t see him
Fisher gets about a foot away from Roberts, he moves his right leg out
behind Roberts’ left leg. Remember that Fisher is going at a faster
speed than Roberts and when Fisher’s right leg clips the back of
Roberts’ left leg, this causes Roberts’ left leg to fly up into the
air and of course his right leg flies into the air as well because of the
speed of Fisher’s leg hitting the back of Roberts’ left leg.
Roberts’ legs are both up in the air (up above his head if Fisher
clipped his leg hard enough). Roberts is now on his way to the ice but he
has no way to protect himself because he is falling backwards. The natural
instinct when falling backwards is to put your hands or elbows down behind
your back in order to brace yourself from the fall and hopefully cushion
is able to get his hands on the ice first but this barely slows his
decent. He lands on his tailbone first, followed by his back and then his
head hits the ice. Finally, his feet hit the ice and Roberts is laying on
the ice in extreme pain because he just smashed his tailbone and he hit
his head giving him a concussion. Fisher gets the puck, but not for long
as he is assessed a penalty for slew footing.
is one of the methods of executing the slew foot. The player landed on his
back and the back of his head allowing the referee to see that Roberts was
slew footed. Quite often the player throwing the check will complain that
it was an accident and that as he was skating his leg was out behind the
opponent’s leg. Sometimes this happens, but for the most part, a Referee
is able to determine if a player did the slew foot on purpose or by
second method is just a minor modification of what was just mentioned. The
only thing that Fisher would have had to do in the above situation is
incorporate his upper body in the body check/slew foot.
would have been able to send Roberts to the ice with even more force if he
had used his arm in conjunction with his leg. Usually a player will use
his elbow to create more force on the hit.
Fisher’s leg is making contact with the back of Roberts’ leg, Fisher
would have reached in front of Roberts and used for example, his elbow, to
hit Roberts’ upper body backwards. The elbow and the leg of Fisher would
have been going in the opposite direction. Leg going forward and elbow
going backwards. This causes Roberts’ legs to still go up in the air,
but Roberts’ upper body will be sent to the ice with greater
force/faster. When this method of a slew foot occurs, the player being
checked (Roberts) will usually land on his head first, followed by his
back, then tailbone, then legs.
speed that the player’s upper body goes to the ice is increased and the
player has even less chance of protecting himself, increasing the chance
of a head injury to occur. These types of slew foots usually don’t go
unpenalized because they are more obvious than a player just clipping the
back of another player’s leg. If the Referee is in the right position to
see the infraction, he will usually see the player throwing the check
throw himself a little off balance making it even more obvious.
top of this type of slew foot, there have been occasions where the player
throwing the slew foot has also thrown the player into the boards,
increasing the opportunity for an injury. When Roberts is in the air,
Fisher may have now push Roberts into the boards as Roberts is only two
feet away from the boards. The possibility of Roberts now hitting the side
of his head against the board and the back of his head on the ice, makes
it even worse and usually the player is penalized appropriately if the
Referee was able to witness the illegal check.
footing is considered a dangerous and cowardly move. It has put players
out of commission for days, weeks, and even months with concussions,
bruised tailbones and broken elbows and wrists from the player trying to
brace himself as he falls. There is no room for this type of move in the
game of hockey, and this is why if a Referee is able to see the infraction
and determine that it was not an accident, the player guilty of throwing
the check is usually penalized.