Hockey: Body Checking 101

Hockey is a contact sport, and that contact includes the all-important body check. Coaches and players must understand how to body check properly and within the rules—insist on sticks and elbows down—to play successful hockey.

Art of the Body Check

Proper body checking requires well-developed skills, concentration, agility and anticipation. The player checking must concentrate on the puck carrier, not the puck.

How It's Done...and Not Done

The checker should keep both hands on the stick, with the blade on or near the ice. This allows the checker to use timing, steering and angling to limit the puck carrier's space, and influence their direction and speed. The checker must avoid lunging at the puck carrier, placing his glove in the face of the puck carrier or making excessive contact with the stick. All of these infractions must be discouraged and will result in penalties during games.

How to Take a Body Check

When a player is hit, it is best to "curl up" as compactly as possible. It is especially important keep your head up.

Shoulders and shoulder pads should absorb the impact of landing on the ice or colliding with the boards. Whenever possible, a player should try to cushion a collision with the boards, glass, or screen with the arms.

It is a good idea to teach your players that when they know they are about to be body checked, they should reach out and place a hand on the player checking them. This often will cushion the blow and sometimes will allow the player to slip off the check. The player being checked should also move one leg back to establish a wide, solid base, and lean into the check.

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