Checking out

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

Canada's favourite game, played at its best, is fast, skilful and, at times, brutally rough. And from the time kids can lace up their skates, they strive to emulate their hockey heroes.

Along with mastering the slap shot and honing skating techniques, this means that, at some point, they need to learn the art of the body check. The question is, how soon is too soon to start hurtling fragile young necks, shoulders and ribs into another moving object?

According to a recent release by the Canada Safety Council, Hockey Canada recommends that body checking begins for male players at 11 years old; in one of that organization's pilot programs, four branches decided to allow checking for boys as young as nine.

That's too young.

In fact, data from the Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program painted a rather shocking picture, based on information collected between 1995 and 2002.

Comparing hospital reports from areas where checking was allowed to areas where it was not, the findings noted that of 4,736 hockey injuries, 59.6 per cent of the injuries occurred in areas where checking was allowed. At ages 10-13, the odds were not only increased that players would suffer an injury, they were more likely to suffer a concussion or fracture in areas where checking is allowed.

According to statistics posted on the American Academy of Pediatrics web site, the theory that teaching kids to check earlier will prevent serious injury when they are older doesn't pan out. In fact, among older players, it notes, there were higher odds of receiving a checking injury in the area that had introduced checking at an earlier age.

Researchers at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children report that players who start checking at age 10 are twice as likely to be injured as those who start after age 14, and those in leagues that allow checking earlier continue to have more frequent and more serious injuries. In addition, those who start checking earlier continue to have more injuries than those who start at a later age.

The Canada Safety Council recommends that body checking should not be allowed in minor hockey until age 14. That may seem to be a restrictive guideline, especially in competitive rep programs for players with a solid hockey foundation, but it gives players the chance to not only develop skating, shooting and defensive skills, but to mature physically and psychologically.

The Ontario Hockey Federation's (www.omha.net) philosophy is that checking is a critical skill in the game of hockey. But just like skating, puck control, passing and shooting, there are key progressions to the skill of checking. Body checking represents the final element in a four-step progression. The OHF also notes that "body checking is not hitting and the use of hitting to intimidate opponents."

And while the OHF participates in the atom (ages 10-11) checking pilot program, we think that's just too young and there's no need for it to begin so early.

Not just because there are so many other areas to develop, but because there is just too much at stake.

Checking out

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

Canada's favourite game, played at its best, is fast, skilful and, at times, brutally rough. And from the time kids can lace up their skates, they strive to emulate their hockey heroes.

Along with mastering the slap shot and honing skating techniques, this means that, at some point, they need to learn the art of the body check. The question is, how soon is too soon to start hurtling fragile young necks, shoulders and ribs into another moving object?

According to a recent release by the Canada Safety Council, Hockey Canada recommends that body checking begins for male players at 11 years old; in one of that organization's pilot programs, four branches decided to allow checking for boys as young as nine.

That's too young.

In fact, data from the Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program painted a rather shocking picture, based on information collected between 1995 and 2002.

Comparing hospital reports from areas where checking was allowed to areas where it was not, the findings noted that of 4,736 hockey injuries, 59.6 per cent of the injuries occurred in areas where checking was allowed. At ages 10-13, the odds were not only increased that players would suffer an injury, they were more likely to suffer a concussion or fracture in areas where checking is allowed.

According to statistics posted on the American Academy of Pediatrics web site, the theory that teaching kids to check earlier will prevent serious injury when they are older doesn't pan out. In fact, among older players, it notes, there were higher odds of receiving a checking injury in the area that had introduced checking at an earlier age.

Researchers at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children report that players who start checking at age 10 are twice as likely to be injured as those who start after age 14, and those in leagues that allow checking earlier continue to have more frequent and more serious injuries. In addition, those who start checking earlier continue to have more injuries than those who start at a later age.

The Canada Safety Council recommends that body checking should not be allowed in minor hockey until age 14. That may seem to be a restrictive guideline, especially in competitive rep programs for players with a solid hockey foundation, but it gives players the chance to not only develop skating, shooting and defensive skills, but to mature physically and psychologically.

The Ontario Hockey Federation's (www.omha.net) philosophy is that checking is a critical skill in the game of hockey. But just like skating, puck control, passing and shooting, there are key progressions to the skill of checking. Body checking represents the final element in a four-step progression. The OHF also notes that "body checking is not hitting and the use of hitting to intimidate opponents."

And while the OHF participates in the atom (ages 10-11) checking pilot program, we think that's just too young and there's no need for it to begin so early.

Not just because there are so many other areas to develop, but because there is just too much at stake.

Checking out

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

Canada's favourite game, played at its best, is fast, skilful and, at times, brutally rough. And from the time kids can lace up their skates, they strive to emulate their hockey heroes.

Along with mastering the slap shot and honing skating techniques, this means that, at some point, they need to learn the art of the body check. The question is, how soon is too soon to start hurtling fragile young necks, shoulders and ribs into another moving object?

According to a recent release by the Canada Safety Council, Hockey Canada recommends that body checking begins for male players at 11 years old; in one of that organization's pilot programs, four branches decided to allow checking for boys as young as nine.

That's too young.

In fact, data from the Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program painted a rather shocking picture, based on information collected between 1995 and 2002.

Comparing hospital reports from areas where checking was allowed to areas where it was not, the findings noted that of 4,736 hockey injuries, 59.6 per cent of the injuries occurred in areas where checking was allowed. At ages 10-13, the odds were not only increased that players would suffer an injury, they were more likely to suffer a concussion or fracture in areas where checking is allowed.

According to statistics posted on the American Academy of Pediatrics web site, the theory that teaching kids to check earlier will prevent serious injury when they are older doesn't pan out. In fact, among older players, it notes, there were higher odds of receiving a checking injury in the area that had introduced checking at an earlier age.

Researchers at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children report that players who start checking at age 10 are twice as likely to be injured as those who start after age 14, and those in leagues that allow checking earlier continue to have more frequent and more serious injuries. In addition, those who start checking earlier continue to have more injuries than those who start at a later age.

The Canada Safety Council recommends that body checking should not be allowed in minor hockey until age 14. That may seem to be a restrictive guideline, especially in competitive rep programs for players with a solid hockey foundation, but it gives players the chance to not only develop skating, shooting and defensive skills, but to mature physically and psychologically.

The Ontario Hockey Federation's (www.omha.net) philosophy is that checking is a critical skill in the game of hockey. But just like skating, puck control, passing and shooting, there are key progressions to the skill of checking. Body checking represents the final element in a four-step progression. The OHF also notes that "body checking is not hitting and the use of hitting to intimidate opponents."

And while the OHF participates in the atom (ages 10-11) checking pilot program, we think that's just too young and there's no need for it to begin so early.

Not just because there are so many other areas to develop, but because there is just too much at stake.