AAP takes aim at body checks in hockey

Elk Grove Village, IL – The increased popularity of youth ice hockey – and a subsequent increase in injuries – has prompted the American Academy of Pediatrics to renew calls for player safety.

Consistent evidence shows that body checking (when a defender makes legal contact with another player with the intent of gaining control of the puck) remains a significant risk factor for injury at every level of boys’ youth ice hockey, AAP authors said in a recent policy statement. Body checking is not allowed at any level of girls’ or women’s ice hockey.

A 2012 study from the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH, showed that concussions accounted for 22.2 percent of injuries in boys’ ice hockey, which was a higher proportion than any of the 20 sports studied. Of hockey-related concussions, 30 percent resulted from a player being body checked, according to AAP.

AAP provided the following recommendations based on its latest research:

  • Expand non-checking programs for boys 15 or older
  • Restrict body checking to top competition levels starting no earlier than 15
  • Strictly enforce a zero-tolerance policy on contact to the head
  • Reinforce rules to prevent body contact from behind

The policy statement was published online May 26 in the journal Pediatrics.