Should USA Hockey Ban Body Checking in Pee Wees?

After reading USA Hockey’s press release recapping its Winter Meetings, something caught my eye:

In regard to rule changes, much conversation took place about the proposed modification that would prohibit body checking in games for youth hockey players until they reach the Bantam level (13-14 year-olds). The current rule allows checking in games at the Pee Wee level (11-12 year-olds).

“This is a proposal that has significant support and we look forward to continued dialogue throughout the country on this and all proposed rule changes,” said DeGregorio. “In the end, we need to do what is best for the kids who play the game.”

Having previously worked at USA Hockey, I’ve known about this debate for some time and its one that has really interested me.

Delaying body checking has plenty of advantages and disadvantages, as all things do. There are plenty of concerns of having 11- and 12-year-olds banging into each other at a decent rate of speed. Safety is always going to be a big part of the discussion, there’s no secret there, but there is so much more to it.

After the jump, a look at more of the reasoning behind the potential rule change.I posed a question on Twitter regarding this topic and I was pleased to see Matt Cunningham, coordinator of coaching education at USA Hockey, reply with this Tweet:

@Hockey_matt we need to make body contact, angling, contact confidence a core skill taught from the earliest ages

Cunningham also provided this link (a .pdf) that gives us great insight into the debate on body checking. A key point from the info provided in the file:

We do know that physiologically (and most importantly), players at this age (11-12) are in their prime “window of opportunity” to acquire sports skills. The current rules we have in place hinder our children from this acquisition of skills at the highest possible level.

To me, it is far more important for a young hockey player to acquire and develop skills. An extra two years of players working on skill sets as opposed to trying to kill the guys in the other color jerseys will give those young players two extra years to perfect the fundamentals. Fundamentally-sound 13- and 14-year-olds will be able to handle body contact better.

Reading the research, it is really hard to argue with its findings. I know that the detractors will say checking is an integral part of the game and that implementing it in Pee Wee allows players to learn it sooner. I’m sure we’ll also hear plenty say that this is further coddling America’s youth, but when you read through the research, you know that there are legitimate reasons for delaying body checking other than simply protecting our kids.

Keep in mind that this proposed rule would not eliminate body contact. Body checking and body contact are two different things. Allowing body angling and natural body contact allows players to get a feel for contact without a significantly greater risk of injury or intimidation.

Another tweet from Cunningham:

@Hockey_matt …We hope people understand we want an increase in body contact training at younger ages

So it is a little bit of a give and take. While delaying full-contact body checking, USA Hockey would permit and encourage introduction of more body contact/angling at the younger levels. Increasing body contact education at a younger age will help better prepare our young players for when they do make the jump into full contact body checking.

Here’s the last bit of scientific research that really swayed me on this topic:

What also came to light is the fact that cognitively, the 11 year old brain has not fully developed the ability to anticipate well.  Anticipation is 50% of a player’s ability to protect himself and avoid heavy contact that leads to these serious injuries.

Why put a player, that is not fully able to protect himself, at risk for the sake of “body checking being part of the game.”

I’d much rather see 11-year-old kids trying to put the puck in the net than trying to put their opponent through the boards or worrying about being put through the boards.

That leads me to another reason to consider delaying full body checking; retention. I’ve actually heard this talked about among a lot of hockey parents I’ve come across over the years.

By introducing checking at age 11, some players just aren’t ready for it and they quit playing. It happens a lot.

I can tell you from personal experience, my first year of playing Pee Wees was an absolute nightmare. I wasn’t ready to hit anybody and I was not even close to ready to be hit. I got walloped on my very first shift as an 11-year-old and, if I didn’t love everything else about the game so much, I think I might have quit right then.

Still, I stuck with it and, as many of my other friends did, just accepted getting hit. Not all 11-year-olds can do that. It is far more likely that a 13-year-old can. The maturity gap between 11 and 13 is fairly large.

Many 13-year-old players are going to have the maturity to, more times than not, make the smart play instead of go for the earth-shattering hit. The research USA Hockey cited showed that many 11-year-olds were going out of their way to make the hit and not even make an attempt to make the “smart” play. Again, its a maturity thing.

Taking away the option of flattening an opponent, our young hockey players can continue to focus on using their skills and their brains to make better plays on the ice. Can’t argue with that logic. (Well I guess you could, and I know some of you will.)

Despite my initial skepticism and perhaps some ignorance, I totally agree with the potential rule change after reading through the logic behind it. I don’t think body checking should stand in the way of skill development, safety and retention.

I know this is a topic that elicits a ton of debate among hockey fans, parents coaches and players, so if you would like to share your thoughts, please do so in the comments here or on the USofH Facebook page.

We will revisit this topic again at some point. Until then, make sure to check out the references provided by USA Hockey’s coaching education department. In debates like these, it is important to be as educated as possible on the facts.

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About Chris Peters

Editor of The United States of Hockey. Contributor to CBSSports.com, USA Hockey Magazine and more. Former USA Hockey PR guy. Current Iowan.
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29 Responses to Should USA Hockey Ban Body Checking in Pee Wees?

  1. Woody says:

    Strongly agree yes. Hockey is a physical sport and that makes it great, but there is a reason only a minuscule number of adult leagues allow contact. Hockey can be great and enjoyable without contact. At this age many players are still playing just for fun and exercise. With the current understanding of head injuries there us no point to risking young players brains long before they even realize what is at stake. Furthermore many studies have shown that at that age players cannot pay attention to handling the puck and worry about getting run over by a defender. This results in players not fully developing puck skills at the critical age for such development which is before twelve. Allow contact that is geared towards separating players from the puck by positioning and not going for the big blow up hit. Unlike football, hockey had a very important skill component which needs to be nurtured without unnecssary aggression at such a tender age.

  2. Woody says:

    I’ll add that my cousins both quit hockey at 11 because they were too small to handle kids 20 to 30 pounds bigger than them. You might oh well players like Marty St Louis survived to make the NHL. But one of my cousins is now 6’3″ around 200 lbs. He just had his growth spurt after he gave up hockey forever. Their younger brothers never played because the parents saw no reason to spend the money if they could only play to 11.

  3. Steve says:

    I was at a New England tourney this weekend. In the PeeWees games, one kid was knocked unconscious, one child broke a collarbone and another broke his wrist. That was among 10 teams playing 3 games each. This is Pee Wee hockey reality, kids get hurt once they start checking. In fact, my son’s own team came to the tourney missing 4 players who are out with concussions. Fortunately, none of his teammates were hurt here as we had 11 skaters with us at the tourney and would have been in trouble if anyone got hurt.

  4. Brad says:

    I completely disagree. By not allowing body checking until Peewee or potentially Bantams, while not coming right out and saying it – we are actually teaching our kids it is okay to skate with your head down. No need to watch for other players – you can’t get hit. If body contact was allowed right from the START (yes – I did say that), we would have far fewer concussions than ‘introducing’ body checking once the kids are much bigger and their hits are much harder. Once our kids can finally check, they are older and want to show off and look cool to their friends. “Look how I can hit!!” “Did you see me nail that guy?” This would not happen if checking were allowed from day one in a person’s hockey career. ‘Studies’ show concussions increase once body checking is allowed at Peewee level – no duh. Studies also show kids who sit on the couch all day not playing sports have zero concussions. If we allowed checking all through hockey, you would see concussions go down because the kids learn all about hitting at the same time as they learn about shooting, skating, and offsides – it’s all a part of hockey. We teach the kids how to hit, how to take a hit and the purpose of hitting (not to go out and cream someone – to remove the other player from the puck). Hockey is a contact sport and if kids (or their parents) want to play hockey without getting hit – there are no contact leagues.

    • Chris Peters says:

      Brad, thanks for your comment. I don’t get your logic, though. The proposed changes would promote more body contact at the younger levels of youth hockey. The coaches across the country will be responsible for teaching their players body contact/angling/positioning. So you’re partially correct in that thought. The new rules would allow for more contact, but would penalize actual body checking. Which I think is a good move at the younger levels.

      As far as teaching kids to keep their heads up: A thundering hit will not necessarily teach a player to keep his head up (even though it can be a good reminder from time to time). Seeing where you’re going usually helps players learn. Kids constantly run into opponents or even their own teammates enough to get the idea. Most Squirt-aged players get that you need to pick your head up with the puck to get from Point A to Point B. Additionally, even if their heads are up, the research shows that 11-year-olds, much less younger players, do not have the cognitive ability to anticipate the check and are, therefore, unable to properly protect themselves… There isn’t enough teaching that can fix that.

      Lastly, I don’t get how you think introducing checking at the younger ages will decrease concussions. Besides, teaching checking at the same time we teach shooting, skating and offsides, takes time away from teaching shooting, checking and offsides. That’s kind of ridiculous right? What’s more important? You can’t overload an 8-year-old with that kind of stuff. We teach 11-year-olds how to hit and how to take a hit and we still see a high rate of injuries. You also ignore the fact that removing the checking will allow younger players to better acquire skills, which in the end, is a big reason for the proposed change.

      Again, I appreciate your comment. I wrote about this to open up some discussion. So thanks for chiming in.

      • Dan says:

        I agree with Brad start it early. Our team was a pee wee minor this year and yes it started out as kids wanting to hit but quickly turned into just a part of the game. By starting it early kids learn that it just another part of the game at 50lbs not 150lbs. As far as working on skills, teaching a kid its ok to keep pulling the puck between his legs is just another recipe for disaster. His first game when he sees a Canadian team at age 13 and gets his head knocked off by a 150lb defenseman he will wanna quite the game for sure. So many years with a false sense of security he won’t know how to handle his so called money moves being depleted and figured out so fast. As far as advanced body contact, these ref’s will not be able to call games consistantly. Also if you think coaches will take the time to teach checking in each practice you are dreaming. At $200 + for 50 min of ice there is no way that any coach will spend ADM required time in any practice. Why would you teach anything that you can’t use in a game.
        The formula that would satisfy both sides and give kids and parents a choice. Make travel hockey checking and house or house select non checking. If you have trouble skating or stick handling you wouldn’t be in travel, same should be for checking. All aspects should be fluent before entering travel levels. If kids are afraid then they have a place to go before they quit all together.
        Keep this game where it should be, how fast we forget how Canada easily beat USA in the World Juniors. Do you really think 2 years would have made USA beat Canada? Please!!! USA team was built on speed and skill but was squashed buy Team Canada finishing every check… Yes I said CHECK!

    • GB says:

      Brad
      I agree with you completely.. we will be putting our kids at a great disadvantage to take away the body check at the Pee Wee level. USA Hockey seems to have already made up their minds about this already. It’s too bad. I would like to see the statistics in the next two years on how many 1st year bantams receive head in juries.. I bet it at least triples..!!! The size and weight differences are even greate at that age level. There are statistics on both sides of the issue here.. USA Hockey only chooses to look at one !!

  5. Doug Janchik says:

    Absolutly not! Bad idea. Checking is not a problem its the control of the game. I think the problem here is the referees are not being educated and taught properly. There should be more mandatory clinics for refs. More written tests. More evaluations. And officials should be more closely watched. Its crazy to think a ref can not do a game for 3-4 months and jump into a high speed game and ref. He is off his game…he needs to take a clinic again before jumping on the ice. A college kid comes back for spring break and does checking games bad idea. Its important to be around the game on a consistant basis to know and understand the issues hockey faces during the current season

    The problem cant be put on the children of “No Checking” this doesnt solve the problem. There are still no check leagues were kids still get injured. This goes back to teaching the staff of refs on how to “call” better games. This is a contact sport and injuries will occure just like in football or other sports.

    We could probably have and option to have a : “No check” Northwest league if need be. Kids watch the NHL and they have dreams of playing one day and checking is part of the game and with a little help with better teaching this can be somewhat controlled. You will never take injury out of hockey it is part of the game. I think this is another bandaid for not teaching officials how to properly control a hockey game.

  6. I play for the Maine Hurricanes and I strictly disagree if you have PeeWee non-checking, Checking is one of the fun parts about hockey. Hockey is heard of being rough and physical not soft and girly.

  7. Mike says:

    I also disagree on taking checking out of the game at the peewee level. I grew up only 6 miles from the Canadian border, so many of our teams played both Canadian and American leagues. We were taught checking at the squirt level because Canadian leagues have checking in squirts. Our teams seemed much better prepared when we got to peewee level due to learning the checking at an earlier age. I never saw our teams lacking in puck and skating skills due to it. I thought it actually made our teams more aware of situations and reading plays knowing you could get hit. Many times you see players struggle when they get to checking because they skate around with their heads down. I also see that a lot with girls hockey. The kids who don’t learn to skate with their heads up and look to make a play are the same ones who become less effective at higher levels as they don’t learn to utilize their teammates and instead try to do too much on their own.

  8. groomer says:

    a few observations from a Dad (mini mite) and former player in support of keeping checking at the pee wee level.

    1) The range of size difference between the biggest and smallest players is much larger at the bantam level than the pee wee level. Allowing players to learn to check at younger ages, while collectively they are closer in size, weight, and strength is safer physically, than 2 years later when the disparity is greater. Think about it.

    It is never to early to learn to skate with your head up. Two more years of no contact only allows players to ignore developing this crucial skill b/c of a lack of consequences.

    2) Better players at the bantam level are also typically playing high school hockey in addition to travel team in many areas. If bantam becomes the first exposure to contact, there is the possibility of a prodigious 8th grader with no experience getting hit by players 5 years older and fully developed. Possibly older when you allow for PGs and repeated years in the prep leagues.

    3) we have been down this road before. I am a ’69 birth year. I was in the age group that went through this experiment in the early 80″s. I had checking as a first year pee wee, but then was subject to this very rule change and had no checking as a 2nd year peewee. The experiment lasted exactly 1 year before AHAUS reversed itself and went back to status quo. It took the players a year to figure out how to check, a half a season how to un-learn it, and another half a season to re-learn it with bigger, faster players.

    Hockey is a contact sport and occasionally injuries happen. i truly believe that first time contact at older ages will actually increase the number of those injuries because of the greater disparities in size at that level of development and the inexperience (with contact) of the players being thrown into that cauldron without the benefit of “practicing” contact.

  9. George Bachul says:

    Chris,
    There are lots of theories out there about checking. I believe that there isn’t enough emphasis by coaches in Atom (9-10) in preparation for checking in Pee Wee.

    One of two things need to happen….either kids get taught properly how to check or we lose them to injury or leaving the game.

    I recently thought of a way to curb the concussion problem. Remember when checking was done to separate the man from the puck? Now it is to punish a player that is either not watching for you, or to “finish your check”. That may be a stupid Canadian thing, but it isn’t necessary. (I am Canadian)

    If they made checking a player who didn’t have the puck…meaning already passed it, then the only time a check would be made is to separate the player from the puck.

    All of this blindside/headshot debate would be done because it is a guy that is getting there too late/after the pass would automatically get a penalty. Right now, there is about a second to a second and a half that a player can hammer a guy after the pass. Take that away and we would be better off.

    The reason our kids are getting hammered is their “heroes” are doing the same.

    The skill vs contact argument isn’t totally lost, but like I tweeted you as puck_hounds that is relative to how long a player has been playing and what skill they have acquired up until a certain age.

    Tough debate but I am sure there isn’t a greater drop off in player reups than from Atom 2nd year to Pee Wee 1st year.

    • Chris Peters says:

      Really glad to see this debate taking off again. I really appreciate everyone’s input. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I do feel that a few things are getting overlooked in your arguments however. I read each of your comments thoroughly, but this response may not be as thorough as you’d like. I just want to throw a few things out there to keep in mind.

      Really quick in regards to safety, don’t underestimate the importance of this research: “What also came to light is the fact that cognitively, the 11 year old brain has not fully developed the ability to anticipate well. Anticipation is 50% of a player’s ability to protect himself and avoid heavy contact that leads to these serious injuries.” So while the gap in size between a 13-year-old and a 14-year-old may be different, a 13-year-old can better anticipate contact than an 11-year-old. This is not to be underestimated. Given this research, we are knowingly putting our 11- and 12- year-olds in an adverse situation that they can’t cognitively avoid. The inability to fully protect themselves is why we see an incredibly high number of injuries at this age group. They do not happen “occasionally.”

      The difference between now and 30 years ago and even now and two years ago, is the science behind the decision. With more cognitive research being done in regards to sports, we’re finding new ways to better train our athletes. That’s why you’re seeing things like the Hockey Intelligym and this potential rule change.

      The other thing that everyone is overlooking is that the rule will encourage body contact from mite on up. Meaning, if a player uses his body position or body angle to separate an opponent from the puck, it won’t be penalized. Even for 8-year-olds. The other idea behind this is to further curb malicious hits that “blow up” opponents. If players learn, at a young age, you can use your body to get the puck away from your opponent without taking yourself out of the play, isn’t that a good thing? I agree with George that the big hit has been glorified and that’s something that maybe should change.

      I am of the mind that our main focus, particularly with American players, is to focus on skill development first. ALWAYS. If the coaches do their jobs and the players take the lesson, they will gradually learn how to properly check and be checked.

      Think of it this way… The U.S. is deficient in highly-skilled, elite players. In the skill department, Canada, Sweden and Russia are all far more advanced. This new rule has a chance to revolutionize the way we teach our players the game and the way our young players acquire and hone skills. The way we practice and the way we coach. Change is difficult, but this is something that could potentially change the landscape of player development in this country for the better. It might be worth the risk.

      Lastly, please read this article to get a look at a few different angles on this very topic: http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2011/02/21/concussion-hockey-bodycheck-age.html
      Like I said, the best thing you can do is educate yourself on every angle of this thing to help form your opinion.

      Again, I thank you for your input. I appreciate your comments and I hope we can continue a spirited, civil debate on this important issue. Thanks for reading!

  10. George Bachul says:

    Chris,

    If the way we practice is the way we coach, then why aren’t all practices about trying to throw a devastating hit on your team mate?

    Please comment on a very important part of my post. If we made it illegal to finish a check and let a body check be used the way it was intended (To separate a player from the puck), then wouldn’t that accommodate part of what we are trying to correct?

    And since I am from Canada, understand that the problem isn’t a USA hockey problem, it is a North American problem. The drop off in players from Atom to Pee Wee has to be huge….because players are trying to annihilate each other with the big check.

    The impetus is on coach as to “Why do we hit?” “How do we hit?” “When do we hit?” should be part of where this is going. It isn’t only age specific but the hitting culture.

    Thanks,

    G

  11. Steve Huot says:

    This is a well written article which makes a good point that is missed in a lot of the debate I have heard regarding this topic: We are not trying to eliminate contact and angling, but eliminate the full body checks. This idea should be emphasized more by USA Hockey during these discussions. I think many people who are questioning the elimination of checking at the Pee wee level are thinking in terms of the kids first hits coming when they are 11 and 12 when the kids are smaller. At the Bantam level, the speed and size difference is intimatdating to even the best skaters, nevermind the first game with checking. In sum, I agree with the proposal to eliminate checking as proposed at the Pee Wee Level.

  12. Peewee dad says:

    I agree with the rule change. My son is a smaller player on a AAA team, although I don’t think he is afraid of the contact, there are some huge kids…more than double his size. I am hearing since they are allowed to hit this spring, they will grandfather it…..makes no sense. If it is a rule to prevent concussions and injury, why are the 2000’s expendable but not ’01’s? Just because they got to hit for 2 months in the spring?? Either go with it or don’t….don’t dance around it. If it’s based on what’s best for the kids, don’t turn your back because some parents who have bigger kids are whining about letting theirs crush the little ones dancing around their player!

  13. Dan says:

    I agree with Brad start it early. Our team was a pee wee minor this year and yes it started out as kids wanting to hit but quickly turned into just a part of the game. By starting it early kids learn that it just another part of the game at 50lbs not 150lbs. As far as working on skills, teaching a kid its ok to keep pulling the puck between his legs is just another recipe for disaster. His first game when he sees a Canadian team at age 13 and gets his head knocked off by a 150lb defenseman he will wanna quite the game for sure. So many years with a false sense of security he won’t know how to handle his so called money moves being depleted and figured out so fast. As far as advanced body contact, these ref’s will not be able to call games consistantly. Also if you think coaches will take the time to teach checking in each practice you are dreaming. At $200 + for 50 min of ice there is no way that any coach will spend ADM required time in any practice. Why would you teach anything that you can’t use in a game.
    The formula that would satisfy both sides and give kids and parents a choice. Make travel hockey checking and house or house select non checking. If you have trouble skating or stick handling you wouldn’t be in travel, same should be for checking. All aspects should be fluent before entering travel levels. If kids are afraid then they have a place to go before they quit all together.
    Keep this game where it should be, how fast we forget how Canada easily beat USA in the World Juniors. Do you really think 2 years would have made USA beat Canada? Please!!! USA team was built on speed and skill but was squashed buy Team Canada finishing every check… Yes I said CHECK

    Give all a choice…Not one person in the very large hockey circle that I know is in favor of the rule change.

    Keep Travel Checking, and House and House Select non- checking… It would cover both what the kids are capable of and what the parents want their kids to do.

  14. Mike says:

    Re learning how to take a check a a young age, and the protective effect of starting body-checking early, the epidemiology studies consistently indicate that there is no protective effect. the comparisoms of injury rates in Ontario, Alberta which allowed bodychecking at the lowered peewee age (11) vs Quebec which does not permit bodychecking til Bantam (13) show that Quebec injury rates in Bantam continue to be far lower (about 70 percent lower) than those of Alberta and Ontario. Their attrition rates are also far lower. As for the cost of treating all the concussions, briken bones and injured bony growth plates, Edmonton’s Capital Health Region did studies.

    Since 98% of kids play for fun and exercise only, why impose these dangerous rules that only drive kids from the sport and to the emergency room.

    Save the bodychecking in PeeWee and Bantam for “elite spring hockey” where the most competitive players can knock themselves out!

  15. Mike says:

    PS Sidney Crosby knew how to take a check, as did Eric Lindros, Scott Stevens, Paul Kariya, Keith Primeau … but they all suffered serious brain injuries or concussions. So much for the protective effect claimed by learning how to body-check early. All you do is wear out or traumatize your brain and your limb joints early and take yourself out of the game! Why do your kids want to play sport? Why should they play sports, which sports and why?

    Are coaches and minor hockey officials exposing themselve to legal liability and punititive damages for failing to heed the warnings of safety associations and pediatric associations throughout North America? I would have to say yes, particularly since the BC Court of Appeal recently followed other Court decisions that a waiver signed by or on behalf of a minor athlete is ineffective and void.

  16. Dan says:

    Do you put your kids in football for exercise? absolutely NOT. Hockey is considered a full contact sport same as football is considered a full contact sport. I agree with having a place for all to play, even at the adult level you have checking and non-check divisions and tournaments. Make non-check divisions or make house which really should be no checking. There also is Roller hockey which is non-checking and plays year around too. Those elite spring teams just don’t come out in spring they play year around too.
    I’m sure studies also show and we all know that peewee football causes concussions and bodily injuries but there is no vote or consideration for the kids to play flag football till age 13. Why?…Because football is considered America’s sport there would be an outrage to consider it.
    In conclusion, I’m not saying concussions don’t happen but alot are on us as parents. Take a look around the rink next time and look at the skates those kids have on their feet. You will see some real expensive skates Reebok 11k’s, Bauer Total ones, CCM Crazylights,or Easton EQ 50’s now look at the helmet that is on their head. 99% will not have a top of the line helmet on their head but do have top of the line on their feet. Those skates way beyond them but the parents want little Johnny to have what little Billy has. Cascade makes a great helmet for preventing concussions but it’s not one of the big three so it’s not even considered in the NHL. Not until Messier and Cascade came out with the M11 project helmet did any of them get really involved in a true concussion prevention helmet. Parents need to make sure their kids are outfitted properly and start with the head first not the skates.
    (Seriously do your own survey at a rink this weekend and you will be SHOCKED at what you come up with.)

  17. Mike says:

    Two solitudes! Risk your brain and future with bodychecking to excel or make the cut or make the pros! Risk you brain (or heart) with performance enhancing drugs in order to excel or make the cut or make the pros! Short term gain for long term pain.
    It’s a matter of values isn’t it. Why does NCAA levels 1, 2 and 3 proscribe certain practices in the name of sport or fitness or integrity.
    Honouring the game of hockey does not mandate bodychecking! It is an argument against it. Listen to the Pediatric Associations throughout North America and the latest study released this week from the east (Dalhousie University) that indicated body checking has no place in youth hockey before age 16. Lawyers and insurers might say 18 since waivers of liability for minors have no effect whatsoever! That liability exposure also applies to those in elite spring hockey.

    • Dan says:

      Keep DREAMING!!! You sign the waiver to acknowledge the risk that there is in any sport. It’s called Assumed risk. The only one responsible for that decision would be the parent not any league, coach, official, or club. Get your facts straight and ask a lawyer. As far as honouring hockey, checking is a part of the game and the way it was meant to be played. Same as tackling is part of football. Did you ever notice Lacrosse for boys they wear helmet not in girls Lacrosse? Whats next take those rules out and they can wear just goggles like the girls do. When I played it was checking all the way through and no one got hurt like the claims today. Maybe we should take away the XBOX and playstations and get the kids outside more and maybe this wouldn’t happen so much. Also you talked about NCAA sports, not to long ago they tinkered with removing cages and going with shields only because they thought kids were leading with there head to much. Thats responsible? maybe they have a point but it’s not until the kid turns 18 and it’s their decision.
      Do your research, girls collegiate hockey has more concussions than men’s, if you read the studies boys hockey, the majority of injuries are from accidents (Hitting the boards or goal post not from a check) and incidental contact other than checking (on ice unexpected collisions).
      There is risks in everything we do. Give a choice and let them play checking or non-checking (house). Tell me what boy would want to go play lacrosse with the girls and wear his goggles….NONE… But I bet there would be girls who would rather play with the boys.
      BTW: HOCKEY IS A CHOICE NOT MANDATORY! If I was worried about my child I would certainly not put him in Hockey, Football, or Lacrosse. Your child may regret you later but it’s one of those parental choices that we make, NOT GOING TO CHANGE THE RULES!!!! STOP ALREADY!! Latetly it seems to be the American way, If I can’t do it nobody will!

  18. Chris Peters says:

    I’d encourage anyone who has already commented on this post to bring further comments on this topic to my latest post. Found here:

    https://unitedstatesofhockey.com/2011/05/10/pee-wee-checking-debate-renewed-as-vote-nears/

    Again, please take a listen to the podcasts as well, particularly if you are against this rule. It’s important to know both sides of the debate.

  19. Corey says:

    The idea that we need to ban contact at pee wee level is unbelievable and makes me sick. If anything, contact should be allowed at the squirt level again. If you ban contact at pee wee (around the age if 13-14) where are these kids going to learn to hit before they are getting killed by upperclassmen in highschool only a year later? Has anyone forgotten that not all schools have freshman teams. I played varsity as a freshman. If ihadnt learned to hit and even more importantly take a hit in pee wee I would have ended up a vegetable.

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  21. Anonymous says:

    I understand the rationale for changing the rules, but they haphazard way it was done, with no thought given to how it would impact 2nd year peewee players is my beef. In this article the statement from USA hockey “While delaying full-contact body checking, USA Hockey would permit and encourage introduction of more body contact/angling at the younger levels.” is simply NOT true. Referees are calling all contact as checking, and players at the pee wee level are playing a squirt game, dumping the puck off the boards and chasing, knowing that there can be no contact from the defenseman. It punishes the defense and encourages offensive skaters to simply go it alone. Watching squirt hockey at the pee wee travel level is not very enjoyable.

  22. Dan says:

    Chris,
    Just as I was getting over this subject you had to bring it back up again. I firmly disagreed with you on this subject early in the year. Yes it does give kids sometime to work more skill and I do see some benefit. I have seen two major downfalls, 1.) the forwards are going into the corners way to comfy as I seen one kid get a severe concussion from a push not a check from behind( this kid last year could not be knocked off his feet in pee wee minor), and 2.) the defensemen are just pylons getting walked. The minute you try to body someone out the hand goes up. This so called ADVANCED BODY CONTACT is a crock, yes a few referees get it but most so far aren’t trained. Last weekend we had a kid take a penalty and I asked for an explanation and the ref told me “There is no contact”. I told him yes there is it’s no checking. It was a kid who went to skate around someone and his should clipped a kids arm as he cut around him and the other kids skated into him, totally incidental contact. Most good referees that we get are from senior games and call it the way it should be and not Squirts. Most are squirt referees that do not know the definition of overt.
    Research has been proven to be as inconclusive, for every piece of positive info there is just as much negative on the concusion debate or skill level for that matter. Only time will tell by next year for Pee Wee Majors and 2 years for minors. It has it’s ups and downs but it is what it is and we have to move forward.
    P.S. I was against the change but we need to live with the hand we were dealt at this time. I hope I don’t have to get back on here a year from now and tell Chris I told you so. I hope injuries don’t go on the increase which alot of research has pointed too. GOOD LUCK TO EVERYONE THIS SEASON!

  23. Chris says:

    Yes it can be very dangerous to start young, but if you wait too long there will be a lot more injuries. At 14 most kids are starting High School. Having your second year of hitting going up against kids who can be a lot more physically mature and up to 4 years older then you, they are going to go after the smaller kids. If you still do not know the complete correct way on how to take and give a hit you are going to get seriously inujured. I dont agree with the rule change. If you were a senior in high school and you see a small kid who doesnt look like he knows what hes doing your going to go after that kid and its the sad truth. If you higher the age these kids will not have enough time to learn and prepare for high school hockey.

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