Body checking study misses the mark.

kronwall_lays_out_havlat_large[1] A new survey has reopened an old hockey debate about whether young kids should be able to bodycheck. CBC ran quite a thorough report on the University of Calgary study, which found that kids are three times as likely to be injured or suffer a concussion if they play with body contact. The study was based on a comparison between Alberta peewee players, who play with body contact, and Quebec kids who don’t.

The study is accurate in what it reports, but it shows a profound lack of understanding of hockey in what it chose to study in the first place. Very few hockey coaches argue for hitting at 11 years old for the sake of hitting. And, frankly, even an old goon like me has to wonder at the sanity of those who do.

Rather the reason they want kids to learn how to hit at this age – or even younger – is because they’re too young to seriously hurt each other at this age. An 11 year has the strength and size to hit pretty hard, but nothing that generally causes any serious, lasting damage.

But while that may be debatable, and the number of concussions reported in the survey seem to at least partially prove that argument wrong, the rest of the argument goes that you don’t want 5’10”, 170lb kids learning to hit each other. At older ages, with that size and strength, if you don’t already know how to give and safely receive a hit – as well as having already learned good habits like keeping your head up – you’re likely to get very seriously hurt playing full contact hockey.

Studies like this don’t help the debate at all because they inject partial data without really looking at all parts of a fairly serious issue. Does allowing young kids to hit prevent future injuries? Do kids who learn how to hit at a young age get injured less as they get older? Are those injuries less severe? Or do kids who play full contact starting at a young age just have more injuries throughout their careers.

Unfortunately this study will ignite a lot of debate on the issue, but won’t do much to help hockey coaches and leagues figure out how to keep their kids safe playing what is an inherently dangerous game.

1 thought on “Body checking study misses the mark.

  1. I believe that PeeWee is to young for full Body contact. I watch game after game as many 1st year PeeWee kids throw the puck away and stop playing the game and worry about protecting themselves. I think that at that age they are still learning the game and it prevents players from evolving with the game as they should. Kids play hockey for enjoyment and it should stay that way rather then them worrying about who and when they are going to get ran over.
    My biggest issue is the comments in the rink from the parents who are screaming for their child to run over and lay out kids on the ice which pushes the kids who are hitting to also slow down their learning as they concentrate on hitting anything that moves.
    But I believe things will not change but recommend to all Parents to put their children in hitting camps prior to Peewee so they learn first to protect themselves and then how to play the game with checking in it and finally to bodycheck

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