Hockey as we know is a physical sport and a fundamental part of the game is. But when should kids who are learning and playing this game start taking these types of hits on the ice? The governing body in Canada has said not until after they are out of the PeeWee level.
Last Saturday, the governing body voted 42-2 to remove body checking from the PeeWee level and below. They felt that this decision would minimize the risk of injury. They also say the main factors for the decision was that proper checking techniques needed to be taught.
Beginning in 2013-14, all body-checking from the PeeWee levels and below within leagues governed by Hockey Canada will be removed. "We're really looking at the skill of checking, and body-checking is the last stage," said Bob Nicholson, Hockey Canada President and IIHF Vice President. "We're going to really emphasize how to teach checking at a young age...We want to teach it but also we want to teach kids how to take a check." (Canada, 2013).
In addition to this rule change, a committee has been directed to build a mandatory national checking and instructional resource program to maintain the progressive execution of checking skills at the Novice to PeeWee levels and help prepare players for body-checking starting at the Bantam (13 and 14 year-old) level.
The decision was met with mixed reactions all over but was praised by USA Hockey, which changed the age of body-checking in the US over three years ago to the age of 14.
"We encourage teaching the fundamentals of checking at the PeeWee level, just no checking in games is allowed," said Dave Fisher, Communications Director at USA Hockey.
*Below is a graphic showing Canad's body-checking age as well as those of other countries:
Image above courtesy of jeffkrush.com