top of page
  • Level Up Physical Therapy

Concussion Care: Body Checking in Youth Hockey - yes or no?

Does body checking affect concussion rates in hockey?

Body checking: Let's review some evidence.

Body Checking in 9 - 16 year olds.

A study of 71 hockey teams in Calgary in the 2004 – 2005 hockey season which comprised of 986 players aged 9 – 16 years old.

45% of all injuries were the result of body checking.

The 3 most common injuries:

  • Concussion

  • Shoulder sprain or dislocation

  • Knee sprain


Body Checking in 11 – 12 year olds

A study of 11 – 12 year old Alberta hockey players comparing injuries when body checking was permitted (2011/12 season) to when body checking was prohibited (2013/14 season).

Players were from all divisions of play.

883 players in the 2011/12 season with body checking.

618 players in the 2013/14 season without body checking.


Prohibiting body checking resulted in

  • 50% reduction in overall injuries.

  • 64% reduction in concussions.


Body Checking in 13 – 14 year olds:

A study over a period of 5 seasons (2013/14 to 2017/18) of hockey players aged 13 – 14 years old in Alberta and BC.

Included 1647 players across all levels of play.

The players were also divided into body checking experience:

  • No previous body checking experience

  • One year of body checking experience

  • 2 or more years of body checking experience.


  • The rates of injury and the rates of concussion did not differ when comparing groups with and without body checking being permitted.

  • The number of years of body checking experience did not provide a protective effect for concussion rates.

Another study:

13 – 14 year olds.

Non-elite hockey players’ game related injuries in Alberta and BC.

2 year study of 2014/15 and 2015/16.

Body checking permitted: 608 players.

Body checking prohibited: 396 players.


Prohibiting body checking resulted in

  • 54% lower rate of all injuries.

  • 61% lower rate of severe injuries (those requiring more than 7 days away from play)

  • 40% lower rate of concussion

  • 45% lower rate of severe concussion (those requiring more than 10 days away from play)

But… the reduction in concussion rates did not reach statistical significance.


Body Checking in 15 – 17 year olds:

A 3 year study (2015/16 to 2017/18 season) of game related injuries in non-elite hockey players aged 15 – 17 years old comparing leagues in Alberta permitting body checking (52 teams) and leagues in BC not allowing body checking (44 teams).


Benefits of prohibiting body checking:

  • 62% lower rate of all injuries.

  • 92% lower rate of severe injury (requiring more than 7 days of lost time from participation).

  • 51% lower rate of concussion.

  • 95% lower rate of severe concussion (requiring more than 10 days of lost time from play).


Benefits of prohibiting body checking in youth hockey:

  • Overall, we begin to see that prohibiting body checking reduces the concussion rates in the 11 – 12 year old group and the 15 – 17 year old group.

  • The concussion rates do not seem to be influenced by permitting or prohibiting body checking in the 13 – 14 year old group.

  • Prohibiting body checking does reduce the overall injury rates in all age groups by at least half.

Do you think we should do our best to prevent injuries, including concussion, in youth hockey players?


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page