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New USA Hockey Guidelines on bodychecking

By USA Hockey, 07/16/19, 10:00PM EDT

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USA Hockey has issued new guidelines on what is an acceptable body check.

BODY CHECKING
A body check represents intentional physical contact, from the front, diagonally from the front or straight from the side, by a skater to an opponent who is in control of the puck. The opposing player’s objective is to gain possession of the puck with a legal body check and NOT to punish or intimidate an opponent.


Legitimate body checking must be done only with the trunk of the body (hips and shoulders) and must be above the opponent’s knees and at or below the opponent’s shoulders. The use of the hands, forearm, stick or elbow in delivering a body check is unacceptable and not within the guidelines of a legal body check.

The primary focus of a body check is to gain possession of the puck and proper body checking technique starts with stick on puck, therefore the stick blade of the player delivering the check must be below the knees (emphasis added).


USA Hockey reminds coaches and players that these requirements are the responsibility of the player delivering the body check. Under no circumstance is it acceptable to deliver a body check to a vulnerable or defenseless opponent, an opponent who is not in possession and control of the puck or to use the hands, stick, forearm or elbow in delivering a check to an opponent.


Vulnerable or Defenseless – A skater is considered to be in a vulnerable or defenseless position when he is unaware, unprepared, or unsuspecting of an impending hit.


Infractions that occur as a result of a body check delivered to a vulnerable or defenseless player must be penalized under the Boarding, Charging, Checking from Behind or Head Contact Rules. When done in a dangerous, careless or reckless (unacceptable) manner where the player delivering the check has made no effort to play the puck, the major plus game misconduct or match penalty provisions of these rules must be assessed.


When two or more players are physically engaged for control of the puck along the boards, they are considered to be vulnerable and defenseless. Any body check delivered by a skater to an opponent who is physically engaged with another skater is considered dangerous, careless or reckless (unacceptable) and must be penalized accordingly.


Late Avoidable Body Check – Any avoidable check delivered to a player who is no longer in control of the puck. An avoidable check is when the player delivering the check has an opportunity to avoid contact or minimize contact, once it is realized the opponent no longer has control of the puck.


The concept of “finishing the check” is an unacceptable action as it is one that is meant to intimidate or punish the opponent with no intent to gain possession of the puck. The responsibility is on the player delivering the check to avoid forceful contact (minimize impact) to a vulnerable or defenseless player who is no longer in control of the puck.