Should Bodychecking Be Banned
from Youth Ice Hockey?

What do you think?

August 6, 2003

Ice hockey is a fast-paced game that involves plenty of contact between players. These features make ice hockey an exciting game to watch and play; they also put players at risk for injuries.

Although ice hockey is a graceful sport, at times it is a violent sport. One skill used in hockey is bodychecking. During a body check, a player uses his or her shoulders, chest, or hips to contact another player who has the puck. The object of a body check is to remove the puck from an opposing player's possession. These collisions sometimes can be very violent.

Two researchers from the Division of Neurosurgery at the University of Toronto (Canada) think that bodychecking should be banned from youth ice hockey games to reduce injuries, especially those to the head. They present several facts to support their suggestion:

Bodychecking is the most common cause of trauma in ice hockey; it accounts for 86% of all injuries to players between 9 and 15 years old.
Players (9-15 years old) in leagues that allow contact are 4 times more likely to be injured and 12 times more likely to have a bone fracture as players in leagues that do not allow contact.
Hockey injuries are more common than football injuries. Nonfatal spinal cord and brain injuries rates for high school athletes are 0.7 per 100,000 football players and 2.6 per 100,000 hockey players.
Permanent changes in brain function have been seen in junior hockey players who recovered from head injuries, but then returned to play.
10-17% of young hockey players (9-17 years old) report a head injury each season.
Young hockey players have about 2.8 concussions per 1,000 player hours.
Differences in players' size and strength are greatest when people are between 13 and 15 years old; some players will be 53 kg (117 lb) heavier and 55 cm (22 in) taller than other players within these ages.

References and further information:

  1. Marchie, A. and Cusimano, M.D. Bodychecking and concussions in ice hockey: Should our youth pay the price? Canadian Medical Association Journal, 169:124-128, 2003.
  2. High School Sports and Brain Injury from Neuroscience for Kids
  3. Soccer and the Brain from Neuroscience for Kids
  4. Getting Your Bell Rung: More "Rings" Put Athletes at Risk for Severe Concussions from Neuroscience for Kids
  5. Survey Tackles Football Concussions from Neuroscience for Kids
  6. The Surf is Up! from Neuroscience for Kids

GO TO: Neuroscience In The News Explore the Nervous System Table of Contents

Send E-mail

Fill out survey

Get Newsletter

Search Pages

Take Notes