Hockey body checks safe for preteen players: study

Kids as young as nine can safely use body-checking, Canadian study shows

Children as young as nine years old can safely use body-checking during ice hockey games, if the rules are strictly enforced, Canadian researchers reported today. The team looked at injury rates before and after a rule change that allowed this technique to be used by nine and 10-year-old players in Ontario, where, until 2002, only those ages 12 and up were permitted to do it. While there were slightly more injuries in 10 and 11-year-olds as a result of checking after the rule change, the overall injury rate for ages seven to 14 fell by about 20 per cent, Reuters reports, and among 12-year-olds, checking injuries were cut in half. Researchers wrote in the journal Pediatrics that such a decline was “unexpected,” noting that there was a major change over the same period to the way referees enforced rules for illegal contact.


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