A blog dedicated to the fact you cannot make an NHLer,

Obviously you see the sarcasm in my blog name. This blog is about teaching the love of the game, the skills of the game and hopefully open some eyes to the crazy parents that think they can push their kid into becoming a star only to have the opposite happen or be the limiting factor in their kids hockey development. Remember, if you turn hockey from a game into a job, then all is lost and kids will drop out either physically or mentally.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Less injuries without contact study says!!!

So a new study about body contact came out and here are the highlights before I discuss:

  • Eleven-and 12-year-old ice hockey players showed triple the risk of injuries in games that allow body checking,
  • Many leagues in the U.S. introduce body checking at ages 11 and 12. In Canada, body checking is allowed in some leagues for players ages 11 and 12, with the exception of Quebec, which doesn’t permit the practice until ages 13 and 14, according to the authors.
  • Over the season there were 209 game-related injuries and 73 concussions in Alberta compared with 70 game-related injuries and 20 concussions in Quebec, the researchers found.
  • Most of the injuries in Alberta were the result of body checking, the authors wrote. In Quebec, the majority of the injuries were from incidental game contact, Emery said.
  • The study was of 11-12 year-olds in Alberta and Quebec.
  • They will be doing a study of 13-14 year-olds in both provinces, since both have contact at that age.
First off, this study has its merits and is a good starting point, but definitely not adequate information to make a decision as to what the age body contact should start at. Maybe after the next study we can actually get some data we can use, since we are comparing 2 full contact groups, just one has 2 years experience in contact.

Now lets look at the study with some logic. This study should not be shocker, more kids get injured in full contact than in non-contact. That is the equivalent of saying that more kids get hurt playing full contact football versus flag football. No one needs a study to prove that point.
This is where the study needs to continue to (and should include Saskatchewan with the younger players who started earlier) gain any credibility or true meaning.

What I would like to know is::
  1. If learning at a younger age meant they were less injuries when the kids were pee-wee, bantam and midget age?
  2. What roll does this play out for tier 1 level players, does having more skill help with the contact and injuries?
  3. What were the most common causes of the injuries? Head down, cheapshot, lack of balance, incorrect checking technique or poor position relative to the boards?
Now you can guess where I am going with this, so here are my thoughts:

Correct Age for contact:

-Depends on the physical development. My logic tells me that kids should learn how to take and give a hit correctly before puberty sets in and you have some 12 year old who shaves before the game and pulls beer for the high school seniors, trying to run little Billy (all 4'10 of him) through the boards. (p.s. I do not condone drinking in High School or anytime before it is legal in your area).

-Depends on the league. If you have Alex Ovechkin as a 10 year old vs a group of house league 10 year olds that still are learning to balance, then you are asking for trouble. They will get hurt, especially when you get kids that are full of testosterone as they are hitting puberty that can be very aggressive.

-Depends on the skating, checking knowledge and checking skill of the player. Players that are strong skaters are generally faster and harder to knock down or off the puck. If they lack checking skills and knowledge they will put themselves in dangerous situations and others in dangerous situations. A good player with good checking knowledge will always be aware of when the should be ready for contact and position themselves to either avoid the hit or absorb it (up against the boards, not 3 feet away). A player with good checking skills will be able to give contact effectively with getting penalties (eg. from behind, elbows up, knee out) and give themselves the advantage the contact is supposed to. Many times players go for the hit in an effort to "crush that guy" when they could easy gave a clean check, grabbed the puck and create a turn over for their team.

Moral of the post.

Body contact is part of hockey for boys and men. Injuries will happen. If you want safety, teach it to the kids. Teach them:
  1. Proper skating for balance and agility (this will help them give, take and avoid hits)
  2. Proper way to take a hit (avoid danger zones, use the boards to absord, and roll off hits)
  3. Proper was to give a hit (avoid penalty, strong core and recovery to next step after hit)
  4. Checking knowledge (play development, when to check, proper angles and use as a strategy)
Thanks for reading,

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