Body checking in hockey, intentionally slamming an opponent against the boards, is regarded as violence under the guise of sports, according to hockey detractors, but injury numbers don't agree - at least in young players.
Findings from a new study show that 66 percent of overall injuries were caused by accidentally hitting the boards or goal posts, colliding with teammates or being hit by a puck. Only 34 percent of the injuries were caused by checking. Moreover, the accidental injuries were more severe than those from body checks.
The results appeared in June issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine and were a surprise to the researchers at the University at Buffalo who conducted the five-year study.
Says Barry Willer, PhD, UB professor of psychiatry and rehabilitation sciences and senior author on the study, "This study found that body checking did not account for a large proportion of injuries. Perhaps as important, body checking did not lead to a rise in intentional injuries."
Burlington, Ontario's, youth ice hockey program was the base of the study. The researchers compared injury rates overall for the three levels of competition: "house leagues," where there is no body checking; "select," in which checking is allowed at age 11 and older; and "representative," for the most skilled players, which allows checking in all divisions at age nine and above.
They also examined injury rates as level of competition and players' age increased, and how injury rates varied in games versus practices. The data covered 3,000 boys ages four to 18 for a total of 13,292 player years. Only injuries that kept a player off the ice for at least 24 hours were included.
Their analysis of the data shows that there were three times more accidental injuries than body-checking injuries in the house leagues -- 92 versus 30. Willer says accidents at this level of competition primarily are caused by players watching the puck instead of what's in front of them, of not playing "heads-up," which coaches try to instill at all levels.
The "select" level tallied the least injuries (28) with more than half intentional, as players first experience checking. In the most experienced league, however, 59 percent of the 96 injuries were unintentional, but the number of intentional injuries (39) was the highest of all the categories, as competition level increases.
As the researchers predicted, as the level of competition and players' age increases, so did injuries. "Game injuries were much more frequent among the highly skilled players on rep teams," says Willer. Rates during practice were low across all age groups and divisions.
Willer notes that this study doesn't answer two important questions: at what age should body checking be allowed in youth hockey, or should it be allowed at all?
"The study does suggest," says Willer, "that, regardless of whether young players are allowed to body check, unintentional contact with the board, the ice or other players are important sources of serious unintended injury. To avoid these accidents, hockey coaches must teach players to keep their heads up, rather than looking down at the puck."
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- More Structure In Your Life? Deconstructing Mental Illness Through Ultradian Rhythms
- What Does Your Gut Microbiome Have To Do With Your Immune System?
- Men With Short Index Fingers And Long Ring Fingers Are Nicer To Women
- What Antidepressants Do To Healthy People
- DIY Titration Lab Ware
- Malaria Vaccine Candidate Produced From Algae
- New Glioblastoma Treatment
- "I was particularly taken with the Venera missions, sending probes into such a hostile environment..."
- "Maybe the Russian Revolution isn't such a good example. The Bolsheviks had something even more..."
- "As to self-incrimination, people cannot invoke the Fifth Amendment now to withhold certain purely..."
- "Face it, news in America took a death blow with the 2002-2003 war media love fest, The layman can't..."
- "Some interesting research out of Sweden noted that the composition of the microbiome greatly affects..."