Q: The coach of my 8U player often has the players show up early to practice to do some off-ice body contact drills. Body checking doesn’t start until 14U hockey, should we be concerned?
A: No, you should not be concerned. As a matter of fact, you should thank your player’s coach for starting to prepare the players to learn body contact skills. While legal body checking doesn’t start until the 14U age classification, the previous age classifications (6/8U, 10U, 12U) are all played under body contact rules.
Starting to teach body contact confidence both on and off the ice at 8U is the work of a well-educated coach. By playing and practicing in smaller areas, 8U players will see more body contact by design and they need to be prepared to know that it is part of the game.
If they are taught the basic principles of contact confidence and angling at a young age, they can progress up the ladder from contact confidence to angling to stick on stick body contact right into body checking.
Ideally, we like to see coaches teach contact confidence and angling at 8U, more angling and contact at 10U, even more contact and angling at 12U while letting them body check in practice so that by 13 years old, they potentially have six years of training for legal body checking in the 14U age classification.
I think we’d all agree that six years of training is much better than a one-hour checking clinic! So to circle back, you should only be concerned if your 8U coach is not teaching body contact. All coaches should be doing body contact/angling drills at every practice for every age group. For more resources, please visit: https://www.usahockey.com/bodycontact
Kenny Rausch began his coaching career in 1996 with Boston University, his alma mater. As a player, he earned Beanpot Tournament MVP honors and was named a Hockey East Distinguished Scholar.
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