In hockey, one of the easiest, efficient and commonly used plays to create a turnover is a check. When checking is mentioned, most people instantly think about the body check. The big, open-ice, Scott Stevens-esque check that people are still talking about. Though the body check is the check that ‘puts fans in the stands,’ there are other forms of checking that at times are more appropriate and just as effective.
Let’s not forget that the check is designed and specifically used for one purpose: to knock your opponent off the puck. It should not be used as intimidation, retaliation or for any other means of injuring your opponent.
Besides body checking, the ability to stick check and poke check are also relevant and common in the sport. The body check and stick check can be broken further into two components. The body check involves the shoulder check and the hip check, while the stick check involves using your body to check the opponent’s stick or your stick to check your opponent’s stick.
In order to make a successful check, you need to properly understand angling. If you properly angle your opponent, they will run out of space and options to make a play. This will allow you to engage them with the appropriate check and get possession of the puck.
When receiving a check, remember to stay close to the boards. If you are out away from the boards and you fall awkwardly into them, you are more prone to injury. Use your body to protect against stick checks and hone your stickhandling skills to prevent poke checks.
Key Safety Considerations:
1. Never check an opponent when their back is toward you (you can see their numbers)
2. Never leave your feet to make contact
3. Never intentionally make contact with your opponent’s head
4. Never stick your leg out to slow down your opponent
5. Keep your head and eyes up so you know what or who is coming at you
6. Be prepared for contact
For more in-depth discussion on checking, please consider purchasing my latest e-book