Hockey NL sticks to current age for bodychecking
Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador has no immediate plans to delay the age when hockey players learn how to bodycheck.
The Canadian Paediatric Society says that bodychecking should be delayed until players are at least 13 years old. The society's new position statement says that bodychecking is the most common cause of injury in youth leagues, where bodychecking is permitted.
Dr. Tracey Bridger, chair of the Healthy Active Living and Sports Medicine Committee for the society, says there are higher injury rates in players in places where bodychecking starts at a young age.
"The difference in injuries was remarkable. It was a huge difference in [injury] rates and many of those injuries were concussions," said Bridger, who works at the Janeway children's hospital in St. John's.
The executive director of Hockey NL, Craig Tulk, says the organization stands by the current policy of introducing body contact at the Peewee level, which includes children 11 and 12 years of age. But he adds the organization is open to reviewing its position.
"I'm sure this study, along with other studies we've seen, will go back to our risk managers and our members to ensure that we are introducing bodychecking at the correct age. We're open to any information that will make our players safe while not hindering the development of their skills," said Tulk.
The Canadian Paediatric Society is also asking for a ban on bodychecking in non-competitive hockey for all children, regardless of age.