Checking is a critical skill in the game of hockey that when performed properly can create quality scoring opportunities or help a team regain control of the puck.  Just like skating, puck control, passing and shooting there are key progressions to the skill of checking when taught effectively, can greatly enhance a player’s enjoyment of the game.


The transition from non-contact to contact hockey can be very uncomfortable for young players but if Coaches are able to effectively put the building blocks in place, players will be able to make a smoother transition.


A common misconception is that the skill of checking begins at a certain age or age division/category of play.  In fact, checking is a four-step progression that begins the first time a young player steps on the ice.  Body Checking is only the fourth and final step of a four step progression.





Step 1 – Positioning and Angling


Angling can be considered the first line of defense for a player. Body and stick positions are important in checking without making contact. This section will examine angling as one technique of checking (Step 1) without making contact.

Angling is the ability to force your opponent to go in the direction that you want. This normally would be towards the boards or to the outside of you.



Step 2 – Stick Checks


Stick checking may be considered the second line of defense as angling forces the opposition to a position where contact can be made with the stick.

When a player stick-checks, he/she must maintain control of both their stick and the opponent’s stick. Stick checks are effective to:

  • delay the advancement of the opposition

  • force a loss of puck control by the opposition

  • control the puck yourself or gain possession for one of your teammates


There are five types of stick checks:

  • Poke Check

  • Sweep Check

  • Tap Check

  • Lift Check

  • Press Check


Step 3 – Body Contact and Contact Confidence


Defensive play begins the instant the opposing team possession of the puck. Checking is used to regain possession of the puck. To review the steps in the progression – skating, positioning and angling are used to direct the puck carrier. This is accomplished by using the stick as an active line of defense in attempting to further control the opponent. Body contact is the third step in the progression and is used to gain separation, when a player positions his/her body between the puck and the puck carrier.


Body contact, by definition, must result only from the active movement of the puck carrier.


4 – Body Checking


Body checking is the final step in the 4 step checking progression. A body check can be defined as body contact primarily caused by the movement of the checker. That movement can be and often is, in a direction different than that of the puck carrier. The checker uses their body for the purpose of stopping the attacking progress of the puck carrier and/or to separate the carrier from the puck.





Checking Clinic Objectives

  • To provide the logical progressions necessary for learning the skill of checking (Steps 1-4).

  • To provide coaches with the most up-to-date information and drills to teach players the skill of      checking.

  • To enhance the safety of each player by ensuring that all those who play the game learn to give and receive checks properly (Steps 3-4).

  • To emphasize the importance of playing and staying within the rules of the game.

  • To improve the quality of hockey being played in the rinks across Canada and to place a focus on players demonstrating respect for one  another.


Checking Program Downloads


OHF Checking Manual

Hockey Canada Checking Manual

Body Checking in Tournaments within OHF

USA – Hockey Canada Rules Agreement