Effective the 2013-2014 season, the age of introducing Body Checking will move from Peewee to Bantam, placing continued emphasis on body contact for the Peewee age group.
This change is the result of recognizing changes in the game of hockey. The priorities of the Ontario Minor Hockey Association remain dedicated to player safety, providing young athletes with the opportunity to best develop and acquire skills (see LTPD), and keeping as many players playing the game as possible.
Education will remain a priority focusing on the 4-Step Checking Progression, which begins the first time a young player steps on the ice. This progression emphasizes the practice of positioning, angling and stick checks followed by Contact Confidence and Body Contact which is taught at the later stages of athlete development.
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 great game of hockey.
The most essential skill in hockey, which is the prerequisite to most others, is skating. The ability to skate efficiently and effectively allows a player to begin to effectively develop all other skills involved with the game of hockey. Players will be unable to grasp and execute skills such as positioning and angling if they are unable to skate comfortably and control the edges of their skates with ease. It is vital for a coach to ensure that the foundation of all other skills, skating, is mastered before moving on to more advanced skills.
A common misconception is that the skill of checking begins at a certain age or age category of play. In fact, checking is a 4-Step Progression that begins the first time a young player steps on the ice. Each step builds upon the previous step and brings the hockey player that much closer to being able to give and receive body checks competently and confidently.