USA Hockey's elimination of checking at the Pee Wee level turned some heads and probably got the "old-time hockey" coach upset. "The kids need to be tough. They need to learn how to hit." These sentiments are not new.
I have argued for years that checking was too much of an emphasis at the Pee Wee level and the kids did not understand what it meant to hit someone. They were trying for NHL-type huge hits instead of just trying to regain possession of the puck.
Rob Simpson makes some great points about how checking at the Pee Wee level created a ton of issues for players, coaches and parents. I am excited to hear that an ex-NHL player is supportive of USA Hockey's decision and recognizes how it has bettered the game. No more convincing players to go back on the ice despite the fact that some 6'2" early maturer was taking heads and parents chiding him to do so.
Rob Simpson's take on the Elimination of Checking
One point I want to elaborate on from Simpson's blog - by removing checking from the Pee Wee level USA Hockey is not recommending coaches to avoid teaching body contact. Quite the opposite. Coaches should be teaching kids to protect the puck with their body, angle players towards the boards, and block their opponents. By teaching players the basics of body contact they will understand truly what it means to use their body in hockey. Right now it is just huge hits and applause.
I wonder how this rule change will affect body checking at the Bantam level? I think we will have similar problems that we had at the Pee Wee level unless we, the coaches, get better at teaching our players what it means to check legally and how to do it properly.
Check out Dr. Larry's Hockey Edge Newsletter for columns on Body Contact (Fall 2004 issue) and Developing Body Contact Confidence (Winter 2004) at Hockey Edge Newsletter archive