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.
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. Body checking is the fourth and final step of a 4-step teaching progression.
The transition from non-contact to contact hockey can be 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.
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. The skill of checking is most easily taught and understood by following the National Coach Certification Program (NCCP) 4-step progression model. A diagram of this model can be seen below. The NCCP checking model is based on the principle that checking should be taught in four logical steps. 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.
NCCP CHECKING PROGRESSION MODEL
4. BODY CHECKING
3. CONTACT CONFIDENCE AND BODY CONTACT
2. STICK CHECKS
1. POSITIONING AND ANGLING
Hockey Canada has an extensive library of videos to assist Coaches in the instruction and review of Skating / Balance / Stick Checks / Angling / Body Contact / Body Checking: