hockey safety

Hockey Injury Prevention

While injuries are common and can be severe, many can be prevented if players wear all recommended safety equipment and avoid moves like body checking that increase the risk of injury. To help your child avoid injury while playing ice hockey, follow these safety tips from the sports and health organizations:

Get In Shape

Get a physical. Before your child starts a training program or plays competitive ice hockey, he should get a complete physical exam. Your pediatrician can help assess any special injury risks your child may have.

Have you read our article on exercise routines for staying in shape?

Wear Proper Hockey Equipment

Make sure your child wears all the required safety gear every time he or she plays and practices. All youth, high school, and college ice hockey leagues require players to wear the following gear:

  • Helmet with foam lining, full-face mask, with the chin strap properly fastened
  • Mouthguard
  • Shoulder, knee, elbow, shin, hip, and tendon pads
  • Padded hockey pants
  • Athletic supporter
  • Gloves
  • Safety glasses or contact lenses

Some leagues recommend neck guards. All equipment should be certified by the HECC, the CSA, or the ASTM.
Make sure your child’s equipment fits properly. The helmet should fit snugly with a strap that gently cradles the chin when it’s fastened.

Warm-Up Before You Play

Insist that your child warm-up and stretch before playing. Exercises that strengthen the neck and increase flexibility may help prevent injuries.
Teach your children not to play through pain. If your child gets injured, see your doctor. Follow all the doctor’s orders for recovery, and get the doctor’s OK before your child returns to play.

First Aid

Make sure first aid is available at all games and practices. And, insist that the rink is equipped with Automated External Defibrillators (AED)

Talk to and watch your child’s coach.

Hockey Coaches should:

  • Enforce all the rules of the game
  • Encourage safe play
  • Understand the special injury risks that young players face.
  • Limit body checking (some youth leagues prohibit it). Checking from behind should never be allowed. This move, which is an illegal play, has been associated with a high rate of injury.
  • Teach your child to avoid head contact with the boards or other players. Serious head and neck injuries can occur from this kind of contact.

Above all, keep ice hockey fun. Putting too much focus on winning can make your child push too hard and risk injury.