The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of initiating body checking at the Atom age level. The study used an experimental design in which teams from the Ottawa District Minor Hockey Association (ODMHA) represented the control group, while teams from the Ontario Hockey Federation (OHF) represented the treatment group. The study was conducted over a three-year period from 1998 to 2001. The comparison sampling between the two leagues was as follows: ODMHA Yr1 = 69 teams versus OHF Yr1 = 74 teams, ODMHA Yr2 = 59 teams versus OHF Yr2 = 101 teams, ODMHA Yr3 = 46 teams versus OHF Yr3 = 90 teams. Measures of interest reported here included player selection bias, injury incidence, and variables that describe the characteristics of the flow of the game such as goals for, goals against, and number of penalties. Athlete exposures for each league by year were computed using 15 players per team for a 20 game plus 20 practice schedule.
Statistical analysis of the difference in proportions of injuries reported by the two leagues based on the CHA injury insurance dataset showed that no significant difference occurred per year of the study. In addition, the rates of injuries were lower in each year than those reported by previously published studies.
Body checking, which includes body contact is considered by many to be a skill within the game of ice hockey that can be taught at the younger age levels in a manner that does not lead to a higher incidence of injuries, or unfavorable changes in the game. The results of this study support that contention. In the present study, it was assumed that education was an essential component of the introduction process and that coaches were provided the necessary background to enable them to teach the introduction of body checking as a skill.