Body checking is one of the most important aspects of hockey; the 5 best hockey checking drills will teach young players to make safe but effective body contact in defensive and forechecking roles. While bone-crushing hits are a big part of the highlight culture of the pro game, it is important that young players first learn the safe way to check: never from behind, and never to the head. Players should also learn how to protect themselves; the 5 best hockey checking drills allow for that as well. Here are the 5 best hockey checking drills:
- Back in and cut off (also known as angling) – This is a drill for defenders and forwards alike. The forward comes in along the boards with the defender skating backwards. The idea is to cut the attacker off from the net and slowly ride them into the boards. Once you can do this, you can increase the intensity of the hit and the attack. It's a good start on the list of 5 best hockey checking drills.
- Curls – Here all players can be involved, pairing off. One player rides the other into the boards. The checked player curls off of the hit, then becomes the checker as all pairs slowly make their way around the boards. This is a good fundamental drill and one of the 5 best hockey checking drills.
- Forecheck – Here we have three forwards and two defenders. The goal for the defenders is to clear the puck after the forwards have dumped it in. The forwards begin at the far blue line, reach the red line, and dump the puck into the corner. The defenders race for the puck while the forwards attempt to check the defenders off of the dumped-in puck. This drill teaches good forechecking skills and defenders how to protect themselves from rushing and checking forwards, and is not only one of the 5 best hockey checking drills but a good defensive positioning drill as well.
- Open-Ice Standup – Here, the defender plays without a stick and a forward attacks with the puck from the center of the ice. The defender must position himself and get in front of the attacker, standing him up, without the benefit of a stick for pokechecking. This is one of the 5 best hockey checking drills because it teaches positioning as well as open-ice hitting.
- Stickless Forecheck – Here, the forwards are without sticks. The coach tosses the puck into the corner and the defenders must retrieve. The forward attempts to bump the defender off of the puck without the benefit of a stick. Learning this fundamental will lead to many scoring chances down the road, making it a great capper for the list of 10 best hockey checking drills.