Checking is one of the toughest parts of hockey. To begin with, it’s very hard to do correctly.
However, when players ARE able to do it, they don’t really tend to get a lot of praise since this skill isn’t really considered “glamorous.” Glamorous or not, though, it is an important part of defensive play and is necessary for recovering and keeping the puck.
If you’re looking to brush up on your own checking skills, then you’re in luck! We’ve got some easy to follow tips that can make you a champion checker in no time at all.
Tip #1: Become an Ace at Angling
Angling is when, in order to carry out checks, you force the puck carrier toward the boards by angling your opponent while controlling your own speed at the same time. In order to ace this tough skill, you need to learn how to get your stick right near the player’s stick and your body right near the player’s body. Don’t be afraid to get too close, but, at the same time, don’t fall into or knock over that puck carrier.
When you’re ready to make your move, attempt to hit somewhere on the boards in front of the puck carrier. While you move, keep your body close to the ground and your legs spread; this proper stance will give you more balance and control and will help ensure your angling technique goes according to plan.
Tip #2: Look Out for Number One!
It’s easy to get so involved in checking that you don’t really look out for or protect yourself. Don’t let that happen! If you’re not watching out for yourself, it’s all too easy to become an easy target and find yourself run into the boards.
To keep this from happening, always keep your skates parallel to the boards, and, whenever you secure the puck, move out of the area as quickly and as soon as you possibly can.
No matter how carefully you protect yourself, however, sometimes the inevitable does happen and you end up being the one getting checked! If this happens to you and there’s nothing you can do to stop it, your next best bet is to protect yourself as much as possible.
When you are checked from the side, for example, lift your head up and balance yourself by keeping your feet apart and your knees bent. In short, do what it takes to keep yourself safe when checking can’t be avoided.
Tip #3: Perfect Your Technique
As a final word of advice, make sure you are working on and regularly practicing your checking technique. When you practice regularly, it won’t take long before you become a pro at checking! Some general “technique tips” include always concentrating on the chest of the attacker, using your legs as the driving force when you strike the chest with the shoulder, keeping the feet shoulder width apart, and bending your knees.
When you put these tips into practice, you’ll quickly find that you become an awesome checker!