Hit in Hockey: Must Know for Hockey Enthusiasts 

James Felix

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Hit in Hockey

In hockey, a hit refers to a deliberate and physical maneuver executed by a player to dispossess an opponent of the puck or to disrupt their play. 

Central to the sport’s dynamic nature, hitting involves using the body, often the shoulder, upper arm, hip, and elbow, to make contact with an opponent. 

This forceful interaction is a strategic component of defensive play, allowing players to assert dominance, create turnovers, and shape the course of the game.

The effectiveness of a hit hinges on the player’s ability to master key techniques, such as proper body positioning, balance, and precise timing. 

A well-executed hit requires a keen understanding of the game’s flow, enabling players to anticipate their opponent’s movements and strike opportunistically. 

It is essential to note that hitting is regulated by specific rules to ensure fair play and player safety. 

Hits are only permitted against opponents in possession of the puck, and actions targeting the head, from behind, or involving excessive force can result in penalties. 

Understanding the hit in hockey contributes not only to individual skill but also to the strategic success of a team on the ice. Stay focused. 

The Basics of Hits in Hockey

In the fast-paced and physical game of hockey, mastering the art of hitting is essential for players aiming to gain control of the puck and dominate the ice. 

A well-executed hit can effectively separate an opponent from the puck, creating opportunities for your team. 

Let’s delve into the basics of hitting in hockey, emphasizing the key techniques and rules associated with this integral aspect of the game.

Shoulder and Upper Arm Technique

A successful hit begins with the proper use of the shoulder and upper arm. As a player, you should focus on driving these areas into your opponent with precision and timing. 

By making solid contact, you maximize the impact and increase the likelihood of dislodging the puck from your rival.

Incorporating Hip Movement

To enhance the power and effectiveness of a hit, players must master the art of hip movement. The hips play a crucial role in generating force and stability during a hit. 

Properly aligning and engaging the hips allows for a more forceful and controlled impact, making it challenging for the opponent to maintain possession of the puck.

Strategic Use of Elbow

While physicality is inherent in hockey, players must exercise caution and adhere to the rules. The elbow can be a valuable tool when executing a hit, but it should be used judiciously. 

Ensure that your elbow is not raised excessively, as this could lead to penalties. A well-timed and controlled use of the elbow can add an extra dimension to your hitting technique.

Board Play and Ice Hits

Depending on the game situation, players may need to adjust their hitting technique when near the boards or on the open ice. Board play often involves utilizing the boards to sandwich an opponent effectively. 

On the open ice, players must rely on their skating ability and awareness to execute hits without the support of the boards. Adapting your hitting style to the specific scenario is crucial for success.

Legal Hits and Possession of the Puck

It’s imperative to understand and adhere to the rules governing hitting in hockey. 

A player is only permitted to check or hit an opponent who has the puck. Striking an opponent without the puck can result in penalties and jeopardize your team’s position. 

By focusing on legal hits and targeting opponents with possession, you contribute to your team’s success within the bounds of fair play.

Mastering the fundamentals of hitting in hockey requires a combination of technique, timing, and situational awareness.

What Are the Types of Hits in Hockey?

What Are the Types of Hits in Hockey?

In the dynamic and physical realm of hockey, players deploy a diverse array of hits to gain a competitive edge on the ice. 

These hits are not only crucial for defensive play but also serve as strategic tools to disrupt opponents and create scoring opportunities. 

Let’s explore the different types of hits in hockey, each demanding specific techniques and precise timing for optimal execution.

Body Checks

One of the most common and impactful hits in hockey is the body check. 

Executed by using the shoulder and upper body, a body check involves a player forcefully colliding with an opponent to separate them from the puck. 

The success of a body check relies on the player’s ability to read the game, anticipate movements, and deliver a powerful, well-timed hit to gain control of the puck.

Hip Checks

Hip checks showcase a unique and effective hitting technique. In a hip check, a player uses their hip to make contact with an opponent, aiming to knock them off balance. 

This type of hit requires precise timing and skillful positioning, as the player must align their hip with the opponent’s center of gravity. 

A well-executed hip check can be particularly devastating, catching opponents off guard and dislodging the puck.

Poke Checks

Unlike the physicality of body checks, poke checks focus on stickwork and finesse. A poke check involves extending the stick to disrupt an opponent’s control of the puck. 

Timing and accuracy are crucial for success, as a mistimed poke check can result in penalties or leave the defensive player vulnerable. 

Mastering the art of the poke check requires a delicate balance between aggression and precision.

Shoulder Checks

Shoulder checks are a fundamental component of defensive play in hockey. In this technique, a player uses their shoulder to make controlled contact with an opponent, aiming to impede their progress and force turnovers. 

Shoulder checks are versatile, allowing players to assert dominance in various game situations. 

Proper positioning and the ability to read an opponent’s movements are key elements for effective shoulder checking.

Open-ice hits and Board Play

Hits in hockey are not confined to a specific area of the ice. Open-ice hits involve players using their speed and agility to deliver impactful checks away from the boards. 

On the other hand, board play focuses on utilizing the boards as an additional tool during hits. 

Understanding when to employ each type of hit is essential for players to adapt to different game scenarios and gain a strategic advantage.

The diverse types of hits in hockey showcase the multifaceted nature of the game. 

Players must master various hitting techniques, combining physicality with finesse and adapting their approach based on the specific demands of each situation.

Legal Aspects of Hitting in Hockey

Legal Aspects of Hitting in Hockey

While hitting is an integral part of the physicality in hockey, the sport is governed by strict rules and regulations to prioritize player safety and fair competition. 

Understanding the legal aspects of hitting is crucial for players to avoid penalties and contribute to a positive and sportsmanlike game environment. 

Let’s delve into the key considerations surrounding the legality of hitting in hockey.

Head Contact

Hits targeting an opponent’s head are strictly prohibited in hockey. The sport places a paramount emphasis on player safety, and any intentional or reckless contact with an opponent’s head is met with severe consequences. 

Penalties for such hits may include time in the penalty box, fines, or even suspensions. 

The enforcement of these rules aims to prevent serious injuries and promote a safer playing environment.

Hits from Behind

Hits delivered from behind are deemed dangerous and are expressly forbidden in hockey. A player facing the boards is particularly vulnerable, and checks from behind can lead to serious injuries. 

Hockey authorities penalize such hits to discourage players from engaging in actions that put others at risk. 

Players are expected to exercise restraint and avoid hitting opponents in a vulnerable position to uphold the principles of fair play.

Excessive Force

While physicality is inherent in hockey, there are limits to the force that can be exerted during hits. Excessive force, often manifested in overly aggressive or violent hits, is subject to penalties. 

Players must strike a balance between assertiveness and maintaining control to prevent reckless actions that can result in harm to opponents. 

Referees closely monitor the intensity of hits, intervening when necessary to maintain the integrity of the game.

Boarding Penalties

Hits near the boards require additional scrutiny to prevent injuries and maintain fair play. Boarding occurs when a player violently checks an opponent into the boards, potentially causing harm. 

Hockey regulations penalize boarding to discourage players from using the boards as a means of inflicting excessive force. 

It is incumbent upon players to exercise judgment and avoid dangerous hits that may lead to boarding penalties.

Checking with the Stick

While stick checks are a common defensive technique, there are limitations to their use. High-sticking, where a player’s stick makes contact with an opponent’s head or face, is strictly prohibited. 

Players must maintain control of their sticks and avoid reckless actions that may endanger others. High-sticking violations can result in penalties, reinforcing the importance of responsible stick play.

The legal aspects of hitting in hockey are essential for maintaining a balance between the physical nature of the sport and player safety.

Techniques and Fundamentals of a Good Hit

Techniques and Fundamentals of a Good Hit

Executing a successful hit in hockey requires a combination of technique, timing, and physical prowess. 

A well-timed and precisely executed hit can disrupt opponents, create turnovers, and swing the momentum in your team’s favor. 

Let’s delve into the key techniques and fundamentals that contribute to a good hit in hockey.

Body Positioning and Balance

A fundamental aspect of delivering a potent hit is maintaining proper body positioning and balance. A player should approach an opponent with a low and balanced stance, ensuring stability during contact. 

Lowering the center of gravity provides a solid foundation, making it more challenging for opponents to absorb or counter the hit. 

Maintaining balance is crucial not only for the effectiveness of the hit but also for the player’s ability to recover quickly and re-engage in the play.

Timing and Anticipation

Timing is a critical element in executing a successful hit. Anticipating an opponent’s movements and reading the flow of the game allows a player to deliver a well-timed hit that catches the opponent off guard. 

Players must assess the situation, predict their opponent’s actions, and commit to the hit at the opportune moment. 

A perfectly timed hit not only increases its impact but also minimizes the risk of penalties or retaliation.

Use of the Hip and Shoulder

The hip and shoulder are primary points of contact in many hockey hits. Effectively using these body parts requires a combination of strength and technique. 

Players should engage their hips to generate power and stability, while the shoulder is used to make solid contact with the opponent. 

The angle of approach is crucial; a well-executed hit often involves leading with the shoulder and driving through the opponent, using the entire body to maximize the impact.

Reading the Play and Adjusting Technique

Adapting hitting techniques based on the specific dynamics of the game is a sign of a skilled player. 

Understanding whether to deliver an open-ice hit, utilize the boards, or employ a poke check depends on the context of the play. 

Being able to read the play in real-time and adjust hitting techniques accordingly demonstrates a high level of situational awareness and versatility, making a player more effective in different game scenarios.

Legal and Controlled Contact

A good hit is not only about power but also about control and adherence to the rules. Players must focus on legal hits that target opponents with possession of the puck. 

Avoiding hits to the head hits from behind, or any action that involves excessive force is essential for maintaining sportsmanship and preventing penalties. 

A controlled approach ensures that the hit achieves its intended purpose without compromising fair play.

The techniques and fundamentals of a good hit in hockey involve a combination of physical skill, mental acuity, and adherence to rules.

Strategic Use of Hits in the Game

Beyond the physicality and individual skill, the strategic use of hits in hockey can be a game-changing element that influences momentum, controls possession, and creates opportunities. 

A well-planned and strategically deployed hit can disrupt the opponent’s flow and contribute significantly to a team’s overall game plan. Let’s explore the strategic aspects of using hits in hockey.

Disrupting Opponent Breakouts

Strategic hits can be employed to disrupt the opponent’s breakout attempts, preventing them from smoothly transitioning from defense to offense. 

By delivering well-timed hits on opposing players as they attempt to carry or pass the puck out of their defensive zone, a team can create turnovers, regain possession, and apply immediate offensive pressure. 

This disruption is particularly effective in slowing down fast-paced teams and forcing turnovers in crucial areas of the ice.

Establishing Physical Presence

The strategic use of hits can establish a team’s physical presence on the ice, influencing the opponent’s decision-making and creating a psychological impact. 

By consistently delivering clean and powerful hits, a team can assert dominance, making opponents think twice about entering certain areas of the ice or challenging for possession. 

This physical presence not only intimidates but also contributes to controlling the tempo of the game.

Creating Energy and Momentum Shifts

A well-timed hit, especially one that resonates with the crowd, can serve as a catalyst for energy and momentum shifts within a game. Players and fans alike respond to the emotional intensity generated by a big hit. 

Coaches often strategically deploy hits in key moments to ignite their team, swing momentum, and create a surge of energy that can be harnessed to turn the tide of a game.

Targeting Key Opponents

Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the opposing team is crucial for strategic hit deployment. 

By targeting key opponents who are playmakers or influential scorers, a team can disrupt the flow of the opponent’s offensive strategy. 

Strategic hits can throw skilled players off balance, limit their effectiveness, and create opportunities for the defensive team to capitalize on turnovers or exploit vulnerabilities.

Protecting a Lead or Regaining Momentum

In situations where a team is protecting a lead or attempting to regain momentum, the strategic use of hits becomes paramount. 

Smart and well-timed hits can slow down the opponent’s offensive pushes, disrupt their rhythm, and provide the defensive team with the opportunity to reset and regain control of the game. 

This strategic approach is particularly effective in close and critical moments of a match.

The strategic use of hits in hockey goes beyond mere physicality; it involves a thoughtful understanding of the game’s dynamics and the ability to leverage hits strategically to achieve specific objectives.


What is the purpose of hitting in hockey?

Hitting in hockey serves multiple purposes. It’s a defensive tool to separate opponents from the puck, disrupt plays, and create turnovers. 

Strategically, hits can establish a team’s physical presence, energize players and fans, and shift momentum in a game.

Are all hits legal in hockey?

No, not all hits are legal. Hits targeting the head hits from behind, and those involving excessive force are strictly prohibited. 

Legal hits are permitted only against an opponent in possession of the puck, emphasizing the importance of player safety and fair play.

What are some key techniques for a successful hit?

Successful hits require proper body positioning, balance, and precise timing. 

Utilizing the hip and shoulder effectively, reading the play, and adapting techniques based on the game situation is crucial. Legal and controlled contact ensures the hit contributes positively to the game.

How can hits be strategically used in a hockey game?

Hits can strategically disrupt opponent breakouts, establish a physical presence, create energy and momentum shifts, target key opponents, and protect a lead or regain momentum. 

By incorporating hits into the overall game strategy, teams can influence the flow of play and enhance their chances of success.

Can hitting lead to penalties in hockey?

Yes, hitting can lead to penalties if not executed within the rules. Penalties may result from hits targeting the head, hits from behind, excessive force, or other illegal actions. 

Players must strike a balance between assertiveness and adherence to the rules to avoid penalties and contribute positively to their team.

Wrapping Up

Mastering the art of hitting in hockey is more than a display of physicality; it’s a strategic tool that shapes the game. 

From well-timed body checks to calculated disruptions, effective hits require skill, anticipation, and adherence to rules. 

As players navigate the fast-paced, dynamic environment of the rink, their ability to deploy hits strategically becomes a defining factor in both defensive prowess and overall team success. Thank you for supporting us. 

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James Felix

As Head Boy's Ice Hockey Coach at Milton Academy, I foster teamwork, discipline, and skill development. Our success relies on dedication and refining tactics. We balance academics with on-ice performance, shaping well-rounded individuals. Together, we uphold Milton Academy's tradition of excellence in athletics and academics. LinkedIn

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