What Does ‘Finish Your Check’ Mean in Hockey?

In hockey, the term “finish your check” refers to the act of delivering a body check to an opposing player even after they have released the puck or made a play with it. It is a fundamental aspect of physical play and is often encouraged and expected from players, particularly in the professional and competitive levels of the sport. When a player finishes their check, they aim to disrupt the opponent, remove them from the play, and assert their physical presence on the ice.

The main objective of finishing your check is to put additional pressure on the opponent and create a physical advantage for your team. By delivering a strong body check, a player can deter their opponent from making plays with confidence and potentially force turnovers. It can also wear down the opposing players over the course of the game, reducing their effectiveness and potentially influencing their decision-making.

Finishing your check requires timing, awareness, and good judgment. It involves delivering a legal and well-executed body check within the rules of the game. It is important to note that finishing a check does not imply intent to injure or engage in dirty play. It is a way to assert physical dominance and gain an advantage for your team within the confines of fair play.

Why Should You Finish Your Check in Hockey?

Finishing your check is an essential aspect of competitive hockey for several reasons:

1. Disrupting the opponent’s play: By finishing your check, you can disrupt the flow of the game for the opposing player. This can force turnovers, break up passes, and limit the effectiveness of their offensive plays.

2. Physical presence: By consistently finishing your checks, you establish a reputation as a physical player. This can make opponents more cautious and hesitant when you’re on the ice, potentially reducing their offensive effectiveness and opening up opportunities for your team.

3. Psychological impact: Physical play, including finishing checks, can have a psychological impact on opponents. It can intimidate them, frustrate them, and even influence their decision-making. This can give your team a mental advantage over the course of a game or a series.

4. Team energy and momentum: Finishing checks is often seen as a sign of effort and commitment to the team. It can energize your teammates and build momentum, creating a positive atmosphere and potentially inspiring your team to perform at a higher level.

When Shouldn’t You Finish Your Check?

While finishing your check is an integral part of the game, there are situations where it may not be appropriate or advantageous:

1. Off-balance opponents: If an opponent is already off-balance or in a vulnerable position, delivering a check in that situation can be dangerous and increase the risk of injury. It is crucial to prioritize player safety and avoid unnecessary contact that could cause harm.

2. Late hits: Delivering a check after an opponent has released the puck or is no longer involved in the play is considered a late hit (which will be explained further in the next section). Late hits are penalized in hockey as they pose a threat to player safety and go against the principles of fair play.

3. On-ice situations: There may be certain on-ice situations where finishing your check may not be the best strategic move. For example, if the opposing team has a clear breakaway or is in a prime scoring position, it may be more advantageous to focus on defensive positioning rather than finishing a check.

It is crucial to exercise good judgment and be mindful of the game situation when deciding whether or not to finish your check. Player safety and adherence to the rules should always take precedence.

What Is a Late Hit in Hockey?

A late hit in hockey refers to a body check delivered on an opponent after they have released the puck or are no longer

involved in the play. Late hits are considered illegal and are penalized in the sport due to the potential for serious injury and the violation of fair play principles.

The specific definition of a late hit can vary depending on the league and the level of play. In general, a hit is considered late if the player delivering the check has a significant opportunity to avoid or minimize contact but still chooses to make the hit. The exact timing can be subjective, but the emphasis is on the principle of player safety and the prevention of unnecessary hits.

Late hits are typically penalized with a variety of disciplinary actions, such as minor or major penalties, game misconducts, or even suspensions, depending on the severity of the hit and any resulting injury. These penalties are designed to deter players from engaging in dangerous or reckless play that puts opponents at risk.

How to Teach Hockey Players to Finish Their Checks

Teaching hockey players to effectively finish their checks involves a combination of proper technique, awareness, and decision-making. Here are some key steps and considerations:

1. Technique and positioning: Players should learn the correct technique for delivering a body check to ensure it is effective and legal. This includes using proper body positioning, keeping the head up, using the shoulders and hips to make contact, and avoiding hits to vulnerable areas such as the head or back.

2. Timing and anticipation: Players should develop a sense of timing and anticipation to determine when to initiate a check. This involves reading the play, understanding the opponent’s positioning, and recognizing when they are vulnerable or likely to release the puck.

3. Communication and teamwork: Teaching players to communicate on the ice is essential for coordinated physical play. Players should learn to communicate with their teammates to ensure they are aware of who is responsible for finishing a check and who should be providing support or defensive coverage.

4. Decision-making and discipline: Players need to make smart decisions about when to finish a check and when to prioritize other aspects of the game. They should understand the game situation, including score, time remaining, and the potential consequences of a late hit or unnecessary contact.

5. Practice drills: Incorporate practice drills that focus on finishing checks to develop players’ skills and confidence in executing physical play. These drills should simulate game-like situations and provide opportunities for players to improve their timing, technique, and decision-making.

Coaches and trainers should emphasize player safety throughout the teaching process, ensuring that players understand the difference between legal and illegal hits and the importance of respecting their opponents while playing a physical style of hockey.

Is Checking Allowed in Youth Hockey?

The allowance of checking in youth hockey varies depending on the age group, league, and governing body. In general, checking is introduced at higher levels of youth hockey, typically around the age of 11 or 12, and becomes more prevalent as players progress through the age groups.

Many youth hockey organizations have specific rules and guidelines in place to promote player safety and gradual skill development. They may implement modified versions of checking, such as body contact or limited-contact rules, to gradually introduce physical play without putting young players at undue risk of injury.

The decision to allow checking in youth hockey is often based on a combination of factors, including player size, skill level, physical maturity, and the developmental goals of the league or organization. The focus is typically on skill development, sportsmanship, and creating a positive environment for young players to learn and enjoy the game.

It is important for parents, coaches, and players to be aware of the specific rules and regulations regarding checking in their respective youth hockey league or organization. This information can usually be found in the league’s rulebook or guidelines.

Is Checking Allowed in High School Hockey?

The allowance of checking in high school hockey varies depending on the governing body and the specific rules of the state

or region. In some areas, high school hockey allows full checking, while in others, modified checking rules may be implemented.

The decision to allow checking in high school hockey is typically based on the overall skill level and physical maturity of the players. It is important to note that the rules and regulations regarding checking in high school hockey are often in line with player safety considerations and are intended to minimize the risk of injury.

To determine the specific rules regarding checking in high school hockey, it is best to refer to the rulebook or guidelines provided by the governing body of high school sports in your state or region. These resources will outline the regulations, penalties, and any modifications related to checking in high school hockey.

Is Checking Allowed in College Hockey?

Checking is allowed in college hockey, and it is an integral part of the game at the collegiate level. College hockey follows the rules and regulations set forth by the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) or other collegiate athletic associations, depending on the division and conference.

Similar to other levels of play, college hockey has specific guidelines and penalties in place to ensure player safety and fair play. Players are expected to adhere to the rules regarding checking, including the prohibition of late hits, hits to the head, hits from behind, and other forms of illegal or dangerous contact.

Collegiate hockey players are typically skilled and physically mature, and checking is an essential aspect of the competitive nature of the sport at this level. However, player safety and the fair application of the rules remain paramount.

Is Checking Allowed in Women’s Hockey?

Checking in women’s hockey is generally not allowed or is limited compared to men’s hockey. The rules and regulations regarding checking in women’s hockey vary depending on the league, level of play, and governing bodies involved.

At the international level, such as in Olympic or World Championship tournaments, full checking is not permitted in women’s hockey. The emphasis is often placed on skill, speed, and finesse rather than physical play. This approach is intended to promote player safety and maintain the unique style of play in women’s hockey.

In various women’s leagues, such as professional or collegiate, the rules regarding checking may differ. Some leagues may allow limited forms of body contact or modified checking to add a physical element to the game while still prioritizing player safety.

It is important to consult the specific rulebook or guidelines of the women’s hockey league or organization in question to understand the exact rules regarding checking in that particular context.


1. How do you finish a check in hockey?

Finishing a check in hockey requires proper technique, timing, and positioning. Here are the key steps involved in finishing a check:

a. Anticipation: As a player, you need to anticipate when your opponent is about to release the puck or make a play. This allows you to prepare to deliver a check.

b. Positioning: Position yourself in a favorable spot to initiate the check. Maintain a balanced stance with your knees bent, ready to generate power for the check.

c. Timing: Timing is crucial to deliver an effective check. Aim to make contact just as or shortly after the opponent has released the puck. This ensures that the check remains legal and within the rules of the game.

d. Technique: Execute the check using proper technique. Keep your head up and maintain awareness of your surroundings. Use your shoulder, hip, and body to make contact with the opponent’s body. Avoid targeting the head or hitting from behind, as these actions can lead to penalties or injuries.

e. Follow-through: After delivering the check, maintain your momentum and be prepared to recover defensively or transition into the next play. Avoid engaging in unnecessary confrontations or actions after the check.

2. What does it mean to finish the check?

To finish the check in hockey means to deliver a body check to an opponent even after they have released the puck or are no longer involved in the play. It is a way to assert physical presence and maintain pressure on the opposing team. Finishing the check aims to disrupt the opponent, remove them from the play, and potentially force turnovers.

By finishing the check, players aim to create a physical advantage for their team. It can wear down opponents over the course of the game, make them hesitant or nervous with the puck, and establish a reputation as a physical player. The objective is to gain a psychological and physical advantage for one’s team within the boundaries of fair play.

3. What is getting checked in hockey?

Getting checked in hockey refers to the act of being hit or body checked by an opposing player. When a player is checked, they receive physical contact, typically through a body-to-body collision. The purpose of checking is to separate an opponent from the puck, disrupt their play, or create a turnover.

Checking is a fundamental part of the game and is used to assert physical dominance and gain a competitive edge. Players are expected to withstand and respond to checks while maintaining control of the puck or recovering quickly to continue their involvement in the play.

It is important to note that there are rules and guidelines in place to ensure that checking is performed legally and with regard to player safety. Illegal or dangerous checks, such as those targeting the head or hitting from behind, are penalized in order to protect the well-being of players.

4. Should checking be removed from hockey?

The question of whether checking should be removed from hockey is a matter of ongoing debate within the sport. Advocates for the removal of checking argue that it poses a significant risk of injury, particularly head injuries and concussions. They believe that by eliminating checking, the sport would become safer and more inclusive, attracting a broader range of participants.

However, opponents of removing checking argue that it is an essential part of the game and contributes to its unique style and strategic elements. Checking is seen as a way to assert physicality, create turnovers, and provide a balance between skill and physical play. It is also argued that removing checking could fundamentally alter the nature of the sport and negatively impact its popularity and tradition.

Ultimately, the decision to remove checking from hockey would have significant implications and would require careful consideration from various stakeholders, including players, coaches, governing bodies, and fans. It would involve weighing the potential safety benefits against the potential impact on the game’s essence and strategic dynamics.

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