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USA Hockey Rule Emphasis



Through the new standard of rules enforcement, our game, much like the National Hockey League, will continue to allow the opportunity for improved skill development and a more positive hockey environment for all participants.  The mission of USA Hockey is clear; through this new initiative a greater emphasis will be placed on skating, puck possession and the proper use of the body to establish position and a competitive advantage.
The goal of the enforcement standard is to reduce restraining infractions in the game and not to remove legal body checking or body contact. A hard body check or using body contact/position (non-checking classifications) to gain a competitive advantage over the opponent should not be penalized as long as it is performed within the rules.

The principles of this new enforcement standard include the following:

. The use of the stick will be limited to only playing the puck.

. The stick will not be allowed to in any way impede a player's progress.

. The use of a free hand/arm will not be allowed to grab or impede a player's progress.

. Players who use their physical skills and/or anticipation and have a positional advantage shall not lose that advantage as a result of illegal acts by the opponent.

. Players will be held accountable for acts of an intimidating or dangerous nature. 

Proposed Policy Statement 6/07
USA Hockey is concerned with the activity known as "locker boxing" (AKA helmet and gloves) which produces head trauma in children and young adults. USA Hockey is opposed to that activity and recommends that our local associations take action to prevent this activity through awareness, education, and supervision.


Points of Emphasis 2011 Through 2013 Seasons


The goal of USA Hockey is to promote a safe and positive playing environment for all participants while continuing to focus on skill development and enjoyment of the sport. All officials, coaches, players, parents, spectators and volunteers are encouraged to observe these “Points of Emphasis” when participating in the sport of ice hockey.

Fair Play and Respect

Fair play and respect are the backbone of any successful amateur sports program. In order for a positive environment to be created, it is imperative that all participants and spectators have respect for all players, coaches, officials, administrators, spectators and the sport of hockey. Hockey is a game demanding high levels of concentration and skill. Taunting or unsportsmanlike conduct directed at opponents or officials will not be tolerated.

Intimidation tactics have no place in ice hockey. These tactics include any contact to the head of the opponent, checking from behind and late avoidable body checks to an opponent who is no longer is possession and control of the puck. Officials are instructed to enforce these rules to a high standard and assess the appropriate penalty when these actions occur. In addition, officials are expected to strictly enforce any avoidable contact occurring after the whistle – including during scrum situations around the goal.

In non-check classifications, legal body contact shall be allowed and players allowed to compete using proper body position skills. However, any deliberate body checks shall be penalized accordingly. If a body check is delivered for the purpose of intimidation, a major penalty should be assessed to the offending player.

In classifications where body checking is allowed, the purpose of the check shall be to separate the opponent from the puck and officials should strictly penalize any illegal actions such as boarding, charging and a late avoidable body check to a player who is no longer in possession and control of the puck.

Players are encouraged to develop a deep sense of respect for all (opponents and officials) while endeavoring to enjoy the sport and improve their playing ability. Each player is expected to use proper skill and technique when engaging in any type of body contact.

Coaches are responsible for instructing their players to play the sport in a safe and sportsmanlike manner. To that end, coaches are directed to teach only those skills necessary to allow for proper and legal body contact.

Officials should be diligent and confident when officiating the sport. Each official should enforce all playing rules fairly and respectfully with the safety of the players and the best interest of the game in mind. Players must be held accountable for dangerous and illegal actions with the proper enforcement of the rules at all times.

Spectators are encouraged to support their teams while showing respect for all players, coaches, officials and other spectators.

Standard of Play and Rule Emphasis

USA Hockey will continue to observe the Standard of Play and Rule Emphasis for retraining fouls adopted in June 2006. The goal is to reduce restraining infractions in the game, allowing the skill levels of the participants to determine the outcome of a game and to increase participant enjoyment.

In addition, USA Hockey has adopted a Body Checking Standard of Play and Rule Emphasis for immediate implementation at all levels of play. This goal is to enhance player skill development by reducing intimidating infractions designed to punish the opponent. Proper enforcement of this standard will improve the proper skill of legal body contact or legal body contact at all levels of play.


Hockey should be enjoyed by all participants. To that end, all participants and spectators should observe a level of personal behavior that demonstrates respect for all. The USA Hockey Officiating and Coaching Education programs will continue to increase awareness among all officials and coaches with regard to these Points of Emphasis and the Standard of Play and Rule Enforcement.