Examining attitudes toward body checking, levels of emotional empathy, and levels of aggression in body checking and non-body checking youth hockey leagues

Clin J Sport Med. 2009 May;19(3):207-15. doi: 10.1097/JSM.0b013e31819d658e.


Objectives: To determine if attitudes associated with body checking, emotional empathy, and aggression differ between players in body checking and non-body checking hockey leagues and to determine the influence of these attitudes on injury rates.

Design: Prospective cohort.

Setting: Participants were randomly recruited by team from the Calgary Minor Hockey Association at the beginning of the 2006-2007 season.

Participants: There were 283 participants from Pee Wee (aged 11-12 years), Bantam (aged 13-14 years), and Midget (aged 15-16 years) teams. Of 13 teams from the body checking league, 138 players participated, and of 24 teams in the non-body checking league, 145 players participated.

Assessment of risk factors: Participants completed 4 self-report questionnaires: (1) Medical Questionnaire, (2) Body Checking Questionnaire, (3) Empathy Index for Children and Adolescents, and (4) Buss-Perry Aggression Questionnaire.

Main outcome measures: Participants were followed through the season for injury reports. The injury definition included any hockey injury resulting in medical attention, the inability to complete a hockey session, and/or missing a subsequent hockey session.

Results: Body checking players reported more positive attitudes toward body checking (35.59; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 34.52-36.65) than non-body checking players (22.43; 95% CI, 21.38-23.49; t = -17.34; P < 0.00005). There was no significant difference in the empathy scores between cohorts (t = 1.51, P = 0.13). The mean aggression score for the body checking players (76.22; 95% CI, 73.18-79.25) was significantly higher than the mean for the non-body checking players (70.57; 95% CI, 67.35-73.80; t = -2.52; P = 0.013).

Conclusions: Body checking seems to influence attitudes toward body checking and aggression, but attitudes toward body checking, empathy, and aggression did not influence injury rates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aggression*
  • Alberta / epidemiology
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Attitude*
  • Child
  • Empathy*
  • Female
  • Hockey / injuries*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires