Fair-play rules and injury reduction in ice hockey

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1996 Feb;150(2):140-5. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.1996.02170270022003.


Objective: To determine the rate, type, and severity of injuries incurred and penalties assessed during the qualifying fair-play (points for playing without excessive penalties) and championship "regular" rules (winner advances) portions of a 1994 Junior Gold ice hockey tournament.

Design: A prospective evaluation of injuries by certified athletic trainers at the tournament site.

Setting: A community-organized, 3-day, 31-game tournament in Minnesota.

Participants: Two hundred seventy-three male players, younger than 20 years and in high school.

Measurements/main results: Injuries were recorded by an on-site certified athletic trainer, and the penalties were tallied from the score sheets. The injury rates for the total number of injuries were 26.4 injuries per 1000 athlete exposures and 273.8 injuries per 1000 player hours. When only notable injuries (concussion, facial laceration, or moderate level of severity and above) were considered, the injury rates were 10 per 1000 athlete exposures and 103.9 per 1000 player hours. The ratio of notable fair-play to notable regular-rules injuries was 1:4.8. The number of penalties assessed per game averaged 7.1 penalties during fair-play rules and 13 penalties during the regular-rules competition. Penalties related to rough play and injury occurred four times more frequently during games with regular rules than those with fair-play rules.

Conclusions: The fair-play concept can reduce injury rates, penalty rates, and severity of penalties and should be considered for ice hockey at all levels of play. The fair-play concept could be applied to other contact sports to reduce injury rates and rules infractions.

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Athletic Injuries / etiology*
  • Hockey / injuries*
  • Hockey / standards*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Minnesota / epidemiology
  • Prospective Studies