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the professorChecking

What is it?: The common misconception, when people hear the term, is it entails only one player throwing another into the boards. In reality, there are many types of checks.

What is body checking?: In an effort to gain better positioning or puck possession, a player can use his body against an opponent, similar to a block in football. To avoid the penalty box, bodychecking must be performed only with the hips or shoulders, and it may target only above the opponent's knees and below the neck.

[Getty images: Dave Sandford]

What is forechecking?: A defensive strategy in which a forward puts pressure on the opponent's defensemen by racing into the defensive zone before a breakout. While there, he follows the puck, keeping his stick on the ice in an effort to disrupt passes. More times than not, the forechecker doesn't cause a turnover, but he can cause enough interference to break up any potential rhythm. This strategy is crucial to defending power plays.

What is backchecking?: Many of the same forwards who are aggressive on the forecheck also backcheck. This strategy is employed in a team's offensive zone and entails skaters rushing quickly back to support their goalie and to keep an opponent from shooting.

What is sweep checking?: Often used by the forechecker, sweep checking entails a player brushing his stick across the ice in a semi-circular fashion to dislodge the puck from an opponent.

What not to do: Don't leave the ice with both feet. When preparing to check an opponent against the boards do so while grounded. Leaving your feet creates more momentum, an in turn, more potential for injury. Caught in the air? You'll get a two-minute penalty for charging.

– Compiled by Tim Sullivan

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