What Is Clipping In Hockey

Clipping is one of the rarest penalties in hockey and occurs when a player hits an opponent at or below his knees. Clipping calls are sometimes made on hip checks if the checking player lowers his body too much. This type of hit is incredibly dangerous and is known for causing lower-body injuries.

What is a clipping penalty in the NHL?

Now that we know what clipping is let’s get into the rules regarding this action. Below are the NHL rules regarding clipping in hockey. Following the rules will be a breakdown explaining exactly what these rules mean in layman’s terms.

Clipping is the act of throwing the body across or below the
knees of an opponent from any direction.
A player may not deliver a check in a “clipping” manner, nor lower
his own body position to deliver a check on or below an opponent’s
An illegal “low hit” is a check that is delivered by a player who may
or may not have both skates on the ice, with his sole intent to check
the opponent in the area of his knees. A player may not lower his
body position to deliver a check to an opponent’s knees.

NHL Rulebook – Rule 44


You can tell by the focus of the “knees” in this rule that it was made for player safety. When the NHL puts a rule into the game it is either for player safety or to stop a competitive advantage.

The clipping rule in hockey is the former as this rule ensures dangerous low hits are not part of the game.

Throwing The Body

One interesting aspect of this rule is the term “throwing the body”. This term is used to display that it doesn’t have to a traditional check to be considered clipping.

This rule goes on to say the player may or may not have both skates on the ice. This terminology is furthering the point that it is not only traditional hits will be called for clipping. If both your skates are off the ice as you dive at an opponents knees this is still a clipping penalty.

Lowering The Body

Two separate times in this rule the phrase “lowering the body” is used. This portion of the rule is meant to stop players from deliberately going lower on their hits. This makes a hip check that reaches as low as the knees a clipping penalty.

What To Know

As you can see the main focus of this rule revolves are hitting a player low on his body. If you want to avoid clipping calls be sure to keep all contact with your opponent above his knees.

Consequences And Clipping Penalties

Like most penalties in the NHL there are several different punishments you may receive depending on the severity of the clip. Below we will break down all the possible consequences a player may receive for a clipping penalty.

Two Minute Minor

A two minute minor is the most common call made when a clipping penalty occurs. So long as an injury doesn’t occur on the play this is the penalty a player will receive.

Five Minute Major

If a player commits a clipping penalty and the player on the receiving end is injured as a result a five minute major will be assessed. It does not matter the severity of the hit, if an illegal clip occurs and the player is injured the referees must call a five-minute major.

Furthermore when a five-minute major penalty is called for clipping the offending player will automatically receive a game misconduct penalty. This means he must be immediately removed from the game. This same rule exists for hooking and crosschecking penalties as well as many others.

Match Penalty

The most serious consequence a player can face for clipping is a match penalty. This penalty occurs if the referee believes that the player who committed the act did so with the intent to injure his opponent.

In this situation, the player will be removed from the game and indefinitely suspended until the commissioner rules on the matter.

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