What Is Slew Footing in Hockey?


Ice hockey is a tough but fun sport. 

Although it is rough, players need to follow certain rules to avoid penalties in-game. One of the strictest rules in hockey applies to slew footing.

But, what is slew footing in hockey, where does it come from, and what is the penalty for it?   

Let’s find out.

What Is Slew Footing in Hockey?

Slew footing in hockey– one of the 10 most popular sports in the UK– refers to the act of tripping a player from the opposing team from behind while pushing the player’s upper body and driving them to the ice.

This often causes the recipient to fall on the ice backwards, which can result in serious injury.

The National Hockey League (NHL) describes slew footing under Official Rule 52.1 as:

“… the act of a player using his leg or foot to knock or kick an opponent’s feet from under him, or pushes an opponent’s upper body backward with an arm or elbow, and at the same time with a forward motion of his leg, knocks or kicks the opponent’s feet from under him, causing him to fall violently to the ice.

You can see an example here:

You may be interested in: What is offside in hockey?

What Is the Penalty for Slew Footing in Hockey?

Slew footing is a type of ‘tripping’ and depending on the circumstances, it can be penalised as such. 

When the slew foot involves unintentional swiping of an opponent’s player’s feet and pushing into the opponent’s upper, the player who caused it is usually given a two-minute minor penalty, during which the opposing team gets a power player, which is when one team has a numerical advantage on the rink.

A more dangerous slew foot can lead to a five-minute major penalty or can even trigger a removal of the player for the rest of the game. 

This would include tripping the opponent from behind and tying his upper body to drive him toward the ice or swiping the opponent’s leg in close proximity to the boards. 

Illegal tripping of this kind can lead to supplemental discipline as well, which typically comes in the form of a fine or suspension. Per the Official Rule 52.3 – Fines and Suspensions, this decision lies with the commissioner of the NHL.

The commissioner can suspend or fine a player even if the referee doesn’t penalise the player in-game. When that happens, the club has the right to appeal the decision and have it reviewed.

Where Does The Term Slew Foot in Hockey Come From?

It is unclear how the term ‘slew foot’ ended up in hockey but, the word ‘slew’ has a nautical origin meaning to turn something on its axis.

The word later became slang for someone who is drunk and when someone is ‘slew footed’ it usually means they’re clumsy.

Did you know?  The first hockey rules were implemented in 1875.

Bottom Line

So, what is slew footing in hockey? It’s the action of pushing a player from the opposing team in the upper body while kicking their legs from under them.

Slew footing is potentially one of the most dangerous forms of tripping in the sport and can even lead to supplemental discipline.

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