What is Slew Footing in Ice Hockey?

Slew footing is when a player uses their leg or foot to knock or kick an opposing player’s feet from under him. It is generally done by putting your feet or leg behind an opposing player, and shoving them backwards over your foot/leg, causing them to fall.

Hockey is a contact sport and physicality is one of the most important parts of the game. While some physical plays are legal and acceptable, there are others that are seen as very dirty and dangerous. One such play is a slew foot.

This guide is going to take a closer look at what slew footing is, why it can be so dangerous at times, and more.

Key Takeaways

  • Slew footing occurs when a player puts their leg behind an opposing player’s leg, and pushes them backwards, causing them to fall to the ice.
  • Slew footing will normally be given a penalty, as it can be easy to spot. However, there are times where it can be missed by refs or disguised as a simple collision by offending players.
  • The act of slew footing is seen as a very dirty play, as it can be very dangerous and lead to injury. 

What is Slew Footing?

Slew footing is the act of using your legs or feet to knock an opposing player’s legs from under them. You simply put your feet or legs behind the opposing players legs, and shove them backwards over your legs, leading to them losing balance and falling to the ice.

If a player slew foots their opponent and it is caught, they will be assessed a penalty. This could be a minor penalty, but also a more serious penalty like a game misconduct can be given depending on the severity and what the ref decides the act deserves.

The referee’s sign for a slew foot is the same as for tripping, which is a downward chopping motion with their hand just below the knee.

The reason people slew foot is often to get the opponent off balance, knock them over, or simply to agitate them. However, there are much safer ways to do this such as using legal body checks or stick checks.

Why is Slew Footing so Dangerous?

The part of slew footing that makes it so dangerous is that players don’t generally see it coming. With a body check or stick check, players will see it coming and can prepare themselves for the contact.

With a slew foot, a player generally doesn’t know anything is happening until it’s too late. They are unable to brace for the impact, and will certainly be caught off guard.

Also, the fact that slew footing almost always causes players to fall down backwards, there is always the risk of them hitting their head on the ice or injuring another part of their body.

Because of this danger, slew footing is seen as a very dirty play and players who frequently slew foot will develop a negative reputation. After someone is slew footed, it isn’t uncommon to see them or a teammate of theirs attempt to fight the offending player.


Here are a few commonly asked questions about slew footing, as well as their answers.

What is the difference between slew footing and tripping?

In general, a slew foot can be seen as a type of trip, but often more severe. For example, a slew foot can come with a bigger penalty than a trip.

A trip can be as simple as getting a stick between a player’s leg causing them to slip, whereas a slew foot is a deliberate action that involves both the upper and lower body.

How common is slew footing in hockey?

Thankfully, slew footing is relatively uncommon in hockey, as everyone knows how dangerous it can be. Also, with slew footing generally being easy to spot, penalties are common for the infraction, so many players will not do it for fear of being penalized.

Final Thoughts

Slew footing is a dangerous act in hockey that can lead to injury and is often seen as a dirty play. I hope this guide helped you learn more about slew footing in general, and why it is considered unacceptable in all levels of hockey.

Do you think there should be harsher penalties for dangerous infractions like slew footing, or do you think the current penalty rules are sufficient? Let me know in a comment below.

About Kale
Being from Canada, hockey is essentially a way of life. I instantly fell in love with the game since I was being put on skates. From playing as a child (and the occasional street hockey game with friends today) to being a fan for over 20 years, I’m here to share my knowledge and passion for hockey. Email: kale@hockeyhow.com

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