Hockey Rules and Laws

Ice Hockey

To understand the game of Ice Hockey, it is essential to have a grasp of the ice hockey rules. These rules enable the game to be played in a fair and competitive manner. The majority of rules of ice hockey are governed by:

  1. USA hockey
  2. Hockey Canada
  3. International Ice Hockey Federation, each having their own set of rules.

The National Hockey League (NHL) has its own set of rules.

Some of the basic Ice Hockey rules are detailed as under:
  • Dimension
    Rink is the name of the ice sheet in which the game is played. Size of a standard North American Rink is 200feet by 85 feet. Rinks in Europe are slightly larger.
  • Blue Line
    This line divides the ice surface into 3 surfaces.
  • Red Line
    This line is at the Rink’s centre and divides Rink in two halves. Sometimes it is used to refer to the goal lines at each end of the Rink.
  • Neutral Zone
    This line is in the middle of the Rink. The zone is the area of the ice between two blue lines. 
  • Defending Zone
    This area is where the goal net is located for team which is defending the net.
  • Attacking Zone
    This is the area where the opposing net is located.
  • Puck
    Puck is the disc used in the game .It is made of black vulcanized rubber. It is 1 inch thick and 3 inches in diameter. It weighs between 5.5 and 6 ounces. The puck can be moved with the ice hockey stick or feet, but it is illegal to pick it up by hand.
  • Hockey Stick
    A player uses the stick to carry, retrieve, pass and shoot the puck. If a shot hits another player’s body, and passes through the net, it is counted as a goal.
  • Net
    The net is a cage that is 6 feet wide and 4 feet tall. It has a mess made of nylon. There are two nets in a Rink, each guarded by a goal-tender.
  • Team Rules
    Each team is allowed to have 6 players -5 skaters and 1 goaltender. Out of 5, there are 3 forwards and 2 defensemen. 
  • Positions
    The two defensemen try to stop the puck at their own blue line. Their job is to break passes, block shots, clear the puck from in front of the goal and cover opposing forwards. They can also go for offensive 
  • Face-off
    The game begins when the referee drops the puck between two forwards. This is known as Face–off.

Field Hockey

As there are many types of hockey, each of them follows different rules and regulations. However, we shall discuss the rules of hockey in general. Each team of hockey consists of a maximum of sixteen players. However, only 11 players are in the field including a goalkeeper. The winning team has to outscore the competing team. The game spans over two 35 minutes sessions, halved by a 10 minute break. Hence the time is structured as 35-10-35. The attacking players have to be in the shooting circle which is also known as goal circle to hit a goal. This goal circle is a D-shaped area measuring 14.5 meters from each goal.

A hockey field is rectangular having length of 91.4 meters and width of 55.0 meters marked with white lines. These white lines are generally 7.5 cm wide. Lengthwise lines are termed as sidelines while the lines perpendicular to these are called as back lines. There are goal lines existing between the goal post and the backline. A Central line is marked across the field with other lines marked 22.90 meters away from this central line. Thus the whole field of hockey is divided into four even quarters. A semicircle is formed from each back line which is called the D area mentioned above. These D shaped areas are called a shooting circle from where a goal is scored.

Goal posts are located at the center of each backline. Goals are rectangular having 2.14 meters height and 3.66 meters of width. A net is loosely attached to the back of the goal area so as to prevent the ball from rebounding. The ball in the game of hockey is spherical in shape weighing around 160 grams having a circumference between 22.4 and 23.5 cm. It may be of any color agreed upon by both the teams. Hockey sticks are curved on one end and flat on the other. The sticks weight about 737 grams. Each team has its own captain wearing a distinctive arm band in the field. There are two umpires on the field under the control of whose game is organized and each one has his half of the field. Both the captains and umpires decide who will start and which side they take by tossing a coin in the field.

All the opponent players must be playing at a distance of five meters from the ball. If the ball crosses the sideline another team will take hold of it and will pass it to a player restarting the game. If the ball goes over the back line, the defending team will have a hit. The ball must be between the posts and over the line and under the crossbar in order to score a goal. The ball must be struck from inside the D-shaped semicircle. There are certain codes of conduct. A player cannot hit the ball with the back of the stick. Any part of the body should not touch the ball such as legs or hands. Ball can only be handled and controlled with the stick.

There are certain provisions of penalties if there is a breach in the game. A player can be penalized for hitting the ball by any part of the body. Goal keeper is allowed to use any part of the body to defend the goal. A player cannot put obstruction against any opponent player. Raising the stick above head is considered dangerous and the player doing so is penalized.


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