Ice Hockey Rules For Beginners

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Written By Margaret Satchell

I love helping people get in shape by playing sports instead of just boring gym routines. Live life to the fullest.





If you’re new to the exciting world of ice hockey, you’ve come to the right place! In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the rules of the game, providing you with all the necessary information to get started. Whether you’re a total novice or simply looking to refresh your knowledge, understanding the rules is crucial for a fun and safe experience on the ice. So, grab your skates and stick, and let’s dive into the world of ice hockey!

Ice Hockey Rules For Beginners



Skates are essential for playing ice hockey. They are specially designed to allow you to glide smoothly on the ice. It is important to choose skates that fit properly, as ill-fitting skates can lead to discomfort and can negatively affect your performance on the ice. Make sure to lace up your skates tightly but comfortably to provide stability and support for your ankles.


A helmet is one of the most important pieces of equipment in ice hockey. It protects your head from potential injuries resulting from collisions, falls, or being struck by a puck or stick. When choosing a helmet, make sure it fits snugly and is properly certified for safety. It is also important to wear a face cage or shield to protect your face from injury.


Pads are designed to protect different parts of your body from contact and impact during play. These include shoulder pads, elbow pads, knee pads, and shin guards. They are made with padding and hard plastic to provide maximum protection without hindering your movement. Pads are crucial for preventing injuries when you check or get checked by opponents.


Gloves are necessary to protect your hands and fingers from injury. They have padding on the backhand and fingers and are constructed with a sturdy outer shell. Additionally, gloves provide grip and control on the stick, allowing you to handle the puck effectively. Choose gloves that fit properly and allow for flexibility and mobility.


The stick is one of the most important pieces of equipment in ice hockey. It is used to handle the puck, pass to teammates, and shoot on goal. Sticks come in different sizes and flexes, and it is essential to choose one that suits your height and playing style. Make sure the stick is the correct length, allowing you to comfortably handle the puck while maintaining good balance and control.

Ice Hockey Rink


An ice hockey rink is rectangular in shape and typically measures 200 feet long and 85 feet wide. The playing area is surrounded by boards, which act as a boundary and prevent the puck from leaving the rink. Each end of the rink contains a goal and is marked by two blue lines and two red lines.


The ice hockey rink is divided into different zones. The neutral zone is located between the two blue lines and serves as a transitional area. The offensive zone, also known as the attacking zone, is the area between the opponent’s blue line and the end boards. The defensive zone, or the zone in which your team’s goaltender is stationed, is the area between your team’s blue line and the end boards.

Boards and Glass

The boards and glass surrounding the ice hockey rink have an important role in the game. They keep the puck in play by preventing it from leaving the rink and provide a surface for players to be checked against. The boards and glass are sturdy and can withstand significant impact during physical play.


Each end of the ice hockey rink has a goal, which is a rectangular frame with a net. The objective of the game is to shoot the puck into the opponent’s goal and score points. The goaltender’s primary role is to defend the goal by preventing the puck from entering the net. Goals are scored when the entire puck crosses the goal line.


Number of Players

An ice hockey team consists of six players on the ice at a time: three forwards, two defensemen, and one goaltender. The forwards are responsible for creating scoring opportunities, while the defensemen focus on preventing the opposing team from scoring. The goaltender’s role is to stop the puck from entering the net.


Each player on an ice hockey team has specific positions and responsibilities. The forwards are typically divided into left wing, center, and right wing. The left and right wings primarily focus on offense, while the center acts as both an offensive and defensive player. The defensemen play on the blue line and are responsible for guarding their team’s defensive zone and supporting the offense when possible.


In ice hockey, teams often have designated captains who serve as leaders both on and off the ice. The captain’s role is to provide guidance, motivation, and direction to the team. They communicate with the referees and represent the team during discussions with the officials. Captains are usually experienced players who are respected by their teammates.


Center Ice

A face-off occurs at the start of each period and after a goal is scored. The referee drops the puck between two opposing players, usually at center ice. The players attempt to gain control of the puck by using their sticks to win possession for their team. The positioning and technique of the players during a face-off can impact the outcome and is a skill that players work on improving.

After Goals

After a goal is scored, a face-off takes place at center ice. This allows for a fair restart of the game and gives both teams an opportunity to regain possession of the puck. The team that was scored against serves as the defensive team during the face-off.

Offsides and Icing

Offsides and icing are infractions that result in a face-off. Offsides occurs when an attacking player crosses the opponent’s blue line before the puck. Icing occurs when a team shoots the puck from behind the center red line and it crosses the opponent’s goal line without being touched by an opposing player. In both cases, a face-off takes place in the offending team’s defensive zone.

Ice Hockey Rules For Beginners


Types of Penalties

Penalties in ice hockey are given for rule violations or unsportsmanlike conduct. There are different types of penalties, including minor penalties, major penalties, and misconduct penalties. Minor penalties result in the offending player being sent to the penalty box for two minutes, while major penalties and misconduct penalties can result in the player being ejected from the game for a longer period of time.

Power Play

When a team is awarded a power play, it means that the opposing team has a player in the penalty box, giving the team with the numerical advantage more opportunities to score. Teams on the power play can use their extra player to create offensive plays and increase their chances of scoring.



The primary objective of ice hockey is to score goals. A goal is scored when the entire puck crosses the goal line and enters the net. Goals are awarded one point each, and the team with the most goals at the end of the game is declared the winner.


In addition to goals, players can also be credited with assists. An assist is awarded to the player who made the final pass or play that directly led to a goal being scored. Assists are not counted as goals but are important in recognizing the contributions of players who helped create scoring opportunities.

Shots on Goal

Shots on goal refer to the number of times a team shoots the puck towards the opponent’s net. Shots on goal indicate the team’s offensive performance and the number of scoring opportunities created. Teams with a high number of shots on goal are more likely to score.

Goaltender Save Percentage

The goaltender’s performance is measured by their save percentage, which represents the percentage of shots on goal that the goaltender successfully saves. A higher save percentage indicates a more effective goaltender who is able to stop a greater number of shots.



Face-offs play a crucial role in gameplay as they are used to start the game, restart play after goals, and after certain stoppages in play. Being skilled in face-offs can give your team an advantage in gaining possession of the puck and potentially creating scoring opportunities.


Passing is an essential skill in ice hockey as it allows players to move the puck quickly and effectively around the rink. Good passing helps maintain possession, creates scoring opportunities, and facilitates teamwork. Players must work on their passing accuracy, speed, and decision-making to improve their overall performance.


Shooting is the act of attempting to score by propelling the puck towards the opponent’s net. Players must develop good shooting technique, including proper stick placement, weight transfer, and accuracy. Different types of shots, such as wrist shots, slap shots, and backhands, offer players various ways to score goals.


Checking is the act of using physical contact to gain possession of the puck and disrupt the opponent’s play. Proper checking technique involves using the body to block, push, or separate the opponent from the puck. Checking is a legal and fundamental part of ice hockey but must be done within the rules to avoid penalties.


Regular Season

In the regular season, if a game is tied at the end of regulation time, a five-minute sudden-death overtime period is played. Each team plays with three skaters, including one defenseman and two forwards, and the goaltenders. The first team to score during overtime wins the game. If no goals are scored during the overtime period, the game ends in a tie.


In the playoffs, if a game is tied at the end of regulation time, multiple overtime periods are played until a team scores. Playoff overtime periods continue until a goal is scored, resulting in a winning team. This adds excitement and intensity to the game, as teams compete for victory.



Referees are responsible for enforcing the rules of the game, ensuring fair play, and making calls on penalties and goals. They have the authority to stop play, assess penalties, and make important decisions in various game situations. Referees are positioned on the ice and work in tandem with linesmen to maintain order and promote player safety.


Linesmen assist the referees in enforcing the rules of the game. They are responsible for making offside and icing calls, conducting face-offs, and ensuring fair play during the game. Linesmen are positioned on the sidelines and work closely with the referees to maintain the flow of the game and uphold the integrity of the sport.

Strategies and Tactics


Forechecking is a strategic approach in ice hockey that involves players pressuring the opposing team in their defensive zone. The objective is to disrupt their breakout and regain possession of the puck. Different forechecking systems, such as the 2-1-2, 1-2-2, or 1-3-1, offer teams various strategies to apply pressure and create turnovers.


Breakouts are tactical plays used by teams to move the puck efficiently from their defensive zone to the offensive zone. It involves coordinated passes and movement to bypass the opponent’s forecheck and initiate an offensive attack. Breakouts are crucial for maintaining possession, controlling the game’s pace, and creating scoring opportunities.

Power Play

A power play occurs when a team has a numerical advantage due to an opponent serving a penalty. Teams on the power play aim to capitalize on the extra player and create scoring opportunities. Effective power play strategies involve quick puck movement, player positioning, and effective shot selection to overwhelm the opposing defense.

Penalty Kill

The penalty kill is when a team is short-handed due to one or more players serving penalties. The objective of the penalty kill is to prevent the opposing team from scoring during their power play. Teams on the penalty kill use strategies such as pressuring the puck carrier, blocking shots, and creating turnovers to thwart the opponent’s offensive efforts. Effective penalty killing can swing the momentum of the game in favor of the shorthanded team.

Ice hockey is an exciting sport that combines skill, teamwork, and physicality. By familiarizing yourself with the equipment, rink, rules, and strategies, you can fully enjoy playing the game and appreciate its fast-paced nature. Have fun on the ice and embrace the thrill of ice hockey as you work towards improving your skills and becoming a better player.

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