The ice hockey rules that every beginner should know

Are you an ice hockey lover or are you planning to attend a game for the first time? If so, you'll need to know some ice hockey rules to better enjoy the sport. Below, in this article, we've compiled the information you need to have a basic guide to field hockey rules for beginners. Let's get started!


According to ice hockey rules, each team must have 20 players. However, in the official lineup there should only be 5 players (3 attackers and 2 defenders) plus a goalie. They must change every 45 seconds so that the game keeps a fast pace. Also, keep in mind that each team can make as many changes as they want.

Ice field hockey equipment

The rules of ice hockey also state the type of equipment that players must have. For example, all 5 players must be equipped with helmets with protective visors, gloves, sticks, skates and other items that ensure their protection under their uniforms. 

In the case of the goalkeeper, he wears special equipment. Unlike the others, the goalkeeper needs shoulder pads, shin pads, two different gloves and padded boots that help him cover more space and withstand more blows. Finally, the goalkeeper's stick is wider than that of the inline players.

Playing time

Regarding game time, the ice field hockey rules establish that each game must have a duration of 60 minutes. Each is divided into 3 periods of 20 minutes, and between each third period there is a 15-minute break.

However, the game is sometimes interrupted for player changes, which can cause a period of field hockey to take longer and the overall game to last longer than 60 minutes.

Skating rink

The rules of ice hockeystate that the surface of the ice rink must be divided into 3 areas: defensive zone, neutral zone and attacking zone. Each of them is delimited by 5 lines:

  • The defensive zone is identified as the first blue line between the balustrade behind the goal. However, it also includes a thin red line where the goal to be defended is placed.  
  • The neutral zone is located between the two blue lines, and this is accompanied by another red line that is placed between the two blue lines.  
  • Finally, the attacking zone runs along the second blue line all the way to the boards located behind the goal defended by the opposing team. This also consists of a red line which is known as the ice line and is located at the opposing goal.  


Another important aspect of ice hockey rules that every beginner needs to know about is penalties. Whether it is beginner field hockey or pure professional field hockey, the sport is not exempt from penalties.  

Penalties can be of three categories: minor, serious and fouls. If it is a minor penalty, the penalty can last 2 minutes in the penalty box. But, if they are major penalties, this may require a player to serve 5 minutes in the penalty box or ejection from the game.  

Some extra ice hockey rules

  • Field hockey players may make contact with another player to destabilize him and regain the puck's power. However, dangerous actions are penalized.  
  • Offside passing is a violation of the ice hockey rules. When a player crosses the center red line in the offensive zone without passing the puck to an attacking teammate, it is considered offside.
  • The goal line is the line drawn on the ice that a team must follow to score a goal. It is red and extends the width of the ice. The goaltender may not cross the line and may not move behind it.
  • In ice hockey, substitutions are used to change players for a particular reason or to change the composition of a team. Substitutions can occur during or after the game, but cannot occur during a penalty shot.
  • A team is offside when any member of the attacking team precedes the puck over the defending team's blue line. 
  • If a team has more players on the field, it is because a player is serving a suspension and the other team has more advantage in the game.