Ringette basics

Ringette is a winter sport that originated in Canada and combines smarts, joy and creativity in a unique way. The game that is played on ice highlights talent instead of strength and at it’s best, is an amazing combination of speed, team work and technique. The importance of playing together as a team is a big part of the game and the rules guide towards collaboration amongst players on and off ice.  

Ringette is one of the few sports that was originally created solemnly for women and girls. Nowadays the game has gotten more interest among men and boys as well. The feelings of succeeding together have been luring players internationally for decades now.

The fast and startegic game was first created by Sam Jacks and Mirl McCarthy in 1963 in Canada and it was introduced in Finland in 1979. The World Ringette Championships are traditionally held every second year, but the pandemic forced the change of date from 2021 to 2022.

Quick look into the most important rules 

Ringette is a winter sport played on ice in which the team that scores more goals, wins. Ringette is often compared to basketball due to the 30 second shoot clock and overall game strategy. The sport often gets compared to ice hockey as well, because they both are played on ice, but that is pretty much the only conjunctive. Ringette is a unique game that is played with a blue rubber ring and a stick.

5+1 players on ice

Ringette is played in a rink and there is five players and a goalie from each team on ice at the same time. Players all have their own rolas and typically there is two defense players, two forward players and one center player on ice at the same time. The roles between forward and defense are quite clear in ringette. 

Penalties during the game make situations interesting and the amount of players on ice can vary from five to three players. If a team has only one penalty going, they play with four against five. If the team has two or more players serving a penalty, there will be three players on ice. The amount of penalties at the same time is not limited and it’s not unusual that both teams play with four players simultaneously. A team can also take the goalie off ice and forward with six players against five. This strategy is typically used, when the team is losing and trying to tie the game.

Players must pass across the blue lines

The rules of ringette highlight the importance of team work. One of the most obvious rules that encourage towards playing as a team is the rule that obliges players to pass the ring over the blue lines in the rink. A single player cannot control the game as they can’t cross the blue lines with the ring by themselves. The teams must move forward by passing the ring one line at the time. Two lines can’t be crossed with just one pass either and the ring is only free to play for the opposing team.  

Ringette line and it’s importance

Another essential rule regards to the ringette line, which is a thin red line inbetween the goal and a blue line. This line divides the rink into three sections: the forward and defense areas and the middle area. 

Only three people from one team (excluding the goalie) are allowed to play in forward or defense at the time. Typically, the three consist of two defense women and a center and two forwards and a center. However, the players can freely switch places, as long as the amount of players from the team in the area stays at three or fewer.

The defence typically plays in a triangle shaped formation and aims to guide the forwarding team away from the goal. The center player plays higher on the tip of the triangle as defence is usually situated lower on both sides of the goal.  

Goalkeepers area is untouchable

The goalkeepers have their own area that is reserved only for the goalie and other players are not allowed to play within that area. The goalkeeper’s area is a little bit bigger than the area is in ice hockey and the biggest difference is that the players are not allowed to skate through it or play the ring when it is inside the area. The goalkeeper is the only player that can play the ring within the area. If any players break that rule, the referee starts to count down five seconds and if during that time the team that broke the rule gets the ring, it will be awarded to the opposing team that get’s a free pass or the goalkeepers opening pass.

The goalkeeper is allowed to play the ring outside of the goalie’s area, but can’t bring it from outside of the area into the area.

The goalkeeper’s pass is a very typical start to the game when it has been stopped in the defense area. The goalkeeper passes the ring to a player by stick or by throwing. Throwing the ring across the first blue line is not allowed, but it is possible for a goalie to pass the ring on ice straight across the blue line.

The game is fast – thanks to the 30 second shoot clock

The 30 second shoot clock makes the game especially interesting and keeps it fast paced. The 30 second countdown starts as a team gets the ring and then they have half a minute to score or shoot to get a new 30 seconds going. The shoot clock starts over if the team manages to shoot in a manner that the ring hits either the goalkeeper or the goal bars. The shoot clock also resets every time the ring goes from one team to another. If a team runs out of the 30 seconds before making a shoot at the goal, the opposing team gets a free pass. 

Although ringette is very technical and requires quite a bit of talent, it is very easy to get started in Finland or Canada. The control of the ring is fairly easy and the feeling of succeeding is there from the very first training. At it’s best, ringette is a great example of a sport that serves joy and community spirit. These two features are present from first training all the way to the World Championships, which makes the community tight.

Join us in the World Ringette Championships this fall and enjoy the best ringette games of the season in Espoo, 31.10.-6.11.2022! Tickets to the Championships are sold at Ticketmaster.