Ringette 101

What is Ringette?

Ringette is a Canadian game that was first invented by Sam Jacks in North Bay, Ontario in 1963. Developed originally for girls, ringette is a fast-paced team sport on ice in which players use a straight stick to pass, carry, and shoot a rubber ring to score goals.  It is generally acknowledged that ringette is the fastest game on ice, and ringette players are known for their skating and ring handling skills.

Ringette is played in all ten provinces and the Northwest Territories,  and has become one of Canada's favorite activities for females, with over 50,000 participants nationwide, including players, coaches, officials and volunteers.   More than 7,000 certified ringette coaches are registered in the National Coaching Certification Program, and more than 1,700 registered referees trained under Ringette Canada's National Officiating Program. In addition, there are thousands of volunteers who administer clubs, leagues, and tournaments across Canada.

The growth has continued internationally with the formation of associations in the U.S.A., Finland, Sweden, Russia, and France. In addition, Ringette Canada has been instrumental in demonstrating the game in the Netherlands, Switzerland, West Germany, along with New Zealand, Australia and Japan.


Ringette Basics

No experience is necessary to play ringette. Part of the aim of the sport is helping players to learn and develop a life-long love of this exciting sport.  There are various skill levels of play across the nation; beginning with Bunnies, (a learn to skate program) and then formal teams in categories of C, B, A, AA, and in some cases even Regional AAA Teams.

Ringette is played with five skaters and one goaltender on a sheet of ice and the objective is to put the ring into the opposing net.  But ringette has its own unique characteristics which make it known as the “fastest team game on ice”.  

The Ringette philosophy is to provide “a mass participation team sport which encourages the physical, mental, social and moral development of individual participants within the highest standards of safety, sportsmanship, personal excellence, and enjoyment.”  The rules and regulations have been adopted to suit these needs. Ring hogging is prevented by rules that restrict any one player from carrying the ring the full length of the ice. The ring must be passed over the blue line to another player, which makes ringette a team oriented sport. 


How is Ringette played?

  • A straight stick is used to pass, shoot, and control an eight inch rubber ring.
  • Each team has 6 players on the ice at any time: 2 defense; 2 forwards; 1 centre; and one goalkeeper.
  • Games consist of two 15-minute periods. (16AA and up play 20 minute periods).
  • “Free Play” lines that run across the top of the defensive/offensive circles define a restricted zone in the defensive/offensive areas.  No more than three skaters from each team can enter the zone. The defensive players, usually the two defensemen and the centre, create a zone type defence, called the “triangle”.  The offensive players try to penetrate the triangle in order to get a good close shot on goal.
  • Play is started by a “Free Pass”, similar to a start of a soccer game.  The player with the ring has five seconds to pass or shoot the ring out of their half of the free pass circle.
    • Free Passes in Ringette are like free kicks or throw-ins in soccer, like throw-ins in basketball, like the quick restart in lacrosse after a violation, or the “face-off” of hockey. The ring is placed in the Free Pass circle; in the side nearest their own goal, there are two blue placement dots inside each of the five free pass circles. The referee determines which free pass circle is to be used and which team has the pass. One player takes possession and on the whistle has five seconds to either shoot or pass to a teammate; they must pass it completely out of the circle; they cannot skate past the middle of the circle or out of the circle with the ring. Failure to move the ring results in the free pass being given to the other team. During these five seconds, no other player is allowed in the Free Pass circle. A shot on goal is permitted during a Free Pass
  • Any stoppage of play will result in a Free Pass to begin play again.  Most defensive Free Passes are replaced by a Goaltender Ring.  In this instance, the goaltender has five seconds to place the ring in play, usually by throwing the ring to a teammate.
  • The closest concept to an off-side is a direct pass across two blue lines.  This is not permitted and will result in a free pass for the other team.  The centre red line has no relevance in the game and can be ignored.
  • Blue Line Violation: A player cannot carry the ring over a blue line in either direction. The ring must be passed to a different player over each blue line, and therefore a single player cannot take the ring from end to end.  It is one of the keys to Ringette being such a “Team Game.” This results in very quick transitions and in more players being involved with the play and in setting up goals.  That teammate is permitted to skate ahead of the ring carrier and already be across the Blue Line before the ring crosses it. This is quite different from hockey where the puck must cross the Blue Line before any offensive player does.  Therefore there are no “off-sides” in Ringette. The closest concept to an off-side is a direct pass across two blue lines.  This is not permitted and will result in a free pass for the other team.  The centre red line has no relevance in the game and can be ignored.  
    • Two Blue Line Pass: There is no icing in Ringette, but there is a two-line pass, called slightly different than in hockey. The feet have nothing to do with it and there is no Center Ice Red Line in Ringette. When the ring crosses both blue lines, untouched, no player from the team that put it there can touch the ring until one of their opponents does first. For example, on an offensive two-line pass, no member of the offensive team can touch it before the defence gets control of the ring. Touching it prematurely is a violation that sends the ring all the way back to the zone it originally was in for a Free Pass by the non-offending team.
  • If the ring lands in or on the goal crease the only player who can touch it is the goalie.  No skaters, including their sticks, are allowed to enter the crease area at any time.
  • 30 second shot clocks are introduced at the U12 level.  The team with possession of the ring have 30 seconds to get a shot on goal.  Similar to basketball, the shot clock is reset after a shot on goal or following a change in possession.
  • There is no intentional contact allowed in Ringette, with all the rules geared towards safety. When contact does occur, however, penalties are assessed. The most common are slashing, tripping, and interference and are usually unintentional as players focus on checking the ring from an opponent's stick or skating to get a loose ring first. Most penalties are 2 minutes, but a 4 minute Major is assessed for actions that are deemed intentional or particularly rough.

What equipment is worn?
With the exception of our LTS programs, all players must wear the following:

·    a CSA approved helmet with a regulation Ringette facemask, which has a smaller gauge than a hockey mask.

·    BNQ approved neck guard

·    elbow pads

·    knee pads

·    girdle/hockey pants with pelvic protection

·    padded gloves

·    hockey skates

·    shoulder pads

·    shin pads 

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