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, officals 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 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- There are no “off-sides” in Ringette. 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. This results in very quick transitions and in more players being involved with the play and in setting up goals. 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.
- “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.
- 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.
Link to Ringette Canada Rule Book
Link to Ringette Canada Officiating Signals