How to Play Ringette

Want to learn how to play ringette? Ringette can be played on most standard ice rinks as long as there is a free pass line in both zones. Each team consists of five skaters and a goalie on the ice, unless there are penalties being served. The object of the game is to score goals on the opponent’s net.

A straight stick, similar to the shaft of a hockey stick with no blade and a tip on the end, is used to pass an 8″ hollow rubber ring between teammates.

Play is started by a “free pass”. The visiting team receives control of the ring on the defending half of the centre circle. One player from the visiting team must pass the ring to another player within 5 seconds, without leaving the half circle or crossing the centre line, or else possession is lost and granted to the opposing team.

The game is on! Any stoppages in play will result in a free pass to restart the game. Some defensive free passes are replaced by a “goaltender ring,” where the goalie has five seconds to throw the ring to a teammate.

Rules restrict any one player from carrying the ring the full length of the ice (ring hogging). The ring must be passed over each blue line to another player, which means more players can be involved in setting up goals.

Free play lines define restricted areas in the deep offensive and defensive zones. Teams are allowed no more than 3 skaters at a time in these areas, so over-crowding is minimal. Exceptions to this rule are when two or more penalties are being served by one team, or if the goalie has been pulled for an extra attacker.

Ringette is a fast paced game and at more competitive levels, a 30 second shot clock is utilized to maintain the flow of the game. The ring must hit the goalie or be shot on net within 30 seconds or it becomes possession of the other team.

There is no intentional contact allowed in Ringette, with all the rules geared towards safety. When contact does occur, penalties are assessed. The most common penalties are slashing, tripping and interference. These 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.

Ringette Equipment

Required equipment for Ringette is as follows:

  • Ringette Stick – generally lightweight composite or hollow wood, with metal or ridged plastic tips. Heavily splintered sticks are not permitted.
  • Ringette Ring
  • Hockey Skates – goalies may choose to use goalie skates
  • Shin Pads – worn under the pants (or goalie pads)
  • Protective Girdle – with a ‘cup’ or a ‘jill’ to protect genitals
  • Ringette Pants – covering pants
  • Hockey Gloves – ringette gloves have been phased out due to a lack of hard padding
  • Elbow Pads
  • Jersey
  • Helmet with Ringette Facemask – must have a triangle bar pattern-either full or half with a plexiglass shield for the eyes; square bars are disallowed because the stick tip can fit through the spaces
  • Neck Guard
  • Shoulder Pads – in some associations/provinces, shoulder pads are optional after U12. In Ontario, shoulder pads are necessary until 18+, other provinces may vary.
  • Wrist Guards – optional