face off in Hockey

What Is The Faceoff Rule In Hockey? And How Does It Work?

Most sports such as football, soccer, and basketball start a game with a particular team in possession. The hockey game is quite different as the teams would have to fight to win faceoffs. It is also used to resume a game after a stoppage. Today, we will discuss what the faceoff rule in hockey is and how it works.

There are nine faceoff dots in a hockey game. The faceoffs are used to resume play after any stoppage. 

One of the most important parts of an ice hockey game involves winning faceoffs. In the NHL, teams try to have more than one player who is good at winning faceoff battles. 

So, let’s dive in and talk about everything you need to know about this rule. 

How does The Faceoff Rule Work?

A faceoff is used to start or restart play once the puck has been stopped, either because it went out of bounds or because a player has been called for a penalty. The faceoff rule varies depending on what level you are playing hockey at. 

Faceoff rules in Hockey

When the puck goes out of bounds, gets stuck in a goal net, or when a player breaks one of the rules and causes play to stop, a player from each team will take part in a “face-off” before play can begin again. 

It takes place at one of nine spots on the ice: four along each side of the center ice (two dots for each side) and one at the center ice itself. 

To perform the face-off procedure properly according to NHL regulations, both players should line up parallel with their sticks on opposite sides with their skates touching directly over the dot; they will then perform an inward motion while trying to gain control of the puck by pushing it away from themselves toward their team’s end goal.

Only one man from each team must participate in this action so that they do not interfere with any other players who might be trying to get involved (such as those who have just come onto or off of the ice). 

In addition, all ten men must be within 15 meters of where they’re standing; however, there is no specific distance requirement for how far apart opposing teams’ centers must stand when taking part in these faceoffs–this means some teams may choose not to use linesmen during games if necessary.”

When Does A Faceoff Happen In Hockey?

Faceoffs are used to start each period and after goals. But they can also be used to resume play after a penalty, when the puck leaves the rink, or if there’s a stop in play

Most faceoffs occur at the center of the ice at one of nine designated spots. Before the game begins, there is a faceoff at center ice. When play is stopped, most faceoffs occur at the center of the ice at one of nine designated spots. 

There are four spots in each zone: one at each end of the blue line and two on either side of the red line in the neutral zone. The faceoff locations are marked by circles on the ice and have been recently moved back to make for more action.

Where Do Players Stand During Faceoffs?

To keep a hockey game moving, players must follow specific rules on where they should stand during a faceoff. 

Players must stand on their team’s side of the faceoff dot (or circle—it’s both). They start in a straight line facing their opponent across the dot. Teammates are lined up behind each other, with two players from one team across from two players from another team. Players may not move from their position until a referee drops the puck

Players may not touch the puck with their hands before it is dropped, or they risk incurring a penalty.

Once the puck hits the ice, all bets are off! The only rule after that is to try and win possession. 

What Offense Results In a Faceoff Violation?

This rule not only sees the resumption of a game, but it is also a battle to win possession. That means teams would try to cheat or violate the rules. So, here are some restrictions that guide the players during playoffs; 

  • If the faceoff is not completed properly and a player gains an advantage by doing so, they will be assessed a bench minor for unsportsmanlike conduct.
  • If the puck does not move immediately after being touched, it will be rebounded. The linesmen will always signal who wins the draw when this happens.
  • If there is a violation of the faceoff rule, the center from that team will be kicked out of the faceoff circle. A different player on that team can take their place, or a teammate may move into position to take the faceoff instead.
  • Players are allowed to tie up an opponent’s stick if they are within five feet of each other before being considered in violation of this rule [citation needed]. The same player may also replace teammates following any stoppage in play; however, no more than two skaters from each team may participate in any one faceoff (with exceptions).

Read Also; Why do players get kicked out at faceoffs? 

Can A Faceoff Violation Lead To A Penalty?

If you violate the rules of a faceoff, you’ll get a penalty. The ref will throw down their arm and point at the center ice dot to indicate which team is guilty of an infraction.

The most common penalty during a faceoff is a minor penalty. And this is given to players who commit one of the rules violations –as mentioned above.

What Determines A Faceoff Win In Hockey?

After the linesman drops the puck, you have to make sure that your stick blade makes contact with the puck first. It’s not as easy as it sounds because chances are your opponent will try and beat you to it.

Ideally, you want to keep your body between your opponent and the puck after the linesman drops it. If you’re able to do this, when you win possession of the puck,  you’ll have time and space to move in any direction, shoot, or pass.

If both of your sticks get on the puck at about the same time, it’s a faceoff violation for both teams, and there will be a faceoff restart. But if one player gets his stick down first on purpose or accidentally, he has committed a faceoff violation penalty.

NHL Faceoff Win Percentage In The 2021/2022 Season

Possession is a huge part of the ice hockey game, and the first step towards it is winning faceoffs. In the NHL, teams always try to use this side of the game to win faceoff battles and keep possession. So far, the 2021/22 season has seen the Toronto Maple Leafs top the Faceoff win percentage chart with 56%. 


Faceoff battles in hockey are one of the significant aspects of this game. Teams love winning these battles as it helps them keep possession. However, players could face penalties for some violations. But it is inevitable because players always commit infractions to win faceoff battles. 

Our discussion has covered the faceoff rule in hockey and how it works. This article has also talked about the violations and other important parts of this rule. 

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