How does players know when to change

How Do Players Know When To Change In Hockey? (Find Out)

Most sports have time for shifts and substitutions during a game. Hockey players also experience changes in their game. But how do players know when to change in a hockey game? It depends on some factors, including the length of their shift, tactical strategy to re a goal, etc.

In contrast to other sports, hockey does not require a stoppage of play to make a change. This article will discuss how players know when to change in hockey and what makes the team adopt a change in their game. 

How Does A Change Work In A Hockey Game?

The hockey game is a physical sport that requires a lot of energy. This game allows players to make shifts with their teammates after a period. Most times, players already know when to make a change in the game. 

A hockey match would see players make shifts after 45 seconds to one minute of the game. The change happens due to the possible tiredness of the players already on the ice. Many other factors can force the coach of the team to make changes. 

When Can A Team Make A Change In Hockey?

Apart from fatigue from the players already on the ice, the team might make changes due to certain factors. They include;

1. Player Can Change After 45 Seconds

Since hockey requires high energy and stamina, player strength will likely reduce after 45 seconds to 60 seconds. If a player is not tired after this time, they may not have been skating well enough.

So, after this time elapses, players know that it is the right time to make a shift. Although the change could take less than 45 seconds, it is usually less than a minute.

2. Players Can Also Change Off When Their Line Mate Changes

The hockey players have two different main roles. And it is the forward line and the defensemen—coaches arrange each position into groups. For instance, the forwards are divided into four groups: the left-wing, right-wing, and centre. And the defensemen have a pair of two categories playing as a right defenseman and left defenseman.

If one of the players in the forward line changes off, his linemate would also make a shift; this is the case for the defensive pair.

3. The Game Strategy Can Influence A Change

The team’s strategy is another common factor that can affect the change in a hockey game. Every coach sets up their team to defend against the opposition’s attacking line. If a team has a group of offensive lines and attacking-minded defensemen, the coach would have to make a switch. This switch would bring in a defensive pair to match the opposition’s attack.

Hockey teams do this strategy most times, but it is also essential to ensure it is safe when making the shift. And that would bring our focus to the timing of the change in hockey.

4. Players Can Change Only When It Is Safe

Substitution in other sports happens when the ball goes out of play. On the other hand, hockey does not need the puck to go out of play before a change can happen. Players can change off ‘on the fly.’ However, it must be during a safe moment. That is because poor line change can give the opponent an advantage. 

A line change that gives your opponent an advantage might result in a goal against the team making a shift. So, hockey coaches are always keen to avoid bad line changes

How does player know when to change line

What Is A Bad Line Change In Hockey?

Most times, hockey teams change ‘on the fly.’ This change tactic can be complicated when it gives your opponent a good chance of scoring. A team that concedes a goal when their player is heading off to the bench has suffered from a bad line change. That is why coaches would always want their players to avoid these situations. 

Also, players can apply some strategies to help them avoid a bad line change.

How To Avoid A Bad Line Change In Hockey

The player takes the responsibility of avoiding a bad line change most times. Choosing when to change off would prevent the opponent from scoring. One of the best ways to avoid a bad line change is by changing off when the puck is in the opponent’s defensive zone. Players changing with the puck in the neutral zone or transition of play can be risky.

The goaltender can also freeze the puck in the defensive zone to allow players to change off without any risks.

So, finding the right moment is vital for avoiding a bad line change. The defensemen are the part of a hockey team that should be aware during the change off.

Read Also; How Many Players Are On Each Side Of A Hockey Team?

How Do Hockey Players Change At Recreational Level?

Hockey games at the recreational level have lower standards compared to the NHL. Players can shift after a period of 1 or 2 minutes. They are some activities that come with the shifts at the recreational level; 

  • Hockey at this level uses a buzzer to signal the player for the next shift. It is different from the National Hockey League, as the players know when to change off.
  • Coaches are more vocal during shifts as the hockey games at recreational levels have kids who want to stay longer on the ice.


Hockey is one of the games that oversee a lot of changes. In the National Hockey League, players could make shifts as often as after every 60 seconds. On the other hand, Hockey at the recreational level could take as long as two minutes for changes to happen. However, the most vital part of this is knowing when to shift.

We have discussed how players know when to change in a hockey game and the right time this shift should happen. So, If you were wondering, how do players know when to shift in hockey? I believe you have your answer. 

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