Sled Hockey Rules – Everything You Need to Know

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Sled hockey, also known as sledge hockey, is a thrilling and fast-paced Paralympic sport that was created to allow individuals with physical disabilities to participate in ice hockey. This adaptive sport modifies the traditional game to accommodate players who use sleds, giving them the opportunity to glide across the ice, shoot pucks, and score goals just like their able-bodied counterparts.

In this blog post, we will explore the rules and regulations that govern sled hockey, helping you understand the game and appreciate the skill and determination of its players.


Before we dive into the rules, it’s essential to familiarize ourselves with the equipment used in sled hockey.Here is an inventory of the essential equipment you’ll need for sled hockey:


The sled, also known as a sledge or sledges, is a customized seat attached to one or two skate blades. The players propel themselves using specially-designed hockey sticks with metal picks on the ends to aid in maneuverability.


Sled hockey players use two sticks, one in each hand. The sticks have metal tips for propulsion and a blade at the bottom for shooting and passing.


The pucks used in sled hockey are identical to those used in regular ice hockey. They are made of rubber and have the same weight and dimensions.

Protective equipment:

Just like in regular ice hockey, players wear protective gear, including helmets, gloves, elbow pads, shoulder pads, shin guards, and mouth guards.

The Playing Field

Sled hockey is played on an Olympic-sized rink, measuring 200 feet long and 100 feet wide. The ice surface and overall layout are the same as in traditional ice hockey. However, there are some specific rules when it comes to the markings on the ice and the penalty boxes.

Gameplay and Rules

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s zoom in on the specific rules and gameplay of sled hockey:


Like in regular ice hockey, a faceoff marks the start of play after a stoppage. The two opponents stand their sleds parallel to each other, and the puck is dropped between them.


A player is offside if any part of their body, including their sled or sledge, is in the offensive zone before the puck crosses the blue line.


Icing occurs when a player shoots or passes the puck across two red lines, from behind their own half of the ice, and the puck crosses the opposing team’s goal line without being touched.


Sled hockey has similar penalties to regular ice hockey, such as slashing, tripping, and hooking. Players who commit fouls serve their penalties in the penalty box.


 In the event of a tied game, a shootout may be used to determine the winner. The teams take turns having a player go one-on-one with the opposing goaltender, attempting to score goals.

Modified Rules in Sled Hockey

  • Sled hockey has some rule modifications to accommodate the players’ physical disabilities while maintaining the integrity of the game.
  • Here are a few key modified rules in sled hockey:
    • Players use sleds equipped with blades instead of skates.
    • Players use two sticks: one for pushing themselves and one for shooting and handling the puck.
    • There are no restrictions on stick height.
    • Icing is called from the defensive blue line instead of the center ice line.

Teams and Positions

A sled hockey team consists of six players, including a goaltender. The players are positioned as follows:


There are three forwards who play in the offensive zone. Their responsibilities include scoring goals, setting up plays, and providing defensive support in certain situations.


There are two defensemen who primarily stay in the defensive zone. They are responsible for stopping the opposing team’s forwards, blocking shots, and assisting with the breakout.


The goaltender plays a crucial role in sled hockey, just like in traditional ice hockey. They are responsible for defending the net and stopping the opposing team from scoring goals.

Safety Measures in Sled Hockey

  • Player safety is of utmost importance in sled hockey. Here are some safety measures in place:
    • Players must wear protective gear, including helmets, gloves, elbow pads, and shoulder pads.
    • Sleds have a lower center of gravity and a metal frame for stability.
    • Physical contact is allowed, but checks from behind are strictly penalized.
    • Referees ensure fair play and enforce rules to protect players from dangerous play.

Game Strategies in Sled Hockey

  • Like any competitive sport, sled hockey involves various game strategies. Some common strategies include:
    • Effective communication among players to coordinate plays and strategies.
    • Quick and agile puck movement to create scoring opportunities.
    • Defensive positioning and blocking of shooting lanes.
    • Strategic use of body checks to gain or maintain possession of the puck.

Officiating in Sled Hockey

  • Officiating sled hockey games follows similar guidelines to traditional ice hockey. Key points include:
    • Referees enforce penalties for rule violations.
    • Linespersons assist with determining offside and icing infractions.
    • Goal judges confirm if the puck has crossed the goal line.
    • Communication between officials helps ensure accurate calls are made throughout the game.

Remember, sled hockey rules and nuances can vary slightly depending on the league or organization. It’s always best to consult the specific rulebook for the league or event you are involved in to ensure accurate and up-to-date information.

Pros and Cons of Sled Hockey

Pros of Sled Hockey

  • Provides an opportunity for athletes with physical disabilities to participate in a competitive ice sport.
  • Promotes inclusivity and diversity in the world of hockey.
  • Builds strength, endurance, and teamwork among players.
  • Showcases the skill and determination of athletes with physical disabilities.
  • Offers a platform for athletes to compete at the Paralympic level.
  • Provides an exciting and fast-paced game for spectators.

Cons of Sled Hockey

  • Limited availability of sled hockey programs and facilities in some areas.
  • Equipment costs can be a barrier for individuals who want to participate in the sport.
  • Accessible ice rinks may be scarce in certain regions.
  • Limited media coverage compared to traditional ice hockey.
  • Athletes may face physical challenges and potential injuries due to the nature of the sport.

Strategies and Techniques

In sled hockey, players utilize various strategies and techniques to outmaneuver their opponents and create scoring opportunities. Here are some common strategies used in the game:


The cycle is a technique where players maintain possession of the puck in the offensive zone by passing it around the boards. This strategy allows them to tire out the opposing defense and create scoring chances.


When trying to move the puck from their defensive zone to the offensive zone, teams use breakouts. This involves quick passes and coordinated movements to break through the opposing team’s defense.

Cross-ice passing:

Since sled hockey players cannot skate as quickly as their able-bodied counterparts, they often rely on cross-ice passes to open up the game and create opportunities. By moving the puck rapidly from one side of the ice to the other, they force the opposing defense to adjust, potentially creating gaps for scoring chances.

Shooting techniques:

Sled hockey players use various shooting techniques to put the puck in the net. Due to the limited mobility of their arms and upper bodies, players often generate power through the rotation of their torsos and explosive movements of their upper body to create velocity on their shots.

Player Classification and Eligibility

Sled hockey governs player classification based on their physical abilities to ensure fair competition. There are two main classifications:

Minimal Impairment:

Players with the least physical impairment fall under this classification. They generally have good mobility and use their sleds primarily for balance. These players have the most freedom of movement on the ice and typically exhibit advanced skills and speed.

Open Division:

Open division is for players who have a higher level of physical impairment. They may have limited lower-body function and rely more on the sleds for mobility on the ice. These players may also have additional upper-body limitations depending on their disability.

Paralympic Sled Hockey vs. Recreational Sled Hockey

It’s important to note that there are differences between Paralympic sled hockey and recreational sled hockey played at the community level. While the basic rules and equipment are the same, the level of competition and intensity differ significantly. Paralympic sled hockey features highly skilled players who have trained extensively, while recreational sled hockey is often more casual and inclusive for people of all abilities.

Referees and Officials

Just like in traditional ice hockey, sled hockey games are officiated by a team of referees and officials who ensure that the rules and regulations are followed correctly. The officials in a sled hockey game include:


Two referees oversee the game, one on each side of the ice. They are responsible for calling penalties, enforcing the rules, and ensuring the safety of the players.


Two linespersons assist the referees in making calls and determining offsides and icings.

Goal judges:

Goal judges are stationed behind the nets and are responsible for signaling when a goal is scored.

Timekeeping and Overtime

Sled hockey games are structured in the same format as traditional ice hockey. Each game has three 15-minute periods with breaks in between them. In case of a tied score at the end of regulation time, overtime comes into play. The Paralympic overtime follows these rules:

  1. The first overtime period is a 10-minute sudden death period, meaning that the first team to score wins the game.
  2. If the game remains tied after the first overtime period, a second 10-minute sudden death period follows.
  3. If the game is still tied after two overtime periods, a shootout takes place to determine the winner.

Penalties and Discipline

Sled hockey incorporates penalties and the associated disciplinary measures to penalize infractions and safeguard player safety. Penalties can range from minor to major, with different levels of severity. Disciplinary measures include:

Minor penalties:

These are the most common penalties, with players serving two minutes in the penalty box. The player’s team plays shorthanded for the duration of the penalty.

Major penalties:

Major penalties are more severe, with players serving five minutes in the penalty box. If the infraction is overly dangerous, the player may receive a match penalty, leading to automatic ejection.

Game misconducts:

Any player who accumulates three minor penalties or receives a major penalty automatically receives a game misconduct and is disqualified from the remainder of the game.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) – Sled Hockey Rules

Are there any differences in rules between sled hockey and traditional ice hockey?

A: While there are some minor rule modifications, the basic rules of sled hockey are similar to traditional ice hockey.

What is the minimum disability requirement to play sled hockey?

A: Sled hockey is open to individuals with various disabilities, but generally, participants have limited or no use of their lower extremities.

Can able-bodied individuals play sled hockey?

A: Sled hockey is primarily designed for individuals with physical disabilities, but some leagues and programs allow able-bodied individuals to participate.

Can players without lower-body disabilities play without a sled?

A: No, all players in sled hockey must use a sled for fair competition and player safety.

What types of penalties are called in sled hockey?

A: Sled hockey penalizes various infractions, including tripping, slashing, holding, and interference, just like in traditional ice hockey.

What is the classification process for sled hockey players?

A: Players are classified based on their physical abilities, with minimal impairment and open divisions representing different levels of impairment.

How long are the periods in sled hockey games?

A: Sled hockey games consist of three 15-minute periods, with intermissions between each period.

Are there any differences between Paralympic sled hockey and recreational sled hockey?

A: Paralympic sled hockey features highly skilled players competing at a high level, while recreational sled hockey is more casual and inclusive for individuals of all abilities.


Sled hockey is a thrilling sport that provides individuals with physical disabilities the opportunity to compete and enjoy the exhilaration of ice hockey. By modifying the rules and equipment, this adaptive sport allows players to showcase their skills, teamwork, and determination. Understanding the rules of sled hockey not only enhances your appreciation of the game but also helps you realize the incredible achievements of these incredible athletes. So, let’s cheer on the sled hockey players and celebrate their resilience and passion for the sport!

Nazrul Islam: Nazrul is an established author and the esteemed Sports Editor of the ADT Canada Russia Challenge. His passion for sports journalism is evident in each article he crafts, giving life to statistics and scores.
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