As one of the most popular sports in North America, hockey has a rich history and set of rules that often leave new fans confused. One such rule is the concept of a high stick. While this may seem straightforward, understanding what is considered a high stick can be complicated.
In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about high sticking in hockey. From the definition and penalties to examples and techniques for avoiding it, by the end of this post, you’ll have a clear understanding of what a high stick is and how best to avoid breaking this important rule.
“High sticking is one of the most significant fouls in hockey and, when done improperly, can lead to serious injury on the ice.”
We’ll start by explaining what exactly counts as a high stick. We’ll then move onto discussing the various types of high sticks and why they’re so dangerous. Additionally, we’ll examine closely the potential consequences of being charged with a high-sticking penalty and detail some preventative measures players can take to avoid these calls altogether.
If you’re a fan of hockey–whether you’re a lifelong follower of the NHL or just starting out at your local rink–having a solid grasp of high stick rules is crucial. So let’s dive in!
Definition of a high stick in hockey
In ice hockey, a high stick occurs when a player touches the puck with their stick above shoulder height of an opponent. This rule is in place to prevent sticks from coming into contact with players’ faces and necks, which can cause serious injury.
What constitutes a high stick?
A high stick penalty is called when a player’s stick makes contact with the puck or another player above the shoulders. If a shot hits the crossbar or post and then hits a player above the shoulders, this is not considered a high stick. Additionally, if a player lifts their stick in a defensive motion to protect themselves and accidentally makes contact with an opposing player’s head, this may also be ruled as incidental contact and not a high stick penalty.
Why is a high stick penalty called?
The high stick penalty is enforced to safeguard the safety of all players on the ice. Accidental or intentional contact with a player’s head or face can result in serious injury, including concussions. By penalizing players for high sticking, officials hope to minimize dangerous situations that could compromise the physical well-being of the players on both teams.
How serious is a high stick penalty?
Depending on the severity of the offense, high stick penalties can range from two minutes to five for intentionally hitting an opponent, ten minutes for accidental high sticking resulting in an injury, and even game misconduct if the hit was flagrant enough to warrant removal of the offending player from the remainder of the game.
“High-sticking is one of several actions explicitly identified in the rules as a potentially harmful play that would merit a harsher penalty than might ordinarily be imposed.” -HockeyShot.com
- Two-minute minor penalty: When a player makes contact with their opponent’s head or causes a disruption for an opposing player because they held their stick too high.
- Four-minute double minor penalty: A player is assessed this penalty when causing an injury to their opponent as a result of high sticking, regardless if it was intentional or not.
- Major penalty: This occurs during actions that the referee deemed deliberate. If the refs think players have intended and attempted unsafe play by using their hockey sticks inappropriately, then they may award a major penalty.
High stick penalties can be costly, as giving up power-play opportunities puts teams at a significant disadvantage on the ice. Therefore, avoiding unnecessary risks that could lead to unintentional high sticking is essential in maintaining a team’s ability to compete effectively throughout a game.
“After two minutes of feeling shame and regret in the box after a high-sticking penalty, you either get mad or go into self-destruct mode.” -Jaromir Jagr, NHL Player
How to avoid a high stick penalty
Keep your stick below your waist
A high-sticking penalty occurs when a player carries their stick above the height of the opposing player’s shoulders. This can result in severe injury and is against the rules of the game.
To avoid this type of penalty, it is crucial to keep your stick below your waist at all times. Carry your stick low, with both hands on it, to maintain control while keeping it out of danger zones.
Not only does this prevent you from accidentally high-sticking another player, but it also gives you better mobility on the ice. By keeping your stick low, you can maneuver around other players’ sticks more easily.
Be aware of your surroundings
The key to avoiding a high stick penalty is being aware of your surroundings. Keep your head up and observe the positions of other players on the ice. Avoid carrying your stick in the areas where opposing players might be accidentally hit.
If you’re playing near the boards, keep your stick away from the side where players are passing by. Additionally, when skating backward, make sure to hold your stick straight down so it doesn’t come into contact with anyone behind you.
Practice good stick handling techniques
The way you handle your stick plays a big role in whether or not you’ll incur a high stick penalty. Good stick handling means maintaining control over your stick at all times while being mindful of its positioning relative to others on the ice.
One technique that can help you achieve better control over your stick is called “cupping.” Cupping involves holding your top hand higher than your bottom hand on the stick, with both elbows close together and parallel to your body. This allows you to use your top hand to control the movement of your stick, while also keeping it at a safe and manageable height.
Communicate with your teammates
Hockey is a team sport, and communication is key in avoiding high stick penalties. Let your teammates know where you are on the ice and keep them informed of your intentions. This can prevent accidental collisions caused by miscommunication or lack thereof.
In addition, make sure to call out for the puck before making any moves, especially if you’re near other players. This ensures that everyone on the ice knows what you’re doing and can adjust their movements accordingly.
- Avoiding high-sticking penalties requires constant vigilance and communication among teammates. By practicing good stick handling techniques, staying aware of your surroundings, and communicating effectively with others on the ice, you can help ensure that everyone stays safe and injury-free.
Types of high stick penalties in hockey
In the game of ice hockey, a player can commit an infraction that is known as a “high-sticking” penalty. This occurs when a player uses their stick to make contact with another player’s head or face, regardless of whether the contact was intentional or accidental. There are two forms of high-sticking: minor and double-minor.
A minor penalty for high sticking is assessed if there is no injury to the opposing player involved. Typically, this occurs when a player makes contact above an opponent’s shoulders with either their stick or glove, resulting in disruption of play or illegal use of one’s equipment. A player who is assessed a minor penalty will usually sit out for 2 minutes in the penalty box, during which time his team will be shorthanded by one player. Referees may also take into consideration the offender’s history when assessing the penalty.
“When you’re going for a puck and all of a sudden somebody puts a stick back and it gets you pretty good…it stings quite a bit.” -Saku Koivu
The opponent who has been hit above the shoulders by the stick is not required to have any sign of injury to merit awarding a minor penalty. The opposing team can still receive a power play even if the player wears a full cage mask for safety during games. However, if an official determines that the offending player used excessive force or intended to harm the other player, they could issue a double-minor penalty instead.
Double minor penalty
A double-minor penalty is a more severe form of punishment when compared to a minor penalty. It is awarded when a player causes an injury to an opponent through use of their stick, thereby escalating the severity of the offense. This penalty is typically enforced when there is visible injury sustained by an opposing player due to accidental or reckless behavior with a stick and results in four minutes spent in the penalty box while their team plays 4v5 hockey during this time instead of just two.
“High sticking isn’t just an accident, it’s a lazy stick.” -Eddie Shack
It is important to note that regardless of whether a minor or double-minor penalty was assessed, the offending player must take responsibility for their actions and strive to avoid high-sticking infractions going forward. Repeated offenses may result in harsher disciplinary action, including game ejections and league-imposed suspensions.
Referees have the duty of monitoring games and players’ behaviors related to the rules governing the sport of ice hockey. High-sticking is one infraction that can lead to severe physical injuries if not properly controlled. Players should always be mindful of their positioning on the ice, keep their sticks close to the ice surface, and refrain from making contact with opponents above the shoulders unless doing so legitimately within the context of play.
Consequences of a high stick penalty in hockey
A high sticking penalty is one of the most common penalties that players commit during a game. It happens when a player makes contact with an opponent’s head or face using their stick and can result in serious consequences for both the individual player and their team.
The first consequence of receiving a high stick penalty in a hockey game is immediate ejection from play. The offending player will be sent to the penalty box for a minimum of two minutes, and in some cases, they may even be ejected from the game entirely.
This punishment is not only embarrassing for the player but also puts their team at a disadvantage by removing them from the ice. A high-sticking penalty can change the course of a game if it results in a significant loss of a skilled player.
“High sticking calls are often judged as minor infractions by inexperienced referees, but they require strict enforcement and discipline to uphold the integrity of the game.” -Chris Pronger
Team penalty kill
In addition to losing a player due to ejection from play, the offending team must also serve a penalty known as “team penalty kill”. This means that the opposing team has 5 players on the ice while the penalized team must play short-handed with only 4 players (or fewer in extreme cases).
The team penalty kill effectively leaves the team open to counter-attacks and multiple goal-scoring opportunities for the opposing team. These are hazardous because even though teams do train specifically for this kind of situation; a single mistake could cost them valuable points in the league table.
“A successful power play requires precision passing, quick reflexes, and expert timing between teammates. But nothing levels the playing field quite like a penalty kill, where even the most skilled teams have to fight extra hard to keep the puck out of their net.” -Ryan Walter
It’s important for players to learn and understand the rules that govern ice hockey. High sticking in hockey has serious consequences not only for individual players but for their entire team. A player who takes an unwarranted high-sticking penalty might find themselves ejected from play or see their team take a hit they didn’t need to withstand. For this reason alone we recommend always keeping one’s stick low while playing.
How officials determine a high stick penalty in hockey
Hockey is one of the most exciting and physical team sports in the world. With fast-paced action and skilled players, it’s always an exhilarating experience to watch. However, with great excitement comes the need for strict enforcement of rules in order to maintain fair play. One such rule that referees are tasked with enforcing is called a “high-stick” penalty.
Position of the stick
The first thing referees look at when determining whether or not to call a high-sticking infraction is the position of the offending player’s stick. To be considered a high stick, the blade of the stick must be above the shoulders of the opposing player. If a player’s stick makes contact with another player while above this height, regardless of intention, it can result in a penalty.
“When assessing whether a high stick has occurred, an official uses the crossbar as his guide.” -USA Hockey Officials’ Manual
It’s important to note that even if the stick is on the ice when it makes contact with the opposing player, it can still be deemed a high-stick violation if the tip of the blade goes above shoulder level.
Height of the stick
The height of the stick plays a crucial role in determining whether or not a player will receive a high sticking penalty. Any contact above shoulder level is illegal, but contact below the shoulders can also warrant a penalty depending on how the stick was held during the incident.
For example, if a player holds their stick horizontally across their body and makes contact with an opposing player, regardless of where the impact takes place on the opposing player’s body, they could still face a penalty. Holding the stick parallel to the ice reduces the potential for penalties, as the stick is lower and less likely to make contact with an opposing player’s body above shoulder level.
Force of the Contact
The force at which a high-stick penalty occurs can also be a factor in whether or not it is called. If a player accidentally taps another player with their stick and no harm is done, officials are less likely to call a penalty. However, if there was enough force behind the impact that results in injury or bodily harm, referees will almost always assess a penalty regardless of intention or other contributing factors.
Intent of the Player
While intent is not technically a part of the rule book definition for high sticking, it can play a role in whether or not an official chooses to call a penalty. Players who make accidental contact with their stick often receive less severe punishment compared to those who intentionally swing or jab at opposing players.
“A high stick is usually associated with the blade of the stick being raised dangerously to the head or face of an opponent.” -International Ice Hockey Federation Rule Book
If a player’s actions suggest they were attempting to injure or intimidate an opposing player, even if contact wasn’t made, they may receive a more severe penalty or an additional misconduct penalty from the referee.
High-sticking infractions in hockey have multiple determining factors, including the position and height of the offending player’s stick, the amount of force of contact, and the intent of the player. The enforcement of this rule ensures that players operate within safe boundaries and keeps games fair and competitive.”
Frequently Asked Questions
What is considered a high stick in hockey?
A high stick in hockey is when a player’s stick is raised above the shoulders and makes contact with an opponent. This includes accidental contact and contact with the opponent’s face or head.
What is the penalty for a high stick in hockey?
The penalty for a high stick in hockey is a two-minute minor penalty. If the contact results in injury, a four-minute double minor penalty may be given. In severe cases, a five-minute major penalty and game misconduct may be given.
Can a high stick in hockey result in injury?
Yes, a high stick in hockey can result in injury. If contact is made with the opponent’s face or head, it can cause cuts, bruises, and in severe cases, concussions or broken bones.
What is the difference between a high stick and a cross-check in hockey?
A high stick in hockey involves a player’s stick making contact with an opponent above the shoulders. A cross-check involves a player using their stick to push an opponent away or knock them down. Both actions are considered penalties in hockey.
How can players avoid committing a high stick penalty in hockey?
Players can avoid committing a high stick penalty in hockey by keeping their stick below the shoulders and away from their opponent’s face and head. They should also be aware of their surroundings and the position of other players on the ice to prevent accidental contact.