Hockey Restraining Line

Ice Hockey Restraining Line

The hockey restraining lines are markings in the face-off circle that indicate where players should be positioned when a face-off occurs on the ice.

On the outside of the face-off circle, you will be able to find two pairs of markings known as the hash marks. Typically the hash marks are red in color, on either side of the face-off circle and parallel to the goal line. The restraining lines are different from the hash marks. The restraining lines can be found on the inside of the circle, rather than the outside. In each face-off circle (besides the center circle) there are four "L" shaped markings in the center of the area. The restraining lines are only two inches wide and less than four feet by three feet long. Similar to the hash marks, they are usually marked in the color red. The color red is very easy to see and identify when on the ice.

It is typical for centers to take the face-offs for their respective teams. When the centers are taking the face-off, they are required to properly position themselves behind the restraining lines. In order to avoid being called for a penalty, each center needs to position their feet on either side of the restraining lines that are parallel to the side boards. Contact with the lines is allowed, however. As the player approaches the face-off spot, the toe of their blade is not permitted to cross over the restraining lines that are perpendicular to the sideboards. If a player doesn't comply with the position or face-off procedures, it will result in a face-off violation. The referees are carefully watching for this violation. The restraining lines are designed for players inside the face-off circle in order for both teams to have a fair chance of winning the possession.


When does a face-off occur?

A face-off can occur in nine different spots around the ice. Therefore, there are restraining lines in four of the five face-off circles. A face-off is used to begin every play, period and game. Face-offs will also occur after a goal is scored or a penalty is issued by the official. You don't want to have a face-off in your defensive end due to the possibility of your opponent creating a great scoring chance. Face-offs are an important part of hockey.

How many restraining lines are on the ice?

Besides the center face-off area, there are four other face-off circles on the ice. There are two face-off circles on either side of the ice. This means there are 4 "L" shaped restraining lines in each face-off circle. Therefore, there are a total of sixteen restraining lines dedicated to the face-off circles, not including the center circle. There are two pairs of restraining lines in each circle. Each pair is dedicated to one of the centers taking the face-off.

Why does a referee send a player out of the face-off circle?

A referee wants to have a fair face-off for both teams in the circle. Many times, a referee will send a player out of the face-off circle and another team member will be required to enter and take the face-off. If the player violates the restraining lines, they will be sent off. The players cannot touch each other before the puck is dropped and they must keep their stick on the ice.

What is the five second rule?

A referee is looking for a variety of violations in the face-off. One of the most important things to remember in the face-off circle is to use the restraining lines as a guide. Players don't want to be thrown out of the face-off circle. The player only has five seconds to prepare themselves once stepping in the face-off circle. As long as neither player is violating any face-off rules, the official will drop the puck to start a face-off!