If you've ever watched hockey then you've definitely seen a face-off before. A face-off is when two players, one from each team, stand the length of a hockey stick apart and fight for possession of the puck. A referee drops the puck in the middle of the players' sticks and each player will try to take it closer to the opponent's goal in order to score.
A face-off can take place at any nine designated sports on the rink. There's one spot in the center of the ice that's used for the start of the game/each period or after a team has scored. There are four in neutral territory that surround the center spot. The other four are on each team's side of the court. A face-off can only take place in these spots and the official decides where the face-off should take place based on where the puck was last played.
Once a face-off is called, the official decides where the face-off will take place and lowers their hand to signal that the decision is final. The linesman recognizes this signal and blows his or her whistle to signal to the players that they have five seconds to line up for the face-off. Once this time is up or all players are in position, the linesman will drop the puck.
Each team's center usually takes part in the face-off. Sometimes though if there is a violation and one player doesn't properly position themself for the face-off, the referee will ask that player to be replaced. Any team member besides the goalie can fill in. During the face-off, the surrounding players must stay back 15 feet, behind the outer edge of the face-off spot. If surrounding players mess up, the referee can eject their team's center from participating in the face-off.
During a face-off both players but the blades of their stick on the ice. The player who puts their stick down first depends on some factors. If it's a face-off taking place at the rink's center, it'll be the visiting team. If it's taking place anywhere else, it'll be the attacking player who puts his or her stick down first. The attacking player is a part of the team who is on the side of the opponent's goal.
Face-offs occur when there's a new period, the start of a game, a goal or whenever the play is stopped. This can happen for several reasons. Some of the reasons the play would be stopped are a puck going out of bounds, icing, a player getting injured, or if there's an illegal pass. In any of these scenarios, the face-off will take place in the nearest face-off spot. The official will determine which spot is closest.