Skater hockey pits two teams of 5 players (four players and a goalie) against each other in a
highly energetic contest. The game is played so fast that 2 or more sets of teams – lines (18 players maximum) are available to ‘change-up’ for tired players at any time during the game. Players are re-cycled every few minutes. With a game lasting 40 minutes with 20 minutes
The team manager plays his team like a hand of cards, trying to match the other team’s strengths and weaknesses, while giving his players much needed rests between bursts of play. Players may be changed on the fly, or at the next break in the game – a penalty or goal. No more than 5 players are allowed on the rink at any one time.
Because of the speed of players, balls and sticks, full body armour and protection is essential to prevent injury.
The goal is small with a large highly padded goal keeper. The goalie padding has evolved to assist the goalie as well as provide protection. The amount of target space around the goalie is very small, and players must shoot fast and accurate to get the ball into the net. The goalie’s padding gives him many blind spots, and makes him relatively immobile. Only 1 in 10 shots at goal may succeed, but many goals are made off re-bounds when the goalie is unsighted.
Players in defence will attempt to block passage and passes from the opponent in possession. Often forcing the attacking player to the barrier, forcing a poor pass, or taking possession themselves. The defence will attempt to keep play in the opponents half and create opportunities for the forwards.
As a result of the rules, some odd tactics come into play some times.
Hand Ball: The players are allowed to handle high balls to bring it back into play/possession, but not to push it forwards. Sticks above shoulder height result in a penalty. Curiously, if the hand is holding the stick, then the hand is considered part of the stick, and so punching the ball while holding the stick is technically legal.
Delayed call of penalty: If a penalty occurs while the awarded team is in possession, then the penalty is delayed until the team loose possession. In this situation, a quick manager may attempt to substitute the goalie with an outfield player to give his team an attacking advantage. Usually, by the time the goalie is substituted, possession is lost and the penalty then gets taken.
Time wasting: If a team has a player in the sin bin or a has narrow score advantage towards the end of the game, then delaying tactics may come in. A particularly unpopular tactic is to take the ball to the corner of the pitch and hold it there between the skates.