An overview of unicycle hockey and how it is played.
Unicycle hockey is similar to ice hockey in that the whole field is enclosed and that the ball can be bounced off the boundary. Unicycle hockey is played with ice hockey sticks, but it uses a ‘dead’ tennis ball rather than a puck. Unicycle hockey is contactless (although small pile-ups sometime occur). Depending on the skill level of the players, games can be quite fast with very few interruptions.
There are only a few rules, with most of them existing for safety reasons.
Unicycle hockey is played with two teams of five players (plus substitute players). Substitutions can occur at any time, as long as the substituting player enters the field at the same point where the retiring player exits.
Any player can be the goal keeper, and at any time. The goal keeper does not have any special rights, so the same rules apply to all players on the field.
Unicycle hockey is played with any non-goal keeper stick that can be used for ice hockey, and a ‘dead’ tennis ball. A dead tennis ball is a tennis ball which reaches between thirty and fifty percent of its original height, after bouncing on concrete. Alternatively a street hockey ball can be used.
There is a maximum wheel size of 24″ for unicycle hockey games, but apart from that, the unicycles are generally unrestricted. Most venues, however, have restrictions such as non-marking tyres, and if playing on a wooden or gymnasium floor they are often restriced to plastic (instead of metal) pedals.
Starting a Game
A game is started with a ‘bully’, with two players in the centre of the field and the referee dropping the ball on to the centre mark. The game starts when the ball touches the ground. All players must be in their own half of the field both at the start of the game, and at the start of each period (after half time, after scoring, after a time-out).
Players have to be freely riding the unicycle. Resting on the hockey stick for support is allowed, but players are not allowed to use the goals nor the wall (or anything else) for support (although in social games, some lattitude is generally given to less experienced riders/players to help them participate in the game). A short support on a wall in order to avoid a dismount, is permitted.
A playing who happens to be falling of their unicycle is able to participate in the game until they are touching the ground. They must be back on the seat with both feet on the pedals before being able to resume play.
A player who is not on their unicycle must not be an obstacle (ie. either they, their unicycle or their stick is hit by the ball or prevent another player from moving freely).
The stick, body, and unicycle can all be used to hit the ball, however, the body can only be used twice in succession if the first bodily contact was due to the player being passively hit by the ball (ie. the ball hit the player as opposed to the player hitting the ball). The player is not allowed to hold the ball, and a goal can not be scored off either the arms or hands of a player.
If the ball gets stuck in the spokes, then the opposing team gets a free shot.
A goal cannot be scored if the ball was hit from the player’s own half. That is, a player can only score a goal (against the opposing team) by hitting the ball in to the opposing team goal, from within the opposing team’s half of the field.
Out of Bounds
If the ball goes out of bounds, then the opposing team of the player who last had contact with the ball (including stick, body, or unicycle contact) is awarded a free shot.
Unlike ice hockey, the game is contactless, and players must not endanger others. A player may use their stick to block an opponents stick, but any such contact must not be ‘hard’. Turning your stick upside down in order to ‘hook’ an opponents stick, however, is not permitted. The lower end of a players stick must not be raised above their hip height, and generally, one hand must be on the upper end of their stick at all times.
A player may use their stick to raise an opponents stick, if not done with ‘exaggerated roughness’ (raising an opponents stick above the height of their hips is always considered exaggerated roughness).
Most fouls (and other violations of the rules) result in a ‘free shot’ taken by the affected team, from the point where the violation occurred (unless within the a goal area). A player must pass the ball to another player before being able to score or touch the ball again.
A 6.5m penalty is given in situations where legal play would have resulted in a goal. This involves the ball being placed on the 6.5m line, one player of the defending team in goals, and all other players outside of the goal area.
SUB (Stick Under Bike)
This is one of the more common fouls and it occurs when a players stick is positioned such that another player either rides over or in to it (regardless of intent). This will result in the affected player being given either a free shot or a 6.5m penalty shot.
SIB (Stick In Bike)
This is similar to a SUB only with a players stick ending up in the spokes of another players wheel.