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Zone Hockey

Zone Hockey is a five/six-a-side game in which girls and boys, mainstream or youngsters with impairments can participate side by side in what is a high scoring, fast moving, fun game of hockey. The game is suitable for electric wheelchair users, manual wheelchair users, ambulant and semi-ambulant youngsters

The game

Zone Hockey can be played:

  • outside on a hard surface
  • on a quarter of an artificial turf pitch
  • inside a sports hall.

The small-sided teams and adapted playing areas ensure a type of involvement in the game that will provide children with enjoyment and success.

*Suitable for electric wheelchair users, manual wheelchair users, ambulant and semi-ambulant youngsters.

Further information on the development of Zone Hockey.

The rules

1. Teams

The game is played between two teams consisting of four field players and one goalkeeper each. There shall be one player from each team in each of the wing zones, and two players from each team in the central zone, and the respective goal keepers (GK) in the defending GK zone. (These numbers could be changed for different settings and needs)

2. Role of the pusher or zone helper

This team member enables the participation of an athlete in a non-electric chair, but should not directly influence the game

3. Substitutions

Each team may use a maximum of eight players. Substitutions are allowed at any time, (with the knowledge of the umpire) except following the award of penalty corner, when only an injured player or the defending goalkeeper may be substituted if he/she is injured.

4. Duration of the game

The duration of the game shall be two halves of 15 minutes maximum, with an interval (half-time) of not more than five minutes.

5. Captains

The captains toss a coin for choice of ends or possession of the ball at the start of the game. Each captain must wear an armband and is responsible for the conduct of all players in his/her team

6. The pitch

Given the variability of the possible playing areas available the field can be proportionally adjusted from the following recommendations:


  • length = 30 metres
  • width = 20 metres

Two longitudinal lines divide the court into three zones in the proportions of:

  • central zone 0.5 (court width)
  • side/wing zones = 0.25 (court width) each.

The markings can be permanently marked continuous lines, temporarily chalked, or temporarily intermittent flat non slip throw down types.

7. The goal-posts

  • Width = 2.00m.
  • Positioned against the outer edge of the back-line, in line with the centre of the pitch.
  • Height =0.75m.

8. The ball

A plastic "airflow ball" 8/12cm diameter. See resources.

9. The side and end boundaries

Where possible Zone Hockey should be played with rebound boundaries and the use of indoor boards and walls. However caution must be taken in using "ad hoc" arrangements in which players are likely to fall over or injure themselves in the course of the game.

10. The stick

The stick shall be a standard regulation plastic Zone Hockey stick - coaches and teachers should ensure that young players use a suitable length and weight of stick that can be held or attached safely.

  • 'T' bar sticks (for manual or electric chairs) are only appropriate for division A version of Zone Hockey.
  • 'T' bar sticks can be attached to electric and manual chairs and also walking aids.
  • No player may participate in play with both a T-bar stick and a zone hockey stick.

11. Players' equipment and clothing

No player shall wear any equipment which, in the opinion of the umpires, may be dangerous to other players, or a hazard in relation to wheelchairs or ambulatory.

12. Goalkeepers' equipment

In the interest of safety, goalkeepers are encouraged to wear:

  • a face mask
  • hand protectors (optional)
  • knee protectors (optional)

13. Starting and re-starting the game

The game is started with a push or a hit. The umpire blows the whistle at the commencement of play in each half and after a goal has been scored. Each team must be positioned in their own half of the pitch (opposition must be a minimum of 2 meters from the ball) until the starting pass is played. The ball can be played forwards, backwards or sideways and must move a minimum of a half meter before it is played by a player of the same team.

14. Scoring a goal

A goal is scored when the ball has been struck by or deflected off an attacker from anywhere on the pitch. It must completely cross the goal-line between the goal-posts and under the cross-bar. No player other than the goal keeper shall enter the goal circle.

15. Ball outside the field of play

Ideally this format of hockey should be played as a free flowing version with the use of walls and indoor boards so the ball rebounds. If this is not possible the following rules apply.

Over the side-line

  • When the ball passes completely over the side-line, it shall be put into play along the ground in any direction, by a hit or a push by an opponent of the player who last touched it. This is called a hit-in. Until the hit-in is taken, no opposition player shall be within 2 meters of the ball.
  • If the hit-in is awarded on the side-line within 3m of the corner of the pitch, all players except the taker must be a minimum of 2 meters from the ball until it is played.

Over the back-line by an attacker

  • When the ball passes over the back-line off one of the attacking players and no goal is scored, the game is re-started with a hit to the goal keeper. The hit must be taken on the furthest edge of the circle, just inside the line.

Over the back-line by a defender.

  • If the ball is accidentally played over the back-line by a defender and no goal is scored, the game is re-started with an indirect free hit to the attacking team by a wing zone player.

Where indoor side-end boards are used the rebound balls provide continuous play unless in certain situations where the above points apply.

16. Zone play

  1. Players designated to specific zones must play in those zones.
  2. Where a player’s momentum unavoidably takes them across a zone marking no free hit is awarded. *
  3. In such situations the player may in no way influence the play in the vicinity.*
  4. Where the ball is free in an adjacent zone, a player may reach with the stick and take it into their zone.
  5. No part of the body or chair may cross the line in this situation.*
  6. Players may not impede or attempt to tackle a player with the ball by reaching into an adjacent zone.*
  7. Goal keepers may interchange with field players at half time.
  8. A defending player in a zone may hold their ground in front of a player coming towards them with the ball but not move across and block their path.

* In certain situations and for some competitions it will be more appropriate to play with an ‘off zone’ rule in which these rules do not apply.

Therefore players must stay in the zones the whole time without any exceptions, i.e. young novice players and/or those youngsters with a learning disability.

17. Fair play

Rough or dangerous play shall not be allowed. Nor shall any behaviour that in the opinion of the umpires, amounts to misconduct. Misconduct offences may result in the offending player/s receiving a warning card (green card) or suspension (yellow card) by the umpires.

  1. Stick tackling: Youngsters must be shown how to control the ball as the attacker and then as the defender how to be patient and careful when they challenge.
  2. Players must not intentionally use any part of their body or chair to play the ball (except the hand to protect themselves in a danger situation).
  3. Players must not play at any high ball with the stick held at above shoulder height. The only exception is the goalkeeper who may use a high stick to defend the goal, ensuring it is used safely and wisely.
  4. Players must not use any part of the wheelchair or walking devices to shield the ball (except when the device is actually being used as the stick shaft).
  5. Players must not kick the ball.


  • It is not an offence if the ball hits a player’s foot, wheelchair structure or walking aids and the whistle should only be blown if the incident causes a total break-down in play, a disadvantage or stops a certain score. The umpires shall be the sole judges.
  • Players must not obstruct by moving between an opponent and the ball, thereby unfairly preventing the opponent from playing the ball. Neither must they use any part of their body, chair or stick to obstruct a player.
  • Players must not hold, charge, kick, shove, intentionally trip, or strike any player or umpire. This also applies to similar infringements involving wheelchairs and walking aids where charging, blocking or retarding can occur.

18. Free hits

  1. Free hits are to be taken close to where the offence occurred.
  2. The ball must be stationary at a free hit and it must move a minimum of 1m before being played by a member of the same team.
  3. Until the free hit is taken, all opposition players must be a minimum of 2m from the ball. If the free hit is within 1m of the circle all players except the taker must be a minimum of 2m from the ball.
  4. If the taker accidentally misses the ball when attempting to take the free hit it shall be taken again.
  5. After taking the free hit, the taker shall not play the ball (i.e. touch it a second time) or remain within playing distance (i.e. the length of an outstretched arm and stick) until it has been touched or played by another player.

19. Deliberate fouls

A penalty stroke shall be awarded for the following reasons:

  • a defending player deliberately committing an offence within 1m of the circle that would have led to a goal scoring opportunity
  • a defending player entering the goal zone – intentionally or otherwise.

20. Penalty strikes

In division A penalty strikes maybe taken in either of two forms at the option of the side awarded the strike.

  1. A traditional penalty stroke/hit by any player (except the goalkeeper) with the defending goalkeeper being active.
  2. A passive rolling push by an electric chair player with the goalkeeper positioned stationary in an upright position with the stick blade side on (shaft in a vertical position).
  3. Floor goal keepers must kneel and not lie across the goal.

In division B and C only traditional dynamic penalty strokes are used.

  1. Penalty strikes are taken at a spot on the outside edge of the goal line
  2. Apart from the defending goalkeeper and the penalty stroke taker, all other players shall be beyond the centre line which may or may not be marked. This distance will be at the discretion of the umpire
  3. The goalkeeper must remain on the goal line until the ball is played.
  4. The taker, who shall stand close to and behind the ball is not permitted to enter the circle and must not touch the ball a second time.
  5. The clock (time) stops (stopped by the umpires) immediately a penalty strike is awarded.

Note: The umpire will ask the goalkeeper and the taker if they are ready before the whistle is blown. They must answer quickly and clearly. The penalty stroke must not be taken before the whistle is blown - if it is, then a free hit shall be awarded to the defence.

Following a penalty stroke, play is re-started with a centre pass (if a goal has been scored or awarded). If no goal is scored or awarded, play is re-started with a hit to the goal keeper taken at the top of the shooting circle.

Note: A penalty goal can be awarded if in the process of a penalty stroke, the defending goalkeeper commits an offence that prevents a definite goal from being scored.

21. Incident

  • If play is temporarily suspended because of an incident or injury where no offence occurred, it shall be re-started with a bully close to the spot in the zone where the incident occurred.
  • Any wheelchair or supporting devices which become dangerous in the course of play will be corrected by the coaching staff or removed from the game.

Note: No bully may be played within the circle.

Players who are cut or bleeding will be required to leave the pitch immediately and shall not be allowed to return until the bleeding has been suppressed or stopped.

22. Umpires

  • The game shall be controlled by one or two umpires (preferably two). The umpires are responsible for all decisions and penalties.
  • The game should be umpired in a spirit to facilitate as much free flowing safe play as possible. To assist this, playing the advantage rule should be adopted. The zonal areas are to facilitate the width and depth of play, match player's ability but not to impede the flow of the game.

23. Classification

For classification in Zone Hockey (to allow relative parity between different participants profiles) three official sets of classification rules are provided - to match the three divisions.

Division A (severely impaired participants): As this division is for the more severely disabled participant it excludes anyone who can participate in division B, i.e. good wheelchair skills or ambulant participation. For division A there are three classes.

  • ZH1 class: electric wheelchair, i.e. muscular dystrophy, quadraplegic, cerebral palsy. They must be regular users of electric chairs so their severe functional ability can only allow them to perform drag/swing shots. Dribbling is difficult to sustain. DSE profile - P1, P2, 2B, P3.
  • ZH2 class: limited manual wheelchair users in which dynamic push and play, stick manipulation is a challenge. They should not be capable of participating in division B version and basic wheelchair basketball activities. DSE profile - P6A, P5, P7, P8, P9A.
  • ZH3 class: semi-ambulant participants with or without aids. They will have observable challenges in gait, possibly balance and manipulation, cannot run, and not be capable of playing in dynamic division B version of the game. DSE Profile - P6B, P12, P13, P14, P17, P18, P19, P26, P27, P28, P29.

ZHG class: any participants of classes ZH1, ZH2, ZH3, can be a goalie. They can also act as floor goalies for part or all of their participation.

Note: The attachable 'T' stick head is allowed in all classes. However a player can not use a 'T' stick and a free stick. They maybe interchanged during substituting in a game or between games.

Division B (dynamic group): This division is for the individuals who can play a dynamic version of the game. It excludes electric wheelchairs and includes manual wheelchair users (not qualifying for ZH2) and semi-running/running ambulant participants with manipulation ability. For division B there are three classes.

  • ZH1B class: good wheelchair sports participants who can play basic basketball activities. DSE - P31, P11C, P11B, P10A, P9B.
  • ZH2B class: very ambulant running participants - hemiplegia, diplegia. DSE - 15B, 15A, P16, P23, P24A, P24B, P25.
  • ZH3B class: less able ambulant players whose speed and agility of running is limited - hemiplegia, diplegia. DSE - P20A, P20B, P21, P22, P30, P11A.

Note: The attachable 'T' stick head is not appropriate for this division.

24. Modifications to classification - game format

  1. Division C (mixed format): this version is provided for official and informal instances where by division A and B are impractical because of the groups, class and schools might have limited numbers of respective ZH classes. For formal competitions a combination can be selected as the official format by the organisers. For informal occasions coaches can agree to a 'matched profile' in the respective zones.
  2. It is suggested that the flexibility which zoning allows can lesson the problems which can often exist in the parity of classification between groups. Also as Zone Hockey is a team sport variations in individual abilities are less serious than in traditional individual contests like swimming and athletics.
  3. Another dimension for divisions A and B and even division C, depending upon the status of the competition, is the role of the 'support pusher' for those who cannot both propel manual chairs and simultaneously play. This class ZHP, can facilitate an all inclusive approach if the 'support pushers' are responsible.

Note: The attachable 'T' stick head might be appropriate for this division.

For those more able youngsters with special needs who do well at this adapted sport of hockey, a transition into other more formal junior versions could be considered.



Newitt and Co Ltd
Claxton Hall
North Yorkshire
YO60 7RE
Telephone: +44 (0)845 01 777 777
Fax: +44 (0)845 01 777 444

  • Goals: Newitts portable PVC goal (290cm x 120cm). Cat No. IT010965
  • Sticks: Newitts red/yellow solid plastic. Cat No. Red - IT006612, Yellow - IT006613, Sets of 12 - IT006614
  • Temporary boundary markers: Davies Spordas Flow Markers (throw down rubber markers). Twelve each of red, yellow, blue and green. Set of 48.Cat No. PPEH67864, SFBH67864, PTRH67864, PFBH67864, STRH67864 or SPEH67864.
  • Ball: Newitts two colour plastic balls white/black 6.5cm diameter. Cat No. AQ-147

Still need help?

Doug Williamson
+44 (0)1949 829 313