holding penalty hockey

Hockey is a fast-paced sport and while player's are always looking for the advantage, there is a specific set of rules to keep things fair. One of the biggest penalties in Hockey is “Holding.”  Below, we will cover what a penalty is, the differences between holding the stick and holding the player and everything in between. 

In this article, we’ll cover:

Wondering about the other penalties in the game of hockey? Check out our other articles in the Hockey Penalties Explained series.

What is a Holding Penalty in Hockey?

A holding penalty is when the defending player clutches or grabs the offensive player to try and slow them down or impede their process of playing the puck or slow them down during a scoring opportunity. A holding penalty can be called if the defending player grabs at the opposing player's jersey, body, head, hands, or stick.

Generally, defending player's will have their top hand on the stick and their bottom hand free. While this bottom hand can remain free, defensive players will sometimes place it indirectly on or towards the offensive player. This free hand cannot wrap around the body of the player, grab at their jersey, or impede the offensive player’s progress.

Sometimes, the defensive player will hold the offensive player so much that they can entirely pull the offensive player to the ice, thus making impeding progress of the hold more visible. In other cases, the defensive player will try to hide the hold and try to sneak it towards the player's stick.

What is a Holding the Stick Penalty in Hockey?

A holding the stick penalty is exactly what it sounds like! The defensive player will use their bottom free hand to grab at the top or middle of the offensive player's stick from gaining control of the puck. This penalty does not always occur during a scoring chance, it can also happen during a battle for a loose puck or even in a board battle.

In certain scenarios, the defending player does not need to close their hand on the opposing player's stick, they can just use the free hand to block their stick from reaching the puck. Holding the stick penalties tend to be more rare as it is obvious when the defending player grabs the offensive player's stick and most defensive player's try to hide a hold!

What is the Penalty for Holding in Hockey?

Whether you are holding the stick or holding the offensive player, this is a minor penalty which means the offending player would sit in the penalty box for 2 minutes. Within USA Hockey, if the defending player grabs onto an opponent’s face mask or helmet, the penalties can be more severe including a 5-minute major penalty, game misconduct, or even match penalty depending on how severe the infraction is.

FAQs About Hockey Holding Penalty 

Can you hold a player in hockey?

No, you cannot hold a player in hockey. There are specific instances where the defending player can position their free hand to create space or distance themselves in a specific movement, but you cannot impede a player’s progress or knock them down with the free hand.

Why is holding a penalty?

Holding is a penalty because it creates an unfair advantage for the offensive player, whether it be during a scoring attempt or during a board battle. Also, in certain scenarios, holding the offensive player can create a higher risk of injury, therefore holding will always be a penalty.

Can you grab another player' stick in hockey?

No, you cannot grab another player’s' stick in hockey.  There are allowable times where the defending player can position their free hand to create space or distance themselves, but you cannot grab the opposing player's stick to stop their fair chance at getting a puck, or going into a scoring scenario.

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Hockey is an active and competitive sport where every player is working for a competitive advantage against their opponent. However, if you are looking to gain an advantage by holding your opponent or holding their stick, you will find yourself in the box for a 2-minute minor or more! As always, stay protected against your opponent by shopping our full selection of protective gear on HockeyMonkey.com!