bandy game at an outdoor public rink

Think of it as field hockey on ice. Or if you prefer, ice hockey played with field hockey sticks and a ball, on a large field of ice rather than a small rink. Bandy is wildly popular in Europe, much less so in North America. The name is derived from "banty," a form of "banter," meaning a back-and-forth this case, a ball.

Game play

Teams are 11 players each, one of whom is the goaltender. Teams can "legally" start games with as few as 8 players, but no less. The players other than the goalie are called outfielders -- in other words, they play out in the field of play. Outfielders have no set positions; captains or coaches simply position players strategically, according to their knowledge of the game. Only the goalie is allowed to touch the ball with his or her hands, and only within the penalty area in front of the goal. Substitutions are unlimited throughout the game (up to 4 at a time) and can occur during play. Players must be on skates, and use field hockey sticks.

The field of play is generally about the size of a football field, although it can range from 90 meters to 110 meters long, width from 45 to 65 meters. Obviously in "pick up" or loosely organized games, these dimensions might be significantly smaller. It is NOT bordered by high walls such as in a hockey rink. There are low boards along the sides and no boards on the goal lines; boards are set further back simply so that players don't have to chase so far for the ball. When the "attacking" or offensive team sends the ball past the goal line, play stops and the defenders take control.

A standard match consists of two 45 minute periods, with a 15 minute "halftime" between periods. The clock generally does not stop during play, even when the ball goes out, unless the referee feels there is too much of a delay for whatever reason. Overtime periods might be played in the event of a tie; these periods last 15 minutes and are usually only done for playoff games, tournament games, etc.

Play begins with a "stroke-off," (what we might call a center face-off in a hockey game). Stroke-offs are also done at the center of the field after each goal. A "goal-throw" is done by the defending team when the attacking team sends the ball across the goal line (but not in the goal of course). A "corner stroke" is done by the attacking team when a defender sends the ball across his or her own goal line (and not scoring for the other team of course). Defenders must wait behind the goal line and attackers behind the penalty line until the ball is sent into play. Obviously this is a dangerous situation for the defending team, so they try NOT to send the ball back across their own goal line. A "free-stroke" is given after certain events, such as when a team sends the ball out over the sideline, much like soccer, or for a minor penalty. A "penalty shot" is given when a foul occurs within the penalty area in front of the goal. A "face-off" is a restarting of play anywhere on the field to resume play after the referee has stopped it; face-offs are uncommon.

A Game for Everyone

In North America, bandy is probably equally popular among both men and women, although play is not often co-ed. It's interesting, because men don't generally play field hockey, and women don't tend to play ice hockey, but it seems to be a nice middle-ground for both sports. The women's world championship is a hotly contested tourney and perhaps even more prestigious in North America than the men's title.

Key Links...

Masthead photos used by permission:
Ralf Roletschek
Creative Commons
US Army/public domain
Erik Charlton.