Who invented hockey? History of the game, and how to play it

Who invented hockey? History of the game, and how to play it

Lenah Ann
updated at April 12, 2023 at 8:23 PM

Hockey is one of the most popular sports in Canada and a region to some in the United States of America. It is a sport where two teams play against each other using sticks to manoeuvre the object of play and score on the opponent's goal. There are different types of hockey, and they both have some similarities based on the instruments used.

How many members does each hockey team have?
Milan Lucic (front) of the Calgary Flames battles in front of the net against Joonas Korpisalo of the Columbus Blue Jackets on 23 January 2023 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Photo: Gerry Thomas
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The most obvious difference between the different types is the ground on which the game is played. The ground determines its forms: field hockey, ice hockey, roller hockey, and indoor hockey. Find out more about the history of hockey, its invention, and how it is played.

Who invented hockey?

Although its invention dates far back, J G Creighton was the Canadian from Halifax, Nova Scotia, who made the first set of rules. The first official indoor game recorded occurred in Montreal, Canada, in the 19th century.

However, its first official game occurred on 3 March 1875, and some records indicated that a similar game occurred much earlier. After J G Creighton arrived in Montreal, he presented patented hockey sticks and skates. The skates had blades held onto boots by metal clamps, which were the first of their kind.

History of hockey

It is considered one of the oldest sports in history that was played using curved sticks and a ball. The game is believed to have existed for over 4000 years, as confirmed by the old carvings. It dates back to around 1272 BC in Ireland and 600 BC in Ancient Greece, where it was played with a horn-like stick.

When was hockey invented?
The New York Rangers defend the net against the Florida Panthers at Madison Square Garden on 23 January 2023, in New York City. Photo: Bruce Bennett
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By the 19th century, various forms of the sport had been established, and each coalesced into the kind of sport we know today. Organisations that oversaw the game were formed, and they came up with rules and regulations governing it.

These organisations also helped formulate clubs that started participating in domestic and international competitions. In 1908 the first-ever Olympic Hockey Competition was held in London, and all United Kingdom countries were present, each competing for their glory.

Today, Canada is known to be the home of ice-hockey and is recognised as their national winter sport. The national league of North America, NHL, is today's most famous level of men's hockey.

When was hockey invented?

Various online sources have different claims about the exact time that hockey was invented. Although it might be impossible to pinpoint the exact birth date of the game, records dating back over 4000 years ago show people taking part in this kind of game.

Since the game is believed to be as old as our civilisation, its origin may be from China, Persia, or Egypt. Some archaeological records show an early form of the game played in Greece in the 5th century BC.

How long is a hockey game?
Calgary Flames Center Mikael Backlund and Goalie Dan Vladar celebrate their teams 4-3 overtime win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on 23 January 2023 in Calgary, AB. Photo: Brett Holmes
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Rules of hockey

Like any other sport, hockey has rules and regulations to govern the entire fraternity's smooth running.

  1. The ball can only be hit with the flat side of the stick.
  2. Besides the goalkeeper, players cannot use any body part to control the ball.
  3. Goals are scored only from a penalty corner, field goal, and penalty strokes.
  4. Players should not trip, charge, push, interfere with, or physically mishandle an opponent.
  5. Only two players are allowed to touch the ball at a given time.
  6. How many members does each hockey team have?
  7. The number of players differs according to the type of game. In a normal match, 11 players on each team consisting of a goalkeeper, defenders, midfielders, and forwards.

How long is a hockey game?

A typical professional game is about 60 minutes long with three 20-minute intermissions. In an NHL game, each intermission lasts about 18 minutes and may be shorter in other leagues.

Which country is best at hockey?

As of January 2023, Canada is regarded as the best country. They won 7 tournament competitions four times. No other single nation has won more than once.

Types of hockey

Which country is best at hockey
Dallas Stars Joel Kiviranta shoots the puck against Craig Anderson during the game against the Buffalo Sabres on 23 January 2023 at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. Photo: Matthew Pearce
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There are different types of the sport's players around the globe. Although most people believe that it is always played on ice, different types are not played on ice or using a puck.


It is a no-contact, fast-paced sport played on a sheet of ice, and players use sticks to control and hit the puck, intending to score more goals than the opponents. There are five skaters on the ice and a goalkeeper on each team.


It is also referred to as sled or para-ice hockey. It is played on an ice surface aimed at players with physical disabilities. The game was invented in a rehabilitation centre in Sweden in the 1960s and had rules like ice-hockey.


It is a summer Olympic sport with limited contact for both genders consisting of 35-minute halves. There are ten players and a goalkeeper on each team. Players use sticks to control the ball and shoot to outscore the opponent.

Ball or Floor

It is played on the hard cement floor of ice-hockey rinks and the school gymnasium during the summer. The game consists of five players and a goalie on each team. Like in ice-hockey, sticks are used, but, in this case, a different round orange ball is used instead of a puck.

Rules of hockey
Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Kirill Marchenko and teammates during the second period of an NHL game against the Calgary Flames on 23 January 2023 in Calgary, AB. Photo: Brett Holmes
Source: Getty Images

Street or Road

This kind is usually played on an open street area, like a parking lot and tennis courts. Like any other game, a puck or a ball is used, and the present participants make the rules during the game. The game has no pro leagues because people in the streets mainly play it, most of them being children.

Who named hockey?

The origin of the word hockey or who came up with the name is still unclear. However, there are some beliefs and suppositions that none of them has been proven. The name is believed to be derived from the French word hoquet, which means shepherd's stick.

On the other hand, some people believed it came from using cork bangs, which were used to play the game, instead of wooden balls. The cork bangs were from barrels with hock ale, also called hocky. The term rink was initially used in the 18th century in Scotland in a game of curling.

Who is known as the king of hockey?

Which country is best at hockey?
Toronto Maple Leafs battles against the New York Islanders during the second period on January 23 2023, in Toronto, Canada. Photo: Kevin Sousa
Source: Getty Images

Dhyan Chand, from India, is often referred to as the king due to his accomplishments in the arena. He garnered three Olympic gold medals and was a poster boy for Indian hockey for decades. Today, his birthday is celebrated as a national sports day in India.

The sport is widely recognised worldwide. It has garnered huge fan bases in the past decades, with most players going pro in the sport's arena. Although history does not tell in particular who invented hockey, rather than a whole community in the middle ages, Canada is considered its home even though it has been around for more than a millennium.

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Lenah Ann photo
Lenah Ann
Lenah Ann is a Kenyan-based content creator with 2 years of experience. She graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Media and Communication from Dedan Kimathi, Kenya in 2021.