What is elbowing in hockey?

The elbowing penalty: a player's worst nightmare. We delve into the intentional strikes, the referee's judgment, and the consequences faced by players who cross the line. Get ready to uncover the hidden power of the elbow in hockey.


With all the speed, excitement, and adrenaline that comes with a game of hockey, there's that one rule that can turn enjoyment into bewilderment - the elbowing penalty. It’s a rule that has seen its fair share of controversy, and today, we're going to explore it in all its glory.

The Meat and Potatoes of Elbowing 

Let's break it down, nice and simple. Elbowing in hockey happens when a player uses his elbow to strike an opponent intentionally. This rule is in place to protect players from dangerous, injury-causing hits. Just imagine if elbow shots were allowed, you'd have more players in the medics' room than on the ice.

Now, the important point here is the referee's judgment on intention. If your elbow just happens to swing around in the course of a play and lightly taps an opponent, that's not going to call the thunder. But if you cock your elbow, brace yourself for some time in the penalty box!

A Pinch of Interpretation 

While the rule seems straightforward, it all boils down to the referee's interpretation in real time. They are the ones who decide if a player’s action was reckless or intentional. They've got to be eagle-eyed and quick-thinking to make such calls amidst the chaos of a game. It's not an easy job.

Think of it this way, it’s like being a chef in a busy restaurant kitchen. You’ve got to monitor all the pots and pans (the players), keeping an eye for potential disasters (the fouls) while also making sure the food is well-cooked (the game is fair). 

In the Words of the Experts 

Many hockey veterans argue that elbowing penalties can significantly impact a game's outcome. Essentially, whether you're a player, a fan, or a budding enthusiast, understanding this rule is fundamental to your hockey experience. 

The Final Whistle 

There you go—no more head-scratching or bewildered looks when the referee calls an elbowing penalty. The next time you witness a player being benched for elbowing during a game, you'll have a clear understanding of the situation. Who knows, you might find yourself as the most well-informed person in the room! Appreciating the nuances of elbowing undoubtedly introduces an exciting new dimension to your hockey-watching experience.


What is an elbowing penalty in hockey?

An elbowing penalty in hockey occurs when a player intentionally uses his elbow to strike an opponent. This rule is designed to protect players from dangerous, potentially injurious hits

How is an elbowing penalty determined?

The determination of an elbowing penalty largely depends on the referee's judgement. They decide if the player's action was reckless or intentional. It's not merely about an elbow making contact, but rather the intent behind the action.

Are all elbow contacts considered as penalties?

No, not all elbow contacts are considered as penalties. If your elbow just happens to swing around in the course of a play and lightly taps an opponent, that's not going to call for a penalty. The key factor here is the intention behind the action.

How can understanding the elbowing rule enhance my hockey-watching experience?

Understanding the elbowing rule can significantly enhance your hockey-watching experience. It not only helps you understand why a player might be penalized but also allows you to appreciate the game's intricacies and strategies. Plus, it might make you the most knowledgeable person in the room!

NHL Minor Penalties Guide:



NHL Rules Guide:


NHL Guide:


This content has been derived, in whole or in part, from artificial intelligence.