Introducing Shinty

For those who are unfamiliar with the sport of shinty, the following is a brief guide to the game. Shinty – or camanachd in Gaelic – is a 12-a-side team sport. The name camanachd is derived from the word caman, the stick which is used to hit the ball. The word shinty also has Gaelic roots, coming from sinteag (a bound or skip).

Shinty is a physically demanding sport. Senior matches are played 45 minutes each way on pitches roughly one-and-a-half times the size of a football field. Unlike hockey, both sides of the stick can be used to hit the ball and there is no limit to the height of swinging a caman – though the rules forbid reckless or dangerous swinging. Matches are determined by the number of goals scored.


The size of the goals themselves are 10 feet high and 12 feet wide. Only goalkeepers are allowed to handle the ball – and then only with the palm of the hand when within the penalty area or D, the semi-circle in front of the goal. The game is started – and restarted after a goal is scored – by the referee throwing the ball up between two opposing players in the centre circle.

Play is restarted when the ball goes out over the bye-line with either a bye hit out by the defending team or a corner hit by the attacking team; and when the ball goes out over the sidelines it is returned into play by an overhead hit or shy.