Category Archives: Main

Your Pickup Hockey Needs a ‘Rulebook’!

You should create a rulebook document, or charter, for your weekly pickup hockey game. I play a lot of pickup hockey and, through running 20Skaters, I’ve played in a wide variety of games. While they are all quite similar, each is also unique.

If you organize a weekly game, you should consider creating a rulebook for it. Some people immediately respond “Ahh…it’s pickup hockey, there are no rules, that’s the point!”

Well I beg to differ.

Do you keep score in any manner? Do you call offsides in your pickup, who can call them, how do you handle them? Are you ok with people hooking or being physical in the corners? Have you ever had to kick a player off your roster? Can players wear whatever colour they want or do you prefer they only wear one of two colours?

Well, you may have more rules than you think. The problem today is that they are likely all unwritten. That’s confusing, especially for new players to your game.

Any equipment rules for your hockey game?

Part of running a recurring game of pickup hockey is deciding what the specific rules are for the game along with what type of culture you’re cultivating. It’s a charter of sorts.

For a previous weekly game of my own, my rulebook was a shared google document. My goal was to include any/all information that a player coming to our game for the first time would like to know about our game. My example is rather detailed since we used a game clock in these games. Most charters will only be a half, or one page.

A rulebook is a great way to communicate the type of game you’re running to any new players coming out, as well as to your existing players. Making sure that your players are on the same page makes it simpler for them to help you ‘police’ your game every week. It sets clear expectations with, and among, your players.

I’d suggest sharing it at the start of every season with all your players. When new players are coming out, send it along to them as well. As players ask questions about your game, update the document with the answers.

If you’re using our platform, some organizers include this directly on every gamepage. My suggestion would be to include a note on the gamepage along with a link to a longer shared document.

Another great reason to have a rulebook that all your players have read is that it makes your life simpler if/when you have to remove a player from your lineup. It’s much easier to explain to a player that they don’t fit in with your game if you’ve already clearly conveyed your expectations ahead of time.

Some ideas to consider conveying in your charter:

  • If you keep score in any way, with mini-games, detail the process.
  • How do you restart play after a goal is scored?
  • Are slapshots through traffic allowed?
  • How do you handle offsides? Are they called by the players on the ice or bench players and what happens to the puck?
  • How do you handle contentious goals?
  • Length of warm-ups.
  • How do you have all varieties of hydration, but in-game and post-game?
  • Team selections and how they happen each week. (Do you know about our optional team selection feature?)
  • Any jersey rules? I had a set of black/white jerseys for my players as we didn’t want reds, yellows and grays.
  • What level of competition are you expecting? Hard forechecking or don’t even go into the corners? Do you want people putting effort in on defence or keep is lax?
  • How long should shifts be? This is a big one for new players to know what you’re expecting.
  • Post game activities? Do you hangout in the parking lot after or hit a specific local?

Not all pickup hockey games are equal. Some are quite competitive with detailed rule sets while some are super casual. Regardless of what you’re after, conveying that clearly to your players goes a long way to creating a great weekly game of pickup hockey!

Payments Not Promises

Attendance for most weekly pickup hockey games runs today on promises. The organizer contacts their list of subs and asks who wants the x available spots this week. Ideally x people promise they will play.

One of the main lessons we learned in early testing of our platform to run pickup hockey is that we prefer payments not promises!

A sub player making a payment to play represents a commitment. Having to pay online, ahead of time, to secure your spot forces you to stop and think….”can I really make it out this week?” Or is there a chance I may fall asleep on the couch, have to drive my kid to soccer, forget to get my skates sharpened etc etc….

That’s great! Forcing someone to make a real commitment, with their dollars, results in more consistent attendance for your hockey. That means better games every week, which means more demand to get spots in your game. It also means healthier finances as your organizer has money in pocket to cover icetime costs. Healthy finances means your organizer will likely keep running your game.

A player making a payment also shifts the risks of your icetime costs from one person, the organizer, to many, your players. The main reason an organizer stops running a weekly pickup hockey game is poor finances. One person loses hundreds, or thousands, trying to run a pickup hockey game for their friends.

At this point, I don’t think there are many people left who don’t know how to purchase something online. If you have a few players expressing hesitation about having to purchase their sub spots ahead of time. Take it from us, it’s for one reason, they don’t want to commit. If they can’t commit, and in doing so share the financial risks, allow someone else to commit to that spot!

Your organizer shouldn’t have to shoulder all the risks or fund your weekly pickup hockey.

Running Pickup Hockey Stories

Rather than us explaining our platform and how our organizers and players feel about it, we’ve started the process of interviewing them directly. We’ll be posting video snippets from these interviews.

It’s no secret that we love hockey and pickup hockey a lot. There is so much culture and history that develops within these games that we love. It is our hope that some of those stories can be told as well.

In this one minute video, Nathan discusses how he began organizing his summer pickup hockey game. As he explains, he took over an existing game and icetime and he was already familiar with 20Skaters through his previous experience as a player. As with all organizer transitions, you tend to lose a few players and need to replenish and signup new ones.

Over to you Nate!

Pickup Hockey “Faceoffs”

95% of the pickup hockey games I play in already so what I call the pickup hockey faceoff. The 5% that don’t……drive me a bit bonkers to be honest.

It’s such a simple practice and takes up no real additional time, I think every game should play this way. The short story….everyone comes back to center ice after a goal. The team which was scored upon restarts play by making a pass from the center position back to a defenceman. That’s it.

While it’s super simple, I still recorded a short video to explain it for those who are not currently doing this.

[UPDATE]: Based on our post to Reddit, there are lots of opinions and many ways to restart play in pickup hockey. To clarify, this is simply ONE way and it’s the way that’s dominant here in Ontario where we play. I think we need a followup post where we list out as many known options as we can find!

Auto Response Solved Part 2

I wrote a longer post over a month ago about the auto response issues triggered by aggressive email virus checkers, and our attempts to solve it.

As expected, our fix did impact many of our players negatively in that it required them to login where they previously didn’t need to. We took the feedback from them and went to work on designing an improved fix. Our goal remained that we needed to ensure we no longer had any ‘fake’ game responses due to this virus checkers while hopefully alleviating the need for players to login all the time.

Wait 5 minutes…

Several weeks back, we placed a new fix in place that we feel achieves those goals.

We made the technical assumption that if your virus checker is going to click links in your emails without you knowing, it will do that immediately upon receiving the email.

So, when we send you a game invitation, this is what happens now. If you a full time player or a goalie in that game, meaning you do not have to make a payment, AND you are trying to respond within 5 minutes from the time we sent that specific email then you will have to login in order to respond.

Basically, if you try to respond within 5 minutes of us sending your email then we treat those responses as suspicious and require you are authenticated.

Your choices in you encounter this are

  1. Just login to your 20Skaters player around.
  2. Wait 5 minutes and respond.

That’s it. We’re hoping few of you actually bump into this as it requires you jump on emails within 5 minutes of them being sent. If you do, hit the bathroom and try again when you get back.

Where’s My Game Invite Email…part 2

I recently read over my previous post “Where’s My Email Invite?” and I wanted a redo on that post. Consider this the TL;DR version of that post.


You only need to know two things.

  1. As soon as you are invited to any game on our platform, that game will be listed in your dashboard’s “Invited” list. You do NOT literally have to find any emails, just login to your 20Skaters account and you will see all your invited games there. You can click into them and accept, decline, grab sub spots etc.

2. In order to ensure you’re receiving your actual invite emails, try whitelisting our domain “” and “” along with the sender email address…


If you’re unsure how to do that, search for “how to whitelist email addresses {insert name of your email client}”. That search should find you the most recent information for how to whitelist effectively for your email client.

If that doesn’t work, feel free to email us at and we’ll take a look on our side to see if we can spot any reasons your emails aren’t getting through.

Automatic Decline Issue Solved

The quick story

For games in which you are a full timer or a goalie, when you accept/decline to that game on a device which you are not currently logged into 20Skaters on, you will have to click “Confirm action” on the resulting page. It will now take 2 clicks under those conditions.

If you’re a paid sub or you are logged into 20Skaters on that device, nothing changes and you can accept/decline with 1 click from your email invite.

Update: We are rolling this out in two stages. Today, you will have to login to accept/decline. After we complete some testing and validation, you will be able to accept/decline without having to login but with the ‘confirm action’ click.

The longer story

We’re making a change that we hope will only impact you positively. Over the past several years, we’ve seen an increase in players being automatically declined from games within seconds of being invited.

You would likely only experience this if you are a full-timer in a game and your email address is hosted with a large institution such as a bank, university or municipality.

The short story is that some email virus checkers are now clicking the links in your emails. Our accept and decline links are unique to that invite and allow us to know who you are and which game it’s referencing. This makes life simple for our players as you can accept and decline from any device without having to worry about logging into our site on that device.

The impact for some of our players is that they are invited to their weekly game and within seconds they receive an email confirming they have declined. For them, this seems like someone has declined on their behalf which is the case since that’s exactly what the virus checker has done.

Up until last Friday, this issue seemed to be isolated to auto-declines and only a few players which means it was annoying but low impact. Last Friday we had an incident where a goalie was auto-accepted into a game without them knowing. The result being one of our games was short a goalie.

That, as we all know, is not cool and we take this very seriously. We decided we have to make changes and address this asap.

The change?

First, if you’ve been experiencing this issue as a player then here’s what should change for you. You should immediately stop receiving these auto-decline actions and emails. Assuming you are logged in on the device you accept or decline from then you’ll notice no changes beyond that. If you sometimes accept or decline on a device you are not logged into then you’ll now need to click a “confirm action” button before we accept it.


In order to address this, we are making the following changes. If a full time player or a goalie accept or decline a game through their email invite link but are NOT logged in on that device then it will now require one more click on their part.

It’s only a click to “confirm the action” you are taking. You do not have to login to the site so you can still take this action from any device.

The reason this should eliminate these issues is simple. The virus checker is never actually logged into our application. So we’re assuming that 100% of the clicks from a virus checker will be unauthenticated.

As well, if you’d rather not have to double confirm on that device then you simply have to login to on that device.

Our hope is that this removes 100% of these virus checking issues from our system with minimal impact to you, our players.

Our New Pickup Hockey Video

Hey, welcome back to hockey season. Fingers crossed, this may be our first full season after a few years of pandemic impacted ones.

A few quick updates. We are operating and more importantly we are hungry to add more weekly pickup hockey games to our platform. If you play in a weekly pickup hockey game where the organizer is still sending around emails and texts by hand, collecting cash at the rink etc….tell them about 20Skaters!

To help with that, you can share our new video with them using this link.

We will also be posting more videos about pickup hockey and our platform to our Youtube channel so please subscribe there as well.

Where’s My Email Invite?

We get asked this one fairly often. Getting an email from us through and into your email inbox is no easy task. Between us and you, a lot of computers have to receive the email, review it and then decide if they’re willing to pass it through to it’s next stage. Any of those players along the route may decide to break the chain and hang onto your email.

If you’re having issues receiving emails….

First, if you ever feel you’ve been invited to a pickup hockey game yet haven’t received an email, simply login to our website. You will see all upcoming games you’re invited to listed for you once you login. Yes, it’s a pain if you’re not getting those emails to remind you but that will immediately answer your question “Have I been invited to Dan’s game yet?”. Please take this step before sending emails/texts to your organizer.

  1. Check your email client spam folder and policies. The simplest solution is that you did actually receive it but your email client decided the email wasn’t important enough for you to actually read. Check spam folders, add us to whitelists etc. How you do that is dependent on your email client.
  2. Talk with your email server admin. If you’re using a corporate email then your server admin may be holding our emails back. Submit a support request with details to your server admin.
  3. Not much after 1 and 2 actually….but keep reading…and please send us an email at team at, including your username and email address. We’ll do out best to diagnose for you.

Our Approach To Sending Emails

We send all our emails using our partner Sendgrid. We do this because they spend their days helping partners like us get our emails delivered. We send tens of thousands of emails every month and we do our best to ensure our emails have their best chance to getting to your inbox.

As an example of this, our stats for the past month are:

  • 99.95% emails delivered.
  • 0.05% emails bounced.
  • 99% reputation.

While those are strong stats, I fully understand that you could care less if you’re once of those 0.05% not getting your emails.

We’ll keep trying to get emails through but I thought it may help to shed some light on the work we do in attempting to achieve this.

Pickup Hockey Etiquette

I recently came across this great post by Justin Bourne. His post is about how you should handle playing with off-season pros but almost all of his points directly apply to your weekly pickup hockey game. I’ll highlight a few here with some weekly pickup hockey commentary….

DO try, DO Compete

It’s easy to slow down, layoff in pickup hockey but it ruins the game. The best games are the ones with a roster who continues to hold each other accountable to still go into the corners and keep the compete level up. It’s too easy to slump into the “ah it’s just pickup, who cares?” mindset. The answer is that all of us do. We care about competing and having a great game NOT the results or ‘winning team’, although some of us still care about that as well.

DON’T try too hard there, Hustles

His example here is great. If you push too hard in the wrong spots then you put other players at risk. In pickup we all need to commit to keeping us all healthy and sometimes that means laying off if you’re risking injuring yourself or other players.

DO try to score

Again, we’re here to compete including the goalies.

DON’T try to score through traffic

This is dependent on your skate but generally speaking, no one’s going be happy getting injured in pickup hockey from someone blindly trying to hammer pucks through crowds.

DON’T exceed a courteous shift length.

Oh, hellz yes! Obviously, if you’ve got your 20Skaters then you likely have nice even numbers and change in lines which allows peer pressure to keep this in line. There’s still always that guy who just can’t get to the bench almost every shift. We all know who you are.