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A rugby union player being sent to the "sin bin"

The penalty box (sometimes called the sin bin[1], bad box,[2] or simply bin) is the area in ice hockey, rugby league and some other sports where a player sits to serve the time of a given penalty, for an offense not severe enough to merit outright expulsion from the contest. Teams are generally not allowed to replace players who have been sent to the penalty box.[3]



The penalty boxes in this ice hockey arena are between the center red line and one of the blue lines. In the photo, only the left-hand box is occupied.

In ice hockey a period in the box occurs for all penalties unless the infraction is a misconduct penalty, which results in an automatic ejection from the game, or has resulted in the awarding of a penalty shot. If three or more players are serving penalties at once, the team will continue playing with three on the ice but will not be allowed to use the players in the box until their penalties expire.

When a team has a player serving a 2-minute penalty, and an overall disadvantage in the number of players on the ice, the opposing team is said to be on a power play. If they score during that time, the time remaining in that particular penalty is discarded and the player may return to the ice if that player has a 2-minute minor penalty. In the case of a double-minor 4-minute, if the opposition scores before the first two minutes expire, the clock is set to two minutes and the player must serve the remaining two minutes. If the penalty occurs with less than 2 minutes remaining in the original 4-minute double minor, the player is released upon scoring of a goal. A 5-minute penalty must be served in full, regardless of the number of goals scored by the opposition. Goaltenders never go to the penalty box, even though they are assessed penalty minutes. Any penalties enforced against Goaltender are served by a teammate, with many leagues requiring that teammate to have been on the ice when the penalty was taken.

Rugby league and rugby union

A rugby league version of the "sin bin" signal.

In both codes of rugby (rugby league and rugby union), only penalties involving violent play, dangerous play, professional fouls or repetitive commission of a specific offence result in a sin binning, where the offending player must spend 10 minutes off the field. In the NRL, there is no physical sin bin, players must return to the dressing room to serve their time; remaining on the sideline or in the stands is not permitted.

The referee usually signals such infringements by displaying a yellow card (this is not used in Australian rugby league, where referees display a two open hands, ten fingers, signifying ten minutes, above their heads). Often, if a team is committing one offence repeatedly, the referee will warn the captain that the next time they commit that offence, the player responsible will be sent to the bin. For the most serious offences and/or repeated misconduct, the referee may send off players, who take no further part in the game and leave their team a player short.

In rugby union sevens, the sending-off period is 2 minutes, which as a percentage of match time is actually a more severe penalty, as a normal sevens match lasts only 14 minutes instead of the 80 used in 15-man union or 13-man league. During this time, the offender's team must play with one fewer player.

Use and proposed use in other sports

Yellow cards used in 11-a-side football for a caution are replaced in small sided football by a blue card, indicating a "timed suspension"

Lacrosse, handball, Ringette, and field hockey utilise penalty boxes, as does International Rules football - which is a slight anomaly since penalty boxes are native to neither of the sports from which International Rules was conceived, namely Gaelic football and Australian rules football (although the Gaelic Athletic Association did experiment with the idea, before moving on to another experimental format which requires a player given a yellow card to be substituted) [4].

Proposals to introduce penalty boxes in association football (soccer) have been discussed by the International Football Association Board [1], but a proposal by the Irish Football Association to trial the idea was rejected in 2009.[5] Some Indoor soccer leagues and competitions already utilise them. In small sided football (i.e., 5-, 6- and 7-a-side), "timed suspensions" are used, and indicated by a blue card, instead of the traditional yellow for a caution. Periods of suspensions vary depending on the match length (e.g., a 25-minute-half match has a suspension of 5 minutes) and are defined in the competition's rules.[6]

In professional wrestling the promotion Total Non-Stop Action Wrestling has used a penalty box in the King of the Mountain match.

The King of the Mountain match is described as a "reverse ladder match". Instead of retrieving an object hanging above the ring, the winner is the first person to use a ladder to hang a championship belt above the ring — after having scored a pinfall or submission (pinfalls count anywhere) to earn the right to try. A wrestler who has been pinned or forced to submit must spend two minutes in a penalty box.[7]

See also


  1. ^ "Coaches tight-lipped about sin-bin use". 2009-08-16. Retrieved 2009-10-26.  
  2. ^ "...Nelson went to the bad box" Sam Gloor (2003-04). "A soggy showdown in SoCal?". United States Quad Rugby Association. Retrieved 2007-07-19.  
  3. ^ "Rule 501:For a MINOR penalty, any player, other than the goalkeeper, will be ruled off the ice for two minutes and no substitution shall be permitted.""IIHF Rulebook". International Ice Hockey Federation. Retrieved 2007-07-19.  
  4. ^ "GAA sin-bin lasts barely a month". BBC News. 2005-01-24.  
  5. ^ "Uefa chief backs extra officials". BBC News. 2009-02-28.  
  6. ^ Cheshire County Football Association Official Handbook Season 2006-2007, pages 99–100
  7. ^ "TNA Specialty Matches: King of the Mountain match". Retrieved 2009-03-30.  

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