Hash marks

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Hash marks are short lines, running perpendicular to sidelines or sideboards, used to mark locations, primarily in sports.

Usage in ice hockey[edit]

In ice hockey, the hash marks are two pairs of parallel lines on either side of the face-off circles in both ends of the rink. Players must remain on their team's side of the hash mark nearest their own goal during a face-off until the puck hits the ice.

Usage in gridiron football[edit]

Hash marks
Hash marks at Dix Stadium
...at Dix Stadium (above)

In US football and Canadian football, the hash marks are two rows of lines near the middle of the field that are parallel to the side lines. These small lines (4-inches wide by 2-feet long) are used to mark the 1-yard sections between each of the 5-yard lines, which go from sideline to sideline. All plays start with the ball on or between the hash marks. That is, if the ball is downed in between a hash mark and the nearest sideline, it must be placed on that hash mark for the next play.

Prior to the adoption of hash marks (which were first utilized at the first NFL playoff game in 1932), all plays began where the ball was declared dead, including extra point attempts.

The hashmarks in that indoor 1932 playoff game were originally 10 yards from the sideline, and that width was adopted by the NFL for the 1933 season. It was increased to 15 yards (70 feet apart) in 1935, 20 yards (40 ft apart) in 1945, and to the current 23 yards, 1 foot, 9 inches (18½ ft apart) in 1972.[1]

In most forms of professional football in the U.S., including the National Football League and most forms of indoor football, the hash marks are in line with the goal posts, both being 18 feet 6 inches apart in the NFL and between 9 and 10 feet in indoor football. High school football, college football and Canadian football have hash marks significantly wider than the goal posts. The college football standard, which was the previous standard in the NFL (19451971), is 40 feet apart, (20 yards from the sidelines)[2] introduced in 1993.[3][4] Previously, the college width was the same as the high school standard, at one-third of the width of the field (53​13 feet).

The Canadian standard is 51 feet in width, 24 yards from each sideline. A Canadian football field width is 65 yards (195 feet), 35 feet wider than those in the United States.[5]


  1. ^ "Owners give offense big seven-yard boost". Rome News-Tribune. Georgia. Associated Press. March 24, 1972. p. 6A.
  2. ^ "High On The Hash". Sports Illustrated. (CNN). August 28, 1972.
  3. ^ Chaptman, Dennis (March 26, 1993). "Moving hash marks should open offenses". Milwaukee Journal. p. C2.
  4. ^ Clark, Bob (September 2, 1993). "New rules to keep coaches on toes". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. p. 9F.
  5. ^ "CFL Official Playing Rules 2011" (PDF). Canadian Football League. pp. 8, 12. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 May 2012. Retrieved 5 August 2013. The field shall be 110 yards long by 65 yards wide [...] Twenty-four yards in from each sideline each 5-yard stripe shall be marked by a short cross stripe parallel to the sidelines (Hash Marks).