Frequently Asked Questions
A few things we have been asked over the years. Don't see the answer to your question here? Use the contact page to drop us a line.
- What is shinty?
- Why haven't I heard of Shinty before?
- If shinty is Scottish why don't you where kilts when you play?
- Where can I find out more about shinty, such as rules, photos, and coaching tips?
- How popular is shinty in the US?
- How would I go about starting my own shinty club?
- Do I have to be Scottish to play Shinty?
- What do I need to do to give Shinty a try?
- Can new or inexperienced players start at any time of the year?
- How much does it cost to join - do I need a lot of expensive equipment?
- What kind of commitment do I need to make to the club?
- Where do I find the directions and times for practices and other club activities?
- Do you socialize after practice?
- Why do we practice every other Sunday?
- I play other sports, if there are schedule conflicts may I stop playing Shinty and come back after the other sport's season is over?
- Why rotate between multiple locations?
- Is carpooling to practices/events an option?
- Q. What is shinty?
A. Shinty is a stick and ball game similar to both field hockey and hurling. Called camanachd in Scots Gaelic (the sticks are called camans), the game is very ancient and probably came to Scotland with the Scots tribe who emigrated from Ireland around the time of Christ. A more detailed description and some history can be found here.
- Q. Why haven't I heard of shinty before?
A. The shinty season has traditionally run from Fall to Spring and so most folks who visit during summer vacation have not had an opportunity to see the game being played. This combined with the fact that shinty was only played in certain areas has kept the sport from being widely known. In recent years the shinty season has shifted to a summer orientation, so more visitors will have a chance to learn about the sport! More info can be found here.
- Q. If shinty is Scottish why don't you where kilts when you play?
A. When the rules for shinty were formally set down in the 19th century, after centuries of regional variation, they also made the uniform clothing more like other contemporary sports. You may see, in some historic photos, kilts being worn at casual games, but that is no longer done. We follow the lead of the Camanachd Association which adopted modern athletic gear over a century ago. Of course we do wear kilts off the field, whether to our own ceilidhs, at Highland Games are at other Scottish themed events!
- Q. Where can I find out more about shinty, such as rules, photos, and coaching tips?
A. Explore this site, in particular the Shinty 101 section for history, a description of the game and an overview of the rules. We also have a number of photos in our Photo Archive section. A full set of rules and training manuals can be found in the Resource section of the US Camanachd site, which Northern California Camanachd maintains in order to aid for the growth of shinty in the US.
- Q. How popular is shinty in the US?
A. Today there are three US shinty clubs, besides NCC, with several others in the process of forming. Though shinty was played by Scottish immigrants in both the Eastern US and Canada during the 18th and 19th centuries, we can find no evidence of native clubs in the last 100 years. So it is not a hugely popular sport at this point, but we are working to help grow the sport here in the US.
- Q. How would I go about starting my own shinty club?
A. We have posted a number of documents that should be helpful to those wanting to start a shinty club in the Resource section of the US Camanachd site. If you in the proximity of one of the current US clubs please contact them and try to pool your efforts - we all need to help each other in these early days!
- Q. Do I have to be Scottish to play shinty?
A. No! Anyone and everyone is welcome to come out and give shinty a try! It is a fantastic sport, and we think the combination of skills and abilities the sport uses are unique and fun!
- Q. What do I need to do to give shinty a try?
A. Basically you just need to show up to a scheduled practice in clothes in which you can run and move comfortably - Shorts, sweats, leggings all work; t-shirts, sweat shirts; and running shoes. If you have soccer or field hockey shin-guards please wear them, if not don't worry, we have some loaners. Knee socks help keep shin-guards in place, but aren't required. We recommend men wear athletic cups to start out with. Turf shoes or soccer cleats are fine (no metal cleats are allowed), but not necessary to give shinty a try. Bring along some water or athletic drink, sunscreen, and hats are optional. We have an assortment of loaner camans (sticks) for people to start out with. Minors will need to get a waiver signed prior to participating by their parent/guardian.
- Q. Can new or inexperienced players start at any time of the year?
A. Yes, with the exception of one our public matches or Challenge Matches, beginners and new players are always welcome. We are a co-ed club, so both male and female players are welcome.
- Q. How much does it cost to join - do I need a lot of expensive equipment?
A. It doesn't cost anything to come out and give shinty a try. We have loaner sticks for use by players and can even loan some shin-guards if needed. Once you decide you want to join our club then there is a nominal fee (to cover field rental and insurance - see current costs in the Support Us section). At some point you might want to buy your own stick, which can be anywhere from $40-80 depending on exchange rate, availability of used sticks, etc. In addition there might be costs for athletic equipment such as shin-guards, gloves, a helmet, etc. Overall shinty is not an expensive sport compared to many.
- Q. What kind of commitment do I need to make to the club?
A. Initially none, just come out and give shinty a try. If you enjoy yourself then we hope that return regularly for our fort-nightly practices and matches as well as the occasional special event like Highland Games and demonstration matches. Additionally we are always looking for folks that might be interested in helping out the club off-field and becoming involved with organizational tasks, maintaining the website, pursuing sponsorships. Other non-playing help is always welcome in officiating and taking pictures of our events.
- Q. Where do I find the directions and times for practices and other club activities?
A. Go to the schedule section of the web site here, for the latest times and dates. Directions can be had by double clicking on the location name (in red). The times are listed on the schedule page as well. Sometimes locations/times change, so double check the schedule before setting out.
- Q. Do you socialize after practice?
A. Yes! We generally go to a pub or restaurant near the respective practice sites afterwards for food, refreshments, and to socialize. Family and friends are welcome to join us as appropriate.
- Q. Why do we practice every other Sunday?
A. Since we practice/play nearly year around - we practice every other Sunday so as not to tie up every weekend.
- Q. I play other sports, if there are schedule conflicts may I stop playing shinty and come back after the other sport's season is over?
A. Yes, that is one of the many reasons we play year round. However if there is a major match or event coming up when you first return, players who have been attending practices more frequently may take precedence in getting playing time, if this is an issue.
- Q. Why rotate between multiple locations?
A. Our membership is spread out over a large geographical area and we attempt to spread the traveling around.
- Q. Is carpooling to practices/events an option?
A. Yes, many members carpool. It may not always be possible, but we will try to help you find potential carpool friends.