Shinny (or shinney) is an informal type of hockey played on ice or the street. There are no formal rules or specific positions, and generally, there are no goaltenders. The goal areas at each end may be marked simply by objects, such as blocks of snow, stones, etc. Bodychecking and lifting or "roofing/reefing/raising the puck" (shooting the puck or ball so it rises above the ice) are often forbidden because the players are not wearing protective equipment. It may also be called pick-up hockey or pond hockey. Shinny is a game that all levels of hockey enthusiasts can play because it requires no rink, requires no skills except ability to hold a stick and at the very least to try to touch the puck or ball when it goes by. Shinny may be completely non-competitive and recreational - scoring irrelevant - or competitive and scores kept.
In some places, there is ritual for choosing teams. Each player deposits his stick in the middle of the ice in a pile. One player bends down, closes his/her eyes (or places their tuque over their eyes) and splits the pile into two equal sections. When numbers permit, three piles may be created, with one team waiting off to play the winner. Players then pick up their own sticks. The two groups of sticks form the two teams.
Very often teams are formed with intent to divide the group into approximately equal levels of skills among the players. Players joining after play has started are usually told "which way they are going" (which net they should shoot towards) based upon the score of the game and their skill level. Some games continue for many hours with some players leaving and others joining.
Shinny, generally believed to be a pre-cursor to ice hockey, was informal enough in its formative years that the pucks and sticks were often makeshift. During the Great Depression, for example, northern boys used tree branches or broomhandles as sticks, a tin can, a piece of wood, and even a frozen road apple (farm animal dropping) as a puck. Any object about the right size might serve as a puck.
The name is derived from the Scottish game shinty and indeed shinny was a common name for one of shinty's many regional variations in Scotland. Shinny, a primarily Canadian term, is usually called scrimmage, pick-up hockey or RAT Hockey in the United States.
"Shinny" can also refer to a game played on one's knees with sticks about a foot and a half in length. The goals are also a foot and a half in height, and about 2 feet in width. This game is usually played between around six players where there is one goalie, and two shooters. The game is usually played by children, indoors and in small rooms or areas. It is sometimes referred to as "Knee Hockey" or "Mini-Sticks." (In reference to the size of the sticks used to play.)