Field Hockey Rules, History, Tips & Equipment

A history of Field Hockey, how to play, tips for improvement & necessary equipment

How to Play Field Hockey

Field Hockey is a team sport, where the objective is to score goals by using a wooden stick to hit, push, or flick a ball into the opponent's goal.

Field Hockey History

Games involving hitting balls with sticks have been found throughout history. The Daur people of Inner Mongolia, China, have been playing a game similar to field hockey called Beikou for nearly a thousand years. The modern game originated in English schools in the early 19th century. The first club was founded in 1849, in Blackheath in south-east London. In 1895, the first international match took place between Ireland and Wales. Field hockey was played in the Summer Olympics in 1908 and 1920, and returned to Olympic competition in 1928. Currently, field hockey is played around the world.

Field Hockey Rules

Field hockey is played on a pitch 100 yd long and 60 yd wide, with goals 7 ft high and 12 ft wide at each end. Although it can be played on grass, most field hockey games are played on synthetic turf. The game takes place between two teams of 16 players, with 11 players from each team on the pitch at a time. Substitutions are allowed throughout the game. The team with the most goals at the end of two 35 minute halves wins.

The game begins with a coin toss, and the winning captain can choose which side they want to defend or if they want to start with the ball. Players start the action with a pass from the center of the field, at the beginning of each half, and after goals are scored. After a goal is scored the other team gets to start with a pass from center. All players must stay in their half before the pass.

Players can only use the face of their sticks to play the ball. Tackling is only permitted if the player is going after the ball. A ball is out-of-bounds if it rolls entirely over the sideline. The team that did not touch the ball last, gets to hit the ball from the sideline. A team is awarded a corner hit if the opposing team hits it over their own back line.

A team is awarded a free hit when offences take place outside the scoring circle. When an offence takes place within the scoring circle, a team is awarded a free penalty stroke, one player against the goal keeper. On a penalty shot, the attacker is not permitted to fake or hit the ball more than once.

Field hockey has a three tier penalty card system: A green card is an official warning; A Yellow card is a temporary suspension, and the team needs to play down a man; A red card is an ejection from the game, and the team needs to play down a man for the rest of the game.

In the case of a tie at the end of regulation time the game goes into sudden death, and the first team to score wins.

Field Hockey Tips

A player's left hand should always be above the right when dribbling, shooting or passing. A Player should not hold the stick cross-handed.

Field Hockey Equipment

Field hockey requires every player to have a field hockey stick. Sticks are normally either 36.5 or 37.5 inches long and traditionally made of wood, but today they are often made with fiberglass, kevlar and carbon fiber composites. Field hockey is played with a spherical ball, hard and made of plastic. Many players wear mouth guards, shin guards, and padded gloves. This is required equipment in some areas. Goalkeepers are required to wear a helmet, leg guards, and kickers. Additional equipment includes: chest guard, padded shorts, hand protectors, groin protectors, neck guards, and arm guards.

Popular equipment makers include STXZ, Brine and TK.