The Sport of Field Hockey for Beginners
What some mistakenly consider an adaptation of ice hockey, field hockey actually came long before -- tracing its roots back to the Middle Ages in India, and later in Scotland and Ireland. In the U.S. and Canada, field hockey is an extremely popular professional and amateur sport. Worldwide, there are almost 2 billion people that regularly watch field hockey.
How to play Field Hockey
To a new viewer, field hockey may look like a mix of ice hockey, lacrosse, and soccer. Players will carry wooden sticks that are curved near the end, similar to ice hockey sticks except not as long. The object of the game is to score as many goals before the time expires.
In addition to wooden sticks, field hockey players may wear shin padding to prevent injury from slashing of a stick. Since field hockey is played on turf (and sometimes natural grass), players are required to wear cleats.
Rules of Field Hockey
- Each team will field 11 different players, including one goalie. The 10 fielders consist of defenders, midfielders, and attackers. Each of these roles has a unique purpose, however everyone is encouraged to offer support wherever needed on the field.
- Field hockey is played on a field very similar to football. They’re typically 100 yards long by 60 yards wide. A field hockey goal is more similar in size to a soccer goal than an ice hockey goal -- with dimensions of 7 feet high by 12 feet wide. Every competition field is synthetic turf.
- To prevent “accidental” goals, players must shoot within the 16 yard line of a goal for it to count. Anything beyond this results in a turnover.
- Games are divided into two, 35 minute halves. Because of these lengthy halves, teams are permitted to have a maximum of six substitute players.
- Players cannot run with the ball. It must either be passed or “dribbled” down the field.
- A foul will be called if a player intentionally looks to injure their opponent, strikes the ball with the wrong side of the stick, raises their stick above their waist, or strikes their opponent’s stick out of their hands.
- Field hockey is a sport where draws are actually a regular part of the game.
Because field hockey is so popular within the collegiate realm, it is said that more players receive college scholarships for field hockey than any other sport. Field hockey is also not left-handed friendly, as there is only one type of stick to be used.
Written by: Devin Pickell