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Field Hockey, more commonly known as just hockey, is a game played with two teams of 16 with 11 players taking to the field at any one time. They consist of one goalkeeper, three defenders, four midfielders and three forwards.


The object of the game is for your team score more goals than the opposing team. To score a goal, a player must use their hockey stick and shoot the ball into the goal. The ball must completely cross the goal line for the goals to count.

Hockey Ground Dimensions

Hockey Ground dimensions

The field is 100 yards long by 60 yards wide and there are lines at the halfway point and at 23 meters. Goals are 12 feet wide and 7 feet high and surrounding the goals are the shooting circles which form a 50 meter radius around the goals. The winner of the coin toss starts the game.

Hockey Gameplay

Once team has possession of the ball, they try and move the ball towards the opposing goalkeeper and try and score. Players can pass the ball directly between teammates by lifting the ball, if there is no one in the way, or dribble the ball by running and controlling the ball with the flat side of the stick only.

Unlike in ice hockey, a field hockey stick has a flat side and a rounded side and you’re only allowed to touch the ball with the flat side stick.

Hockey Gameplay

Should you touch the ball with the wrong side of the stick ? The other team will be awarded possession of the ball !

The idea is to set up in good field position to be able to shoot the ball towards the goal. The opposing team will try and stop you by tackling. They are allowed to try and take the ball away from you from the front or from the side. However they cannot tackle you from behind nor can more than one player try and tackle a ball carrier at any one time. They will try and take the ball away from you so that they can score themselves.

Duration of the Game

The game is played in two 35-minute halves for combined playing time of 70-minutes. Highest score at the end of time wins. If the game is tied at the end of time a draw can be declared, or if it’s a knockout competition extra time and penalty shootouts can be used to determine the winner.

Hockey played by a player

Rules of Hockey

There are a few rules that you’ll need to understand before playing or going to a game. For example:  

a) Substitution – There are unlimited substitutions in field hockey, and they can be made at any time so long as the player be substituted comes off first.  

  • b) Free Hit – A free hit is awarded to the other team if :
    • A player kicks the ball. 
    • If a player touches it with any part of the body except the stick.
    • A player touches it with any part of the body except the stick.
    • If there’s more than one person trying to tackle ball carrier, or by deliberately causing an obstruction, or intentionally shielding the ball and getting in the way.
Hockey foul

c) Dangerous Play – Dangerous Play is usually excessive body contact with another player. It can also be using the stick in a dangerous manner, playing the ball dangerously by lifting the ball within five meters above the player, or playing the ball dangerously above shoulder height. Dangerous play can be punished by either a green card which is a warning, a yellow card where the player is sent off temporarily for five-minutes or a red card where you are sent off the pitch without substitution.  

d) Long Corner – If a defender unintentionally hits the ball behind the goal line a long corn is awarded to the attacking team at one of the long corner marks at each of the field.

Types of Penalty

Penalty corner

a) Penalty Corner – More commonly known as a ‘short corner’. This is awarded if a defender deliberately hits the ball behind their own goal line. The attacking team places the ball at the short corner mark inside the circle, and only the goalkeeper and four defenders can guard the net. All other players must be outside the circle. The ball is then hit into play and is usually stopped and then shot towards the goal.  

b) Penalty Stroke – If a defender intentionally fouls a player with a legitimate chance to score, a penalty stroke will be awarded to the attacking team. The ball is placed on the ground at the penalty spot, and just like ice hockey it’s one shot only. Any goals scored count towards the overall score.  

Penalty shootout

c) Penalty Shootout – For games where a winner must be determined in the event of a draw, a penalty shootout may occur. There are 5 shooters on each team and each one is are allowed 8 seconds to shoot the ball. Only the goalkeeper is allowed to guard the net and any rebounds can be shot into the goal as long as 8 seconds has not expired. Team in the most goals after the shootout wins.  

Now that’s a lot to take in, but as you watch or play field hockey, the rules will become clear and you will enjoy the game.

Now you know the basic fundamentals of hockey. To know more about hockey, click on the following link :-


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