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Tuesday, December 5, 2023
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Field Hockey – History, Rules, Regulations and More Information


History of Field Hockey

field hockey - a black and white picture for the topic history
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People in ancient Greece played a game with a horn and a ball, and there is a depiction available which dates back to c.510 BC. The horn and the ball relate it with field hockey.

In the depiction, two persons are in an encounter while others are looking. So researchers differ in their interpretation. When some interpret it as a team sport and some others, interpret it as an individual, one-on-one activity.

Some researchers believe it as the ancestral game of lawn and field games like hockey and ground billiards.

Researchers also found near-identical depiction in ancient Egypt and European manuscripts. And the evidence belonged to the 14th century to the 17th century.

Evidence exists for a game played with carved wooden stick and ball in East Asia around 300 BC.

The Daur people of China in inner Mongolia played ‘beikou’ and it’s a game that resembles field hockey. They play it for about 1000 years. During the Ming dynasty, people in China played Suigan, a game that resembles field hockey and ground billiards.

Khidi Khundi is a game that people played in the Punjab state in India during the 17th century, and it resembled field hockey in many ways.

The natives of Chile in South America belonging to the 16th century played a game called Chueca, which also had common features with hockey.

In Ireland and Iceland, the games in which people used sticks to drive a ball into the opponents’ goal dates back to the early middle ages.

During the 12th century, villagers and parishes in France and Britain played a team ball game ‘la Soule.’ And it is a long-distance version of hockey.

In the middle ages and during the early modern era, games like hockey were one of the privileges of clergy and aristocracy. And laws restricted common man from playing the games.

The ancient Persians used Polo: hockey on horseback, for cavalry training. The game was in use for military training also.

The origin of the word hockey and when it first appeared is not clear. And historians believed that it was in the proclamation when King Edward III issued it. However, the historian John Strype didn’t use it when he translated the proclamation in 1720.

In the early 19th century, the modern game started to grow from English Public Schools. And the first club was at Blackheath in south-east London in 1849. The version played in Middlesex cricket clubs for winter games had the framework for modern rules.

The hockey association came into existence in the year 1886. And the first international competition took place in 1895. In the year 1900, the international rules board started to function.

Field hockey entered the Summer Olympics in the year 1908 and it was also played in 1920.

In 1924, the game found no place in Olympic, and the incident led the European nations to form Fédération Internationale de Hockey which was an international governing body. The sport once again found its way into the Olympics in 1928.

By the history of the game two oldest trophies are Irish Senior Cup and the Irish Junior Cup which dates back to 1894 and 1895.

India entered the Olympics in 1928 and won all the games from 1932 to 1956. Then won the game in the years 1964 and 1980.

Artificial turf started to replace the traditional grounds in the early 1970s. It altered the nature of the play, and the speed of the game improved. New techniques became popular, and new rules came into the place of the old ones.

The supporters of women hockey formed the International Federation of Women’s Hockey Association in 1927. In 1982, the two governing bodies merged, and in the year 1980, women’s hockey entered the Olympics.

To know more about the history of Field Hockey

Field of play

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The metric dimensions are in use as per the rules of the International Hockey Federation. The pitch is a rectangular field that measures 91.4 m ✕ 55 m.

The goal area at each end measures 2.14 m high and 3.66 m wide, and the distance between the center and the baseline measures 22.90 m.

The penalty shot area which measures 0 .15 m diameter with its center is at 6.40 from the center of each goal area. The shooting circle is 15 m from the baseline.

Playing surface

During the initial years, people played field hockey on natural grass turf. After the introduction of synthetic turfs during the 1970s, many countries began to use it, and the first Olympic games which used the synthetic turf were the Montreal Olympics in 1976.

For international tournaments and national level competitions, synthetic turf is a must to authorize the game

There are three main types of artificial hockey surfaces and are unfilled or water base, dressed or sand dressed and filled, or sand-filled types.

The sand-based pitches were in use after 1970, and there is an increase in the use of water-based turfs in recent years. To address the usage of more water and to avoid ecological issues, the hockey federation is now suggesting the use of hybrid turfs.

The rules of Field Hockey

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In this sport, two teams compete with each other, and each team has eleven players per side. Among the players, ten players are field players and one player is a goalkeeper.

There can be any number of substitutions, and the substitution has certain restrictions during a penalty corner.

Players can’t kick the ball and can only hit the ball with the flat side of the stick. However, the goalie can stop the ball by using any of his body parts to prevent the opponent from scoring.

If a player loses control and kicks the ball, he can’t dribble further. In contrast, kicking the ball with purpose results in losing the possession of the ball.

During playing, the players can’t swing the stick too high, which could hurt others. By rules, a player can’t swing his bat more than his shoulder height.

At any point during play, only two players can handle the ball, and any other interference is third party obstruction. Then the possession of the ball changes or leads to free hit.

The players can only use the flat side of the racquet and using the rounded side results in a penalty.

Tackling the ball is part of the game and is legal as long as the player doesn’t touch the opponent physically or the hockey stick. Then it will lead to a penalty.

A player can score a goal only in three ways, and they are a field goal, penalty corner, or penalty stroke.

Like many other sports, green, yellow, and red cards are in use to warn the players. Among the cards, the green card indicates initial warning, the yellow card indicates more severe offense and would result in temporary suspension for about five minutes, and the red card indicates the most punishable offense and will result in the expulsion from the game.

The playing time is in two halves of 35 minutes each. And the rest time is between five to ten minutes between the two sessions.

The team which scores more goals becomes the winner, and in case of equal scores, the match will end in a draw. Otherwise, a tiebreaker will be in force to decide the winner.

Equipment in Field Hockey

For playing professional field hockey, the player needs many types of equipment like a hockey stick, shoes, guards, and ball.

Hockey Stick

In choosing the hockey stick, the weight of the stick, the material used, the length and toe of the stick are the important factors to consider, and also the color and design are the other options.

Weight of the Stick

The weight of the stick depends on the position of the player in the filed, and it varies slightly according to the positions the players occupied.

A lightweight stick that weighs up to 0.5 kg is useful for the players playing as a forward. The lightweight helps in easy movement of the ball, and it also helps the player to shoot the ball easily.

For a midfielder, a medium-weight stick that weighs between 0.5 kg to 0.6 kg will be useful. The medium-weight not only helps in the easy movement and also aids the hard-hitting of the ball.

The players who occupy defending positions need heavyweight sticks which weigh between 0.6 kg to 0.7 kg. These heavyweight sticks are useful in hard-hitting the ball which helps in clearing the ball from the defensive area.

Hockey Stick and the Material

Field hockey sticks are generally made of mulberry or hickory wood. Nowadays, fiberglass and composite materials are also in use in making the sticks. The wood sticks absorb shocks, and the fiberglass sticks are durable and aid hard-hitting.

Players at the beginner level use wood sticks whereas players who have good experience in playing opt for the composite sticks.

Length of the Stick

There are various lengths of field hockey sticks available, and the players choose the sticks according to their height. For example, it would be difficult for a short player to play with a long stick as it makes the movements a difficult one. To make the choice easy, the sticks varying in lengths from 0.66 meters to 0.97 meters are available.

Toe of the Stick

There are four types of field hockey sticks when considering the toe style of the stick and they are Shorti, Midi, Maxi, and Hook.

The shorti toe style is suitable for the players who play in the forward position, and the design is best suited for dribbling.

For the beginners or the midfielders, the midi toe style, which is half an inch bigger than the shorti, is the suitable one. It is useful in stopping the ball and also aids in dribbling the ball.

The players who are defenders in the field choose the maxi toe style as it has a larger surface area. It is good for hitting the ball hard.

When the defenders don’t feel comfortable with the maxi toe style, they can opt for hook toe style stick. It has ‘J’ shaped larger toe which complements maxi toe style in a greater way.

Field Hockey Shoes

The type of shoes a hockey player chooses depends on the type of floor he/she plays. For playing on grass fields cleats are suitable as the soles having larger studs allow a better grip. Moreover, it is useful for making quicker cuts and faster transitions.

But for playing on the artificial turf, shoes with smaller studs are enough which gives perfect grip. However, for playing indoor hockey, court shoes are a suitable one which gives the maximum grip on the smooth surfaces.

Shin Guards

The field hockey players have more chances of getting hit by the stick and ball. So, they need proper shin guards which differ from the one used in soccer.

The shin guard should protect the area from under the kneecap to the ankle, and it is of hard plastic. Moreover, shin guards are thicker and have more pad area to protect from the small ball. And players wear it over shocks to absorb moisture.

Mouth Guard

Field hockey is a fast-paced game, and the arms, legs, and sticks are always on the move. The players getting hit on the face is a highly possible one, and wearing a mouthguard is good as a precaution.

Socks, rash guards, stick bag, electrical tape, grip, and ball are other equipment which a player needs to use in playing the game.

Equipment for the goalie

Field hockey goalie


It is one of the most important guards the goalie needs to protect his/her head and face from injuries. In selecting the helmet, the visibility to see the ball clearly is crucial. Most importantly, quality and comfort are the other factors to consider.

Throat Protector

The International Hockey Federation makes the throat protector compulsory as hard-hitting shots are dangerous to life. The protector wraps around the neck, and the design protects the neck and throat from injuries. Moreover, wearing the protector is compulsory for goalies of all ages.

Chest Pad

It protects the upper portion of the front body, and the full-body chest pads also come with elbow guards.

Arms and Elbow Protector

The arms and elbow protector make the protection complete and guard the goalie’s arms. It is better to protect all parts from a hard-hitting ball than suffering from injuries.

Right and Left Hand Protector

The right and left-hand protectors enable the goalie to stop the ball. The right-hand protector fits around the stick and is hard and round. But the left-hand protector is flat and stiff to stop lifted high shots.

Girdles and Groin Protector

The goalie girdles protect the upper legs, hips, and groins from hard shots and the groin protector covers the groin from getting injuries.

Leg Guards and Kickers

These protective gears cover the lower part of the legs

Position of the Players in Field Hockey

The teams which actively move for the opponents’ goal post consist of eleven players per side. Among them, ten persons are field players, and the remaining person is the goalie.

The goalie has to guard the goal post while other players can take positions as a forward player, midfielder or a defender. In field hockey, each position needs certain skills and responsibilities from the players, and the players get positions according to their abilities.


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The goalkeeper has the responsibility of stopping the ball from the opponents, and he can use any part of his body to stop the ball. He can also use the stick like other players.

As the focus of the entire opponent team is in scoring the goals, the goalkeeper should be a strong person. Moreover, he should have quick reflex actions, a strong physique, and a strong mental attitude to handle the continuous attacks.

Forward Players

Field hockey mid fielder

The players in forwarding positions must have quick lightning reflexes and should be high sprinters. They form the main offensive line of the team, and the players should be able to strike the ball accurately and score goals for the team. To create possibilities of making goals, the players should move, pass, and deflect the ball quickly in the inner circle.


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Midfielders occupy the positions between the forward players and defenders and they play as ‘links.’ These players have more responsibility as they have to carry the ball both to the forward players and the defenders. Moreover, they have to control the neutral zone.

The skill of the midfield players helps in keeping the ball with the team. In addition to this, the players should have the ability to play both the offense and defense game.


Being a defender in field hockey is a challenging role as the players have to face the attacking opponents. And they have to protect the goal and clear the ball.

The defenders have to move swiftly on their feet and have to play aggressively to get possession of the ball. During the play, they have to overpower the opponent to get clear the ball from their defending zone.

Most importantly, the defenders prevent opponents from making goals.

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How to play field hockey

When someone wants to play hockey, learning how to play the shots or shoot the ball, dribbling the ball and passing the ball are the basic and essential parts of the play.

Shooting the ball

Drives, slap shots, flicks, push passes, and scoops are the five types of field hockey shots. Moreover, learning to play the shots is a vital part of the game.


field hockey drive

To play the drives, players have to grip the top of the stick tightly and should do a swift backswing to hit the ball. It’s the most common of all the shots, and this powerful shot takes the ball to the farthest distance. The players use this shot for a long pass, free hit or a shot at the goal.

Slap Shots

To play slap shots, players have to apply only half backswing, unlike the full swing in the drive shot. In addition to this, the players hold the stick with hands about eight inches apart and don’t hold the stick at the top. This shot is useful in passing, shooting, and controlling the ball.


field hockey player playing the flick shot
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Flicks are the shots useful in scoring goals and are the quick shots. These flick shots are also useful in tackling the defenders, and goalies would find it difficult to stop it. The ball will be in the air in flicks, and the players can’t hit it too high to get it over the opponent.

To play the flick, a player has to tilt the head of the stick at an angle to reach underneath the ball. Following it, the player has to flick his wrist swiftly to get the shot right.

Push Passes

When the player pushes the ball without any backswing of the stick, the shot is a push pass. This shot requires the physical strength of the players as there is no swing of the stick. In playing this shot, the players can send the ball to the target easily and are particularly useful in scoring goals.


Not like flicks, the scoop is a short distance shot in the air, and it is helpful in tackling the opponent. The scoop shot is also useful in free hit outside the circle.

Dribbling the ball in Field Hockey

In field hockey, learning to dribble the ball effectively is important as it helps to move over the field. Most importantly, it helps in tackling the opponent without losing possession of the ball. There are six ways of dribbling.

Straight Dribble

It is the most used dribble in field hockey, and the ball never leaves the player and prevents it from the opponent. In straight dribbling, the players use the basic grip and hold the stick in front of them. Moreover, holding the stick slightly to the right side of their body is also important.

The players should not let the ball to lose contact with the stick and should run forward by keeping the head up to know where to pass the ball. In straight dribbling, transition into passing or shooting is easy.

Loose Dribble

In loose dribbling, the player continuously taps the ball instead of keeping the touching as in straight dribbling. The sprint and the simultaneous tapping of the ball, help in quick advancement towards the target.

In loose dribble also, the player uses the basic grip but taps the ball in different distances to not to losing possession of the ball.

Indian Dribble

In field hockey, one of the most useful dribbles is Indian dribble. The player who masters this technique moves past the opponent easily, and it is also difficult to defend it.

Though the players use the basic grip, they use the left hand to rotate the stick 180 degrees, and the right hand will be loosely in place for control. On the move, they rotate the stick now to the opposite side. Thus reversing the ball to the left and right alternatively makes the Indian Dribble.

Dribbling Pull-back

Straight dribbling with the pullback of the ball is dribbling pull back. When a player in motion has to avoid the opponent, he could apply the dribbling pull back. It helps to retain possession of the ball while also helps in moving forward.

The player in action will do the pushing forward and pulling backward till he/she wants to pass or shoot for the goal.

One-handed: Right Hand and Left Hand

In the one-handed: right-hand dribble the player uses only his right hand. The player can play this dribble when he is on the right side of the field as he has to use the right sideline as the other shield to the ball. The player runs and moves the ball up the right sideline without losing contact with the ball.

The same dribbling, on the left side of the field, using the left sideline as the shield is one-handed left-hand dribbling.

Passing the ball in Field Hockey

passing the ball in field hockey

Learning to pass the ball to teammates is a vital part of field hockey as this fast-paced game needs quick movement and quick passing of the ball.

Forehand Pass

Any passing that is made off the right side of the player is a forehand pass, and it is the most common way of passing in field hockey.

In playing the forehand passing, firstly the player must make sure the ball is at his right side and the bottom of the stick. Then the player should position his body to face his teammate.

For a push pass, the ball must be behind the back foot of the player to give the pass with more power. For a slap and hit pass, positioning the ball in the middle of the feet is enough.

To make the pass, the player has to sweep the stick easily while shifting the weight of the body from the back to the front. Moreover, the stick and the body should face the target after releasing the ball.

Push pass

To move the ball quickly over short distances, push pass is the best option as it gives more control over the ball. The advantage it provides is the more accuracy, and the stick will be in contact with the ball until the player hits it for the pass.

The player has to be in a position perpendicular to the target, and the left side of the body should face it. The ball should be on the right side and in line with the back foot. Also keeping the knees in a bent position and the body low will make the pass a good one.

While passing, the player has to shift the weight from the back foot to the front foot and should rotate the hips to produce more power.

The follow-through after releasing the ball should also be right, and the stick should point towards the target.

Field Hockey Tournaments

Field Hockey tournament

The worldwide events that every hockey fan cherishes are the Olympic Games tournament and Hockey World cup. Both of these events are held every four years with much celebration.

Champions trophy for the field hockey is held every year, and top-ranked six countries are the contenders for the trophy.

From 1998, field hockey is in the list of games in Commonwealth Games.

The Sultan Azlan Shah Hockey Tournament and Sultan Ibrahim Ismail Hockey Tournament for the junior team are also prominent tournaments. Both these tournaments happen every year in Malaysia, and international teams participate in tournaments.

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