How Do I Play Hockey?

How do I Play Field Hockey?

Field Hockey is a team sport that requires a good level of fitness, ball skills, and a solid understanding of the rules. There are certain necessary items you will need before taking the field: a hockey stick, shin guards, hockey shoes, and a gum shield.  Good knowledge of the rules will help you grasp the finer details of the sport before joining your teammates on the pitch.

You will need a Hockey Stick to play

Hockey sticks are becoming more and more technically advanced and you can’t play field hockey without one. A beginner’s stick will be more affordable and simpler to use so you can hone basic skills. More advanced sticks for the more experienced player contain hi-tech composites such as graphene and graphite. Often more advanced field hockey sticks have bow shapes designed for advanced players that allow them to use 3D skills – a skill set a learner won’t be able to grasp early on. Hockey hooked offers a guide of hockey sticks for beginners and a stick guide for more advanced players.

How do I Play Field Hockey?
How do I Play Field Hockey? Get the Gear.

Like football and rugby, the game is played with one ball. Proper hockey balls are sometimes made with cork or advanced composites. A ball that’s too hard won’t be fun to play with and can damage your stick in the long run.

 You’ll need Protective gear to play Field Hockey

You’ll need protection in the form of shin guards. Guards protect your shins and ankles from fast-paced balls and swinging hockey sticks that can travel at even 100 mph. It”s important you wear shin guards that fit properly, stretching from the base of the knee right down to the foot and if possible offering ankle padding too. Teeth and gum protection is advisable by most experts; a hook of a hockey stick or a flying ball can do serious damage to players mouths and jaws. The good news is gum shields are very affordable these days and easy to mold to the inside of the mouth using hot water.

 RX50 STX Starter Kit
RX50 STX Starter Kit: Buy it here

Field hockey goggles were mandatory for American field hockey college players until this year. Now the term used by the USA sports association is ‘recommended’ players wear protective goggles when running out on the hockey field. Protective goggles from leading manufacturers like STX protect eyes and eye sockets from hard blows which can be made by flying sticks and hockey balls.

You’ll Need Field Hockey Shoes

Field hockey shoes are a good asset and a good form of protection when playing hockey. Their raised toes protect feet from balls skimming across the floor while top side padding and heel protection safeguard feet from hard-hitting sticks. Nowadays, they are also designed to be waterproof as many field hockey playing surfaces are water-based. Typically hockey shoes with larger cleats/studs are more suitable for grass pitches.

4 Best Field Hockey Shoes for Advanced Players
4 Best Field Hockey Shoes for Advanced Players

The most common style of hockey shoe now comes with smaller studs/cleats, designed for water-based synthetic grass that most field hockey is nowadays played on. Check with your club or college which type of field you’ll be playing most games on before choosing your hockey shoes (unless you plan on buying a few styles). Hockey Hooked lists a good selection of styles here.

In colder climes, wearing well-padded hockey gloves adds to your warmth and protects knuckles from nasty clashes.

How to Play Hockey
How do I Play Field Hockey? Learn the Rules.

The Rules of Field Hockey you Should know to Play Field Hockey

The minutia of the rules of the game will change from season to season but the general rules stay the same.

1. You may only use the flat side of the stick (there are no left-handed sticks)
2. There are 11 players including a goalie on each side.
3. You must be properly attired (see above)
4. The field hockey game lasts for two 30 minute halves.
5. The ball cannot hit your feet.
6. You cannot raise your hockey stick above your waist during regular play.
If you are taking a free hit, it is up to the discretion of the ref.
7. You cannot tackle from behind and no third party may join in the tackle.
8. Obstruction: when your back is turned to another player and you are shielding the ball and that player.
9. In n a penalty corner, the ball is placed on the goal line at least 10 yards from the nearest goal post. One attacking player hits the ball to a teammate just outside the striking circle line. No shot on goal may be taken until the ball is stopped.
10. 16-Yard Hits When the attacking team plays the ball over the back-line, the defense receives a 16-yard hit. The free hit is taken 16 yards from the spot where the ball crossed the back-line. The Push-In/Hit-In
11. A push-in or hit-in is awarded to the opposition if a player hits the
ball completely over the sideline. All other players and their hockey sticks
must be at least 5 yards away from the spot where the ball is put into play.
12. Last but not least this is one of the most important rules: Each goal is worth one point.
A goal can only be scored from inside the shooting circle – a semi-circular area in front of the opponents’ goal. Goals scored from outside this area are disallowed.

Field Hockey Famous Quote of the day:

It’s odd, that’s why I don’t like telling people I played field hockey. It’s real big in Australia for guys. But I say I played in America, and everybody goes, ‘Oh, you girl!’ — Heath Ledger

Fitness to play Field Hockey

Earlier I touched on fitness. Like any team sport, a good level of fitness can improve your game and benefit the team. In hockey (or other team sports such as football) professionals will run approximately eight to eleven miles in a game – hockey (as there’s less time in a game), usually the former. For this reason, it’s advisable to go on a mid-week run covering a similar distance to keep your fitness levels high before the game. Like most things in life, preparation is key.

Skills of Field Hockey to Improve your game

You only have to look at the world’s best players to see how top skills separate them from the average player. Luciana Aymar was one of the world’s best who often used mesmerizing skills. The Argentinian’s 3D skills were learned over many years. The way she dribbled was a delight to see. Her tricks such as chipping the ball over an opponent’s stick were all learned with lots of practice. You can see on hockeyhooked.com tips page a few guides on advanced skills that will enhance your game.

All said, practice is the key to fine-tuning your game while fitness is your bread and butter.

Simple Skills to help you Play Field Hockey

Advanced skills that international players use may seem light-years away for most of us but there are some basic skills that can set you on your way to advancing in the game and being team worthy.

1. Dribbling. By dribbling a player can run towards the opposite goal, and can bring the ball out of defense, evade markers, and distribute cleverly to a teammate. The mazy run, controlling the ball is important to learn if you’re going to become a good player. Here is a guide on dribbling.

2. Slap pass. A slap pass, also known as a slap shot is great for passing over a middle distance to a teammate or for shooting towards goal.  Stronger and faster than a push pass, played correctly it can be a useful technique for changing passages of play from flank to flank.

How do I Play Field Hockey?
How do I Play Field Hockey? Learn Skills

3. Drive. For many field hockey players, the drive is the toughest shot to get licked.  It’s primarily employed when taking a hard shot on goal or by the defense when they’re aiming to clear a ball without hesitancy. Position your feet together with the ball in front of a few feet ahead.

Grip the end of the handle with both hands close, one after the other as if you were holding a baseball bat. Bend your knees and tilt your weight on your back leg. Bring the stick back level with your waist with the flat face facing forward. Take a step forward to the ball and swing where the toe of the stick must make contact at the lowest point of the swing. Follow through to the target.

Famous Quote About Field Hockey

Field hockey is my strongest sport, and if I lose a game, I take a long, hot bath and moan about it. ” Emma Watson.
The following video is a master class on how to play field hockey by Indian great: Dhanraj Pillay…

Importance of the Hockey Playing Surface.

I have touched on the importance of hockey shoes above. Without a good hockey field, the game won’t get very far. Balls will jump chaotically and will be hard to hit. Find out what type of playing surface you’ll be playing on for the hockey season. If you’re playing on Astro turf, you won’t want to be equipped with large cleats (studs) or you will have trouble with grip.
If your team will be playing hockey on a bumpy grass field, flat-soled sports shoes won’t do. They won’t offer enough grip. Accidents can easily happen too if you’re sliding everywhere. Nowadays, field hockey shoes have raised soles to protect from fast balls skimming the ground.
Blue Water Based Pitch
A Blue Water Based Pitch used in Tournaments
For the last two decades, serious field hockey games have been played on water-based astro-turf. These pitches offer more predictability and speed. Water-filled pitches are more expensive than sand-filled pitches. Sand-based pitches can still be found here and there and even some seniors will play on well-kept grass pitches. Pitches tend to be green or blue to help players and spectators see the ball with more clarity. Hockey hooked has an in-depth article about hockey pitches here.
The Federation of International Hockey (FIH) has a good website for hockey news with many updated details about the game of field hockey in general.
By your field hockey follower Eddie.G

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