Should I wear Protection During Field Hockey Games?

According to FIH rules, shin, ankle, and mouth protectors are “recommended” for field players. Plastic mouth guards protect players’ teeth and also jaws to some extent. Ankle and shin guards protect players’ legs and ankles from bruises caused by sticks or hurtling balls which can travel at speeds of up to 100 mph at high levels of play. In the United States, all high school players have been required to wear eye protection since 2011.

Most country hockey associations follow the FIH rules and state it is ‘recommended’ for field hockey players to wear shin pads during games. Some associations claim it’s necessary! The Belgian hockey federation enforces the wearing of shin pads during competition games of both youth and senior players and mouth guards are ‘strongly recommended’.

England Hockey strongly recommends wearing shin, ankle and mouth protection whilst playing hockey, though it is common knowledge all England youngsters from any age must wear pads and a gum shield or they won’t play. The EH states,

“Following the England Hockey Clubmark process it is important for all clubs to check that activities are as safe as possible to reduce the risk of accident or injury to everyone involved.”

Different countries have different rules on protection when playing field hockey

In the United States, all high school players have been required to wear eye protection since 2011. The question of eyewear is controversial as supporters say it protects the eyes, while opponents argue that eyewear leads to more injuries, for it is suggested protective glasses decrease players’ peripheral vision.

Accidental contact with a ball or an opponent’s stick may result in injury to the face or shins if they’re not protected. While the majority of these injuries are not major, usually cuts and bruises, more serious injuries such as facial fractures, broken or lost teeth, and penetrating eye injuries have been reported.

Many clubs around the world now enforce the wearing of shin pads and mouth guards at youth training up to U18s and in serious adult competition. Seniors are free to choose at most clubs but are also strongly advised to wear them by experts. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that gum shields prevent a number of injuries. Shin protection and ankle protection guards offer great protection states the FIH. Players may wear gloves if they’re not thickly padded. Headgear and eyewear are illegal under FIH rules unless a player requires protection because of a specific medical condition (though USA rules contradict this – as mentioned above). It is recommended that gum shields should be replaced every year and be shock-resistant and fitted by a dentist or purchased through a reputable provider.

What are players opinions in general on wearing shin pads during field hockey games?

When I stop to think about the safety of players of all ages I believe it should maybe be a rule that all players should wear shin pads and possibly gum shields I myself, would never set foot on a pitch without a gum shield or shin pads. I’m a midfielder and would say they are even more important for defenders. I recommend all players to wear mouth guards as a flying ball at upwards of 60 miles an hour in the mouth can break teeth and injure gums. Moreover, a swing of a high stick smacked in the teeth from an overzealous defender would be very unpleasant without protection.

Do kids clubs make it compulsory to use shin pads during field hockey games?

You will find mostly they are strongly ‘encouraged’ but not compulsory as in line with the FIH stance. This is because with so many players playing in so many different locations it can be difficult to enforce and if a kid gets injured when not wearing one despite being compulsory then it can be argued that the association should not have allowed the kid to begin playing the game. However, at national level, you won’t find many hockey associations allowing kids to take the field without protection. You will find most clubs have a policy for their own players making it compulsory or leave the decision to allow them to take the field in the hands of the parents.

Which shin pads should a field hockey player wear?

 Protective shin pads are typically designed with hard plastic on the outside to protect and keep you safe, with soft foam padding on the inside to keep you comfortable. Good quality shin pads, from kookaburra have ultra-lightweight high tensile carbon fiber.

Looking at the scratches I currently have in them I’m so glad I wear them. If the carbon fiber was my shin the red pain wouldn’t bear thinking about. I wouldn’t go for anything less substantial shin pad-wise either, I’ve seen sticks go through those foam and plastic cheap things, and it wasn’t nice at all. As for mouth guards, I use them when I remember to use mouth guards. You can easily buy reputable brands online and fit them yourself. They mould in nicely after being soaked in hot water.

I spoke to my girlfriend yesterday asking her about the matter. She told me the following despite telling me she always wears hockey protection…poor Sarah…

“I was playing as a defender yesterday and didn’t wear shin pads or a gum shield. I foolishly left them at home. I got hit straight below the knee which gave me a nice blue bump. Ten minutes later during the game, I got whacked straight on my hand and was wearing a glove but still got a bruised bone in my hand so it hurts like anything when I bend my forefinger.”

Goalkeeper gear, of course, is necessary and playing without it would be highly dangerous as balls are shot toward the goalie at every angle and at high speed. You can see world No1, Maddie Hinch’s gear review here >>

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