According to FIH rules, 3 types of protective gear are recommended for all field hockey players –
- Shin guards
- Ankle pads
Why should I wear shin guards?
Field hockey shin guards are made of plastic and foam, which wrap further around the lower leg, offering more ankle protection than soccer shin pads. After the hockey stick, they should be the next most important item on your shopping list. Shin guards protect the front and the sides of the lower leg from injury from flying balls and swinging sticks.
Good shin guards will also offer protection to the ankles. Shin guards also provide protection from friction burns should you fall or trip.
How should I wear shin guards?
To gain the best and snuggest fit, wear a light pair of socks under your shin guards. Many pads now have velcro straps, and will fit neatly in place from your foot to your lower knee. Pull your thicker hockey socks over the guards, once the guards are in place and attached. Buy a shin pad that stretches the full length of the shin bone to the knee.
Where can I find ankle pads?
The newest shin guards on the market now have ankle pads built into them. Shin guards that slip over your foot with an elasticated base that slips under the sole of your foot will have adequate ankle protection.
Don’t mistake hockey shin guards with soccer shin guards. Although under 13s would be okay with soccer shin guards, as they will be hitting balls with less force. Once they reach high school, I’d certainly recommend the protection is ramped up for a more serious hockey game. Soccer shin guards are designed with less protection, less padding, and weaker plastic. The better field hockey guards have inners that can be washed in washing machines and are lightweight.
Why should I use a mouthguard?
Mouthguards are often called gum shields. Gum shields protect your teeth from swinging sticks, collisions and strikes from hockey sticks. Gum shields also offer limited protection to your jaw.
They are easy to fit. When allowed to become soft in hot water, gum shields will meld to the shape of your bite. Please follow the manufacturer’s instructions. For a few dollars, they are worth their protective weight in gold.
If it's stated by FIH I 'can' wear gloves, should I wear gloves?
The FIH rules say hockey players can wear gloves though they should not be bulky thus interrupting play and gaining you an advantage against opposition players. If you play in cold conditions gloves can be a benefit offering warmth. They also protect knuckles and fingers during trips and slips and collisions.
What type of protective shoes you should be wearing when playing field hockey?
This depends on the type of surface you are going to play on. If you are playing on a grass field, then cleats are the most suitable shoe. The soles usually have big plastic studs allowing for better grip and faster transitions when moving at speed.
However, if you are playing on artificial turf, you might want to invest some money in turf shoes. They have smaller studs, ideal for gripping new forms of artificial turf.
Finally, if you are playing indoor hockey, court shoes would be more appropriate, as their soles have rubber surfaces for maximum grip on smoother surfaces.
Field hockey shoes are tougher in general than running trainers, with tougher heels and toes should you receive a blow from a stick or a high-speed ball.
For some of the best Field Hockey shoes available on the market, check out our top choices.
Field hockey goalies must wear extra protective equipment?
Field hockey goalies may also wear neck protectors. As with all other field hockey players, goalies carry a stick at all times. However, their sticks have special modifications such as flatter shafts, and special hooks with larger playing surfaces.
Here is where to find a great selection of Field Hockey goalkeeper protection.
Do different countries have different rules regarding protection during field hockey games?
Country organizations have made their own modifications to the FIH rules and usually enforce the recommendations. In the USA, mouthguards and shin guards are required in all divisions for players and goalkeepers under 19 years.
Team USA states;
“Any violation of this modification should be considered misconduct and penalized accordingly with an appropriate card as necessary”
Furthermore, goalkeepers in all divisions for players under 19 years must wear a “mouth guard, throat protector, and chest protection.”
With younger players under the microscope U.S. high school field hockey players have been required to wear eye protection since 2011.
The Belgian hockey federation enforces the wearing of shin pads during competition games. For both youth and senior players, mouth guards are ‘strongly recommended’
English Hockey mirrors the FIH by recommending that gum shields and shin pads should be worn during games. However, it is accepted that all players in the international league will not be allowed to even partake in training sessions without those two items of protection. The same applies to most federations.
In India, the team captain has spoken out several times about poverty affecting some of the players of the national team, and how they are not attired well enough. He told the Indian Times;
“It is there for everybody to see. Hockey players do not have shoes to wear. The kits provided to the team are substandard”
However, in the top leagues, shin guards and gum shields are necessary.
The Take Away
Having a great stick may seem like the most important thing in this game we love, but actually, it’s not. Being protected is vital. Especially for the young players, new to hockey. It doesn’t take much of a hit to destroy a child’s playing confidence. And more importantly, have you seen the price of dentists lately!?!
Don’t skimp on protection, it only has to save you once.
by your hockey enthusiast, Eddie G.