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Field Hockey Rules – How To Play Field Hockey

Field Hockey Rules

With a combination of speed, skill, and strategy, field hockey can be a bit complex for beginners. Here’s an easy-to-understand guide on how to play field hockey.

Rules and Equipment of Field Hockey

Number of Players on the Field

Field hockey involves two teams, each composed of 11 players. A crucial part of these 11 members is the goalkeeper, who has the vital job of defending the team’s goal post from opponents’ attacks.

Other positions in a field hockey lineup include defenders, midfielders, and forwards—each with unique roles and responsibilities on the field during playtime. The remaining 10 players are allocated according to their skills and roles to cover the entire playing area effectively.

This team formation ensures that all areas of gameplay are covered properly for optimal performance during matches.

Use of Hockey Sticks

Hockey sticks play a crucial role in field hockey. They are typically designed from hard yet flexible materials such as wood or carbon fiber to enhance stick durability and control.

A player’s technique usually involves manipulating the ball with the flat side of the curved stick, usually made of hardwood.

Stick grip influences effective stick handling. Choosing a suitable length that matches your height aids overall performance on the field. It is also critical to ensure that no dangerous use of the stick happens which will be regarded as an infraction in field hockey rules.

Also read about differences between field and ice hockey

Goal Scoring

In field hockey, goal scoring forms a crucial part of the game. The primary objective for each attacker is to make the ball cross the goal line. To score a valid point, however, it must be ensured that this touch occurs within an area known as ‘the circle’.

All goals amount to one point in case of successful attempts. There are strict rules on what constitutes a legal ball; it has to be made from solid plastic and its weight comes around 5.5 to 5.75 ounces with a circumference of between 8.8 inches and 9.25 inches.

Umpires have different ways to penalize any breaches during goal scoring which can range from free hits, penalty corners to penalty strokes depending on the severity of fault.

Gameplay and Techniques in Field Hockey

Field Hockey Play

Players in field hockey must master various skills and techniques, including passing and dribbling the ball, tackling and blocking opponents, as well as understanding penalties and fouls.

Passing and Dribbling the Ball

Passing and dribbling the ball are essential skills in field hockey. They allow players to move the ball strategically and create scoring opportunities. Here are some key techniques involved in passing and dribbling:
  • Stickhandling: Players must have good stick control and be able to handle the ball effectively.
  • Passing accuracy: Players need to make precise passes to their teammates, ensuring the ball reaches them quickly and accurately.
  • Dribbling skills: Dribbling involves moving with the ball while maintaining control, allowing players to navigate through opponents.
  • Ball control: It’s crucial for players to maintain close control of the ball while dribbling or passing.
  • Offensive tactics: Skillful passing and dribbling can help create openings in the opponent’s defense, leading to goal-scoring opportunities.
  • Defensive techniques: Good stickhandling skills enable defenders to intercept passes or dispossess opponents when they try to dribble.
  • Game strategy: Passing and dribbling form a critical part of a team’s overall game plan, allowing them to control possession and advance towards the opposition’s goal.
  • Spatial awareness: Effective passing requires players to be aware of their surroundings, finding open teammates or making accurate long passes.

Tackling and Blocking

In field hockey, tackling and blocking are important techniques that players use to gain possession of the ball and defend against opponents. Here are some key points to keep in mind:
  • Players are not allowed to tackle or block the ball with any part of their body, except for the goalkeeper. This is considered an infraction and can result in penalties.
  • Tackling involves using the stick to intercept an opponent’s pass or challenge for the ball. It requires good timing, footwork, and stick control.
  • Blocking refers to positioning oneself between an opponent and the ball in order to impede their progress. It is important to stay within the rules and avoid obstruction.
  • Breaches of rules during tackling or blocking can lead to penalties such as free hits, penalty corners, or penalty strokes being awarded by the umpire.
  • Penalty corners provide teams with a significant scoring opportunity, especially when it comes to executing well-rehearsed attacking plays.
  • Fouls related to tackling and blocking include actions such as shielding or obstructing the ball, playing with the rounded side of the stick, or interfering in play without a stick.
  • When a foul occurs, a free hit is awarded to the non-offending team at the spot where the infraction took place.

Penalties and Fouls

Penalties and fouls in field hockey are serious violations that can result in penalties or free hits for the opposing team. Here are some key actions that are considered penalties or fouls:

  1. Obstruction: Blocking an opponent’s path to the ball with your body or stick.
  2. Advancing the ball with any part of the body (except for the goalkeeper): Using any body part other than the stick to move the ball forward.
  3. Dangerous use of the stick: Swinging the stick in a way that could potentially harm another player.
  4. Hitting the ball in a way that could risk other players: Striking the ball in a way that puts other players’ safety at risk.
  5. Shielding or obstructing the ball
  6. Playing the ball with the rounded side of the stick
  7. Charging, hitting, shoving, or tripping an opponent
  8. Playing the ball in a potentially dangerous way
  9. Using the foot or leg to support the stick
  10. Raising the stick in a dangerous or intimidating manner
  11. Advancing the ball by any means other than with the stick
  12. Stopping or deflecting the ball with any part of the body

Understanding Field Dimensions and Time Duration

field hockey moment

The dimensions of a field hockey field are regulated by the International Hockey Federation. The game consists of two halves of 35 minutes each, with a ten-minute halftime break.

Measurement of the Hockey Field

Field hockey happens on a meticulously measured pitch, designed to ensure fairness and consistency in the game. 

Field Particular


Length of the field

100 yards

Width of the field

60 yards

Striking Circle

16 yards out from each goal post

Goal Cages

7 feet high, 12 feet wide, and 4 feet deep

Boards on Back and Sides of Goal

18 inches high

These measurements help to maintain the integrity of the game and create a level playing field for all players.

Duration of the Game

A field hockey match has two halves, 35 minutes each. This means that players have a total of 70 minutes to showcase their skills and score goals. The time is divided equally between the first and second halves, allowing for fair gameplay.

During halftime, teams take a short break to rest and strategize before returning to the field for the remaining duration of the game. Understanding the duration of a field hockey match helps both players and spectators know what to expect in terms of playing time and pacing.

Quarters and Breaks

A field hockey match is divided into two halves, each lasting around 35 minutes. This allows players to showcase their skills and tactics in a balanced amount of time. To start the game, one teammate passes the ball back to another at mid-field, setting off an exciting display of teamwork and competition.

With defined quarters and breaks, field hockey ensures that players have the opportunity to strategize and regroup throughout the match.

To Conclude...

Mastering the rules and techniques of field hockey is essential to excel in this thrilling sport. Understanding the equipment, gameplay, and dimensions will help you navigate the field with confidence.

FAQs about Field Hockey

A field hockey team has 11 players, including a goalkeeper and field players.

The objective of field hockey is to score goals by hitting the ball into the opponent’s net using a stick while following specific rules.

No, in field hockey, you can only use your stick to hit the ball. Using any other part of your body is considered a foul.

Yes, a standard game of field hockey consists of two halves with each half lasting 35 minutes at most. There may be shorter versions played for recreational or youth games.