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Field Hockey Vs Ice Hockey – What’s The Difference?

Field Hockey Vs Ice Hockey

Field hockey and ice hockey have distinct rules, equipment, and playing environments. These two sports might seem worlds apart despite their common name.

Let’s try to draw a clear comparison to better understand each game’s unique features.

Playing Surface

Ice hockey is played on a frozen ice surface, while field hockey is played on a grass or turf field.

Ice Hockey is Played on Ice

Ice hockey occupies a unique spot in the sporting universe due to its distinctive playing surface. The game unfolds on an ice rink, which presents both challenges and opportunities for players.

While navigating on ice requires specific skills and equipment such as ice hockey skates, the slick surface also allows for remarkable speed and fluid movement across the rink. Players dress in specialized gear including helmets, gloves, and often body armor underneath their uniforms to protect against injury from falls or puck impacts.

Furthermore, unlike many sports played indoors or outdoors depending on seasonal conditions, it is possible to find indoor ice hockey matches year-round thanks to artificial surfaces.

However, traditionalists might argue that outdoor ice hockey provides a more authentic experience of this fast-paced winter sport.

Field Hockey is Played on the Grass or Turf Field

Field hockey employs a grass or turf field as its playing surface. The standard dimensions span 100 yards long and 60 yards wide, offering ample space for action-packed games. This playing terrain necessitates specific gear for athletes such as cleats fitted with longer rubber studs to ensure grip and mobility.

The sporting equipment too differs significantly from other types of hockey due to the field’s nature. Field hockey sticks consist predominantly of composite materials like fiberglass and carbon, designed meticulously for play on grass or synthetic turf fields.

These unique features make field hockey engaging and set it apart in the realm of sports world-wide.

Number of Players

Field Hockey Play

Ice hockey is played with six players per team, while field hockey is played with eleven players per team.

Ice hockey is played with six players per team

Ice hockey’s fast, strategic gameplay demands a team of six players on the ice at any given time. This lineup includes one goalie whose sole objective is to protect the net and prevent the opposing team from scoring.

Two defensemen assist the goalie by maintaining control over their defensive zone and disrupting opponents’ offensive plays. The remaining three positions are forwards, which includes two wingers and a center who work together in an attempt to out-maneuver their rivals and score goals.

Each position possesses unique responsibilities, making teamwork essential for success in this high-intensity sport.

Learn more about field hockey.

Field hockey is played with eleven players per team

Field hockey teams are made up of eleven players, each working together to achieve victory. The team composition includes a goalkeeper, three forwards, four midfielders, and three defenders.

With this lineup, field hockey requires strategic coordination among the players as they maneuver across the grass or turf field. This larger number of players allows for dynamic gameplay and creates opportunities for different strategies and skill sets to be utilized throughout the match.

Structure of the Game

Women Hockey League

Ice hockey has Periods and Overtime

Ice hockey is divided into three periods of 20 minutes each, making up a total game duration of 60 minutes. Unlike field hockey, ice hockey has overtime, which allows teams to have additional playtime if the game is tied at the end of regulation.

This structure with periods and overtime gives teams opportunities for breaks and regrouping during the game. It also provides a chance for strategic planning and team adjustments to be made by coaches and players between each period.

This ensures an exciting and dynamic gameplay experience for both players and fans alike.

Field Hockey has Halves and Penalty Shootouts

Field hockey is divided into two halves, similar to soccer. Each half typically lasts for 35 minutes, making the total game time around 70 minutes. This division allows teams to regroup and strategize during halftime.

In case of a tie at the end of regulation play, penalty shootouts come into play. Penalty shootouts provide an intense and thrilling conclusion to the game, where players from each team take turns attempting to score against the opposing goalkeeper in a one-on-one situation.

The team with the most goals after 5 attempts is declared the winner.

Rules and Gameplay

Stick handling and puck control in ice hockey

Ice hockey requires excellent stick handling and puck control skills. Players must be able to maneuver the puck quickly and accurately using their stick blade. They can use both the front and back of the blade, giving them more versatility on the ice.

Stickhandling techniques such as dribbling, where players move the puck back and forth in a controlled manner, are crucial for maintaining possession and creating scoring opportunities.

Puck handling skills involve keeping the puck close to their body while skating, allowing them to make quick moves or passes when needed.

In addition to stick technique, body positioning plays a vital role in stick handling and puck control in ice hockey. Players need to have good balance and agility to protect the puck from opponents while being aware of their surroundings.

When it comes to aggressive play, ice hockey allows physical contact with opponents using sticks within certain limits. Checking is a strategy where players use their bodies or sticks against opponents to disrupt their play or gain possession of the puck legally.

However, there are rules regarding excessive force or careless actions that can lead to penalties if not executed correctly.

Stick handling and ball control in field hockey

In field hockey, stick handling and ball control are essential skills for players. They use their sticks to dribble the ball, maneuver around opponents, and pass accurately to teammates.

Players must have good stickwork, which involves using the flat side of the stick to handle the ball with precision and control. They need to maintain a proper grip on the stick, position it correctly, and make controlled contact with the ball.

Unlike in ice hockey where players can also use their body or hands to control the puck, field hockey players must rely solely on their sticks for handling and controlling the ball.

Differences in Penalties and Fouls

2 NHL Players

Field hockey and ice hockey have distinct differences when it comes to penalties and fouls. In field hockey, committing a foul often results in the opposing team gaining possession of the ball.

This means that players need to be extra careful not to engage in any infractions that could potentially cost their team valuable control of the game. Ice hockey, on the other hand, employs a system of penalties with increasing consequences for different types of violations.

From minor offenses like tripping or hooking to more serious misconducts such as fighting or high-sticking, players can face time in the penalty box and leave their team short-handed on the ice.

Scoring Methods for Each Sport

In ice hockey, a goal is scored when the puck crosses the goal line and enters the net. Players can shoot from any part of the ice to score a goal. On the other hand, field hockey has more specific scoring rules.

In this sport, goals are only allowed if they are scored from within the D area in front of each team’s goal. Shots taken outside of this area do not count as goals. So, while ice hockey allows for scoring from anywhere on the ice, field hockey restricts goals to shots taken within a specific zone.

Offsides and Positioning Rules

In ice hockey, there are specific offside rules that players must follow. If a player crosses the blue line into the offensive zone before the puck does, they are considered offside.

This rule helps to maintain fairness and prevent players from gaining an unfair advantage. On the other hand, in field hockey, there are no offside rules. Players can freely move around the field without any restrictions based on their positioning.

This difference in offsides rules adds another layer of variation between these two sports.

In addition to offside rules, positioning is also crucial in both sports. In ice hockey, players need to strategically position themselves on the ice for optimal gameplay and scoring opportunities.

They have to be aware of their location relative to their opponents and teammates to make effective passes and shots on goal. Field hockey also requires smart positioning with a focus on defensive tactics as well as attacking strategies.


Ice hockey and field hockey may share the same name, but they are two very different sports. From the playing surface to the number of players and rules, these sports have their own unique characteristics.

So whether you prefer gliding on ice or running on grass, there’s a type of hockey out there for everyone.