Field hockey is a demanding, vigorous sport that is growing in
popularity. It combines intense physical activity and highly
coordinated team play, and has the potential for great spectator
appeal. It has been somewhat slow to become popular at the
high school and college level because of the expensive special
HISTORY OF THE GAME
Hockey is thought to date back as far as ancient Greece. There is even evidence that the Aztecs played some version
of hockey. Arabs, Persians and Romans all had their own version of the game.
Some believe that the word “hockey” comes from the French “hocquet,” a shepherd’s
crook. Whatever its origin, the sport has been around for centuries; in fact, it is one of the
oldest known sports.
By the late nineteenth century, hockey began to be played in English schools. In 1886,
the Hockey Association of London was founded. British soldiers then took the game to
India and the Far East. Indians were competing and winning international competitions
by 1928—the year when India won the Olympic Games in field hockey. India, in fact,remained undefeated for twenty
years until Pakistan emerged as a strong competitor.
Field hockey was first introduced into the United States in 1901 by an Englishwoman
named Constance Applebee who taught the game to her classmates at Harvard. She was
then invited to many women’s colleges to demonstrate the game.
The World Hockey Cup was inaugurated in 1971. Today, the Asian Cup, the Asian Games,
the European Cup and the Pan-American Games all are major international hockey events.
Field hockey has been an Olympic men’s event since 1908 and a women’s event since
HOW THE GAME IS PLAYED
In the game of field hockey, eleven players on each team play on a rectangular grasscovered
field 100 yards long and 60 yards wide. The object of the game is for both teams
to move the ball into the goal cage to score as many points as possible over their opponents.
The center pass is a method for putting the ball in play at
the start of the game, following halftime and after each
goal. The term “bully” refers to a method used by two
opposing players to restart play.
Once the ball is in play, it must be hit or touched by an
attacking player’s stick within the striking circle of the
goal cage so that the attacking team can score a goal or
Only the goalkeeper can use his or her feet or body or the
stick to stop a ball. Other players can use only the flat
surface of the stick to move the ball. However, they can
stop the ball with their hands. The stick can never be raised
above shoulder level (see section on “Fouls” below).
Five forwards, three halfbacks, two fullbacks and a goalkeeper make up the team. A
game is made up of two 30 minute halves. There is one five-minute break with time out
called only for an injury.
Various types of fouls occur in field hockey. Fouls are called by one of the two umpires
who are positioned on the two halves of the field. Most fouls are penalized by allowing
the opposing team a free hit.
Here are some of the most common reasons for fouls:
1. Raising the stick above the shoulder during a game.
2. Advancing the ball with the hand (as opposed to stopping it, which is legal).
3. Hooking or grabbing an opponent’s stick with another stick.
4. Undercutting, or causing the ball to rise so high that it becomes dangerous
5. Coming between the opponent and the ball by putting a stick or some body
part between the opponent and the ball (the obstruction rule).
When a team has control of the ball, many different techniques can be used to the offensive
team’s advantage. Six major techniques are as follows:1. The Drive. This is a method of passing the ball to a teammate. The stick is
lifted waist-high while on the downswing, and the left arm pulls the stick as
the right arm pushes it. This move is usually spontaneous
and is done on the run or is “walked into.”
There’s usually no time to prepare to hit.2. The Dribble. This move is made by gently
tapping the ball along. While it looks
and sounds easy, it takes practice to do it
correctly. The stick is carried to the righthand
side of the player’s body with the
elbows slightly bent. The player who is
dribbling should keep his/her eyes on the
ball and on the other players on both
3. The Scoop. This technique often accompanies the dribble. It allows theplayer to scoop the ball far enough off the ground to clear the opponent
stick. It requires little backswing and little, if any, follow-through. It should
be a gentle, lifting motion resulting in a reaching stroke. The ball is ahead
of the supporting foot as the player reaches for the ball with the stick.
4. The Flick. This is also a reaching stroke with the ball ahead
of the forward or supporting foot. This move puts a spin
on the ball and can make it travel a considerable distance.
However, the negative side of this move is
that a spin can make it as difficult for a teammate
to receive the ball as for an opponent to block
5. The Push. This move is used for short passes.
There is no backswing on this move and both
arms are working in the same motion. The move
must be made quickly because as the player
pushes the ball, the player’s weight moves onto
the toes of the forward foot.
6. The Dodge. “Dodging” is a general term applying to moves that are not
passed and not used for shooting. The dodge is a method of avoiding or
escaping an opponent while the player continues with the ball.
Being in good physical condition and having a good grasp of the game are of prime
importance in field hockey. However, an aggressive player also wants to make the most
goals possible. Field hockey participants eventually learn that being persistent on the
field wins games. In addition, it helps to observe these tips:
1. Make your attempt at the goal cage from a distance that’s not too far away
from the cage.
2. Aim at a specific spot in the goal cage, not just in the general direction of
3. Aim for the area left open by the goalkeeper. Remember: the goalie cannot
be everywhere at once!
4. If it’s not possible to attempt a goal, pass the ball to a teammate.
EQUIPMENT AND CLOTHING
One reason for the slowness with which field hockey has caught on at the high school
level is the expense of furnishing the necessary equipment. Players need not only special
clothing and equipment, but also a specific type of goal cage.
The hockey stick is usually 36 inches long and weighs from 12 to 28 pounds. The
weight of the stick increases as the length increases. Only the flat side (left side) of
the stick can be used to strike the ball.
Sticks require careful treatment in order to make them last. They need an occasional
sandpapering and rubbing with wax to keep them from splintering.
Today, balls are made of leather or plastic and can be any solid color as long as the
color contrasts with the playing surface. (instead of the older cricket balls).
Beginners can use tennis shoes to play field hockey. However, more
advanced players and professionals use rubber-cleated hockey shoes.
The cleats help players to stop, start and maintain balance on wet, mushy
The goalie wears the heaviest, most cumbersome uniform
of anyone on a hockey team. He or she wears protective
padding and padded gloves to stop the sting of a fast ball.
Goalies also wear shin pads (as should other members of
The goal cages are also vital pieces of equipment in this
game. They are four feet deep and four yards wide by seven
feet high. Although older cages were difficult to set up
and take down, modern goal cages are made of lightweight
aluminum and are portable.
NOTES AND NEWS
Field hockey has never had the popularity in North America that it enjoys in other countries.
In India, for example, field hockey is the most popular sport in the country. Popularity
is sometimes a guide for predicting performance.
As the National Governing Body for the sport, the United States Field Hockey Association
prepares teams for participation in the Olympic Games, Pan American Games, World
Cup and many other international competitions. The U.S. Field Hockey elite team programs
include both national and age group squads for both men and women.
2000 Olympics at Sydney, Australia
Men’s Team: Women’s Team:
Gold Medal Netherlands Australia
Silver Medal Korea Argentina
Bronze Medal Australia Netherlands
In 2000 NCAA Tournament action, Old Dominion
defeated North Carolina, 3-1, in the
finals of the Division I Field Hockey Championship.
The Lady Monarchs captured their
ninth NCAA title with the victory.
WHAT TO DO:
The following questions will help you to have a greater appreciation and understanding
of field hockey. Write your answers in the spaces below the questions. If there is not
enough room, write on the backs of these sheets. Be neat, spell correctly, and write in
1. What are the physical benefits to be gained from playing field hockey?
2. How many persons comprise a hockey team? What positions do they play?
3. What does the term “bully” mean in hockey?
4. True or False: All the players on a hockey team can use their feet or bodies or the stick to stop a ball.
5. Name five common reasons for a foul in hockey.
6. Why has hockey been somewhat slow to catch on at the high school level?
7. Name at least three attacking skills that a hockey player should know.
8. What is a “scoop”? a “dodge”?
9. What should a player do when it is impossible for him or her to attempt a goal?
10. Where should a player’s attempt at a goal cage be aimed?
Short Answer Question:
1. Lifting the ball off the ground2. French word for shepherd’s crook
3. Number of players on a hockey team
4. This team member can use feet, arms and body to stop the ball
5. Method of making short passes
6. Moving the ball short distances
7. There are this many yards in a field hockey field
8. The number of minutes in a half
9. Advancing the ball with the hand is one
10. She taught field hockey to her students at Hrvard in 1901
11. Putting spin on the ball
12. Width in yards of a field hockey field
13. Passing the ball to a teammate
14. Number of forwards on a hockey team
15. There are this many halfbacks on a team
16. Time out is called in case of one of these
17. The number of fullbacks on a field hockey eam
18. A method by two players to restart play
19. Move that does not included either passing or shooting
20. Players use this important piece of equipment