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Field Hockey Rules and Regulations: Know How to Play the Sport

Field hockey is a popular sport that has been played for centuries around the world. Originating in Great Britain during the 19th century, the game quickly spread to many other countries, including Australia, India and Pakistan. With its growing popularity, field hockey is now recognized as an official Olympic sport and national governing bodies exist in more than 100 countries.

Object of the Game

Field hockey is a fast-paced team sport with two teams competing against each other using sticks to hit a ball into the opponent’s goal to score points. It can be played on grass or artificial turf fields, indoors or outdoors in varying temperatures and weather conditions. The rules of the game are fairly straight forward, but there are regulations put in place by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) that must be followed to ensure fair play. These include regulations for player safety, team numbers and sizes as well as equipment specifications such as stick length and type of ball used.

Furthermore, there are also rules regarding substitution of players, short corners and penalty strokes which all contribute to creating an exciting and thrilling field hockey match. By understanding these rules and regulations of field hockey, athletes can better excel at their chosen sport while providing fans with an exciting experience watching their favorite teams compete.

The Basic Field Hockey Rules

Field hockey is a game played by two teams of 11 players on an outdoor rectangular field, with a ball and hockey sticks. The aim of the game is to score more goals than the opposing team by hitting the ball into their goal with your stick. The field where the game is played measures 100 yards long and 60 yards wide, with a goal at each end. The goals are formed by two posts and a crossbar 4 feet off the ground.

Players must use their sticks to control and pass the ball, which can be hit in any direction but must travel over or along the ground. All players, except for the goalkeeper, are allowed to move around freely on the field as they try to score goals or defend against attacks from the opposition.

Players & Equipment

Each team typically consists of three forwards, three midfielders, three defenders and one goalkeeper who all have specific roles in defending and attacking play.

All players are equipped with a stick which must be no longer than 14 inches and covered by a grip for comfort and control of their playing technique. The ball used during field hockey games is made out of plastic or composite materials and is available in various colors and sizes depending on age group or level of competition being played.

Players are allowed to use physical contact when attempting to take possession of or move the ball as long as it does not endanger any other players.


Scoring in field hockey can be done from open play or from penalty corners and free hits awarded for fouls committed by opponents. Goals are scored when an attacking player touches the ball into the opponent’s goal cage from within their shooting circle, often following a strike or flick made with their stick at least 16 yards away from their goal cage.

A penalty corner is awarded if a defender commits a serious foul within their own 23 meter area but outside their 16 meter line; this allows for one attacker to take an indirect attempt at scoring using a flick or push shot taken inside the shooting circle near the goal line.

Free hits can also be awarded against any team who commits an infringement outside of their own 23 meter area but within playing distance of either circle; these allow attackers to pass or shoot directly towards goal without interference from defenders positioned between them and their target location on the pitch.

In addition to goals scored during open play and penalty corners or free hits, field hockey allows for goals to be scored as penalty strokes if certain fouls occur inside either circle.

Winning the Game

Winning a field hockey game requires players to score more goals than their opponents over a set period of time. Typically, each contest lasts for two 35-minute halves with a short halftime break in between. The team that scores the most goals at the end of regulation time is declared the winner.

If the game is tied after both halves are completed, teams may proceed to a penalty shootout to determine the victor. Penalty shootouts involve five players from each side lining up alternately and taking turns attempting to hit the net past an opposing goalkeeper from 11 meters away without being blocked by them or any defenders in front of them.

Field Hockey Time Duration

The game typically lasts 70 minutes, with two-halves of 35 minutes each. Before the match begins, teams must complete several warm-up drills and practice exercises in order to properly prepare their bodies for the upcoming match. After both teams are warmed up and ready to go they will line up on opposite sides of the field, facing each other.

The duration of play during a field hockey match depends largely on how long it takes for both teams to reach their desired goals. Most matches have an allotted time limit for each half; usually somewhere between 30-40 minutes depending on the league rules or tournament regulations. This time limit does not include stoppages or extra time in which the clock is stopped for injuries, substitutions, or penalties such as yellow cards or corner shots taken by either team. If at any point during play no goal has been scored within 40 minutes then it’s considered a draw; however some leagues may specify that there must be an overtime period if neither team has scored before that time limit is reached.

A field hockey match can also be shortened due to poor weather conditions such as rain or strong winds which might make playing too dangerous or unplayable altogether. In this case, referees may decide to reduce the duration of play until an acceptable amount of time has passed before ending a match.

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Types of Foul in Field Hockey

In field hockey, fouls can be physical or technical in nature.

Physical fouls involve contact between two players or between a player and the ball. These can include:

  • tripping another player with your stick or leg,
  • pushing or grabbing someone during play,
  • charging an opponent from behind (without attempting to play the ball),
  • hitting the ball off the ground with your stick instead of scooping it up,
  • deliberately obstructing another player’s path to the ball (which includes shielding the ball with your body) and more.

If a physical foul is committed during a match, a free hit is usually awarded to the other team as punishment.

Technical fouls are infringements of the Laws of Hockey that do not involve physical contact between players. Examples include:

  • raising your stick above shoulder height while playing (except when stopping/blocking),
  • hitting the ball off the ground outside of certain areas around both goal mouth areas (unless you are attempting to score within those areas),
  • playing without a helmet or protective gear if required (such as face masks for goalkeepers),
  • kicking or throwing the ball in play instead of using your stick,
  • receiving a pass above knee height,
  • intentionally crossing over mid line with either foot or stick and many more.

Just like physical fouls, technical fouls also result in free hits being awarded to opposing teams if they are committed during play.

Types of Punishment in Field Hockey

Punishments in field hockey range from warnings, free hits, cards and suspensions.

A warning is a sign of disapproval given to a player who has done something wrong or dangerous. Usually, this includes verbal instructions or shaking the head. This punishment does not require any further action by the umpire and the game can continue without interruption.

Free hits are usually awarded if an opposing player commits a foul within their own half of the pitch. The attacking side is then allowed to put the ball back into play from where it was hit, without interference from another player. For example, if a defender illegally stops an attack by using their feet instead of their stick, then the attacking side will be rewarded with a free hit.

Cards are used when more serious infringements have taken place on the field. Depending on the gravity of the offence, different colour cards will be handed out by the umpire as a form of formal discipline to the offending player. There are four types of cards: yellow (caution), green (temporary suspension), blue (warning) and red (send-off). Yellow cards are generally issued for relatively minor offences such as arguing or showing dissent towards the officials; green cards will be issued for more serious offences such as deliberately playing dangerously; blue cards are reserved for very serious offences such as violent conduct; and red cards result in immediate disqualification from that match.

Finally, suspensions can also be imposed in field hockey depending on how severe an offence has been committed by a player or team. This punishment usually involves preventing players from participating in future matches for some time period which could range from several days to several months or even years in extreme cases. Players may also be forced to pay financial fines or attend disciplinary hearings before being allowed to take part again in competitive matches after serving their suspensions.

Field Hockey Umpires

Field hockey umpires are responsible for officiating the sport of field hockey, a fast-paced and physical team sport that is sometimes referred to as “hockey on grass”. Umpires play an important role in ensuring fair and safe games, providing guidance to players and teams about the rules of the sport, making decisions about when to stop or restart play, and managing disciplinary actions if necessary. An effective field hockey umpire has an extensive knowledge of the game’s laws, excellent communication skills, and is able to remain impartial throughout a match.

Umpires are distinguished by their uniforms; they wear black trousers or skirts with white shirts and either a navy blue or black jumper. The two main roles an umpire can take are either as an umpire-in-chief (also known as a central umpire) or as an assistant umpire (also called side-line umpires). The umpire-in chief leads the other officials in charge of a match; they oversee all activities during play, decide whether goals have been scored correctly or not, and make judgments about any misconduct which occurs during the course of the game. Assistant referees assist the main official by signaling for goal kicks and throw-ins from their positions around the pitch.

Umpires usually attend preparatory courses before beginning their duties; these courses cover topics such as sportsmanship, rules of fair play, proper control techniques during matches and how to identify dangerous play. Field hockey umpiring also involves staying up-to-date on any new changes made to the Laws of Hockey each year. After completing initial training courses, there are further opportunities to gain experience working with experienced professionals at competitive tournaments or through regional development programs that help young people become certified officials for local leagues.

Due to its physical nature field hockey can be a difficult sport for umpires to manage; however those who strive for excellence in this role can gain recognition through awards such as Umpire of the Year accolades handed out by national associations dedicated specifically to field hockey. Umpiring is often seen as a great way for enthusiasts of this sport to stay connected with it even after retiring from playing – it not only requires networking but also gives back to both players and spectators alike by helping ensure games are played safely and fairly according to its rules.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the 4 fouls in field hockey?

The four fouls in field hockey are dangerous play, obstruction, raising the ball, and hitting. Dangerous play is when a player plays in a manner that is considered to be dangerous or risky to another player, either with their stick or any other body part. Obstruction is when a player physically impedes the progress of an opposing player by using the body or stick. Raising the ball occurs when a player deliberately lifts the ball from the ground using their stick and hitting includes any form of contact between players during the game that would not be expected during normal play.

Can you slap a shot in field hockey?

No, it is not possible to slap a shot in field hockey. Instead, a player must use the flat side of their stick to push the ball forward in a controlled manner.

Can you lift the ball in field hockey?

Yes, you can lift the ball in field hockey, but it is not as common as hitting or pushing it with a stick. It is predominantly used to pass the ball around opponents and to move it further up the field.

Rudra Chanda