How High Can You Hit the Ball in Field Hockey?

How High Can You Hit the Ball in Field Hockey?

Field Hockey Ball Height

Field hockey is a fast-paced game with many regulations that allow the game to be played safely. There are a few rules regarding different ways to lift the ball in field hockey and how high it may be raised in a game. One of the most critical rules in field hockey is how high you can hit the ball.

The ball cannot be hit higher than six inches into a group of players; otherwise, it is deemed as a “dangerous” ball. A ball can be lifted into an open space where there are no players as long as the player who is raising the ball keeps their stick below shoulder height.

This post will explore the rules of field hockey regarding lifting the ball and how high you can lift the ball while still keeping the game safe and enjoyable.

How to Lift the Ball in Field Hockey

Lifting the Field Hockey Ball

Image by Gill Cooper via Pixabay

Lifting the ball in field hockey is known as a 3D elimination skill and one of the more technical and challenging skills to master. There are several ways to lift the ball in field hockey, from a small pop over an opponent’s stick to a high lift of any height into an open space.


Popping is a 3D elimination skill whereby players scoop the ball over an opponent’s stick to get past the opponent and continue moving forward with the ball. Popping, also known as jinking, does not require the ball to be lifted very high into the air.

A pop can lift the ball just a few inches off the ground to clear the opponent’s stick but must remain below six inches; otherwise, it is deemed a dangerous move.

Aerial Passing

An aerial pass or a flick is a skill used to move the ball across a significant distance without being intercepted by the opponent. It is also a useful skill to get the ball over an opponent who is blocking your passing route.

The stick’s head is placed beneath the ball, and the ball is lifted high into the air. There is no restriction on how high the ball can be flicked or passed; however, it must be placed into an open space where players can then run towards the ball.

If the ball is lifted higher than six inches into a space with players closer than 16 feet apart, it is deemed a dangerous move, and a penalty or a free hit is awarded to the opposing team.

The Rules for Lifting a Ball in Field Hockey

Field Hockey Rules

Image by Gerd Altmann via Pixabay

As with other sports, the game of field hockey has many rules and regulations to ensure the game is played fairly and safely. These rules range from players only being allowed to hit the ball with the flat side of their stick to not being allowed to use their feet, or any other body parts, to control the ball at any time.

The ball can be lifted into the air in field hockey in two ways. The ball can be intentionally lifted into an open space to clear the ball, and there are several rules regarding this skill. The ball can also be unintentionally lifted in several ways, which is deemed to be dangerous, and a penalty is awarded to the opposing side.

The rules for lifting the ball in a field hockey game are of critical importance due to the fact that hockey balls are made of hard and durable plastic, and the only protection most field hockey players wear are shin pads and gum guards.

Therefore, should a player accidentally get hit by a field hockey ball, especially if the ball makes contact with the less-protected upper body or face, the player could suffer serious injury.

Intentional Lifting

A great move in field hockey for getting the ball a considerable distance down the field is lifting. Lifting is a skill that involves placing the ball on the stick’s curve and lifting or flicking it as high as possible into an open space where there are no players. Players then run towards the ball to pick it up with their sticks and continue play.

Lifting has several rules tacked onto it to ensure that it is a safe move to play. The person lifting the ball must keep their stick below their shoulders to ensure the safety of players around them.

The ball must also either be below the knees or lifted to a great height above the other team’s players. This height must range between at least 10 to 20 feet above the heads of other players (source).

One of the rules of field hockey is that the ball may not intentionally be lifted into the circle or the D.

The ball can also not be purposely fully lifted in the circle unless it is an attempt at scoring a goal. This is due to the fact that there are generally a lot of people in the circle when a goal is attempted, and lifting the ball would be dangerous unless it is aimed at the goal itself.

Lifting to Score a Goal

The ball can also be lifted intentionally to score a goal off a penalty corner. In a game of field hockey, a penalty corner, also known as a short corner, is a penalty given against the defending team. It is generally awarded for a defensive infringement in the penalty circle. It can also be granted for a deliberate violation within the defensive 75-foot area (source).

When taking a penalty corner, the ball is moved using a hit, push, flick, or scoop. The ball may be raised immediately using a push, flick or scoop, but must not be raised intentionally using a hit. Therefore, the height of the ball when taking a penalty corner cannot be higher than 18 inches, the height of the backboard; otherwise, it is deemed to be dangerous (source).

Penalty Stroke

Another form of lifting the ball that is allowed in a game of field hockey is that of a penalty stroke.

A penalty stroke in field hockey, also known as a penalty flick, is the most severe penalty given. An umpire awards a penalty stroke when a deliberate foul has prevented a particular goal from being scored. It can also be granted for an intentional infringement by a defender in the penalty circle.

When a penalty stroke is awarded, the running time of the match is stopped. The penalty stroke is taken by any chosen attacking player from the penalty spot, which is located seven yards directly in front of the center of the goal.

When the whistle is blown by the umpire, the attacker may play the ball at goal using a push, flick, or scoop motion, and the ball can be lifted to any height. The ball can only be played once, and the goalkeeper is only allowed to move their feet once the ball has been played.

The ball can be lifted as high as necessary but should not be higher than seven feet if a goal is to be scored. The crossbar of a field hockey goal is 7 feet above the ground and 12 feet across, so the ball can be lifted to any height below that of seven feet in order to score a goal.

Dangerous and Raised Balls

When the ball is lifted unintentionally in field hockey, it is deemed as a dangerous raised ball, and there are several criteria for this move.
A ball that has been lifted higher than 18 inches and that falls among close opponents might be deemed potentially dangerous, and a penalty will be awarded to the team who lifted the ball.

Another form of a dangerous ball is when the ball has been lifted intentionally into an open space, as explained above, but players converge to control the “falling ball” and are within five meters of each other.

This is deemed to be dangerous as the ball is falling into a group of players. A lifted ball should only be received by one player and controlled efficiently.

Another form of lifting the ball during play that is deemed dangerous is when players attempt to play the ball above their shoulders. The only time this move is allowed is when a player is trying to save a shot that could go into the goal. That player may lift their stick to take a ball above shoulder height if completed using a controlled action.

Final Thoughts

Field hockey is a highly enjoyable game to play if it is played safely according to the rules and regulations. Lifting the ball is one of the many rules of the game that have been put into place to ensure the safety of the players.

The ball may be lifted as high as 10 or 20 feet into the air if it is controlled properly, and the move is played skilfully; otherwise, the ball is not allowed to be lifted above 18 inches, which is approximately knee height.