Field Hockey Timing
Field hockey is a popular sport across the world, played by women and men alike, from novice to Olympic level. Like in other professionally played sports, the game has a time limit in which the players aim to score goals. To allow adequate time for rest, hydration, and strategy, game time must be divided into playtime, halftime, and sufficient breaks.
Professional field hockey games have 4 quarters of 15 minutes each. There are 2 breaks of 2 minutes each between the first and second quarters and between the third and fourth quarters, with a 10-minute halftime break. Lower level games are often played in 2 halves of 35 minutes apiece.
Although lower-level games are most commonly played in two halves, at high school, collegiate, and professional matches, the game is divided into quarters. This article will explore the benefits of the four-quarter time play, the basics of a field hockey match, as well as the implications of extended gameplay and time penalties.
As stated previously, an official field hockey match will be divided into four quarters, and play will start with one quarter of 15 minutes. Then teams will have a break of two minutes before the second quarter will start, which will also last 15 minutes.
Halftime between the second quarter and third quarter will be 10 minutes, and the last half of the game adheres to the same structure as the first two quarters. This brings the total time of an official field hockey game to 74 minutes.
In 2020, the decision was made to move high school and collegiate games to a four-quarter time division, as well. In the past, high school and collegiate games were played in 2 halves of 35 minutes each.
Essentially, this means that the previous playtime of 70 minutes has been reduced to the professional timing of 60 minutes of playtime, excluding the halftime and quarter-time breaks (source).
Several benefits come with dividing a field hockey match into four quarters instead of two halves. A four-quarter match will allow more time for breaks, albeit short. This means that players have adequate time during the game to hydrate, strategize, and rest.
Drinking water is incredibly important for any level of physical activity. As field hockey is physically exerting due to the fast-paced nature of the game, providing players with more time to drink water during the game allows them to play at a more optimal level.
It is also better for players to drink small amounts of water at regular intervals instead of consuming a large quantity during halftime, causing physically uncomfortable issues, such as side stitches, when returning to the field.
A four-quarter match will also allow players to assess their physical well-being more often, which is better for the team’s health and safety.
The coach can also speak to their team regularly during the game, optimizing strategy and planning, especially when faced with an unknown opposing team whose own strategy may only become apparent during the game.
In this way, counter-strategies can be discussed and implemented more effectively as there is more time.
In field hockey, as in any professional sport, the game’s timing is not set in stone. The timing of any match is based on the four-quarter system, but this may be extended into overtime or as timeouts are awarded.
In the past, overtime in field hockey was set at 15 minutes. In 2018, this was reduced to 10. Overtime is implemented if a game is tied at the end of the four quarters. This means that both teams have either zero or the same number of goals scored at the end of the match, and there is no clear winner.
In the event of overtime, the teams will then have the opportunity to compete in a “sudden-death” overtime of 10 minutes. Each team may select seven players to participate in the overtime stretch, one of which can be the goalkeeper.
Overtime may be extended to another 10 minutes if there is no goal scored in the first allotted overtime.
In summary, in tied games, the two opposing teams will have the opportunity to extend playtime with up to two 10-minute overtime intervals to determine the winner. The teams will have a five-minute break before overtime commences.
The overtime session’s timing was reduced to lessen the physical demands it used to put on the players (source).
If no winner can be determined during overtime, the game will move to a one-on-one tiebreaker. Once again, a five-minute intermission will precede the head-to-head tiebreaker. Each coach may choose five players from their team who will compete in the tiebreaker in an order selected by the coach.
Each team will have a selection of five attackers that will alternately attempt to attack the goal and score one by one while the opposing team’s goalkeeper defends the goal. If still no winner can be determined, a second one-on-one tiebreaker will commence (source).
In a field hockey match, one timeout per team per game may be called. Any timeout that is called will be two minutes in length, but the game clock will be stopped during the timeout so that it does not influence the timing of the quarters. The remaining playtime will remain the same.
A timeout may be called after a goal has been scored or in the case of a dead-ball scenario, which can occur after a penalty corner by the team in possession. A timeout may be called by any player or coach and can be used at any point in the game, even during the overtime session or sessions.
As stated previously, after the move to a 4-quarter field hockey match timing, the length of a field hockey match will be 60 minutes of playtime, with two 2-minute breaks in between the first and second quarters and third and fourth quarters, as well as a 10-minute halftime. This brings a field hockey match total time to 74 minutes.
In the case of one session of overtime, a game may then be a total of 89 minutes, inclusive of the 5-minute interval ahead of overtime. In the case of two overtime sessions, the match’s total time will be 104 minutes, inclusive of another 5-minute break.
Although few field hockey matches will be this long, some stretch the official game time boundaries to the limit. In 2016, the Chelmsford Hockey Club of the UK broke the Guinness World Record for the longest marathon playing field hockey.
They beat the previous record by 3 hours and 48 minutes and are the current world record holders, with their marathon having lasted a grand total of 56 hours, 18 minutes, and 45 seconds (source).
Field hockey, like any other professional sport, requires rules to ensure fair play. Although there are many rules pertaining to players, equipment, hockey sticks, and how you’re allowed to use them, as well as the other basic rules of play, there are many rules that pertain specifically to the timing of the game.
There is a timekeeper in field hockey, and their job is to stop and start the clock to ensure that everybody on the field and off is well aware of where the remaining time stands. The timekeeper will stop the clock for play time if and when a timeout is called or when a penalty corner is taken.
The timekeeper will restart the clock once these procedures have been completed.
Should any team be leading with four points or more after halftime, the clock will only be stopped for an injury or timeout and not for any other reason as it is also unlikely that the match will then enter an overtime session.
As mentioned, time may be stopped at any point during the game if an injury occurs. However, these are the only times when the clock will stop; otherwise, from the minute that the center forward starts the field hockey game until the final whistle, the clock is running (source).
There are four quarters of 15 minutes each in a modern-day field hockey game. This is the new standard, as stipulated in 2020, for all field hockey matches on a professional, collegiate, and high school level. The quarters are separated by two 2-minute intervals between quarters 1 and 2, and again between quarters 3 and 4, with a 10-minute halftime, in between.
Field hockey is a fast-paced, physical sport. The shorter intervals of playing time and more regular breaks allow for better strategizing, sufficient hydration of the players, and more periods of rest in a very physically exerting game.