Running During Field Hockey
Field hockey is a fun and fast-paced team sport game that involves a lot of running and requires a high degree of physical fitness. The game is played on a pitch that is 100 yards long and 60 yards wide and is made up of four quarters of 15 minutes each professionally. The game demands all players to be fit enough to run for the majority of the four quarters and across the entire pitch.
Attackers and midfielders can run up to six miles in a game; defenders can run up to five miles in a game, and a goalkeeper can run up to a mile. Regardless of the position and distance run, all players require a high level of physical fitness. How much you run in a field hockey game depends on the player’s position.
The amount of running in field hockey also differs between male and female players. This article will explore how much you run in a field hockey game, how that compares to other sports, and how to get fit and fast enough to play.
The type of running in field hockey varies throughout the game. Running in field hockey tends to be highly intensive, with lots of start-stop sprinting interspersed with jogging back into position.
In an average play pattern, field hockey players will sprint or run flat-out to chase down the ball or set up attacks and then jog back after a sprint. Midfielders tend to do the most running as they cover the most ground on the pitch, playing in both defensive and attacking positions.
Attackers will run at a constant pace to keep up with the game and sprint to a ball that has been passed up the field from a midfielder or a defender. Attackers also tend to sprint to score a goal. Defenders will sprint less but run at a more constant pace while defending the ball.
The ability to swap players out during the game means that tired players can be substituted by fresh ones, allowing the game to maintain a fast pace. This also gives players a chance to rest to keep up their speed and stamina throughout the entire game.
The only player who stays on the field for the full duration of the game is the goalkeeper.
Field hockey is categorized as an intermittent sport that requires a high degree of physical fitness. The sport’s intermittent nature and the numerous multi-changes of direction that occur during the game call for highly developed sprint capacity and an outstanding slalom sprint performance.
Generally, midfielders and attackers tend to run further and faster than defenders and the goalkeeper. All players on the field, excluding the goalkeeper, need to be able to produce a burst of speed to chase down a ball, set up an attack, or score a goal.
Research shows that field hockey players cover 460 feet per minute in-game compared to rugby, with seven players who cover 308 feet per minute and soccer players who cover 410 feet per minute. During periods of high-intensity activity in a game, a field hockey player can run at speeds of above 12 miles per hour (source).
Research has shown that male and female field hockey players run different distances in a game. In a study published in the International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport, on-field performances of female and male field hockey players were reviewed to determine who ran further distances in a full game.
It was found that female players covered distances of between 3.4 and 4.1 miles over 48 minutes, with an average heart rate of approximately 170 beats per minute. In contrast, male players covered distances of between 3.6 and 6.2 miles over the same time with heart rates of over 75% of their maximum rate for 90% of the game (source).
Field hockey is very similar to the game of soccer, except that players use a stick to move the ball and not their feet. The two games draw parallels in some of the rules and have the same number of players on each team.
As we know, midfielders in field hockey can run up to six miles in a game; however, in a game of soccer, attackers and midfielders can run up to eight miles in a full game. Midfielders in both field hockey and soccer are fully involved in both the attacking and defensive efforts of the team and therefore run the most significant distances.
Attackers in a soccer game run less average distance than central midfielders, averaging closer to six miles per game, which is the same as attackers in a field hockey game. Goalkeepers in a soccer game can run up to two miles compared to a mile for field hockey players.
When comparing the amount of running done by players in each sport, the games are played over different times — a field hockey game is 30 minutes shorter than a soccer game. So, soccer players run a higher average distance during a match than field hockey players.
In other sports like tennis, a tennis player might play for five hours straight but will cover less distance than a field hockey player.
A good example is that of the longest tennis match ever played, which was played at the 2010 Wimbledon championships between John Isner and Nicholas Mahut. The match lasted 11 hours 5 minutes, but it is estimated that the two players only covered around 6 miles each (source).
According to the 2012 season, NBA stats show basketball players run up to three miles in a game, while the average football player only runs up to a mile at the most during a full game of American football.
During a field hockey game, players can run up to six miles at various speeds. A high level of fitness, speed, and agility is needed to play a good game and to be able to maintain speed and distance throughout the game.
Players run continuously throughout the game with many short bursts of speed to chase down a ball, set up an attack, or score a goal. Most players also change direction at least every five seconds during a game.
Field hockey is a very physically challenging, multi-sprint sport, and a hockey training program must meet these demands with a variety of drills to increase anaerobic power and endurance to support repetitive bouts of high-intensity exercise.
Strength is also essential to a hockey training program as upper body strength permits players to pass over various distances and shoot more powerfully. As field hockey is played on a synthetic surface, this places different strains on the body compared to grass. Good hockey conditioning plays a crucial role in injury prevention.
There are four crucial points to practice to become a fitter and faster field hockey player.
Mobility is the ability to move limbs and joints freely through their full range of movement. Having mobility in the hips is vital for field hockey players as it enables players to get into more powerful athletic positions and burst into speed at any point. Good mobility also allows players to turn and move in multiple directions with speed and fluidity.
Examples of mobility exercises for field hockey include wrist stretches and knuckle push-ups, open hip lunges with arm circles, arch and curls, as well as scapula push-ups.
Developing strength is one of the most fundamental aspects of becoming a speedier hockey player. A good strength base helps to maximize speed and endurance and prevents injuries. A good hockey-specific strength training program will help to improve overall strength, which will, in turn, improve your game.
Examples of strength exercises for field hockey include barbell back squats, Romanian deadlifts, hanging leg raises, pull-ups, and machine rowing.
Strength is needed for power, so once a good base of strength has been developed, you need to convert that strength into power. Power is a combination of strength and speed and is the maximum effort you can generate over a short time.
In field hockey, power relates to first step quickness, getting in front of a player to win the ball, bursting into an open space, the speed at which you hit or pass the ball, how far you throw an aerial lift, and the quickness of a drag-flick.
Examples of power exercises for field hockey include medicine ball training, plyometrics, and Olympic lifts.
Once you have a good strength and power base, sprinting at full capacity is the next skill to improve. The critical point in sprinting to get faster is taking enough rest. Sprinting is very demanding on the body, and a foundation needs to be built for speed, which stems from strength and power.
Examples of sprint-and-recover exercises for field hockey include start-stop sprints at full speed with rest intervals.
Field hockey is a physically demanding game, and players can run up to six miles in a match, depending on their position on the field. Not only do they need stamina and endurance to be able to run almost continuously for 60 minutes, but also a more comprehensive array of skills that include speed, agility, stamina, strength, power, and balance.