Is Field Hockey Easy?

Is Field Hockey Easy?

Field Hockey Difficulty

Field hockey, or outdoor hockey, is an outdoor game and team sport that is part of the hockey family. Known only as hockey in most places around the world, Americans and Canadians typically use the term “field hockey” to differentiate it from ice hockey. The uninitiated will be surprised just how easy the sport is after doing some initial training.

Field hockey is not easy for a new player, but competence can be achieved with practice of fundamental skills like dribbling, running with the ball, and accurate passing. The game also requires more technical skills such as bunting, flicking, and back sticking to master it. As a team sport, it helps to have essential social skills like working with others and effective communication.

Field hockey is a fantastic sport that can be played from a very young age, and at all levels, from social to professional. We’ll look in-depth at this great game and how easy it is to learn and play.

The Wonderful Simplicity of Stick-and-Ball Games

Field hockey is among the oldest sports in history, and its origins can be traced back over 4,000 years to Egypt and ancient Greece when a field hockey-like game was played using a horn and a ball (source).

Several similar games using sticks and balls have been played in countries around the world throughout the following centuries. The concept itself is rudimentary, so we should not be surprised that we can find similar sports globally.

The historical evidence shows that field hockey-like games were played in Ireland and Iceland in the Middle Ages, China during the Ming Dynasty, Chile in South American in the 16th century, and the Punjab State in India in the 17th century.

The modern game of field hockey was developed in the British Isles in the 19th century and, from there, was spread across the world by England. The game was played in the English public school system, and the Blackheath & Old Elthamians Hockey Club was established in 1861.

The first field hockey association was created in London in 1886 in an attempt to consolidate hockey as a formal sport, and the first international competition took place in 1895 between Ireland and Wales.

Today, field hockey is played by both men and women around the world and is an Olympic sport. Men’s hockey has been an event at the Olympics continuously since 1920, while women have competed at an Olympic level since 1980.

Field hockey is a very popular team sport played in more than 100 countries and is the second largest team sport globally. Some of the top hockey-playing nations include India, Pakistan, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and Great Britain.

It is a popular family-orientated sport in Canada and is played in many schools and clubs around the country. Field hockey is played by over 8,000 athletes in British Columbia, making it the most active field hockey province in Canada (source).

Why Field Hockey Is Easy to Pick Up

So you want to start playing field hockey but have never lifted a stick. Field hockey is a fantastic team sport to play and very easy to pick up, though the game has certainly evolved from the simple stick-and-ball games of old.

It might take some time to hone your skills if you have never played before, but, before long, you’ll be hitting the ball like a pro.

The best way to start is to buy an inexpensive stick and a ball from your local athletic store and begin with the basics of dribbling the ball on your stick and practicing yardsticks — a side-to-side movement that is great for hand-eye coordination. Just get used to moving with the ball on the stick as field hockey is a running game.

You will find a wealth of great skills to practice on the Internet that use just a stick and a ball and possibly a few cones, so watch those and practice, practice, practice! Another option is to try the Stickhandling PRO games, which allow you to practice stickhandling from home.

If you don’t have cones, you can use stones or anything else to act as a marker to dodge. As you gain proficiency, you can try more difficult skills and learn the difference between pushing, bunting, slapping, hitting, flicking, back sticking, and back stick flicking.

To understand the sport in its entirety, you will need to play a game, so it’s a good idea to join a field hockey club. Besides meeting great people who share the same passion, there is no better way to learn than to train with better players than yourself and play a few matches. After a few great matches with your team, you will undoubtedly be hooked!

The Appeal of Field Hockey

Field hockey ranks as one of the most popular team sports to play and watch around the world, and for good reason — it’s easy to pick up and begin play, and once you know the rules, it’s a great game to watch for the following reasons.

Fast-Paced and Entertaining

The game of field hockey might seem challenging to pick up at first, as it has developed into a fast-paced game that is thrilling to both play and watch.

New rules like the self pass have helped improve the game’s speed and allow for better flow without unnecessary stoppages. The ball can travel up to 103 miles per hour off a hard hit on the field, making it an adrenaline-pumping game to play and watch.

Physical toughness

Field hockey is also among the most physically demanding sports on the body and requires physical toughness. Players must be fit, fast, strong, and agile. It is a fast-paced running game where players perform many sprints, often with little time to recover between each.

They cover huge distances on the field over a shorter time than most other team sports.

This means that it can be challenging to play if you’re not very fit, but with enough practice, you’ll soon build your fitness and be able to hold your own.

High Skill Levels

Field hockey is one of the most skill-based games that requires excellent hand-eye coordination and technical skills. It’s fantastic to watch highly skilled players performing skills like the tomahawk, overheads, drag flicks, and trapping. These skills may be challenging to learn at first, but practice makes perfect.

A Sport for All

Field hockey serves as a sport for all, and it’s one of the very few sports both genders can play in mixed teams and with a range of different abilities. It isn’t a difficult sport at lower levels, and even children can play it either at home or in organized matches.

All ages and sizes can play field hockey, and it can be enjoyed well into old age. Field hockey is played in schools worldwide, and many clubs have teams for both young players and players over the age of 50.

Great for Fitness and Health

The fast-paced sport of hockey helps improve agility, speed, and lower body strength. Although not easy initially, it is a fun and effective way of burning off calories and reducing body fat.

It helps develop the body’s cardiovascular system and improves lower and upper body muscle strength. As you get better, it can also help you build coordination skills and build your body’s abilities.

How Is Field Hockey Played?

The aim of field hockey is simple — to use sticks to dribble and pass between players and shoot while attempting to score more goals than the opposing team. The rules for field hockey are very similar to those for soccer, except players use sticks to move the ball instead of their feet.

The game is played between two teams of 11, 10 of which are field players and 1 being a goalkeeper. The players on a team include defenders, midfielders, attackers, and the said goalkeeper. The game is played on a 299 by 180-foot pitch, and each player has a 3.3-foot long wooden or carbon-fiber stick.

Players play the ball with the flat or the “face side”, the edges of the head, and the stick’s handle, but the only player that is allowed to use their hands or feet to move the ball is the goalkeeper.

Field hockey players pass the ball between them to reach the goal box and score a goal. A goal counts when the ball is hit by a player inside the “striking circle”, also known as the “D”, and crosses the line into the opposing team’s goal box. Goals count for one point.

A field hockey match usually lasts 70 minutes, made up of 4 quarters of 15 minutes each, and includes a halftime interval of 10 minutes. A game ending in a draw goes to extra time of 15 minutes in total if required. If there is no goal scored during extra time, then a penalty shootout results.

The Basic Rules of Field Hockey

Basic Rules Of Field Hockey

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  • Field hockey players use only the flat side of the stick, or they face a penalty.
  • Only the goalkeepers can use their feet, hands, or stick to control the ball at any time.
  • Field hockey is a non-contact sport, and players are not allowed to push, charge, trip, interfere with, or physically handle an opposing player in any way.

A goal can be scored in one of three ways — a field goal set up by open play, a penalty corner resulting from a foul, or a penalty stroke. A field goal from open play can only be scored from inside the “striking circle” in front of the opponent’s goal.

If a player hits the hockey ball from outside the circle, and the ball makes its way into the goal, they will not receive a point.

Two umpires referee the game on the hockey field, one for each half of the pitch. The umpires indicate fouls with a whistle blow. If a player breaches the rules with intentional offences, misconduct, or dangerous play, the umpire uses coloured cards to decide on their punishment.

Similar to soccer, a green card is an official warning given to the field hockey player not to break the rules; a yellow card results in the field hockey player being sent off the pitch for five minutes, following an offence, and a red card sees the player being sent off the field for the remainder of the game.

Red cards are usually used for serious offences and can result in fines at higher levels of field hockey.

Fouls

Player infringements are known as fouls and result in free hits, penalty corners, or penalty strokes being given to the non-offending team.

Types of Fouls in Field Hockey

Several different types of fouls may be punished in a game of hockey. Some of the basic fouls in field hockey include:

  • Obstruction
  • Hockey stick interference
  • Third-party obstruction
  • Advancing
  • Backsticks
  • Undercutting
  • Sticks

Obstruction is a type of foul that occurs when a hockey player uses their body or stick to block an opponent from reaching the ball.

Hockey stick interference is when a player uses their stick to hit an opponent’s stick, either intentionally or unintentionally.

A third-party obstruction foul occurs when a hockey player purposefully positions themselves between the ball and an opponent, allowing a team-mate an unobstructed play on the ball.

Advancing is when a player pushes, shoves, or forcibly advances the ball in any way, using any part of their body, while back sticks are when a player strikes the ball with the rounded back of the hockey stick.

Undercutting is a type of foul that occurs when a player dangerously lifts the ball, and sticks, similarly to undercutting, is a foul that occurs when a player raises their stick dangerously near another player.

Types of Punishment in Field Hockey

Fouls in a hockey match can be punished in three main ways. These are as follows:

Free hit: An umpire may award a free hit to the non-offending team for any foul that occurs outside the scoring circle. The hit must be taken at the infringement location, and every opposing player must remain at least five yards from where the hit is to be taken.

Penalty corner: A penalty corner is awarded to the non-offending team in their attacking circle when the opposing team either commits a foul inside the striking circle or intentionally hits the ball out-of-bounds over the end line.

Penalty stroke: A penalty stroke is given to the attacking side when an offence is committed by the defending side that prevented an imminent goal. A penalty is taken seven yards from the goal, with the player having only the goalkeeper to beat (source).

Field Hockey Playing Positions

Field hockey has two sides, each consisting of 11 players made up of 10 outfield players and one goalkeeper. The outfield players can be divided into three general categories, namely:

  • defenders
  • midfielders
  • attackers

The Goalkeeper

Goalkeepers need a host of skills, ranging from agility, flexibility, and speed, and they need to be brave and powerful. The aim of the goalkeeper is to prevent goals from being scored.

They wear special clothing, including protective headgear, pads, and gloves, and they are the only player in the game who is allowed to touch the ball with any part of his or her body or stick.

Defenders

Defenders need to be calm, fast, strong and should be able to read the game accurately. The main aim of defenders in field hockey is to prevent the opposition from scoring. Defensive hockey positions include full backs, center-backs, and sweepers.

Midfielders

There is a lot of running in the midfielder position, so players need to be very fit, fast, flexible, agile, strong, and create both defence and attacking plays. Midfield positions in field hockey are the beating heart of the side and need to be able to both attack and defend. Midfield positions include left, right, and center links or inners.

One of the hardest positions in field hockey is the midfield position, as this player has to be highly versatile and be able to dribble, pass, mark, tackle, shoot, and read the play accurately.

The midfield in field hockey includes the inside-left, inside-right, and center of the field, each of which has a player. These players must roam the field and link the defence with the offence.

Attackers

Attackers need to be fit and fast and have excellent agility, as well as technical skills. Attackers in field hockey are the goal scorers. They receive the play set up by the midfielders and attempt to score goals. Attacking positions in field hockey include right and left wings, and a center forward.

Field Hockey Attackers

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Final Thoughts

Fast, fun, utilizing many skills, and thrilling to both play and watch, field hockey is an excellent sport for all ages and skill levels. Field hockey is a simple and straightforward game once you learn the rules and a fantastic sport to play that can be mastered over time.

Once you have honed skills like dribbling on the run, open passing, pushing, bunting, and flicking, as well as slightly more technical skills like flicking and tomahawking (back stick flicking), field hockey becomes really enjoyable.