What Is the Ball Called in Field Hockey?

What Is the Ball Called in Field Hockey?

Field Hockey Ball

Field hockey is a popular sport played all around the world. With other forms of popular hockey, like ice hockey and indoor hockey, it can be challenging to keep track of the specific rules and jargon for each variation and even the name of the ball used in each game.

The ball in field hockey is just called a field hockey ball or field hockey game ball. The ball is made from hard plastic that can handle the strain put on it by the hockey sticks used to move it around during the game.

In this article, we will investigate the field hockey ball and some of the other unique features the sport has accrued over a very long lifespan. We will look at the ball’s history, how it has changed over time, and what it looks like now.

History of the Field Hockey Ball

Sport, in all its forms, has had a long and rich history. Field hockey is no different in this regard, with indications that the Egyptians played a similar sport over 4000 years ago. At this time, the ball was made of papyrus fibers cover in leather (source).

As the sport evolved over time, the equipment used in the game changed along with it. There are records of the game hurling, which likely shares a history with field hockey, that date back to around 1200 BC (source). Back then, this game was played using a stick with an oval paddle and a wooden ball.

In the early 18th century, there was a form of hockey from India called khidokhundi (source). The prefix khido refers to a woolen or cloth ball used in this form of the game.

The more recognizable, modern form of hockey stems from English schools around the mid-18th century. The rules for this version of the game were developed by Middlesex Cricket Club, where they played hockey as their winter sport, and Teddington Hockey Club in the 19th century.

At the time, the version of hockey they adopted was played with a rubber cube. This was changed to the familiar spherical ball it is now played with, though it was still made of hard rubber.

The modern hockey ball is made of hard plastic now, with many featuring dimples around the outside. It has come a long way since its roots over 4000 years ago, but the game still bears the same fundamentals that made it so popular back then.

The Ball in Field Hockey

With so many variations of the game, it can be challenging to keep track of the slightly different rules attached to each one. Fortunately, most of these differences are due to the environment that the sport is played in.

For example, ice hockey is played on ice, so it requires a puck to slide properly on this surface.

Field hockey, as the name makes clear, is predominantly played on a field of grass. It has recently become commonplace for the games to be played on an artificial grass surface like Astroturf.

Both surfaces have much more friction than ice, so you cannot use a puck to play. Field hockey requires a spherical ball to roll along the rougher terrain while still providing a smooth flow to the game.

As with most sports, the name of the ball and that of other vital pieces of equipment are derived from the sport’s name.

In field hockey, this ball is just called a field hockey ball, like the ball in basketball is a basketball or the ball in football is called a football. The same is true for golf, tennis, baseball, cricket, bowling, and volleyball, to name a few.

What is the Hockey Ball Made Of?

The main objective of field hockey is to get the ball into your opponents’ goal. This makes it the primary focus of every player on the field, except for the goalie, who is trying to prevent that from happening. Considering the terrain and the fact that players are hitting the ball with sticks throughout the game, the ball itself must be hard and durable to survive long-term play.

According to the New World Encyclopedia, it is made from hard plastic and sometimes incorporates cork in the center. The cork is added to give the ball extra bounce so that you can hit it further with less power.

The ball in field hockey is often covered in small indentations, like a golf ball, to prevent aquaplaning on wet surfaces, making it easier to predict the movement of it during the game. The ball is also perfectly round, which makes it easier to control.

The field hockey ball’s circumference is between 8.8 and 9.25 inches (224 and 235 millimetres), and its weight is between 5.5 and 5.7 ounces (156 and 163 grams) (source). The ball is most often coloured white, but this can be changed to a colour that better contrasts with the playing surface involved.

Field Hockey Goalie

Image by Jeffrey F Lin via Unsplash

Other Important Equipment

After thoroughly investigating the ball in field hockey, it is only natural to look at the rest of the equipment that makes up the bulk of this sport. The most important of these is the stick used during the game.

Like ice hockey, players must move the ball around the field and score it in the opposing goal. To do this, players use a j-shaped stick, similar in appearance to the ice hockey stick.

Unlike ice hockey, however, the field hockey stick is one-sided. You can only use the hockey stick’s flat side during the game, with the other side deliberately curved.

The stick and ball in field hockey operate together in a very similar way to ice hockey. There is a lot less protective gear in field hockey, however. This is because it is a non-contact sport, unlike ice hockey.

Players may use gum guards, shin pads, and sometimes gloves and goggles to protect themselves in field hockey (source). Since field hockey is a non-contact sport, the purpose of most of this gear is to protect you from the ball.

The goalkeeper is fully equipped with protective gear because they are subject to the most risk on the field. This danger comes from the same very solid, plastic ball that opposing players hit as hard as they can toward the goal.

Goalkeepers wear full body armour, thick gloves and boots, and a helmet to protect them as much as possible from this.

Rules Regarding the Ball

With a hard, plastic ball and many curved sticks on the field, there must be a couple of strict rules to keep the players safe. Besides keeping it a non-contact sport, some rules govern how players may and may not interact with the ball.

The first rule you will likely encounter is that you may not use your feet or any other part of your body to control the field hockey ball during the game (source). The ball may hit your hands, but you cannot use them to manipulate the ball in any way.

This rule does not apply to goalkeepers, only outfield players. Goalkeepers may use any part of their body to stop and control the ball. In a game where everyone is hitting this hard-plastic ball very quickly around the field, it is probably best to avoid letting it hit you anywhere on the body anyway.

Field hockey has rules around the dangerous lifting of the ball. You can still hit the ball into the air and over other players and their sticks, but anything considered reckless or deliberately dangerous is prohibited.

Referees penalize players for breaking the rules and can send them off the field for up to 5 minutes, or even for the rest of the game, depending on their offense.

Hitting the Ball in Field Hockey

Finally, let us look at a few ways you can safely move the hockey ball around the field. The main two you find in field hockey is the push and hit (source).

A push is when your stick stays in contact with the ball the entire time. There is no backswing or collision between stick and ball. This is used to maintain as much control over the ball as possible. It is ideal for passing quickly and dummying your opponents.

A hit is the opposite of a push. You strike the ball hard by lifting the stick back and bringing it down on the ball. This is great for long passes across the field and taking shots at the goal. It is a lot more predictable than a push because you televise your move with the backswing.

Another often-used move in hockey is the drag flick. This is a variation of the push, but you use the stick’s control and momentum to lift the ball into the air. This is primarily used for taking shots or penalty corners.

Like with a hit, there is a chance of injuring other players when you bring the ball into the air, so you must be very careful when and how you use them.

Field Hockey Hitting

Image by Rachel Barkdoll via Unsplash

Final Thoughts

The ball is one of the fundamental pieces of field hockey. It is called a hockey ball, based on the name of the sport itself. Many of the rules and regulations pivot on this important object, and players must become well acquainted with them to utilize it safely.

It is a very hard, plastic ball and can cause injuries if protective gear is not worn and players are reckless. Play safe and enjoy the sport.