Field Hockey Easiest Position
Field hockey teams are comprised of 11 players — 10 on the field and one goalkeeper. Coaches will choose to position their teams in varying ways. Still, the on-field players will always be divided into forwards, midfielders, and defenders.
It is widely thought that the wing, especially the right-wing, among the forward position is probably the simplest to learn, provided the player has the necessary speed and aggression to do the position justice. Field hockey is a complex game, requiring a high level of skill. None of the positions are therefore considered easy.
In this article, we’ll examine all the positions and the particular challenges to each one. We’ll also consider what makes the wing position relatively easy compared to the other field hockey positions.
As you will see in our summaries for each position, good hockey players require many skills. Some of the attributes are similar, and the correct combination of all these skills makes for the best field hockey teams.
Because a striker who is playing on the wing is almost entirely focused on attacking from their zone on one side of the field, the player has the most clean-cut role. Defensive play is more challenging because one continually needs to read into what the other team is doing and decide how best to react.
As a wing in field hockey, you are an “attackman”, like in other sports. The objective is clear, and, with the right skills, a wing can enjoy the glory of scoring goals without the angst of having to defend an attack.
Still, not anyone can become a good striker. Firstly, you need to be really fast and, secondly, you must remain calm under pressure to aim and shoot at the goals with a cool head.
You obviously also need excellent shooting skills, which requires significant practice. Finally, you need to be pretty brave to launch yourself towards fierce defenders trying to make sure you don’t fire the ball into the net.
Strikers need to have a constant awareness of space and be continually striving to put themselves in free areas to receive the ball and score. Wings need to stay wide as much as possible and resist the urge to get into the center of the field. This allows them to run fast down the wing with the ball when they get the opportunity.
If you possess all these skills or are prepared to work hard at acquiring them, then striker could be a position to consider. Once you’re on the field, armed with all the necessary skills, then striker may be one of the more straightforward positions.
A field hockey team is comprised of 11 players positioned around the field in both offensive and defensive positions. The most common formation for a field hockey team is four forwards, three midfielders, three defenders, and a goalkeeper.
Some coaches prefer a 3-3-4-1 playing formation and others use 5-3-2-1. The opposition’s strengths and skills will often determine these as the coach tries to make optimum use of their players (source).
Either way, there is only one goalkeeper who stands in the defensive circle with the sole job of protecting the goal. The other ten players fall into one of three broad categories (source).
Forwards are the offensive line, much like strikers in soccer. They are usually the fastest players on the field and can sprint down the field, often while also controlling the ball. They are also the team’s primary scorers, so they will need to have strong shooting skills as well as the ability to deflect shots and set up goal-scoring opportunities.
There are usually four forwards on the team, comprising a left-wing, right-wing, and two inners. If there are only three, then there will be two wings and a center-forward.
Given that hockey sticks are right-handed, the position of right-wing allows players to shoot more naturally. Left-wing players will need to master reverse stick play, which is a complicated skill.
Midfielders play a linking role between offence and defence and, as a result, need to have skills in both. They have to be super-fit as they continuously move between forwards and backs to support their team and keep possession of the ball.
This is arguably the most challenging position in field hockey because of the breadth of skills required. There are usually three midfielders on a team, namely left-half, right-half, and center-half. To find out more about this, read “What is the Hardest Position in Field Hockey?“
Defenders confront the opposition’s attacking players and try to prevent them from getting into a position to score. The defenders will be positioned to minimize the attack from the opposition.
If there are three defenders on the team, they will usually be a left and right fullback and then a sweeper in front of the goals. If there are four defenders, then two will play further forward, and two will play at the back.
Although there are broad skills required of all field hockey players, the various positions demand specific skills, and players are generally suited to one part of the field or another. All players should be proficient at the following essential skills (source):
- Sweep hitting
- Reverse stick
- Receiving skills
At the same time, as players are developing and learning their preferred space on the field, they should not be too narrow and should develop skills to play in more than one position. A player who is a good fullback, for example, should also be able to play other defending positions but may not be a good choice for a striker.
Let’s examine the required attributes for each of the types of positions.
Many people believe this to be the most important position on the field because the buck stops with the goalkeeper and can make the difference between winning and losing. As a result, it’s a very stressful position and requires players who can keep a level head.
A goalkeeper’s job is clearly to save shots aimed at the goal and clear the ball as far as possible away from the goal. The goalkeeper also plays a critical communication role, continually talking to the defenders and ensuring they are optimally positioned to deflect attacks on the goal.
Goalkeepers need to possess the following attributes:
- Agile and fast-paced
- Ability to kick with both feet
- Ability to save aerial shots with both glove and stick
- Good communicator
- Ability to judge ball angles and know how to respond
Defenders work together as a unit to limit scoring opportunities by the opposition, and their primary role is to stop the opposing team’s attackers.
Good defenders need to possess the following attributes:
- Agile and fast-paced
- Sound basic skills including passing and tackling
- Ability to move an attack by the opposition away from the danger zone
- Knowing when to defend space and when to mark a player
- Ability to judge where the ball should be placed for optimum results
Midfielders need to be able to run continuously, requiring incredible stamina. Midfielders play both offence and defence and protect the middle of the field from the opposition’s attacks. They need to be able to get the ball out of the action and be aware of where best to pass it.
Good midfielders possess the following attributes:
- Good pace, fitness, agility, and ability to accelerate
- Strong fundamental skills, especially passing and receiving as well as shooting
- Ability to judge where other players are and where to pass the ball
- Ability to move the ball quickly from one side of the field to another
- Knowing when to defend space and when to mark a player
- Ability to judge ball angles and lines of attack and defence
The strikers’ main job is to score goals and help create opportunities for others to score. They need to work together to create these opportunities and use the whole field in their attack. It’s hard for one striker to score without support, but if the ball is passed between the strikers, there will be more opportunities for goals.
A good striker possesses the following attributes:
- Good pace, agility, and ability to accelerate
- Strong fundamental skills, especially receiving and shooting
- Ability to identify the best shooting angle
- Ability to use skills to achieve free hits
- Ability to create space and lead attacks
Like most team games that aim to put a ball in a goal, a field hockey team is made up of various combinations of attackers and defenders. There are many skills required of the players, who must be able to control and hit a small ball using a hooked stick, all while running and avoiding other players.
Clearly, there are no “easy” positions on the field. However, because the strikers — and particularly those playing on the wing — have such a specific job, their position can be considered the most straightforward.
They don’t have to compensate between offence and defence. They can be entirely focused on getting the ball into the goals as often as possible.