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All About Hockey

Updated on July 18, 2011


Hockey is one of the most esteemed sports around the world. It includes fans of all ages due to its team spirit and diversity of types in game i.e. men’s hockey, women’s hockey, ice hockey etc. Beside this fact, there are various grand international tournaments, which grab interest of the sports lovers.


Hockey has been around for about 4000 years. Early Egypt can be considered as its birth place. Word hockey, however, was recorded in 1363. Modern hockey evolved, when firstly, it was played in the public schools of England. The first hockey club came into being in 1849, at Blackheath Southeast London, UK.

The process of development continued when Hockey Association was constituted in 1886 and the First International Hockey Match was played in 1895. An international hockey board was formed further in 1900. In 1928, hockey officially entered into the Olympics.

Women hockey faced many challenges from its beginning in 1887. It was not under the supervision of a single organizational body until 1927, when International Federation of Women Hockey Association (I.F.W.H.A) was formed. Finally, the women hockey entered into the Olympics in 1980.


The game is played to outwit the opponent during a 90-minutes’ time, by hitting the ball into the opponent’s goal post from the shooting circle. The team scoring more goals, wins.


Number of Players:

Each team consists of 16 players, where 11 are on the field during the game.


Positions are not strictly defined by the rules and there is a local factor involved to define certain positional rules.

No specific position other than goalkeeper is defined. However, the players do have specialized roles, such as:

  1. Forwards or Frontlines: They have a specialized role, to score goals.

  2. Defenders or Fullbacks: Their role is to prevent the opponent from scoring a goal.

  3. Midfielders or Half Backs: They have a role to fling away the ball from opponent possession to the frontlines or forwards.

  4. Further Specific Positions: These players’ positions may be further categorized, depending upon their specific strategic area, such as; central, left or right defender or midfields etc. Players can also switch position at anytime except for the goalkeeper. Furthermore, a team can have more or less forwards and defenders and vice versa with respect to its strategy. The game strategy may be offensive or defensive. Managers of the team are appointed to outline the strategies and formation of teams.

  5. There is a Goalkeeper in the team on field, who protects the goal post from opponent attack. The goalkeepers are allowed to play the ball outside their defensive circle by their hockey-stick. They are not allowed to pass their side's defensive line during the game, except for penalty stroke. The goalkeeper is allowed to remove the helmet; still having “goalkeeper privileges,” they must however, wear a helmet while defending penalty corners and penalty strokes.


Hockey Ball:

Officially, a hockey ball has a weight range of 156 and 163 grams, with a circumference of between 224 and 235 millimeters. It may be made up of any material, and is colored white for visibility in contrast to the ground. The ball is hard and smooth, but indentations (dimples, lines) are allowed to facilitate smooth rolling over artificial surfaces.

Hockey Stick:

Hockey sticks are mostly made up of wood; other materials used in modern hockey, is fiberglass, or carbon fiber. The length of the stick is usually between 36-37 inches. The tight curve at the bottom of the stick is called bow, which facilitates the flicking of ball and its depth can vary up to 25 mm, according to the recent rules. The top one-third area of the stick comprises handle, which makes it easy to grip the stick while playing.

Hockey Goal-keeping Equipment:

A fully-equipped goalkeeper wears additional protective equipment including:

  • A Helmet

  • Leg Guards

  • Kickers

  • Heavily Padded Hand Protectors

  • Chest Guards

  • Groin Protectors

  • Padded Shorts

  • Neck Guards

  • Arm Guards

  • A Stick

  • A Different Colored Shirt

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Other Equipment:

  • Teeth guards or mouth guards to protect teeth and gums

  • Uniform for all team members

  • Padded gloves, designed to protect hands from contact with the sand-based gastro- pitches

  • Corner masks; to minimize effects of a drag flick from short corners

  • Shin guards may also be a required equipment in some areas

  • Goggles to protect the eyes


A hockey match is divided into two halves, each one of 35 minutes; separated by a 10 minutes break. Thus, the total time span is 35-10-35.


First possession of the ball is determined by the team who wins the toss; second team is entitled to start the second half.

Each half is started by center passes; the player stands on the center spot and passes to a team member; at least a meter away. The ball is taken from the defending half and is then taken to the attacking field by the players of the team. Tackling the ball is allowed, but the player cannot take possession of the ball, if he comes physically between the ball and the opponent player.

When the ball leaves the side line, it is returned to the field by player of the team, opposite to that, who was previously handling the ball.

Free hit is awarded, when the ball crosses sideline; it is also allocated in case of a foul.

Corner: A five-meter free hit on the sideline, at the end from where the ball went out is given if the ball goes over the backline after last being touched by a defender. These restarts are also called as long corners.

Penalty corner is given on an intentional foul from a defending team. It has to be taken by a singer player at a distance of 6.4 m in front of the goal. The striker should play the ball on umpire’s whistle, and no fake or try attempts are allowed.

Tie breaking is done by providing extra time for golden goal i.e. equal to 7.5 minutes, if the score is not settled and the teams are still leveled, the decision goes to penalty strokes.


  • Only stick should be used to hit the ball, players can be penalized for intentionally hitting the ball with any other part of their bodies except the goalkeeper, who is permitted to use any part of his or her body to touch the ball.

  • Obstruction is called when players use their sticks or bodies to prevent another player from hitting the ball.

  • The ball can be struck in the air only if the player is shooting for the goal.

  • Lifting the sticks above head level is considered dangerous and is not permitted.

The penalty for the above infractions is loss of possession of the ball, if however, one of the two referees declare it to be a serious offense, they can then show one of the three colored cards.

  • Green card issues a warning,

  • Yellow card suspends the offending player for at least five minutes,

  • Red card ejects the offending player.


According to FIH “Rules of Hockey,” following are the dimensions of the field:

Pitch is a 91.40 meters long, 55 m wide (i.e., 100 yd × 60 yd) rectangular field. Goal has a height of 2.14 m (7 feet) and it is 3.66 m (12 ft) in width; measuring from the inner sides of the posts and crossbar.

D-Arc or Shooting Circle:

It is a D-shaped area 14.6 m (16 yd) from the goal called the D arc or shooting circle, shown with a solid line having spotted line 5 m (5 yd 6 yd).

Stroke Mark / Penalty Spot:

It is a spot having 0.15m diameter from the center of each goal.

Surface Details:

Surface on which traditional hockey was played, was grassy turf however; artificial turfs primarily of synthetic material are preferred in modern hockey.

Sand-based turfs were used previously due to the extra pace they add to the game, but water-based turfs, which offer more smoothness, minimize chances of injury, in addition to fast move.


Famous International Hockey competitions include:

  • The World Cup Hockey

  • Olympic Games

  • Champions Trophy

  • Common Wealth Games

  • Sultan Azlan Shah Hockey Tournament


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    • profile image


      2 years ago

      It will be the best if the government help

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      As "HOCKEY" is our national game we should know about it.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I like to play hockey very much because it is interest .

    • profile image


      4 years ago


    • profile image


      4 years ago

      it is awesomr game.. & i like soo much..

    • profile image

      Nickely Moraes Bieber 

      5 years ago

      Justin Bieber's favorit game :)

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      if government take little interest in hockey it will be came a NO1 than cricket

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      i like this

    • profile image

      rajani kumari 

      6 years ago

      rajani kumari

    • profile image


      6 years ago


    • Bettor profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      @Surf Traveler, thanks, yes you're correct there. I'll be updating this hub with just as much detail on ice hockey and other categories.

      @Ken, ice hockey is definitely more fast paced as compared to the others, I love watching it too!

    • surf traveler profile image

      surf traveler 

      8 years ago

      I thought this was going to be a hub about Hockey. Then I discovered it is field hockey and not Ice Hockey. You say the word hockey to a Canadian or American and we automatically assume Ice Hockey. I learned a lot about field hockey, well researched hub, rated up.

    • Bettor profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      So which one is your favorite?

    • Bettor profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Hi Jaken, thanks! I think you've covered just about all the types! :)


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