Field Hockey Rules

This comprehensive guide provides an overview of field hockey rules covering the field, equipment, gameplay, scoring, match procedures, strategies and more.

Field hockey is a popular Olympic team sport played between two teams of 11 players each. The game is played on a rectangular grass field with goals at each end. Field hockey is one of the most popular sports in many countries around the world. Understanding the rules and regulations of field hockey is essential for both players and spectators.

Field Hockey Field and Equipment

A regulation field hockey field is 100 yards long and 60 yards wide. It is marked with boundary lines similar to a soccer field. Two goals are positioned at the center of each back line. The goals are 4 yards wide with a height of 2 yards.

Each team has 11 players on the field including a goalkeeper. Field players use specialized sticks called hockey sticks to maneuver the ball and shoot towards the goal. The hockey stick has a rounded side and a flat side. Only the flat side of the stick is allowed to make contact with the ball. Goalkeepers often wear protective gear including kickers, leg guards, chest guards, arm guards and helmets.

The hockey ball is spherical, hard and measures between 8.8 to 9.2 inches in circumference. It is made of solid plastic and weighs between 5.5 to 5.75 ounces. The ball may be white or colored to match the field’s markings.

Field Hockey Rules : Gameplay Rules

A field hockey match consists of two 35 minute halves with a 5-10 minute halftime break. Teams switch sides at halftime. The team that scores the most goals by the end of the match wins.

Each team can have up to 16 players with 11 active players on the field at a time. Substitutions are permitted at any point with no limit to the amount of substitutions.

The match begins with a pass back from the center of the field. Players may only use the flat side of the stick to strike the ball. The ball can be pushed, flicked, scooped or hit as long as it does not rise above the shoulder. Using the rounded side of the stick risks a foul.

Players may tackle opponents using their stick to gain possession of the ball. Physical contact is not permitted. Obstructing opponents from reaching the ball results in a foul. Dangerous high sticks that endanger other players will also result in penalties.

Scoring and Match Procedures

A goal is scored when the ball completely crosses the goal line between the goal posts and under the crossbar. Each goal is worth one point. If the score remains tied after regulation, overtime periods are played until a winning goal is scored.

Penalties are awarded for rule violations and fouls. Common penalties include free hits, penalty corners, penalty strokes and cards. Free hits are taken for minor offenses. Penalty corners allow 5 attacking players to take an uncontested shot on goal against the goalkeeper and up to 5 defenders.

Green and yellow cards are issued as warnings and suspensions in escalating order. A green card results in a warning or 2 minute temporary suspension. A yellow card leads to a minimum 5 minute suspension. Two yellows become a red card which ejects the player from the match.

Advanced Field Hockey Rules and Strategies

There are some additional strategic factors to consider in competitive field hockey rules:

  • The attacking team must stay outside the striking circle while shots on goal are taken during a penalty corner.
  • During penalty strokes, all players other than the striker and goalkeeper must stand behind the halfway line.
  • Strategic formations include the 4-4-2, 5-3-2 and 3-3-3-1 positions. Teams coordinate formations and substitution patterns as part of their match strategy.
  • Goalkeepers often wear different colored shirts and are allowed to use leg guards for protection.
  • Coaches analyze the strengths and weaknesses of opponents to counteract their strategies.
  • Passing accurately and controlling possession are key skills for maintaining offensive pressure.
  • Defensive players focus on marking opponents, tackling cleanly and intercepting passes.


Field hockey is an exciting sport that combines speed, finesse and skill. Following the standard rules of the game ensures fair and safe competition. Mastering ball control, passing, tackling and shooting are critical for successful gameplay.

Implementing strategic formations, analyzing opponents and substituting players effectively can help win matches. With its global popularity and inclusion in major events like the Olympics, field hockey provides fun and competitive enjoyment for players and spectators alike.

Read Also:

Leave a Comment