A game of field hockey in progress
|Highest governing body||International Hockey Federation|
|First played||19th century|
|Equipment||Field Hockey ball, Field Hockey Stick, mouthguard, shinpads|
|Olympic||1908, 1920, 1928–present|
Field Hockey, or Hockey, is a team sport in which a team of players attempts to score goals by hitting, pushing or flicking a ball into an opposing team's goal using sticks. It is most commonly known simply as "hockey"; however, the name field hockey is used in countries in which the word hockey is generally reserved for another form of hockey, such as ice hockey or street hockey.
Hockey has several regular international tournaments for both men and women. These include the Olympic Games, the Commonwealth Games, the quadrennial Hockey World Cups, the annual Champions Trophies and World Cups for juniors.
The International Hockey Federation (FIH) is the global governing body. It organizes events such as the Hockey World Cup and Women's Hockey World Cup. The Hockey Rules Board under FIH produces rules for the sport.
Many countries have extensive club competitions for junior and senior players. Despite the large number of participants—hockey is thought to be the field team sport with the third largest number of participants worldwide (the first being association football and second being Cricket)—club hockey is not a large spectator sport and few players play as full-time professionals. Hockey is a sport played internationally by both males and females.
In countries where winter prevents play outdoors, hockey is played indoors during the off-season. This variant, indoor field hockey, differs in a number of respects. For example, it is 6-a-side rather than 11, the field is reduced to approximately 40 m x 20 m; the shooting circles are 9m; players may not raise the ball outside the circle nor hit it. The sidelines are replaced with barriers to rebound the ball.
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Hockey can be identified with the early game of hurling. Games played with curved sticks and a ball have been found throughout history and the world. There are 4000-year-old drawings from Egypt. Hurling dates to before 1272 BC and there is a depiction from 500 BC in Ancient Greece when the game was called "Κερητίζειν" ("kerētízein") because it was played with a horn ("κέρας" in Greek) and a ball-like object. In Inner Mongolia, China, the Daur people have been playing Beikou (a game similar to modern field hockey) for about 1,000 years. There were hockey-like games throughout Europe during the Middle Ages and the word 'hockey' was recorded in 1363 when Edward III of England issued the proclamation: "[M]oreover we ordain that you prohibit under penalty of imprisonment all and sundry from such stone, wood and iron throwing; handball, football, or hockey; coursing and cock-fighting, or other such idle games."
The modern game grew from English public schools in the early 19th century. The first club was in 1849 at Blackheath in south-east London, but the modern rules grew out of a version played by Middlesex cricket clubs for winter sport. Teddington Hockey Club formed the modern game by introducing the striking circle and changing the ball to a sphere from a rubber cube. The Hockey Association was founded in 1886. The first international took place in 1895 (Ireland 3, Wales 0) and the International Rules Board was founded in 1900. Hockey was played at the Summer Olympics in 1908 and 1920. It was dropped in 1924, leading to the foundation of the Fédération Internationale de Hockey sur Gazon (FIH) as an international governing body by seven continental European nations, and hockey was reinstated in 1928. Men's hockey united under the FIH in 1970.
The two oldest trophies are the Irish Senior Cup, which 1st XI teams compete for, and the Irish Junior Cup.
The game had been taken to India by British servicemen and the first clubs formed in Calcutta in 1885. The Beighton Cup and the Aga Khan tournament commenced within ten years. Entering the Olympics in 1928, India won all five games without conceding a goal and won from 1932 until 1956 and then in 1964 and 1980. Pakistan won in 1960, 1968 and 1984.
In the early 1970s artificial turf began to be used. Synthetic pitches changed most aspects of hockey, gaining speed. New tactics and techniques such as the Indian dribble developed, followed by new rules to take account. The switch to synthetic surfaces ended Indian and Pakistani domination because artificial turf was too expensive—in comparison to the wealthier European countries—and since the 1970s Australia, The Netherlands and Germany have dominated at the Olympics from 2011-2012.
Women's hockey was first played at British universities and schools, and the first club, Molesey Ladies, was founded in 1887. The first national association was the Irish Ladies Hockey Union in 1894, and though rebuffed by the Hockey Association, women's hockey grew rapidly around the world. This led to the International Federation of Women's Hockey Associations (IFWHA) in 1927, though this did not include many continental European countries where women played as sections of men's associations and were affiliated to the FIH. The IFWHA held conferences every three years, and tournaments associated with these were the primary IFWHA competitions. These tournaments were non-competitive until 1975.
By the early 1970s there were 22 associations with women's sections in the FIH and 36 associations in the IFWHA. Discussions started about a common rule book. The FIH introduced competitive tournaments in 1974, forcing the acceptance of the principle of competitive hockey by the IFWHA in 1973. It took until 1982 for the two bodies to merge, but this allowed the introduction of women's hockey to the Olympic games from 1980 where, as in the men's game, The Netherlands, Germany, and Australia have been consistently strong. Argentina has emerged as a team to be reckoned with since 2000, winning the world championship in 2002 and 2010 and medals at the last three Olympics.
Outside North America, participation is now fairly evenly balanced between men and women. For example, in England, the England Hockey reports that as of the 2008–09 season there were 2488 registered men's teams, 1969 women's teams, 1042 boys' teams, 966 girls' teams and 274 mixed teams. In 2006 the Irish Hockey Association reported that the gender split among its players was approximately 65% female and 35% male. In its 2008 census, Hockey Australia reported 40,534 male club players and 41,542 female. However, in the United States of America, there are few hockey clubs, most play taking place between high school or college sides, almost entirely of females. The strength of college hockey reflects the impact of Title IX which mandated that colleges should fund men's and women's sports programmes comparably.
On 15 February 2003 in the UK, Salford University Men's second team set a world record for number of goals conceded in a game, the final score being a defeat of 37–0. An impressive performance from Brooklands 4th team despite the fact that they probably should have scored more due to their opposition, Salford University seconds only having six players.
Most hockey field dimensions were originally fixed using whole numbers of imperial measures. Nevertheless, metric measurements are now the official dimensions as laid down by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) in the "Rules of Hockey". It is these dimensions that are given in this article, with the imperial units in parentheses. The pitch is a 91.40 m × 55 m (100 yd × 60 yd) rectangular field. At each end is a goal 2.14 m (7 feet) high and 3.66 m (12 ft) wide measured from the inner sides of the posts and crossbar, and an approximately semi-circular area 14.63 m (16 yd) from the goal known as the shooting circle (or D or arc), bounded by a solid line, with a dotted line 5 m (5 yd 6 in—this marking was not established until after metric conversion) from that, as well as lines across the field 22.90 m (25 yd) from each end-line (generally referred to as the 23 m lines) and in the center of the field. A spot 0.15m in diameter, called the penalty spot or stroke mark, is placed with its centre 6.40 m (7 yd) from the centre of each goal.
Traditional grass pitches are far less common in modern hockey with most hockey being played on synthetic surfaces. Since the 1970s, sand-based pitches were favoured as they dramatically speed up the pace of the game. However, in recent years there has been a massive increase in the number of "water-based" artificial turfs. Water-based synthetic turfs enable the ball to be transferred more quickly than on the original sand-based surfaces and it is this characteristic that has made them the surface of choice for international and national league competitions. Water-based surfaces are also less abrasive than the sand-based variety and hence reduce the level of injury to players when they come into contact with the surface. The FIH are now proposing that new surfaces being laid should be of a hybrid variety which require less watering. This is due to the negative ecological effects of the high water requirements of water-based synthetic fields. In the U.S. field hockey is played mostly in the Northeast region of the country.
The game is played between two teams of up to sixteen players, eleven of whom are permitted to be on the pitch at any one time. The remaining five players, the substitutes, may be substituted in any combination, from one to five, an unlimited number of times in the course of a game. Substitutions are permitted at any point in the game, apart from between the award and end of a penalty corner; the only exception to this rule is for injury or suspension of the defending goalkeeper, this is not allowed when you're playing with a field keep.
Players are permitted to play the ball with the flat of the 'face side' and with the edges of the head and handle of the hockey stick with the exception that, for reasons of safety, the ball may not be struck 'hard' with a forehand edge stroke, because of the difficulty of controlling the height and direction of the ball from that stroke.
The flat side is always on the "natural" side for a right-handed person swinging the stick at the ball from right to left. Left-handed sticks are rare, but available; however they are pointless as the rules forbid their use in a game. To make a strike at the ball with a left to right swing the player must present the flat of the 'face' of the stick to the ball by 'reversing' the stick head, i.e. by turning the handle through approximately 180°(while a reverse edge hit would turn the stick head through approximately 90° from the position of an upright forehand stoke with the 'face' of the stick head.
Edge hitting of the ball underwent a two year 'experimental period', twice the usual length of an 'experimental trial' and is still a matter of some controversy within the sport. Ric Charlesworth, the current Australian coach, has been a strong critic of the unrestricted use of the reverse edge hit. The 'hard' forehand edge hit was banned after similar concerns were expressed about the ability of players to direct the ball accurately, but the reverse edge hit does appear to be more predictable and controllable than its counterpart.
Other rules include; no foot to ball contact, obstructing other players, high back swing, and no third party. If a player is dribbling the ball and either loses control and kicks the ball or another player interferes that player is not permitted to gain control and continue dribbling. The rules do not allow the person who kicked the ball to gain advantage from the kick, so the ball will automatically be passed on to the opposing team. Players may not obstruct another's chance of hitting the ball in anyway. No shoving/using your body/stick to prevent advancement in the other team. Penalty for this is the opposing team receives the ball and if the problem continues,the player can be carded. While a player is taking a free hit or starting a corner the back swing of their hit cannot be too high for this is considered dangerous. Finally there may not be three players touching the ball at one time. Two players from opposing teams can battle for the ball, however if another player interferes it is considered third party and the ball automatically goes to the team who only had one player involved in the third party.
There are no fixed positions (even a goalkeeper is not required under the 2007–2008 rules), but most teams arrange themselves (in a similar way to Association football teams) into fullbacks (defence), midfielders (halfback) and forwards (front line). Many teams include a single sweeper. The rules do not specify a minimum number of players for a match to take place, but most competitions have some local ruling on this, with seven players being a common minimum.
One player from each team may be designated the goalkeeper. Goalkeepers must wear at least a helmet and a different coloured shirt in order to have "goalkeeping privileges". They may also opt to wear additional padding such as "kickers" over the shoes, leg-guards, padded shorts, body and arm protectors—if they opt for this protection, they are termed "fully protected goalkeepers". Although such goalkeepers may block or deflect the ball from the goal with any part of their bodies, and propel the ball with their feet, legs, the associated padding or their stick, they must always carry a stick. Goalkeepers are permitted to play the ball outside their defensive circle (scoring area or "D"), but may only use their hockey-stick in this circumstance, not their kickers; leg-guards; gloves/hand protectors or any part of the body. Fully protected goalkeepers are prohibited from passing their side's defensive 23 m line during play, unless they are taking a penalty stroke. A goalkeeper who is wearing only a helmet and different coloured shirt may remove the helmet and play anywhere on the field and retains goalkeeping privileges even if they do not have chance to replace the helmet when play returns to their defensive circle. They must however wear a helmet to defend penalty corners and penalty strokes.
For the purposes of the rules, all players on the team in possession of the ball are attackers, and those on the team without the ball are defenders.
The match is officiated by two field umpires. Traditionally each umpire generally controls half of the field, divided roughly diagonally. These umpires are often assisted by a technical bench including a timekeeper and record keeper.
Prior to the start of the game, a coin is tossed and the winning captain can choose a starting end or start with the ball. The game time is divided into two equal halves of 35 minutes each, with five minutes for half-time. At the start of each half, as well as after goals are scored, play is started with a pass from the centre of the field. All players must start in their defensive half (apart from the player making the pass), but the ball may be played in any direction along the floor. Each team starts with the ball in one half, and the team that conceded the goal has possession for the restart.
Field players may only play the ball with the face of the stick. Tackling is permitted as long as the tackler does not make contact with the attacker or his stick before playing the ball (contact after the tackle may also be penalised if the tackle was made from a position where contact was inevitable). Further, the player with the ball may not deliberately use his body to push a defender out of the way.
Field players may not play the ball with their feet, but if the ball accidentally hits the feet, and the player gains no benefit from the contact, then the contact is not penalised. Although there has been a change in the wording of this rule from 1 January 2007, the current FIH umpires' briefing instructs umpires not to change the way they interpret this rule.
Obstruction typically occurs in three circumstances – when a defender comes between the player with possession and the ball in order to prevent them tackling; when a defender's stick comes between the attacker's stick and the ball or makes contact with the attacker's stick or body; and also when blocking the opposition's attempt to tackle a teammate with the ball (called third party obstruction).
When the ball passes completely over the sidelines (on the sideline is still in), it is returned to play with a sideline hit, taken by a member of the team whose players were not the last to touch the ball before crossing the sideline. The ball must be placed on the sideline, with the hit taken from as near the place the ball went out of play as possible. If it crosses the back line after last touched by an attacker, a 15 m (16 yd) hit. A 15 m hit is also awarded for offenses committed by the attacking side within 15 m of the end of the pitch they are attacking.
Free hits are awarded when offences are committed outside the scoring circles (the term 'free hit' is standard usage but the ball need not be hit). The ball may be hit or pushed in any direction by the team offended against. The ball must not be intentionally raised with any hit including a free hit. (In previous rules versions hits in the area outside the circle in open play have been permitted but lifting directly from a free hit prohibited). Opponents must move 5 m (5.5 yd) from the ball when a free hit is awarded. A free hit must be taken from within playing distance of the place of the offence for which it was awarded and the ball must be stationary when the free-hit is taken.
As mentioned above, a 15 m hit is awarded if an attacking player commits a foul forward of that line, or if the ball passes over the back line off an attacker. These free hits are taken in line with where the foul was committed (taking a line parallel with the sideline between where the offence was committed, or the ball went out of play). When an attacking free hit is awarded within 5 m of the circle all attackers other than the one taking the hit must also be 5 m away.
In February 2009 the FIH introduced, as a "Mandatory Experiment" for international competition, an updated version of free hit rule. The changes allows a player taking a free hit to pass the ball to themselves. Importantly, this is not a "play on" situation, but to the untrained eye it may appear to be. The player must play the ball any distance in two separate motions, before continuing as if it were a play-on situation. They may raise an aerial or overhead immediately as the second action, or any other stroke permitted by the rules of hockey.
Also, all players (from both teams) must be at least 5 m from any free hit awarded to the attack within the 23 m area. Additionally, no free hits to the attack are permitted within 5m of the circle, so if a free hit is awarded inside this area it must be dragged back outside this zone. The ball may not travel directly into the circle from a free hit to the attack within the 23 m area without first being touched by another player or being dribbled at least 5 m by a player making a "self-pass". These experimental rules apply to all free hit situations, including sideline and corner hits. National Associations may also choose to introduce these rules for their domestic competitions.
A corner is awarded if the ball goes over the back line after last being touched by a defender, provided they do not play it over the back line deliberately, in which case a penalty corner is awarded. Corners are played by the attacking team and involve a free hit on the sideline 5 m from the corner of the field closest to where the ball went out of play. These restarts are also known as long corners (as opposed to short corner which is an alternative name for the penalty corner).
The short or penalty corner is awarded:
Short corners begin with five defenders (including the keeper) positioned behind the back line and at least 5 m from the 'insert' position of the ball. All other players in the defending team must be beyond the centre line, that is not in their 'own' half of the pitch, until the ball is in play. Attacking players begin the play standing outside the scoring circle, except for one attacker who starts the corner by playing the ball from a mark 10 m either side of the goal (the circle has a 14.63 m radius). This player puts the ball into play by pushing or hitting the ball to the other attackers outside the circle; the ball must pass outside the circle and then put back into the circle before the attackers may make a shot at the goal from which a goal can be scored. FIH rules do not forbid a shot at goal before the ball leaves the circle after being 'inserted', nor is a shot at the goal from outside the circle prohibited, but a goal cannot be scored at all if the ball has not gone out of the circle and cannot be scored from a shot from outside the circle if it is not again played by an attacking player before it enters the goal.
For safety reasons, the first shot of a penalty corner must not exceed 460 mm high (the height of the "backboard" of the goal) at the point it crosses the goal line if it is hit. However, if the ball is deemed to be below backboard height, the ball can be subsequently deflected above this height by another player (defender or attacker), providing that this deflection does not lead to danger. Note that the "Slap" stroke (a sweeping motion towards the ball, where the stick is kept on or close to the ground when striking the ball) is classed as a hit, and so the first shot at goal must be below backboard height for this type of shot also.
If the first shot at goal in a short corner situation is a push, flick or scoop, in particular the drag flick (which has become popular at international and national league standards), the shot is permitted to rise above the height of the backboard, as long as the shot is not deemed dangerous to any opponent. This form of shooting was developed because it is not height restricted in the same way as the first hit shot at the goal and players with good technique are able to drag-flick with as much power as many others can hit a ball.
A penalty stroke (often referred to as a PS, a flick, or just as a stroke) is awarded when defenders commit a deliberate foul in the circle (also known as the 'D') which deprives an attacker of possession or the opportunity to play the ball, when any breach prevents a probable goal, or if defenders repeatedly "break" or start to run from the back line before a penalty corner has started. The penalty stroke is taken by a single attacker in the circle (all other being beyond the 23m line), against the goalkeeper, and is taken from a spot 6.4 m out, central and directly in front of the goal. The goalkeeper must stand with feet on the goal line, and cannot move them until the ball is played, whilst the striker must start behind the ball and within playing distance of it (in other words he must be able to touch the ball with his stick). On the umpire's whistle, the striker may push or flick the ball at the goal and goalkeeper attempts to make a 'save'. The attacker is not permitted to play the ball more than once, to fake or dummy the shot, or to move towards or interfere with the goalkeeper once the shot is taken. Hitting or dragging the ball is also forbidden. If the shot is saved, play is restarted with a 15 m hit to the defenders. When a goal is scored, play is restarted in the normal way. If the goalkeeper commits a foul which prevents a goal being scored, for example, preventing a goal with the back or rounded part of his stick, a penalty goal may be awarded; for other fouls by defenders, the result is normally that the stroke is retaken. If the taker commits a foul, it is treated as if the stroke has been saved, and play recommences with a 15 m hit. If another attacker commits a foul, then if a goal is scored it is voided, and the stroke retaken.
||This section does not cite any references or sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (October 2008)|
According to the current Rules of Hockey 2007 issued by the FIH there are only two criteria for a dangerously played ball. The first is legitimate evasive action by an opponent (what constitutes legitimate evasive action is an umpiring judgment). The second is specific to the rule concerning a shot at goal at a penalty corner but is generally, if somewhat inconsistently, applied throughout the game and in all parts of the pitch: it is that a ball lifted above knee height and at an opponent who is within 5m of the ball is certainly dangerous.
The velocity of the ball is not mentioned in the rules concerning a dangerously played ball. A ball that hits a player above the knee may on some occasions not be penalized, this is in the umpire's discretion. A jab tackle for example, might accidentally lift the ball above knee height into an opponent from close range but at such low velocity as not to be, in the opinion of the umpire, dangerous play. In the same way a high velocity hit at very close range into an opponent, but below knee height, could be considered to be dangerous or reckless play in the view of the umpire, especially when safer alternatives are open to the striker of the ball.
A ball that has been lifted high so that it will fall among close opponents may be deemed to be potentially dangerous and play may be stopped for that reason. A lifted ball that is falling to a player in clear space may be made potentially dangerous by the actions of an opponent closing to within 5m of the receiver before the ball has been controlled to ground – a rule which is often only loosely applied; the distance allowed is often only what might be described as playing distance, 2–3 m, and opponents tend to be permitted to close on the ball as soon as the receiver plays it: these unofficial variations are often based on the umpire's perception of the skill of the players i.e. on the level of the game, in order to maintain game flow, which umpires are in general in both Rules and Briefing instructed to do, by not penalising when it is unnecessary to do so, this is also a matter in the umpire's discretion.
The term "falling ball" is important in what may be termed encroaching offences. It is generally only considered an offence to encroach on an opponent receiving a lifted ball that has been lifted to above head height (although the height is not specified in rule) and is falling. So, for example, a lifted shot at the goal which is still rising as it crosses the goal line (or would have been rising as it crossed the goal line) can be legitimately followed up by any of the attacking team looking for a rebound.
In general even potentially dangerous play is not penalised if an opponent is not disadvantage by it or, obviously, not injured by it so that he cannot continue. A personal penalty, that is a caution or a suspension, rather than a team penalty, such as a free ball or a penalty corner, may be (many would say should be or even must be, but again this is in the umpire's discretion) issued to the guilty party after an advantage allowed by the umpire has been played out in any situation where an offence has occurred, including dangerous play (but once advantage has been allowed the umpire cannot then call play back and award a team penalty).
It is not an offence to lift the ball over an opponent's stick (or body on the ground), provided that it is done with consideration for the safety of the opponent and not dangerously. For example, a skillful attacker may lift the ball over a defenders stick or prone body and run past them, however if the attacker lifts the ball into or at the defender's body, this would almost certainly be regarded as dangerous.
It is not against the rules to bounce the ball on the stick and even to run with it while doing so, as long as that does not lead to a potentially dangerous conflict with an opponent who is attempting to make a tackle. For example,two players trying to play at the ball in the air at the same time, would probably be considered a dangerous situation and it is likely that the player who first put the ball up or who was so 'carrying' it would be penalised.
Dangerous play rules also apply to the usage of the stick when approaching the ball, making a stroke at it (replacing what was at one time referred to as the "sticks" rule, which once forbade the raising of any part of the stick above the shoulder during any play. This last restriction has been removed but the stick should still not be used in a way that endangers an opponent) or attempting to tackle, (fouls relating to tripping, impeding and obstruction). The use of the stick to strike an opponent will usually be much more severely dealt with by the umpires than offences such as barging, impeding and obstruction with the body, although these are also dealt with firmly, especially when these fouls are intentional: hockey is a non-contact sport.
Players may not play or attempt to play at the ball above their shoulders unless trying to save a shot that could go into the goal, in which case they are permitted to stop the ball or deflect it safely away. A swing, as in a hit, at a high shot at the goal (or even wide of the goal) will probably be considered dangerous play if at opponents within 5 m and such a stroke would be contrary to rule in these circumstances anyway.
Hockey uses a three-tier penalty card system of warnings and suspensions:
In addition to their colours, field hockey penalty cards are often shaped differently to enable them to be recognized easily. Green cards are normally triangular, yellow cards rectangular and red cards circular.
Unlike football, a player may receive more than one green or yellow card. However, they cannot receive the same card for the same offence (for example two yellows for dangerous play), and the second must always be a more serious card. In the case of a second yellow card for a different breach of the rules (for example a yellow for deliberate foot, and a second later in the game for dangerous play) the temporary suspension would be expected to be of considerably longer duration than the first. However, local playing conditions may mandate that cards are awarded only progressively, and not allow any second awards.
Umpires may also advance a free-hit by up to 10 m for dissent or other misconduct after a penalty has been awarded; or, if the free-hit would have been in the attacking 23 m area, upgrade the penalty to a penalty corner.
The teams' object is to play the ball into their attacking circle and, from there, hit, push or flick the ball into the goal, scoring a goal. The team with more goals after two 35-minute halves wins the game. The playing time may be shortened, particularly when younger players are involved, or for some tournament play.
Conditions for breaking ties are not laid down in the rules of hockey. In many competitions (such as regular club competition, or in pool games in tournaments such as the Olympics), a tied result stands and the overall competition standings adjusted accordingly. Where tie-breaking is required, many associations will follow the procedure laid down in FIH tournament regulations which mandate 7.5 minutes each way of "golden goal" or "sudden death" extra time (i.e. the game ends as soon as one team scores). If scores are still level, then the game will be decided with penalty strokes, in much the same way that association football penalty shoot outs are conducted.
Other competitions may use alternative means of breaking a tie, for example, an extended period of golden goal extra time with a progressive reduction in the number of players each team can have on the field. The number of players is usually reduced to seven a side, and they play for ten minutes. At the end of this ten minutes, if there is still a tie, then they play another round of the ten-minute seven versus seven. After that, if the tie remains, the teams compete in penalty strokes. In the event that after two rounds of penalty strokes the tie still remains, the game goes to sudden-death penalty strokes to determine a winner. However, most games will end after one round of the seven versus seven, unless it is a game in which there needs to be a winner.
The FIH implemented a two-year rules cycle with the 2007–08 edition of the rules, with the intention that the rules be reviewed on a two-yearly basis. The 2009 rulebook was officially released in early March 2009 (effective 1 May 2009), however the FIH published the major changes in February. The current rule book is effective from 1 January 2011.
The FIH has adopted a policy of including major changes to the rules as "Mandatory Experiments", showing that they must be played at international level, but are treated as experimental and will be reviewed before the next rulebook is published and either changed, approved as permanent rules, or deleted.
Recent examples of such experiments include a fixed 2-minute suspension for a green card and a (limited) ability to request video umpiring decisions.
There are sometimes minor variations in rules from competition to competition; for instance, the duration of matches is often varied for junior competitions or for carnivals. Different national associations also have slightly differing rules on player equipment.
The new Euro Hockey League has made major alterations to the rules to aid television viewers, such as splitting the game into four quarters, and to try to improve player behaviour, such as a two-minute suspension for green cards—the latter was also used in the 2010 World Cup. In the United States, the NCAA has its own rules for inter-collegiate competitions; high school associations similarly play to different rules, usually using the rules published by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). This article assumes FIH rules unless otherwise stated. USA Field Hockey produces an annual summary of the differences.
In the United States, the games at the junior high level consist of two 25-minute halves, while the high school level consists of two 30 minute halves. Many private American schools play 25-minute halves, and some have adopted FIH rules rather than NFHS rules. Players are required to wear mouth guards and shin guards in order to play the game. Also, there is a newer rule requiring certain types of sticks be used. In recent years, the NFHS rules have moved closer to FIH, but in 2011 a new rule requiring protective eyewear was introduced for the 2011 Fall season. The 'cage style' goggles favored by US high school lacrosse and permitted in high school field hockey is not permitted under FIH rules.
Each player carries a "stick", normally between 36–37 inches long,but they make them shorter and longer, and are traditionally made of wood but now often made with fibreglass, kevlar and carbon fibre composites, with a rounded handle, flattened on the left side and with a hook at the bottom. Metal is forbidden from use in hockey sticks. Note: left-handed sticks do not exist.
There was traditionally a slight curve (called the bow, or rake) from the top to bottom of the face side of the stick and another on the 'heel' edge to the top of the handle (usually made according to the angle at which the handle part was inserted into the splice of the head part of the stick), which assisted in the positioning of the stick head in relation to the ball and made striking the ball easier and more accurate.
The hook at the bottom of the stick was only recently the tight curve (Indian style) that we have nowadays. The older 'English' sticks had a longer bend, making it very hard to use the stick on the reverse. For this reason players now use the tight curved sticks.
The handle makes up the about the top third of the stick. It is wrapped in a grip similar to that used on tennis racket. The grip may be made of a variety of materials, including chamois leather, which many players think improves grip in the wet.
It was recently discovered that increasing the depth of the face bow made it easier to get high speeds from the dragflick and made the stroke easier to execute. At first, after this feature was introduced, the Hockey Rules Board placed a limit of 50 mm on the maximum depth of bow over the length of the stick but experience quickly demonstrated this to be excessive. New rules now limit this curve to under 25 mm so as to limit the power with which the ball can be flicked.
The ball is a table, hard and made of plastic (sometimes over a cork core) and is often covered with indentations to reduce hydroplaning that can cause an inconsistent ball speed on wet surfaces.
Many players wear mouth guards to protect teeth and gums from impacts from the ball or stick. Some local rules require their use. Many players also wear shin guards, and again these may be required equipment in some areas. Many players wear astro gloves: a padded glove which is designed to protect hands from abrasion from contact with the ground (especially that of sand-based astro pitches), and some even protect against impact from a ball or a stick. A few competitions require goggles to protect the eyes. Defenders may sometimes use short corner masks; these are designed to reduce the impact of a drag flick from short corners, though they do not provide guaranteed protection.
The 2007 rulebook has seen major changes regarding goalkeepers. A fully equipped goalkeeper must wear a helmet, leg guards and kickers. Usually they wear extensive additional protective equipment including chest guards, padded shorts, heavily padded hand protectors, groin protectors, neck guards, arm guards, and like all players, must carry a stick. However, such a player may not cross the 23 m line, the sole exception to this being if the goalkeeper is to take a penalty stroke at the other end of the field, when the clock is stopped. The goalkeeper can also remove their helmet for this action. However, if the goalkeeper elects to wear only a helmet (and a different coloured shirt), they may cross the 23 m line if they have removed their helmet (and placed it safely off the field of play). If play returns to the circle without them having opportunity to replace the helmet, this player still has "goalkeeping privileges", that is, they are not limited to using their stick to play the ball whilst it is in the circle. The helmet must be worn whilst defending penalty corners and penalty strokes.
It is now also possible for teams to have a full eleven outfield players — and no goalkeeper at all. No player may wear a helmet or other goalkeeping equipment, nor will any player be able to play the ball other than with their stick. This may be used to offer a tactical advantage, or to allow for play to commence if no goalkeeper or kit is available.
The basic tactic in hockey, as in association football and many other team games, is to outnumber the opponent in a particular area of the field at a moment in time. When in possession of the ball this temporary numerical superiority can be used to pass the ball around opponents so that they cannot effect a tackle because they cannot get within playing reach of the ball and to further use this numerical advantage to gain time and create clear space for making scoring shots on the opponent's goal. When not in possession of the ball numerical superiority is used to isolate and channel an opponent in possession and 'mark out' any passing options so that an interception or a tackle may be made to gain possession. Highly skillful players can sometimes get the better of more than one opponent and retain the ball and successfully pass or shoot but this tends to use more energy than quick early passing.
Every player has a role depending on their relationship to the ball if the team communicates throughout the play of the game. There will be players on the ball (offensively-ball carriers; definsively-pressure, support players, and movement players.
The main methods by which the ball is moved around the field by players are a) passing b) pushing the ball and running with it controlled to the front or right of the body and 3)"dribbling"; where the player controls the ball with the stick and moves in various directions with it to elude opponents. To make a pass the ball may be propelled with a pushing stroke, where the player uses their wrists to push the stick head through the ball while the stick head is in contact with it; the "flick" or "scoop", similar to the push but with an additional arm and leg and rotational actions to lift the ball off the ground; and the "hit", where a swing at ball is taken and contact with it is often made very forcefully, causing the ball to be propelled at velocities in excess of 70 mph. In order to produce a powerful hit, usually for travel over long distances or shooting at the goal, the stick is raised higher and swung with maximum power at the ball, a stroke sometimes known as a "drive".
Tackles are made by placing the stick into the path of the ball or playing the stick head or shaft directly at the ball. To increase the effectiveness of the tackle, players will often place the entire stick close to the ground horizontally, thus representing a wider barrier. To avoid the tackle, the ball carrier will either pass the ball to a teammate using any of the push, flick, or hit strokes, or attempt to maneuver or "drag" the ball around the tackle, trying to deceive the tackler.
In recent years, the penalty corner has gained importance as a goal scoring opportunity. Particularly with the technical development of the drag flick. Tactics at penalty corners to set up time for a shot with a drag flick or a hit shot at the goal involve various complex plays, including multiple passes before a deflections towards the goal is made but the most common method of shooting is the direct flick or hit at the goal.
At the highest level, hockey is a fast-moving, highly skilled sport, with players using fast moves with the stick, quick accurate passing, and hard hits, in attempts to keep possession and move the ball towards the goal. Tackling with physical contact and otherwise physically obstructing players is not permitted, Some of the tactics used resemble football (soccer), but with greater ball speed.
With the 2009 changes to the rules regarding free hits in the attacking 23m area, the common tactic of hitting the ball hard into the circle was forbidden. Although at higher levels this was considered tactically risky and low-percentage at creating scoring opportunities, it was used with some effect to 'win' penalty corners by forcing the ball onto a defender's foot or to deflect high (and dangerously) off a defender's stick. The FIH felt it was a dangerous practice that could easily lead to raised deflections and injuries in the circle, which is often crowded at a free-hit situation, and outlawed it.
Formations provide structure to a hockey team on the pitch. They help players understand and share the defensive and attacking responsibilities. Although higher level teams may select from a wide range of formations, teams containing inexperienced players or teams which see frequent changes to their players are likely to select from a more limited range of formations such as 4–3–3, 5–3–2 and 4–4–2. (The numbers refer to the number of players arrayed across the pitch, starting in front of the goalkeeper with the defenders, then midfield and then attack.) The 2–3–5 formation, used predominantly in Australia from relatively lowly interschool to professional interstate competitions, provides common language for many players and helps explain why "centre half" is often a name used for a player in the centre of a defence with four or five players.
Because hockey teams have one goalkeeper plus ten outfield players as does association football (soccer), there are many common formations between the two sports. See formation (football).
One important difference in modern hockey is the absence of an offside rule. This allows attackers (often a lone attacker) to play well up the pitch, stretching the opponents' defence and using the large spaces to be found there. To counter this, defences usually keep a matching number of defenders near those attackers. This can frequently lead to formations such as 1–4–4–1 which is an adaptation of 4–4–2.
When play begins, it is common for the midfield and defensive positions to take a diagonal approach. When the ball is played on the right side of the field, the defensive players on the right side move up field. Consequently, players on the left side would stay back until the ball shifts to their side of the field. This formation allows for quicker recovery in the event of a missed play.
The biggest two field hockey tournaments are undoubtedly the Olympic Games tournament, and the Hockey World Cup, which is also held every 4 years. Apart from this, there is the Champions Trophy held each year for the six top-ranked teams. Field hockey has also been played at the Commonwealth Games since 1998. Amongst the men, India has won 8 Olympic golds and Pakistan lead in the world cup having lifted it 4 times. Amongst the women, Australia has 3 Olympic golds while Netherlands has clinched the World Cup 6 times. The Sultan Azlan Shah Hockey Tournament, held annually in Malaysia, is becoming a prominent Hockey Tournament where teams from around the world participate to win the cup.
India and Pakistan dominated men's hockey until the early 1980s, winning four of the first five world cups, but have become less prominent with The Netherlands, Germany, New Zealand, Australia and Spain gaining importance since the late 1980s, due to introduction of artificial turf instead of the grass fields around the 80s decade. Other notable men's nations include Argentina, England (who combine with other British "Home Nations" to form the Great Britain side at Olympic events) and Korea.
The Netherlands was the predominant women's team before hockey was added to Olympic events. In the early 1990s, Australia emerged as the strongest women's country although retirement of a number of players weakened the team. Other important women's teams are India, China, Korea, Argentina and Germany.
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