Field hockey

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Image:Field hockey 1 550px.jpg
A game of field hockey in progress

Field hockey is a popular sport for men and women in many countries around the world. Its official name and the one by which it is usually known is hockey <ref name="definition">International Hockey Federation</ref><ref name="definition2">Official website of the Olympic movement</ref>. However in a minority of countries <ref name="definition3">American Samoa, Azerbaijan, Canada, Latvia, Moldova, Romania, U.S </ref> and in some encyclopedic references by way of distinguishing it from other sports with the same name it is formally known as Field hockey.

Hockey has several regular and prestigious international tournaments for both men and women. These events include the Olympic Games, the quadrennial World Hockey Cups, the annual Champions Trophies and World Cups for juniors.

Indian and Pakistani national teams dominated men's hockey until the early 1980s, winning four of the first five world cups, but have become less prominent recently with The Netherlands, Germany and Australia gaining importance since the late 1980s. Other strong hockey playing nations include Spain, Argentina and South Korea. The Netherlands was the predominant international 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 key players has weakened the team. Other important women's teams are China, Korea, Argentina and Germany.

Many countries have extensive club competitions for both junior and senior players. Despite the large number of participants, club hockey is not a particularly large spectator sport and few players can afford to play professionally.

In the United States and Canada field hockey is widely regarded as a girls' and women's sport but there are some men's leagues as well.

In those countries where winter conditions prevent play outdoors field hockey is played indoors during the off-season. This indoor variant, known as indoor field hockey, differs from its outdoor parent in a number of respects. For example, the players may not raise the ball outside the shooting circle nor hit it.


[edit] History

Main article: Field hockey history

Games played with curved sticks and a ball have been found throughout history and the world. For example, there are 4000-year-old drawings in Egypt of the game being played, hurling dates back to before 1272 B.C. and there is a depiction from 500 B.C. in Ancient Greece. There were various hockey-like games throughout Europe during the Middle Ages and the word 'hockey' was recorded in the Galway Statutes of 1527.

The modern game of hockey grew from the game played in English public schools in the early 19th century. The first club was created in 1849 at Blackheath in south-east London, but the modern rules grew out of a version of hockey played by members of Middlesex cricket clubs for winter sport. Teddington Hockey Club, arguably, formed the modern game that we know today 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 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 had commenced within ten years. Entering the Olympic Games in 1928, India won all five of its games without conceding a goal and went on to win from 1932 until 1956 and then in 1964 and 1980. Pakistan won in 1960, 1968 and 1984.

Women's field hockey, played on grass. Universal until the 1970s, this is now quite rare for competitive hockey in many countries

In the early 1970s artificial turf fields began to be used in competition. The introduction of synthetic pitches, instead of grass, has completely changed most aspects of hockey. The game, as well as the material used to play, has taken a definitive turn, gaining mainly in speed. In order to take into account the specificities of this surface, new tactics and new techniques (such as the indian dribble) have been developed, often followed by the establishment of new rules to take account of these techniques. The switch to synthetic surfaces essentially ended Indian and Pakistani domination of the sport because artificial turf was far more expensive than grass, too expensive for the two countries to implement widely—in comparison to the wealthier European countries—and since the 1970s Australia, The Netherlands and Germany have dominated the sport at the Olympics.

Women do not seem to have played hockey widely before the modern era. Women's hockey was first played at British Universities and schools, and the first club, Molesey Ladies Hockey Club, 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 formation of the International Federation of Women's Hockey Associations (IFWHA) in 1927, though this did not include initially 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 the tournaments associated with these were the primary IFWHA competitions. These tournaments were non-competitive until 1975.

By the early 1970's there were 22 associations with women's sections in the FIH and 36 associations in the IFWHA. Discussions were 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.

[edit] The field of play

Image:Hockey field large.png
Diagram of a hockey field

Most hockey field dimensions were originally fixed using whole numbers of imperial measures and are expressed as such in this article. It is, nevertheless, the metric measurements shown in parenthesis which are the current official dimensions of the field of play as laid down by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) in the "Rules of Hockey 2005".

The game is played between two teams of eleven players on a 100 × 60 yard (91.4 m × 55 m) rectangular field. At each end there is a goal 7 feet (2.14 m) high and 12 feet (3.66 m) wide, and a semi-circle 16 yards (14.63 m) from the goal known as the shooting circle (or D or arc), with a dotted line 5 yards (5 m) from the semi-circle, as well as lines across the field 25 yards (22.9 m) from each end-line and in the center of the field. A spot, called the penalty spot or stroke mark, is placed 7 yards (6.4 m) from the center of each goal.

Traditional grass pitches are far less common in modern hockey with most hockey being played on synthetic surfaces. Since the 1970's 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 astro 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 astros.

[edit] Rules and play

Players are permitted to play the ball with any part of the stick other than the rounded side (back). The flat side is always on the "natural" side for a right-handed person — there are no "left-handed" hockey sticks (for actual use in play, some have been made as novelties).

[edit] Positions

Teams consist of eleven players on the field, and up to five substitutes. Substitutions are not limited but may not be made during a penalty corner. There are no set positions other than goalkeeper, but most teams arrange themselves (in a similar way to football (soccer) teams) into fullbacks (defense), midfielders (halfback) and forwards(front line). Many teams include a single sweeper.

Image:M060519 vit vipers-dragons 0071.JPG
A goalkeeper makes a glove save. Equipment worn here is typical gear for a goalkeeper.

One player from each team is designated the goalkeeper. Goalkeepers must wear a suitable helmet with full face mask and are also permitted to wear protective padding, including large leg guards, kickers and gloves. Although goalkeepers may block or deflect the ball with any part of their bodies, and propel the ball with their feet, they must always carry a stick, and normal stick rules apply. Goalkeepers are permitted to play the ball outside their defensive circle (scoring area or "D"), but must only use the stick in this circumstance.

[edit] General Play

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, although now experiments are being made where either umpire can make any decision anywhere on the field. 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, 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.

Obstruction typically occurs in three circumstances - when a defender comes between the player with possession and the ball without first performing a legitimate tackle; when a defender's stick comes between the attacker's stick and the ball or makes contact with the attacker's stick; and also when (usually deliberately) blocking the opposition's passage to the ball (called third party obstruction).

When the ball passes over the sidelines, 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. If it crosses the backline after last touched by an attacker, a 15 m 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.

[edit] Set Plays

[edit] Free Hits

Free hits are awarded when offences are committed outside the scoring circles. The ball may be hit or pushed once in any direction by the team offended against. However, the ball must not be judged to be intentionally raised by the umpire from a free hit, or the umpire can "reverse" the decision. This means that the team who were defending are now attacking, and can lead to swift counter attacks. Opponents must move 5 m from the ball when a free hit is awarded, and for attacking free hits within 5 m of the circle all attackers other than the one taking the hit must also be 5 m away.

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 backline off an attacker. These 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). If the attack commit a foul in the circle they are attacking, the defence additionally has the option to take the free hit anywhere in that circle.

(For US high school competition, from the 2006 season, all players must be 7 yards away from the ball during a free hit.)

[edit] Long Corner

A long corner is awarded if the ball goes over the backline after last being touched by a defender. Long 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. In some areas these are also known as long hits.

[edit] Short Corner

The short or penalty corner is a rather complicated set play that is awarded against a defending team when any offence is committed in the defensive circle, and may be awarded when a deliberate offence is committed in the defending 23 m area, or when the defending team deliberately plays the ball over the back line.

A group of five defenders wait on the backline for a short corner.

Short corners begin with five defenders (including the keeper) arranged along the backline. All other defenders must return to the centre line 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 before the attackers attempt to get a shot or deflection into the goal. For safety reasons, the first shot of a penalty corner must not exceed 460mm high (the height of the "backboard" of the goal) at the point it crosses the goal line if it is hit.

[edit] Penalty Stroke

A penalty stroke (often referred to as a PS or just as a stroke) is awarded when defenders commit a deliberate foul in the circle 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 backline before a penalty corner has started. This penalty pits a single attacker against the goalkeeper, and is taken from a spot 6.4 m out and directly in front of the goal. The goalkeeper must stand with heels on the goal line, and cannot move his feet 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, which the goalkeeper attempts to save. The attacker is not permitted to take more than one shot, 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; if a goal is scored, play is restarted in the normal way. If the goalkeeper commits a foul which prevents a goal being scored, a penalty goal may be awarded, for other fouls by defenders, the result is normally that the stroke is retaken. If the taker or another attacker commits a foul, it is treated as if the stroke has been saved, and play recommences with a 15 m hit.

An international level penalty stroke has been recorded as taking about 0.14 seconds to travel from the p-spot to the goal-line. As the human reaction time is about 0.1 seconds, this makes saving a penalty stroke exceedingly difficult! [citation needed]

[edit] Dangerous Play and Raised Balls

If the ball is raised off the ground in a manner that is, in the umpire's opinion, dangerous, the ball is turned over to the other team and they receive a free hit. The free hit is taken where the action that caused the danger occurred (that is, not where the danger itself occurs). The definition of a "dangerous ball" is a matter of interpretation by the umpires. Guidance in the rules states "a ball is considered dangerous when it causes legitimate evasive action by players" — but it also depends on the speed of the ball, the height at which it is raised, and the number of players near its path.

It is, however, legal to raise the ball when making a shot on goal (by hitting or flicking), or to make an 'overhead' pass (providing opposition players are greater than 5 m from the player, and the ball is not dangerous). The ball may only deliberately be raised using a hit if the player is shooting at goal.

Dangerous play rules also apply with relation to the usage of the stick. Players may not attempt to play at the ball above their shoulders (unless saving a goal on the goal line). It will generally be considered dangerous play to hit the ball while it is in the air; the ball must be controlled first in this circumstance

[edit] Warnings and Suspensions

Hockey uses a three-tier card system of warnings and suspensions:

  • A Green card is a warning.
  • A Yellow card is a temporary suspension, just like in rugby football, but normally for a minimum of 5 minutes duration without substitution, in normal games. (In some modes, including indoor, shorter periods of suspension are applied, dependent on local rules).
  • A Red card, just like in association football, is a permanent exclusion from the rest of the game, without substitution, and in many circumstances will also result in the player being banned for a certain period of time or number of matches (this is governed by local playing conditions, rather than the rules of hockey).

Unlike football, a player may receive more than one green or yellow card, although if a player has already received a yellow card, they cannot be issued any more green cards. In the case of a second yellow card, 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 second awards.

[edit] Scoring

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 point. The team with more goals after two 35-minute halves wins the game.

[edit] Tie Breaker

Conditions for breaking ties are not laid down in the rules of hockey, but many associations will follow the procedure laid down in FIH tournament regulations which mandate 7.5 minutes each way of "golden goal" 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 (usually termed "drop-offs"); if no goal is scored at the end of such extra time periods, again a result would be achieved using penalty strokes.

[edit] Local rules

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.

In the United States, NCAA have their own rules for inter-collegiate competitions, and high school associations similarly play to different rules. This article assumes FIH rules unless otherwise stated. USA Field Hockey produces an annual summary of the differences. <ref name="US rule differences">Summary of NCAA and NFHS rule differences</ref>

[edit] Equipment

[edit] Hockey Stick

Main article: Field hockey stick

Each player carries a "stick", normally a little over 3 feet (90 centimetres) long and 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.

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 splce 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.

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 50mm on the maximum depth of bow over the length of the stick but experience quickly demonstrated this to be excessive. New rules (2006) now limit this curve of the stick to 25mm so as to limit the power with which the ball can be flicked.

[edit] Hockey ball

The ball is hard and 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. Each field player normally wears a mouth guard and shin guards.

[edit] General player equipment

Many players wear mouthguards to protect teeth and gums from impacts from the ball or stick. Some local rules require their use such as US high school competition. In these competitions, from the 2006 season, no clear mouthguards will be allowed, they have to be coloured, this is to make it easier for umpires to confirm that the guards are being worn. Many players also wear shin guards, and again these may be required equipment in some areas. A few competitions, such as American high school competitions, require goggles (field hockey or lacrosse) to protect the eyes.

[edit] Goalkeeping equipment

Goalkeeper in full outfit.
Although the only equipment required for Goalkeepers (under FIH rules, local variants may require more) is a helmet and a stick, invariably they wear extensive protective equipment including chest guards, padded shorts, heavily padded hand protectors, leg guards, and foot guards (called "kickers").

NB: In the case of no goalkeeper being present, what is known as a "kicking defender" can be used for tactical advantage. This player wears kickers and a helmet, and can kick only inside their own D. however, they can play as a normal player outside the D, though they are not allowed past the half-way line.

In 2007 a new rule will be brought in, allowing teams to have a full eleven outfield players - and no goalkeeper at all. No player will have to wear a helmet or kickers.This may be used to offer a tactical advantage, or to allow for play to commence if no goalkeeper or kit is available. Any player wearing a helmet and claiming the privileges of a goalkeeper will not be permitted to cross the 23m line.

[edit] Tactics

The main methods by which the ball is moved around the field by players are: the "dribble", where the player controls the ball with the stick and runs with the ball, pushing the ball along as they run; The "push", where the player uses their wrists to push at the ball; the "flick" or "scoop", similar to the push but with an additional wrist action to force the stick through at an angle and lift the ball off the ground; and the "hit", where a backlift is taken and contact with the ball is made quite forcefully. In order to produce a much stronger hit, usually for travel over long distances, the stick is raised higher and swung at the ball, known as a "drive". Tackles are made by placing the stick into the path of 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, or attempt to maneuver or "pull" the ball around the tackle, trying to deceive the tackler.

When passing and maneuvering between players, certain commands are used to ensure understanding of movements and plays among teammates. Although these vary depending on which country the game is in, there are a few standard calls. By calling "through" or "straight" the ball is passed straight ahead to another player. "Flat" or "square" signifies a pass made to the right or left of the player with the ball at a 90 degree angle. Passes made backward are occasionally signified by a call of "drop". A hit made forward at an angle is recognized as "up" or "through".

In recent years, the penalty corner has gained importance as a vital part of the game as a goal scoring opportunity. Particularly with the advent and popularisation of the drag flick, penalty corners are highly sought after. Some tactics or set plays used involve the aforementioned drag flick, the straight hit, deflections towards goal, and various, more complex plays, using passes before shots at 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. While physically tackling and otherwise obstructing players is not permitted, collisions are common, and the speed at which the ball travels along the ground (and sometimes through the air, which is legal if it is not judged dangerous by the umpire) requires the use of padded shin guards to prevent injury. Some of the tactics used resemble football (soccer), but with greater speed - the best players maneuver and score almost quicker than the eye can see.

[edit] Formations

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 4 or 5 players.

Because hockey teams have 1 goalkeeper plus 10 outfield players as does association football (soccer), there are many common formations between the two sports. See formation.

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 5-4-1.

[edit] Major International Tournaments

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 Cup held each year for the six top-ranked teams. Field hockey is also played in the Commonwealth Games. Amongst the men, India has won 8 Olympic golds and Pakistan have lifted the World Cup 4 times. Amongst the women, Australia has 3 Olympic golds while Netherlands has clinched the World Cup 6 times. 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.

[edit] Notes


[edit] External links

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