Field Hockey 101

How big is a hockey field?

A hockey field is approximately 100 yards long and 60 yards wide. The field is divided by 4 25-yard lines. At each end of the field a 16-yard semicircle (penalty circle) is also clearly marked. Five yards outside the penalty circle is another broken circle.

What equipment do we need?

Every player must have a stick, mouthguard, eye guards, and shin guards. No jewelry may be worn during game play. This includes any earrings, bracelets (including rope ones) and metal hair clips. The home team is usually in white shirts and socks and the visitor wears dark.

Side note: Every stick is right-handed. The left hand should always be at the top of the stick with the right hand below it. Unless performing a jab, two hands should be on the stick at all times.

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How long is a game?

Middle school game times may be agreed upon by the coaches, but a typical game consists of two 20-25 minute periods with a running clock. If a game is tied at the end of the second half, the score remains a tie. C and JV games are usually 25 minute halves with a running clock. Varsity games are 30 minute halves with time stoppage after each goal. At the varsity level, if the game is tied at the end of regulation time, one 10 minute 7 v 7 full field sudden victory period is played, followed by a 1 v 1 to goal, if necessary.

How many players are on a field and what are the positions?

A full field game consists of 10 field players and a goalkeeper. The positions are forwards, midfielders, and defensive players.

What do all those whistles mean?

  • The ball can only be hit with the flat side of the stick. Call: wrong side of the stick.
  • The ball cannot be played with the feet or hands. Call: advancing.
  • The stick cannot be used to hit another player or their stick. Call: stick obstruction, or hacking.
  • Player must be in control of her stick at all times. Swings should be kept below shoulders. Call: dangerous stick.
  • A ball cannot be played in the air into a crowd of players. Call: dangerous play.
  • Ball may be lifted into space or over players. A lifted shot to goal is legal
  • A player may not use her body to keep an opponent from getting the ball. Call: obstruction (sometimes when players are dribbling and the ball gets behind them or in between their legs, the team gets a whistle called for obstruction. To prevent this, players should try to keep the ball in front of them while dribbling.)
  • A teammate may not set a “pick” or keep an opponent from getting to the ball. Call: second or third player obstruction. (This is called when players bunch up.)

To begin the game:

All teammates are lined up on their half of the field. Ball is placed in the center of the field and at the sound of the whistle may be put into play. The ball may be passed back or forwards to a teammate.

Free hits and restarts:

Every time there is a whistle blown, the official will point which direction the ball is heading. The fouling team must back five yards away from the ball. We discourage the girls from “helping” to put the ball where the foul occurred for the other team, as this can be misinterpreted as poor sportsmanship and may result in the opponent getting to move the ball up 10 yards. (Call: Advance 10)

The team who is awarded the free hit may restart the ball by passing it to a teammate or simply by dribbling. Once the call has been made and the ball is stationary, the awarded team may self-start and does not have to wait for the fouling team to organize. Therefore, we encourage quick self-starts when on attack.

When taking a free hit inside our attacking 25-yard line, we must move the ball five yards to either side by either dribbling or passing before hitting straight into the penalty circle.

The ball must be shot from inside the penalty circle to count as a goal.

Penalty corners:

  • If a defensive foul occurs inside the circle, a penalty corner is awarded to the attacking team. The ball is placed on a hash line outside the goal and an attacker (inserter) puts the ball into play by passing it to a teammate at the top of the circle. The ball must come out of the circle before it is brought back in for a shot to goal.
  • Defense may have four players plus a goalkeeper back when a corner is taken. We have a “rusher” who goes to the ball, two “trailers” who go on either side of the rusher to make a wedge. The “post” player lines up behind the keeper to clear any loose balls.

Long hits:

  • If a defender clears a ball out of bounds or unintentionally across the end line, a long hit is awarded to the attacking team. The ball is placed on the sideline five yards up from the end line. Since the ball is inside the 25, it must go five yards before it is hit into the circle.

16-Yard Hit:

  • If the attacking team fouls inside the circle or hits a ball out of bounds, a 16-yard hit is awarded to the defensive team. A defender picks up the ball with her hand and places it even with the top of the circle. The ball should come straight up from where the foul occurred.