HomeSportsHockeyHockey Basics: All You Need to Know About This Sport
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Hockey Basics: All You Need to Know About This Sport

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Hockey, or field hockey, is a field sport played between two 11-membered teams who use curved sticks to hit a small ball into the opponent’s goal. Another form of hockey played on an ice rink is called Ice Hockey. While Ice Hockey is played mostly in the North American countries of Canada and the US, field hockey is played all across the globe, especially in the European and Asian countries. One more form of field hockey is called Bandy. Discover about the Hockey sport, its history, the rules of the game, dimensions, governing body, etc. in this comprehensive blog.

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A Brief History

India’s legendary hockey squad that bought d=gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics (Credits TOI)

Hockey is widely believed in its historical roots since the earliest of civilizations. The Greeks, Arabs, Romans, and the Persians, all had their own versions of the sport. The proofs of a stick game played by the Aztec Indians of South America have also been discovered.

Hockey can also be associated in juxtaposition with other early games like hurling and shinty. Throughout the Middle Ages, a French stick game by the name hoquet was played, leading to the English word being derived from it.

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In the modern era, Hockey is believed to be in English schools first in the late 19th century. In fact, it was in 1861 that the first men’s hockey club was established at Blackheath in southeastern London. Another London club, Teddington, then introduced several major modifications in field hockey, most prominent being the ban of using hands or the lifting of the hockey sticks above the shoulder, the introduction of a spherical ball instead of the replacement of the rubber cube, and most importantly, the adopting of a striking circle. In 1886, these were the rules that were later incorporated as rules by the newly-founded Hockey Association in London.

Like with cricket, it was the British army that was largely responsible for the dispersion of the game first in the Indian subcontinent and later in Far East Asia.

Also Read | 7 Legendary Indian Hockey Players of All Times

By 1895, International Hockey competitions had already begun and by 1908, the sport had already made its way into the Summer Olympics.

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Hockey became India’s national game in 1928 when it won its first gold in what was a harbinger of the golden days to come for the sport in India. The country dominated the sport for well over 4 decades and went on to win consecutive Olympic gold in 1932, 1936, 1940, 1944, 1948, 1952, and 1956.

Did you know?

India’s hockey legend, Major Dhyan Chand had scored 8 goals in the finals of the 1932 Olympics, when India defeated hosts America by a 24-1 margin, the highest margin of win until it was broken in 2003.

Dimensions and Equipment Rules

The new, revised rules were brought into effect on 1 January 2017 by International Hockey Federation.

Field of Play

A Standard Field Hockey (Credits DSR)

Hockey Field Dimension: 91.40 m ✕ 55.00 m

  • The field of play is rectangular in shape, 91.40 m long and 55.00 meters wide with a center-line being marked across the middle of the field.
  • The lines, known as 23 meters lines, are marked across the field 22.90 meters from each back-line.
  • Penalty spots are of 15 cm diameter and are marked 6.40 meters (from the spots center) in front of the goal
  • All lines are 7.50 cm wide and are part of the field of play.
  • Flag-posts are between 1.20 m and 1.50 m in height and are placed at each corner of the field.

Also Read | Top 10 Greatest Hockey players of all time | Guess who tops the list

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Equipment Specification

Hockey Stick :

The dimensions of a hockey stick are as follow,

Hockey Sport: History, Game Rules, Dimensions, Governing Body | KreedOn
Hockey Stick Specifications (Credits:
line A to line A1 51 mm
line A to line B 20 mm
line A1 to line B1 20 mm
line A to line Y 25.5 mm
line C to line X 100 mm

The maximum weight of the hockey stick should be 737 grams.

Ball :

Hockey Sport: History, Game Rules, Dimensions, Governing Body | KreedOn
A field hockey ball (Credits Kookaburra)
  • The ball used in field hockey is spherical in shape with a circumference between 224 mm and 235 mm.
  • It weighs 156 grams to 163 grams
  • The hardball may be made of any material but should be of coloured white (or any other colour that contrasts with the colour of the playing surface). It can be possessing a smooth surface but indentations are permitted as well.

field hockey shoes - KreedOnAlso Read | Top 10 hockey shoes | Choose the best hockey shoes for your daily practice

Goalkeeper’s equipment

Hockey Sport: History, Game Rules, Dimensions, Governing Body | KreedOn
A field hockey goalkeeper (Credits Hart Sports)

Hand protectors :

  • Hand protectors should have a maximum width of 22.8 cm and length of 35.5 cm when laid flat, palm upwards.
  • They must not have any additions to retain the stick when the stick is not held in the hand.

Leg guards :

Leg guards each have a maximum width of 30 cm when on the leg of the goalkeeper.

Hockey Rules

Team Composition

A maximum of 11 players from each team is allowed to take part in the play at any given time during the match. In case a team has more than the allowed number of players on the field, the time is stopped to correct the situation. Such circumstances could affect the offending team’s captain being penalized.
Each team has one goalkeeper on the field. The goalkeeper should be wearing a different coloured shirt and full protective equipment comprising at least headgear, leg guards and kickers. These are essential and mandatory equipment that a player has to abide by as a goalkeeper.


Substitution is the process of replacing an on-field player with an off-field player.

The substitutions can be made at any time except during the period from the award of a penalty corner until after it has been completed ( unless there occurs an injury to or suspension of the defending goalkeeper).

There is no limit to the number of players who are allowed to be substituted at the same time. There is also no limit on the number of times any player is permitted to substitute or be substituted

Substitution of a player is allowed only when that player has left the field

Players during or after their suspension cannot be suspended.

Women Hockey India KreedOnAlso Read | Women Hockey Players of India | Meet the Champions Who Made the Nation Proud

Field players must leave or enter the field for substitution purposes within 3 meters of the center-line on a side

Time is stopped for substitution of goalkeepers but not for other substitutions.


A standard hockey match consists of two periods of 35 minutes and a half-time interval of 5 minutes.

However, the umpires are allowed to extend this time in case the time expires just before an umpire would otherwise have made a decision.

Also, in case an incident arises just before the end of half-time or by the end of the match which requires review by the umpires, the review is allowed to be continued even if time has subsequently been completed.


The team that scores the most number of goals at the end of the playing time is the winner.

If no goals are scored at all, or if the teams score an equal number of goals, the match is declared to have drawn. However, if the competition is knock-out in nature, where an outcome is necessary, an ‘Extra time’ or ‘Shoot-out’ is held, according to the rules of the competition, to decide the winner.

Start of the Match

Prior to the start of the game, a coin is tossed to decide which side would play on which side. The winner of the toss (the captain) gets to decide in which half his/her team will attack first. The sides are reversed in the second half.

A center pass is taken to start the game. It is taken at the center of the field where the player taking the pass is permitted to play the ball in any direction. Only one player taking the pass must be taking the center pass, with others must be in the half of the field which includes the goal they are defending.

A center pass is taken:

to start the game by a player from the team winning the toss if the option is chosen; If not, then by a player from the opposing team
to restart the match post half time by a player of the team who have yet to take a center pass.
after a goal by a player of the team which has just conceded a goal.
Ball outside the field

The ball is declared to be out of play when it is passed completely over the sideline or the backline.

The player of the team which was not the last team to touch or plays the ball before it went out of play restarts the play at the same spot.

Also Read | History of hockey: From a foreign game to India’s national sport

In situations when the ball is played over the back-line and no goal is scored thereafter:

The play is restarted from 15m from the back line if played by an attacker.
The play is if played restarted with the ball on the 23 meters line, if unintentionally by a defender or deflected by a goalkeeper. (In both the cases, the rules of free hit apply.)
A penalty corner is taken if played intentionally by a defender unless deflected by a goalkeeper.

Scoring a Goal

A goal is scored when the ball passes over the goal-line after having being played within the circle by an attacker.


There are numerous ways in which fouls can occur in field hockey. A foul is said to have committed if:

the stick is raised above the shoulder while playing the ball.
the ball is stopped, with the hand, foot or any other body part.
a dangerous play is caused by raising the ball by undercutting it, as well as hooking an opponent’s stick
a player obstructs his opponent who is trying to play the ball.
Most of the fouls are penalized by giving the opposition a free hit from where the infraction occurred.

Governing Body

Hockey Sport: History, Game Rules, Dimensions, Governing Body | KreedOn
The FIH logo (Credits FIH)

The International Hockey Federation, or Fédération Internationale de Hockey (FIH), is the field hockey’s international governing body. It is headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland. Currently, it is presided by Narinder Batra. FIH is responsible for all of the major international tournaments in the field hockey, with the World Cup being its flagship competition. Its Indian branch is the Indian Hockey Federation, which oversees all the proceedings in the country. Formed in 1928 in Gwalior, it is headquartered in New Delhi and presided by Mohammad Mushtaq Ahmed.

Read More | Top 10 best field Hockey Sticks in 2022 – 23


What is hockey?

Hockey is a team sport played on a field or an ice rink, where players use sticks to hit a small, hard ball or puck towards the opposing team’s goal. The objective is to score more goals than the opposing team within the given time.

How many players are on a hockey team?

In field hockey, each team consists of 11 players, including a goalkeeper. Ice hockey teams typically have six players on the ice at a time, including a goaltender.

What are the different types of hockey?

There are various forms of hockey, including field hockey, ice hockey, indoor hockey, roller hockey, and street hockey. Each variant has its own unique rules and playing surfaces.

What equipment is used in hockey?

Hockey players require specific equipment for protection and gameplay. This includes a stick, skates (in ice hockey), a helmet, pads, gloves, shin guards, and a mouthguard. Goaltenders have additional protective gear.

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Monish Gadiya
Monish Gadiya
Monish Gadiya is the Head of Content at KreedOn. He is a thorough tech-enthusiast and believes that innovation is the answer to all the problems prevalent in the society. Monish graduated from University of Pune with a degree in Civil Engineering before pursuing a post-graduate diploma course in intellectual property rights. A die-hard football fan, he has represented his college at various football competitions.


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