A Beginner's Guide on How to Play Field Hockey

woman playing hockey on fields during daytime

Camera Icon Jeffrey F Lin / Unsplash

Field hockey is an exhilarating team sport that combines speed, skill, and teamwork. If you're new to field hockey and eager to learn how to play, this beginner's guide will provide you with essential information and tips to get started.

Understanding Field Hockey

Field hockey is played on a grass or turf field with two teams, each consisting of 11 players, including a goalkeeper. The objective of the game is to score goals by maneuvering the ball into the opponent's goal using a stick with a curved end, called a hockey stick. Here are the key elements of field hockey:

The Field

A field hockey field is rectangular and measures approximately 100 yards in length and 60 yards in width. It is divided into three sections: defensive, midfield, and attacking areas.


To play field hockey, you'll need the following equipment:

  • Hockey Stick: Choose a field hockey stick that suits your height and playing style. The stick should have a comfortable grip and an appropriate length for your stature.

  • Shin Guards: Protect your shins with lightweight and well-fitted shin guards. They provide essential protection against sticks and balls.

  • Mouthguard: Wear a mouthguard to protect your teeth and jaw from potential impacts during the game.

  • Astroturf Shoes or Cleats: Use shoes with appropriate grip for the field surface. Astroturf shoes or cleats with small rubber studs are recommended for turf fields, while regular cleats or turf shoes work well on grass fields.

  • Field Hockey Ball: Field hockey balls are hard and typically made of plastic. They come in different colors based on the playing surface.

Basic Rules

Here are some basic rules of field hockey:

  • The ball must be hit with the flat side of the stick. Using the rounded side is considered a foul.

  • Players are not allowed to use their feet or any part of their body to control the ball intentionally.

  • Only the goalkeeper is allowed to use their feet, legs, or body to defend the goal.

  • Physical contact between players is not allowed. Stick interference, obstruction, and dangerous play are penalized.

  • Free hits, penalty corners, and penalty strokes are awarded for various fouls and violations.

Positions and Roles

Field hockey positions include:

  • Goalkeeper: Guards the goal and tries to prevent the opposing team from scoring.

  • Defenders: Protect the goal and work to intercept and tackle the opponents.

  • Midfielders: Control the midfield area, supporting both defensive and attacking plays.

  • Forwards: Focus on scoring goals and creating scoring opportunities for the team.

Getting Started

Here are the steps to get started with field hockey:

1. Find a Club or Team

Look for a local field hockey club or team to join. These organizations offer training programs and playing opportunities for players of all ages and skill levels. They provide coaching, facilities, and a community of fellow players.

2. Learn the Basics

Enroll in beginner field hockey lessons or join a beginners' training group to learn the basic skills, rules, and techniques. These sessions will cover stick handling, passing, shooting, and defensive techniques. You'll also learn about positioning, game strategies, and teamwork.

3. Develop Stick Skills

Work on developing your stick skills, including dribbling, passing, and shooting. Practice controlling the ball while moving and improve your accuracy and power in passing and shooting drills. Regular practice and repetition will help you become more comfortable and proficient with your stick.

4. Improve Your Fitness

Field hockey is a physically demanding sport that requires speed, endurance, and agility. Incorporate cardio exercises, such as running and interval training, into your fitness routine. Strengthen your core, legs, and upper body through strength training exercises to improve your overall performance on the field.

5. Understand Game Tactics

Study the different tactics and strategies used in field hockey, such as formations, off-the-ball movement, and set plays. Understanding these aspects of the game will help you make effective decisions during matches and contribute to your team's success.

6. Play Matches and Tournaments

Participate in friendly matches and local tournaments to gain match experience. Playing against other teams will help you apply your skills, learn from experienced players, and develop your game understanding. It's also a great opportunity to enjoy the competitive aspect of field hockey and have fun with your teammates.

Field hockey is a thrilling and dynamic sport that offers a mix of technical skill, teamwork, and strategy. By following this beginner's guide, you'll be well on your way to becoming a competent field hockey player. Remember to practice regularly, seek guidance from experienced coaches, and enjoy the camaraderie that comes with being part of a team. So grab your stick, hit the field, and embrace the exciting world of field hockey!