(spacer)EdGate Gateway to the Summer Games torch image(spacer)
(placeholder) (placeholder) (placeholder) (placeholder) (placeholder)
(placeholder) Brought to you by EdGate and Griffin Publishing Athens 2004

Field Hockey

Field hockey is a non-contact sport played on the amateur level and was formalized in England around 1861. The game has since become popular throughout Europe and in India (where it is the national sport), Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand, North America, and parts of South America, Asia, and Africa.

The Olympic sport of field hockey is much closer to soccer than it is to ice hockey. The number of players (11 on a side), the field size or “pitch” (91.4 meters long by 55 meters wide), and the basic strategy are much the same in both games.

Click a link to
read more about

A point is scored when a player hits the ball into the opponent’s net from within the striking circle, a zone that stretches 14.6 meters in front of the goal.

The object is to score by hitting the ball into the opponent’s goal with a stick that is curved at one end and flattened on one side (the striking side). Field hockey does not allow playing the ball with the feet, although the goalkeeper (goalie) may use any part of the body to stop the ball, and may kick it only when it is in the striking circle. Penalties for fouls committed in that area are more severe than for those committed outside it. A penalty stroke is awarded for an intentional foul by a defender within the circle, or when a defender stops a sure goal by committing a foul. When a foul is called by the umpire, a free hit is awarded that must be taken from where the foul occurred.

The ball is put in play in midfield through a procedure called a bully. One player from each team taps the ground and the opponent’s stick three times before hitting the ball.

Each team is composed of 11 players, usually 5 forwards, 2 fullbacks, 3 halfbacks, and 1 goalkeeper, but the formation ma\y be changed by the team captain. The game is divided into two halves of 35 minutes each, with a change of goals at the end of the first half.

In international (or tournament) play where a winner advances to another, higher round, games that are tied at the end of regulation play require a maximum of two 7 1/2-minute sudden death overtime periods. In “sudden death,” the first team to score wins. If, after two overtime periods, the score remains tied, then a penalty stroke competition may be used to determine the winner. In this competition, each team selects five players who take alternating penalty strokes against the opposing goalkeeper.

News, History, and Fast Facts

More sports






Canoeing & Kayaking





Field Hockey











Synchronized Swimming

Table Tennis


Team Handball


Track & Field



Water Polo



General Sports Links
Olympians will compete in dozens of sports this summer. Even though Gateway to the Summer Games can't feature them all, you can learn about each and every one by visiting the sites listed below.

Portions of the above text were excerpted from Share the Olympic Dream--Volume II.
© 2001 by Griffin Publishing Group/United States Olympic Committee.

For information on purchasing Griffin materials, please visit the Griffin Publishing Group Web site at http://www.griffinpublishing.com.


Griffin Publishing

Coaches Notes

International Paralympic Committee
International Paralympic Committee

US Paralympics
US Paralympics

Canadian Paralympic Committee
Canadian Paralympic Committee



Help | Disclaimer | Privacy Policy
© Copyright 2004 EdGate All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
Produced in partnership with Griffin Publishing Group.