Essential skills for playing Hockey are the ability to control, pass, push, stop and hit the ball. Stick work is impressive to watch, as players with good stick skills can maintain control of the ball while sprinting the length of the field, weaving through the sticks and legs of defending players to create space.
Athletes can only play the ball with the flat face or edge of the stick. Athletes are not allowed to use their feet or any other part of their body. Only the goalkeepers are allowed to use their stick, hands, feet, legs and body to stop the ball when defending their own circle.
Every team consists of ten field players, who are classified as attackers, midfielders, defenders, and a goalkeeper who remains in his team’s shooting circle.
In the Olympic Games, every team is made up of 16 players, 11 of which remain on the field while the other five are interchange players. Although coaches may make unlimited substitutions during a game, they are not permitted to make any substitutions during penalty corners and penalty strokes. In such cases, coaches can only replace injured or suspended goalkeepers.
Scoring a Goal
A field goal is scored after a shot at goal by an attacking player within the defending team's circle passes over the goaline.
If a defending team breaks a rule within their own circle, like preventing a goal from being scored with one’s body, a penalty corner may be awarded. A penalty corner is executed as follows:
An attacker stands with the ball on a designated spot along the back line and pushes it out to a player waiting outside the circle. At the same time, five defenders who waited behind the back line start running towards the attacker who is about to attempt a goal. The ball must be stopped by an attacking player outside the circle before players can shoot for a goal.
Duration of the Game
A Hockey match consists of two periods of 35 minutes each, with a 10-minute half time interval in between. The team that scores most goals is the winner. In case of a tie, extra time is given, during which the first team that scores a goal is the winner. This goal is called “golden goal”. If there is no winner after extra time, then a penalty stroke play-off occurs where players from each team take a series of penalty strokes against the opposing goalkeeper. This is played out until there is a winner.
Hockey matches are controlled by two umpires. In international matches, umpires appointed to games are from neutral countries. Their role is to ensure fair play and adjudicate on the rules issues. Each umpire covers roughly half the pitch, while around the middle of the field they work together. Signals are used to communicate decisions.
Hockey uses two umpires, each responsible for a half of the pitch. They work together to officiate the match. Predominantly, an umpire will communicate with the players with a whistle and verbally. Umpires will vary the volume and length of the whistle depending on the seriousness of an offence.
Umpires also use different hand signals to communicate:
Start time – turn to other umpire with one arm in the air
Stop time –turn to other umpire and cross fully extended arms at the wrist above the head
Two minutes remaining – raise both hands straight up in air with pointing index fingers
One minute remaining – raise one hand straight up in the air with pointing index finger
Goal Scored – point both arms horizontally towards centre of field
Dangerous play – place one forearm diagonally across chest
Direction of a free hit – arm horizontally raised to the side in the direction of play of the team awarded the free hit