Strangers to hockey often complain that field hockey rules are too difficult to understand. In order to excel, or even participate in this team based sport, knowledge of the rules is a necessity. Here is of the list of the basic international rules from which college and USA hockey rules are based off of:
- A maximum of eleven players per team at play. There can be a maximum of sixteen players per team, but only eleven will be able to be on the field. The remaining five can be substituted into the game should the need arise. The field hockey rules state that if there are more than eleven players, for a particular team, on the field at once, time should be stopped and the situation corrected.
- Field players must wear same uniform as their team. This is for the sake of avoiding confusion. Teams should have a uniform for every player of said team. This is the first of the obvious field hockey rules that are put in place to reduce the room for confusion in a match.
- Coin toss to determine which goal to attack. For a fair, unbiased decision on which team is the attacker and which team is the defender, this coin toss is put into play at the start of the game.
- Play is restarted by a player who is not from the team which last touched the ball that went out of play. So the team that made the ball exit the field will not be able to restart the play, the opposing team will.
- Players cannot touch, obstruct or interfere with the sticks of other players. This is potentially dangerous behavior that can lead to both fighting and a penalty. Of the field hockey rules, this is one that seeks to prevent conflict between opposing players.
- Players must not attempt to strike any ball above their shoulders unless the player is a defender trying to block a goal shot. If the ball is traveling in the general direction of the goal, but would have actually missed the goal, hitting the ball would result in a penalty whether the player is a defender or attacker.
- Players must not play the ball dangerously. The ball is played dangerously when a player is forced to genuinely evade the ball or stick of the opposing player.
- Field players must not kick, propel, pick up or throw the ball in play with any part of their body. If the ball happens to hit a hand or foot, the player may not necessarily be penalized. If the player deliberately uses their body parts to move the ball, this will result in a penalty. This is one of the more obvious field hockey rules because using body parts can be very advantageous for a play.
- Players must not purposely delay play to benefit from time loss. This will result in a penalty for the team the player is a part of. This is one of the important field hockey rules because a player may try to stall for time in order to acquire a win by time-loss.
- Free hits are awarded when offenses are made outside of the scoring circles. The team offended against will be able to take a free hit in any direction, but the ball may not purposely be raised. Of the field hockey rules, this one is similar to that of basketball when a free throw is taken due to a foul.
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