Quick Intro: Field Hockey Rules
The rules of field hockey on an international level are set forth by the International Hockey Federation (FIH). These rules are used in international play for men and women, tournaments and The World Cup.
The playing field. The field, also known as the "pitch," is a rectangle of 91.4 meters by 55 meters (100 yards by 60 yards). Each end has a 21.4 meter high by 3.66 meter wide (seven feet by twelve feet) goal and a semi-circular area called the shooting circle that is 14.63 meters (sixteen yards) from the goal.
Equipment. Field hockey rules call for the use of a stick that is flat on one side of its head and rounded on the other. Only the flat "face" of the stick can be used to play the ball.
Game time. A traditional game of field hockey has two 35 minute halves with a five minute half-time period. A game starts with a center pass, which also starts the second half and takes place after each goal. All players start in their defensive end on a center pass. Center passes alternate at the start of the first and second halves, and the team giving up the goal has possession for the ensuing center pass.
Teams. The game features two teams of up to sixteen players, with eleven permitted on the field of play. There are no fixed positions stated in the FIH's field hockey rules, through teams tend to arrange themselves similar to international football (soccer) teams, with fullbacks, midfielders and forwards.
Players. One player may be designated goalkeeper and must wear a helmet and a different color shirt, signifying goalie "privileges." Goalkeepers can deflect and block the ball with any part of their body, as well as kick the ball, but they must always have a stick. When playing outside the shooting circle, goalkeepers can only use their stick. Field players can only play the ball with the stick's "face." If a player accidentally hits the ball with his feet but does not benefit from the contact, there is no penalty.
Scoring. Scoring takes place when a team breaks the scoring circle defenders and puts the ball in the goal. In the event of a tie at the end of the two halves, FIH field hockey rules call for "sudden death" overtime--first goal wins. If still tied after overtime, penalty strokes are used to determine the game's outcome. A penalty stroke is similar to an international football (soccer) penalty shoot out or an ice hockey penalty shot or shoot out--a one-on-one showdown between attacker and goalkeeper.