Know Basic Field Hockey Game Rules

Field hockey is a sport where two teams try win the game by scoring goals using a ball and sticks with curved ends. The teams switch sides on the field after the halftime break that separates two game halves, each consisting of 30 to 35 minutes of game time. Here are more details of field hockey game rules.

The Players

Each team has 11 players that are usually composed of 5 forwards, 2 fullbacks, 3 halfbacks and a goalkeeper. There are five players who sit on the sidelines as substitutes.

The Field

Field hockey is usually played outdoors on a field of grass or artificial turf. The regulation field has a length of 100 yards and it has a width of 55 to 60 yards. Goals are on opposite sides of the field.

Starting the Game

The game begins from the center of the field where a coin toss decides which team will be the first to handle the ball. Once that is decided, a player from the team that won the coin toss hits the ball as a pass to one of their teammates. This is how the game is restarted every time a goal is scored or when the halftime is over.

The Bully

The Bully is a form of restarting a game when a stop in action happens. In a Bully, the ball is situated on the ground between two players from the opposing teams. The players proceed by tapping the ground with their respective sticks once and then tapping their sticks against each other three times. After these tappings, the two players can now go for the ball while their teammates stand at least 5 yards away from them.

Scoring Goals

Players move the ball toward the goal using the flat left-hand side of their stick. This movement can be done by dribbling, pushing and passing to a free teammate. Passing between several teammates can be done in order for the shooter to reach the striking circle or the “D”. From the “D”, players can shoot the ball towards the goal. When the field hockey ball passes between the two goal posts and over the goal line, that is a goal scored. For goals to count, the player striking the ball must be within the striking circle or, before crossing the line, must have touched an attacking player’s stick inside the striking circle.


There are several infractions that can be committed in a field hockey game, including the most common one which is obstruction. This infraction is called when a player deliberately blocks a player from the opposite team from gaining access to the ball without making a play for it themselves.

Other common fouls include touching the ball with any part of the body if you’re not the goalkeeper, and hitting the ball with parts of the stick that is not the flat side. The most infamous infraction is dangerous play. Anything that may cause harm or is considered dangerous can be a cause for a dangerous play call from the officials.


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