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Introduction to Hockey

January 1, 2010

National Federation
Irish Hockey Association
University College Dublin
Dublin 4

Contact: Joan Morgan

Tel: + 353 1 716 3261
Fax: + 353 1 716 3260
email: joan.morgan@hockey.ie
Web: www.hockey.ie

A game consists of two 35-minute periods, with a 10 minute interval for half-time.
For the men’s competition there are 12 teams of 16 players which are placed into two pools of six for the preliminary rounds. Each team plays every other team in that pool. The top two teams in each pool progress to the semifinals. The remaining teams play for classification 5-12.
Winners of the semifinals play for the gold medal, and losers of the semifinal play for the bronze.
For women there are 12 teams which are placed into two pools of six teams. Like the men’s competition, each team plays every other team in that pool. The best two teams of each group progress to the semifinals, and the remaining teams play for classification 5-12. Winners of the semifinals play for the gold medal, and losers of the semifinal play for the bronze.

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.
If a player violates a rule they may receive a warning card. The colours of the cards represent different levels of punishment:

Green card: warning,
Yellow card: temporary suspension (a minimum of 5 minutes)
Red card: permanent suspension.

Player Positions
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.

Penalty Corner
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.


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